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August 5, 2021updated 06 Aug 2021 3:06pm

Cricket Wireless hopes money talks in loyalty play with fintech Acorns

By GlobalData Technology

AT&T secondary prepaid brand Cricket Wireless is teaming with savings and micro-investment platform Acorns in a bid to win new subscribers and retain existing ones. The symbiotic relationship introduces Acorns to Cricket’s user base and helps boost Cricket’s Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) credentials.

Acorns’ app will be pre-installed on new Android devices sold by Cricket, and Cricket subscribers can also download the app from their device’s app store. Cricket subscribers who open an Acorns account and invest $5 will get a $10 bonus in their Acorns Invest account. Acorns customers who switch to Cricket through September 6, 2021, get a $20 bonus. Cricket will invest $1 in customers’ Acorns accounts for every month their wireless service is paid.

Cricket Wireless and Acorns have a mutual need

Cricket and Acorns target similar customers, lending credence to their relationship. Acorns aims to appeal to ‘everyday Americans,’ akin to the typical budget-conscious prepaid wireless customer.

This deal is important to Cricket because its category-exclusive partnership with Acorns is a differentiator and can help encourage long-term user loyalty, which is something all U.S. prepaid brands wrestle with as prepaid wireless customer churn continues to be much higher than postpaid. GlobalData’s most recent ‘United States Mobile Operator KPI Forecast’ predicts average monthly prepaid churn will hover around 4.9% through the next five years, nearly five times higher than postpaid churn during the period.

Cricket also aims to grow its customer base thanks to its role as the first exclusive wireless partner for Acorns Earn, Acorns’ rewards program that enables customers to earn money when they shop at partner brands. Cricket offers will be featured in the Acorns Earn section, and Acorns customers can switch or sign up for Cricket service via the Acorns app.

Telcos and fintech partnerships are catching on

Cricket’s collaboration with Acorns follows a worldwide trend in which telecom operators craft mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationships with financial institutions or even go solo into the banking sector. Telcos have large customer bases that are digitally oriented and have the tools to engage with online banking, investing and contactless payments, whether via mobile app or website. This makes them attractive partners for fintech providers, whose services can, in turn, help a carrier’s brand stand out from the crowd of telco rivals.

Additionally, telco-banking partnerships such as this collaboration between Cricket and Acorns can play significant roles in expanding digital financial services to underbanked communities seeking economic inclusion. In turn, both the carrier and financial services provider benefit by enhancing their reputations for social responsibility, helping raise their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) scores.

Acorns intends to go public later this year by combining with Pioneer Merger, a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), in a deal valued at $2.2 billion. Acorns will trade on Nasdaq under the symbol OAKS, a play on the phrase ‘Mighty oaks from little acorns grow,’ which reinforces the company’s mission to help small investors save and profit from consistent investing. Trading publicly will raise Acorns’ credibility, benefiting both itself and its partners, such as Cricket.