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T-Mobile targets Millennials with BankMobile

06/07/2019 5:00 am EST

Focus: TELECOM

Jon Markman

Editor, Tech Trend Trader, The Power Elite, and Strategic Advantage

The pitch is dead-simple — earn up 4.00% annual yield on credit balances up to $3,000. The twist: This deal isn’t coming from a big bank, or even a local credit union. It’s from wireless carrier T-Mobile US, Inc. (TMUS), notes Jon Markman, editor of Pivotal Point.

From the shiny happy people in its online ads, to the decidedly millennial-forward branding, T-Mobile MONEY is about the future of banking, platforms and disruption.

MONEY is the first offering from BankMobile, a joint venture with Customers Bancorp (CUBI). The $10 billion Pennsylvania bank has traditionally focused on servicing high-net-worth families and privately held businesses in Chicago and the Northeast. It built a profitable niche.

BankMobile, its first white-label partnership, takes the company into the realm of Banking as a Service. In an April 2019 investor presentation, managers pointed out that $20 million has been invested in research and development, with 250 team members devoted to user experience.

The new service is mobile first, branchless and laser-focused on customer conveniences. It’s built for millennials, people born between the early 1980s and 2000s. T-Mobile will supply the marketing power, and the 81.3-million-member customer base.

MONEY customers will get access to a full digital wallet that incorporates contactless payments services from Apple, Google and Samsung. They will be able to automate bill payments, deposit checks by snapping pictures, and set up direct deposits — all from their smartphones.

There is overdraft protection, 24/7 customer support, and Customers Bancorp DNA means deposits are covered by the FDIC, for peace of mind.

The business works because everything is digital. Clicks and swipes provide valuable information. BankMobile plans to use data analytics to make banking more personalized and engaged. The data will also help build new digital marketing businesses.

T-Mobile is already the best wireless company in the country, by many accounts. John Legere, its quirky chief executive officer, embraced customer service. And new subscribers followed.  T-Mobile’s Q1 2019 revenues were $11 billion.

In the first quarter of 2019, the company added 1.7 million net new customers. It was the 24th-consecutive quarter T-Mobile added at least 1 million new subscribers. The churn rate, the percentage of customers who stopped subscribing, was a record-low 0.88%. Sales advanced 6%, $11.1 billion, year-over-year. Profits grew 35%, to $908 million.

Now the company is getting into banking and other ventures like wireless cable TV. T-Mobile is about to leverage its dominant position in wireless to win millennial banking. Shares trade at only 16x forward earnings for a market cap of $63.3 billion.

I have been bullish on T-Mobile since the middle of 2018. The stock has been a steady winner, and that trend should continue as investors wake up to its huge platform opportunity. It turns out that bigger is better when a business makes customers happy.

T-Mobile can be bought into any significant weakness. Shares recently traded at $74. Based on sales growth estimates alone, shares could reach $125 in two years.

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