The July/August 2010 issue of Fast Company had a brief feature on a rather innovative financial institution in Austin, TX called the Mango Money Center. The Mango Store (as it is also called) was created by MPower Ventures and offers a place for people to conduct basic financial transactions without ever opening an account. For those who do choose to open accounts, Mango offers extremely safe and affordable ways to cash checks, wire money, and check balances. Mango also has generous 5.1% APY for savings account holders with direct deposit, free debit cards, and a unique, homegrown SMS for basic transactions.
Although the services the Mango Store offers are very nice, I find the layout of the store and its services as its most attractive feature. The Mango Money Center features a clean and simple layout with a friendly and vibrant array of oranges, yellows, and reds decorating the store. Stainless steel kiosks populate the store and are manned by helpful bilingual employees who are ready to explain the Mango Store’s services and guide customers on how to utilize them. The store also eliminates the often convoluted banking terminology with its easy-to-understand pamphlets. This makes the institution extremely attractive not just to those who desire flexible banking services, but also to those who are unfamiliar with banking in general. Additionally, the Mango store does an exceptional job of reaching out to Mexican immigrants who regularly need to send money back home and/or have grown up in a community that was commonly distrustful of financial institutions.
I like what the Mango Money Center is doing because it empowers the consumer in ways that many other banks and credit unions have yet to embrace. Saving money, cashing checks, and transferring money shouldn’t be complicated or difficult, yet industry practices have moved in the opposite direction. We need more consumers to understand their money, utilize it to its fullest potential, and remain on a path towards financial peace and sound fiscal management. I believe that the Mango Store is excellent in doing this and I’ll be every interested to see how the company performs in the future.