Meet your new MoneyMoments Provider: the Bank of Amazon

One of the major themes in my upcoming book “Emotional Banking: Fixing Culture, Leveraging FinTech and Transforming Retail Banks into Brands” is the fact that banks are so far removed from the concept of experience and that of truly investing in consumers’ feelings that they insist to think in terms of “products” not “MoneyMoments” and that intelligent retail brands have an open corridor to leapfrog them in that area should they not change fast.

After banging on for years that Banks need to become Brands before Brands decide to become Banks, last year I wrote about how Facebook could be the first big brand bank. Now, as I’m sure you’ve read, it’s Amazon’s turn.

This very insightful article by Jim Marous at TheFinancialBrand not only frames it beautifully but brings in the perspective of many great minds and some absolutely hit the nail on the head helping us understand the business model behind it, the value of data, etc.

To me it’s very clear: Amazon is a brand and they will use all that it encompasses – the knowledge, the passion, the vision and use technology to translate these into becoming the most insightful provider of MoneyMoments we’ve had so far.

They won’t worry about “products” – what is the “type” of “account” that enables the experience. That’s what they are getting a banking partner for. So they can focus on enabling their consumer’s life with purchases.

The possibilities are endless and the discussion on data privacy and automation comfort level should be raging but beyond whether or not their financial account customers will be offered access to a special episode of their favourite show for signing up, I think the most exciting angles to unfold will be around reframing around emotions in lieu of traditional banking interactions.

Imagine if this data-meaning-constructing-giant decides to redefine categorisation around the feelings that a certain purchase or payment have elicited. No more “council tax” or “groceries” or “shoes” but “mandatory”, “weekly”and “luxury”. And then if they correlated that with the degree of satisfaction (or absence of pain) a certain purchase causes the consumer and its necessity, its affordability, its need of instant gratification and turned them into “mandatory and painful, insured by income protection, can be improved when credit score grows”, “needed weekly, slight variation week after salary with extra items”and “cherished luxury with huge satisfaction quotient and big social media impact impulse buy credit pre-approved”.

This is a company that not only invented recommendations but enabled consumer near-instant-gratification with next day delivery, the Dash product button and was ahead of the pack in understanding the emotional value in creating a near human interface to data insight. This is not a company that will bundle a mortgage suggestion but will map your purchases for the next foreseeable future and adjust your credit and spending patterns for them before you even know you’ll be making them.

So soon enough, don’t be surprised if you answered an absent-minded “sure” when Alexa inquired if you wanted your groceries replenished and hours later found an extra box of chocolates that the babysitter you use likes, a dinner and theatre reservation, and a bottle of bubbly to celebrate the promotion your lady just received but hasn’t even had a chance to tell you about.

Oh and of course, you never once “made a payment“.

NatWest – our Love/Hate Relationship

Regulation – one of the most heated (and arguably “hated”) words in banking. While it’s there to protect our collective money, it’s also the scape goat for all the things we failed the consumer with. Over the years most of the CX wish-list was met with the famous “computer says “no” in a regulatory flavour. “No, international transfers can’t be faster/instant – regulation won’t allow it”; “No, you can’t see all your account information in one place – it’s regulation”; “No you can’t bank through Facebook”, and on and on.

It’s not till very recently that we have turned the rhetoric around and started thinking of Regulation as a partner, made it sexy, useful, an enabler. RegTech as a term was born and FinTech started giving banks fancy solutions that cared about translating stiff regulation put in place to protect into seamless, easy experiences for the consumer.

Most of regulation plays in the background and it’s designed to define processes and systems in a way that will keep our data and money safe and –ideally- growing.

Some of it is evident to the consumer. If we disregard the digital-onboarding-pain elephant in the room, there are only a handful of other instances that we brush up with regulation in day-to-day banking. Accepting Terms of service, interminable letters with well crafter PR explanations on changes of policies and interminable security checks in any call center interaction are examples of irritations caused by regulation but arguably the worst offender is the practice of card blocking.

One doesn’t have to be in FinTech to know that, if a bank blocks one’s card it is to stop usage as fraud is suspected. Now we can sit here and debate if that’s necessary and whether it shouldn’t be covered by financial insurance products, etc but what I wanted to dissect is two of my recent experiences with NatWest, my bank.

First up – travelling. How can banking fail you when you travel? Let me count the ways. The most common one though, is that your card gets blocked as soon as your bank sees transactions coming from a destination outside of your country of origin. Often times that means that you end up frowning at a machine saying your transaction was declined when trying to settle your hotel room bill.

How bad that is, ranges from a minor inconvenience to a major snafu depending on factors such as how worldly of a traveller you are; what the state of your finances and assistance infrastructure is (i.e. if your parents/spouse/assistant can bail you out or not) and what your prior-to-failed-MoneyMoment™ stress level is.

Now for most people, that’s a rather fringe use case as there are no hotel bills to pay on a weekly basis, but if one travels as much as I have over the past 10 years, this is a very clear and present annoyance. As I was saying in my “Goodbye Santander – the end of banking love affair” last year, I would often be on the phone with them at least once a week to warn them I would be travelling and needed access to my funds.

After our rather public divorce, I’ve “swiped left” on many a banking propositions –some from the ever-celebrated challengers- because they were unable to accommodate my “I’m travelling and don’t want to call you every time to warn you” need and have finally settled down with NatWest who lets me input the data of my future travel plans in my app.

The experience is far from perfect and in fact, just the other day it presented me with this screen which looks nothing short of a riddle that made me recall the rules for setting new online banking passwords most banks used to lay out back in the day “Must start with a capital. Must not be a capital your paternal aunt would be able to guess on a Sunday or the same capital use use to spell the number you are required to insert as the 3rd character”.


This post would have went to great lengths to underline how wrong it is of NatWest to lay out their regulatory requirements in the form of this riddle in lieu of dealing with the legacy systems or rules that have caused it, should they not have saved their bacon in terms of card blocking with another recent experience and the second reason to block cards – suspicious transactions.

I’m on the phone with a children’s soft play centre to book my son’s upcoming birthday party while on a taxi ride to the airport the other day, when I realise that the venue has a series of unfortunate circumstances such as “not enough laser guns” and “not enough staff to surpervise”, yadda yadda that will essentially mean I either alienate half our friends or half his class mates so I decide to work with their parameters and book two separate parties one after the other on the day to fit everyone.

Right, lovely, may I have the long card number please?”

Sure, it’s 472…

No Mrs Blomstrom please wait, I need to transfer you to the secure card input syst…

Sure, go ahead

<series of clicks>

Mrs Blomstrom could you input the long card number into your phone followed by #?”

4723 6452 6543 7542 *

That was incorrect Ma’am

Oh FFs 4723 6452 6543 7542 #

Lovely, now your expiration date and the next one will be the CVC code on the back of your card

<series of anxious stabs followed by dramatic silence>

Right, this is all fine, your deposit went through” the lady tells me as I wipe the sweat off my brow that encompasses all that’s wrong with modern payment methods and the deep angst they cause.

Now for the deposit of the second party, you know the drill now Mrs Blomstrom just please input your card details

So I proceed to do so and this time I get the “#” not “*” right the first time and it’s going smugly well with still several miles before we are at the airport according to my Uber driver’s Waze. Technology rocks!

Hmmm I’m sorry Ma’am, this didn’t go through, would you like to try again?”

What?!? Let me see” I forgo privacy and stick the call on “speaker” while I scrutinise the numbers I’ve typed against the card I’m holding, waves of “I knew this would be painful after all!” self-defeatism washing over me.

Everything looks spot on but as she insists and against rationality and in pure “just try again, you never know with technology” fashion, I get the digits in again.

Same thing I’m afraid, rejected, do you have another card we could try?” she says in that unmistakeable “let’s face it, you ran out of money, anyone else who believed you were solvable enough to give you some credit?” voice. I *know* she’s wrong and I won’t give in to pressure to give her another card when I have proudly saved for this moment so I go to my NatWest app half sure it’s a futile enterprise because the UK telco industry hasn’t exactly worked out how to let one use 3G and be on the call simultaneously but this time it works –“Perchance thanks to roaming?” I find myself wondering- and I get into the app.

As expected I’m not missing funds so I must be missing the way to reach them.

Wow hold on, they must have blocked my card as I’m travelling – let me check” I say to an ever more impatient call centre employee as I log into my phone messages an lo and behold I do have a text saying these last transactions have been suspicious and would I like to approve them.

I try and breathe in and not get angry while I wonder why that is – Luxembourg transactions being an issue despite my having warned them through the app or the kids leisure centre trying payments too close to each other as I absent-mindedly send the “Y” they require if I recognise the transactions and want them to go through, knowing full well that it’s likely a futile strategy for this call as it will take forever to reinstate access.

Yes, sorry, my bank blocked the card, must be my overseas transactions, I’ll have to call you back

You’re still on the secure line Ma’am, you could input another card” she says and I hear the click back to the digits section. Determined not to give in to pressure of the credit card industry on an expense I planned, I stubbornly get the same card details in –no less motivated by how I can’t be bothered to fish for another card when I am holding this one and we’re pulling in by the airport’s curb-.

Excellent Ma’am, thank you, this went through just fine!” her unexpectedly chirpy voice startles me and I look down to see a text from NatWest of a few seconds ago thanking me for the confirmation and ensuring me my card is fine to use.

Every ounce of dread and irritation melt into sheer elation! This is witchcraft! Pure technology magic! I was able to complete my MoneyMoment™ and NatWest actually were looking out for me, and eventually came through y’all! I feel like Facebook status-ing about it!

Should it feel like we won the lottery when a banking experience goes the way it should and is only half-painful? Of course not but hey, I slayed the Anti-Spend deamons and I’ve prevailed in using my funds on the go while regulation was –nearly- in the background keeping me safe so that’s a win for digital banking everywhere!

The rise of the DevOps Chief Innovation Officer


***Warning – Dry, heavy, serious, occasionally contentious and pensive post about IT, Culture and DevOps observations***

A couple of months ago at Temenos my team had the chance to think up, build and launch a new product. I would say it is a hybrid tech and knowledge product. It’s called the Innovation Acceleration Platform and it’s meant to speed our clients up in their innovation and ensure they get to the consumer with some of the magic value prop our platform’s FinTech providers bring, fast and before others.

I’ll spare you the details as to what it contains but in essence it’s a box inside which, any Bank Innovation team finds two of the only ingredients they need to accelerate their efforts and test cool propositions – the Tech (near production ready environments at the drop of a hat preloaded with the right kind of data) and the Know-How (access to curated cream-of-the-crop FinTech and to those that did the curating).

Now I’ve taken this box to bankers and boy was I pleased to see where we are today as compared to the days of dry, in a vacuum, self-indulgent innovation labs of yesteryear. These guys are on the ball! Not one still does useless pilgrimages to the Valley “to see where technology really is”; no proud walls of posters preserved for eternity and no obsessive focus on hipster premises.

It strikes me like there is a lot more value being created these days. A lot less focus on form in lieu of substance and a real sense of urgency for making some of the digital promises happen before it’s too late.

It was always the job of the Innovation or Digital teams in banks to be frustrated to no end by the Business Prevention Departments (J.P. Nicols ™) but for many years that frustration seemed to stop at man-buns and long beards starting to sport greys and to revolutionary new FinTech StartUp pipe-dreams being laid in front of terrified other CanaryWharf patrons every Friday afternoon.

These days that frustration seems to have shifted into pushing these modern day banking renegades to roll up their sleeves and take the battle with those departments heads on.

Over the last few years we’ve seen some fractions of valiant bankers tackle Regulation Business Prevention with every weapon from hackathlons to lobbying for a new set of people dictating it, who they knew to be capable of understanding FinTech.

We’ve seen them then fight the Procurement “Computer-Says-“NO” corporate inertia that disallowed them from engaging with promising new propositions with weapons ranging from low-key sponsorship of incubators and accelerators to full ownership of these.

We’ve seen them try and better the culture at times with long, arduous, inside-education battles setting up programs to get the whole organisation at the same level of knowledge and thirst for technology such as my Build-a-Voice Emotional Banking ™ programs. They educated not only exec teams but departments that were adamant they had nothing to do with all this FinTech marklary such as Operations or HR because they knew that the more people that see the promise, the more likely it is to get there.

Over the past few years of the struggle Innovation teams had in banks there was one department that never let them down. That always seemed to know enough. And (lowkey) care enough. A department who was not only a sine-qua-non ingredient in trying to get anything new in front of a consumer, but was also, mercifully, poised and ready to make any of the digital dreams happen as soon as the Business Prevention Departments stopped trying to impede progress.

That department was IT.

I’m afraid I’m here to say that I have a feeling that it’s over. That along the way, over the past few years, that department stopped being an ally. That they no longer are poised and ready to help. That they have become one of the Business Preventers. Let me tell you why.

For those of you reading this who are not in banking, this is of course a generic abstraction, “The IT Department” is comprised of tens -if not hundreds- of other departments and teams tasked with technology maintenance for lack of a better description.

As soon as they went digital, banks have become, whether they like it or not, if not technology creators (depending on whether you want to call ugly hacks and desperate fixes keeping it all together – “creative”) at least technology maintainers with systems that grew so complex they need immense operational effort expenditure.

Over the past few years, not only has technology exponentially grown inside banks but it has even faster developed outside them. Software development has undergone more change than they acknowledge for such a new discipline. Due to the very nature of the industry, they constantly challenge their method and process and try to better themselves immediately and measurably to get better output. Which makes everything potentially faster and better but effectively more complex.

These days, software houses everywhere struggle with maintaining vision and direction while adopting new methods and technologies every week to create faster. This would be disruptive to any line of business leave along one that now underpins the fabric of society. They cope by the grace of the fact that many are of a manageable size with a clear profitability goal and they can adapt internal culture to be permissive of uncomfortable rapid change and open to testing and developing.

Banks’ IT Departments are a lot like software houses. One would argue they are software houses.

What they are not is creators. What they are not is agile. What they are not is, in possession of a culture that sees sense and is unencumbered by Banker-Guilt ™ and ready to be truly agile in the name of a firm profitability goal as the private software houses so they don’t cope.

They too used to feel the Innovation team’s pain and frustration and wanted to build top propositions back in the day. After all, the IT Department is made up of a bunch of uber-smart geeks perched for technology advance. But as opposed to their younger Innovation brother in arms who, while prevented effectively, is at least mandated appropriately, the IT Department was never appointed by the business as the creator, just the custodian. So that frustration has never turned into creative tension and gusto for the end goal of the business.

A few years of having been discouraged, disillusioned and disrespected has led Bank IT Departments to becoming a Business Prevention department themselves.

These days when the all-grown-up-and-now-taken-seriously Innovation team turns to them for help to make happen the dreams they once had together, they often see they’re left behind. Unwilling to try new things, complaining about infrastructure challenges, crippled by the many “No”s they heard.

Say the Innovation team finally finds the killer app that will make our mobile banking less “meh” and they have finally been allowed to engage if not even purchase it by the Regulator and Procurement Preventers, and they’ve educated the exec team enough not to try and stop them, they’ll run back home to their old playmate the IT Department, to help them prove it or even help them bring it to market in their propositions and they will find a new breed of “Computer says “No”.

Security concerns they would have helped explain and alleviate to the rest of the business in the olden days are suddenly being raised. Resources whether it’s developers or testing environments or data are always impossible to reach and all tied up for eons. Proof of concepts are impossible to organise, integration would only be doable post a major transformation process, and working with the new fanged FinTech provider is nary impossible when they insist on all those fancy dev tools and protocols that don’t match theirs.

So now nothing fast and cool is possible. Again.


We built the Innovation Acceleration Platform for an extra push. Thinking it would supercharge banks proposition creation at a time when they need to hurry up and bring compelling new ideas to consumers faster than ever. We didn’t think it would be as necessary or even in places, mandatory as it is. That the very part of the business that ran faster than the entire organisation has been brought to crawl over the past couple of years, ironically, partially halted by its own complexity in addition to the organisation. That’s truly sad.

The good news is that there is enough thirst for awesome tech out there and Innovation and IT seem to become interchangeable in some places Some banks have merged the two as they should have to begin with. Some have appointed DevOps wizards as Chief Innovation Officers and some have taken previously disillusioned IT heads and COOs and asked them to design Open Banking business propositions.

Now that the Business Prevention departments are losing their grip the only prevention is in your ability to execute and it’s becoming clear that to drive cool and exciting props in banking you can no longer design what you want to make but how to make it as well. The lines are getting blurred, teams are working together and there is plenty of tech smarts and good will to go around and make things happen.

Change is not only uneasy but sometimes sad, but it’s happening in our industry and it’s happening fast and those that learn to ride with the wave will certainly see exciting results and as usual, if they do, so will the Money Moments consumer.

“Betrayed by Barclays”

Catchy title, isn’t it? Not my idea of sensationalism this time – it’s what the press called this article last week about the mayor of a village whose local bank branch is closing despite a promise that they will stay.


The article is so hungry for a spectacular sob story it’s full of idiosyncrasies and contradictions. The mayor says she has changed banks 3 times in 18 years already (likely making her the most prolific switcher in the UK!) chasing the elusive brick-and-mortar banks and with Barclays being the last remaining one in town, the sense of doom and gloom should be overwhelming, yet despite that, she says she will use Barclays online banking from hereon.

She goes on to say a lot of “the older people” will not feel safe doing so as well “even if they have internet access”.

Now, if we ignore the rest of the article, that proceeds to meander in and out of intelligent discourse by naming the local Postal Office as the only saving grace as it will continue dealing with cash and cheques and has a thriving ATM but goes on to say local businesses that still deal in cash are likely set to perish as they will have to travel to deposit their earnings to other bank branches as if the authors never heard of deposit machines, we are still left with this important piece of the puzzle to ponder:

“Barclays says the Llanidloes branch is closing because of falling use. It says only 104 regular customers use it exclusively for their banking.”


How many employees in that branch? 4-5? Let’s assume it’s much less than that. Let’s assume it’s 2. They each serve 52 people. Wow. That’s quite the luxury. Don’t get me wrong, Barclays has posted quite the handsome numbers over the last few years but they are sure squandering it by blurring the line between Retail and Private Banking with what looks like involved, personal service. Perchance they imagined a new service model and are charging these online banking mistrusting ageing population a hefty fee for their customs so they can afford to keep serving them.

Only they can’t. Afford it, that is. They can’t afford serving the 104 Llanidloesilites any more than they can afford serving a vast majority of their retail banking customers really but that’s a story for another stormy night. Do you know who can afford that ratio of employee per customer? These guys. Even they couldn’t sustain offering much for cheap to the Dick and Joe with under £250,000 and had to hike their annual fees for a mere current account to £900 a few months ago.

The harsh reality is that the business models that retail banking engages in today have been skimmed of margins to where they only make sense in digital circumstances and while some brick and mortar will always remain, either as cost of business and brand museums or as community smart hubs such as the stat-of-the-art one BOI has in Dublin’s Grand Canal unless banking pulls up its socks and grasps at the opportunity to become the information and financial hub of a customer’s life by applying business models transcending traditional products and imagining new ones centred around people’s true money needs, we will all have to accept a local branch is not an immutable human right but a luxury.

Llanidloes is surely a  very nice place with 104 nice branch goers but sadly, they will have to add “local bank branch” to the long list of things they can’t have such as a Primark shop or an Opera house.

Why Facebook and Google should listen to Ron Shevlin

We were discussing Emotional Banking ™ last week on the FinTechMafia when this throwback nugget came up.

It’s an article from our very own Ron Shevlin about Financial Services Firms being “emotionally tone deaf”. You could have knocked me over with a feather! I’m one of Ron’s biggest fans and I had thought I read most of what he wrote over the years, but here I am not having read something that goes straight to the core of what I advocate.

I’m not going to go into the article in itself as you should read it, and I may not agree with the exact definition of the emotions a bank should investigate but that’s irrelevant, what counts is that Ron was saying this in 2008! TWO. THOUSAND.AND. EIGHT. A well respected analyst. Speaking to banks from a worldwide, well respected digital platform such as TheFinancialBrand. Even making it a point to outline that paying attention to the blind spot will see numbers suffer. In true Ron Shevlin tradition, solid banker-carrot-and-stick – research translated into numbers meant to either inspire or terrify.

Surely that should have even moved the needle before I got there and encountered the dessert land of utter lack of research and true intent to study consumers’ feelings about their money that I did in 2010. And if not that, surely that needle is moved now, nearly 10 years later.

For the record, this is not about attribution – Ron Shevlin and Chris Skinner and all the other handful of thinkers who arrived in the industry and started writing and turning things into their heads long before I did, had already started to conclude banks were doing their consumers an injustice by not examining their emotions while shortchanging themselves in the process. We’ve all invented the same wheel. We just said it differently, at different moments of time and proposed different solutions.

One could argue the FinTech titans only pulled alarm signals and wrote things about it before returning to all the other facets of the industry they focus on but didn’t provide a path to make it worthwhile. But others who took this seriously, did.

There are Human Centered design and CX firms out there –few and far between as they’d rather focus on industries who care such as retail- who have been fighting to explain the core of designing for experience and feeling; there are even valiant bankers taking it to heart such as the extraordinary Louise Long at NAB and modesty aside, my own work to get banks to recognize the value of being a brand and then show them concrete ways to change the culture to accomplish that, as I’ve done over the past few years with the Emotional Banking ™ methods has made a dent. And it’s all going to get better, too. The discourse is turning towards “people not tech” across the board which is amazingly positive. Finally.

Still here we are. Nearly 10 years later, at best collectively mildly-titillated intellectually by the idea that we should do more to focus on emotions but self-congratulatory that we just haven’t gotten around to the fluffy stuff yet, that we’ve all been serious and doing numbers and tech for day jobs instead.

The industry is chock full of people who like to proclaim themselves as “doers” but when it comes to what we’ve accomplished in not being “emotionally tone death” as Ron was accusing us 10 years ago, we’ve done nothing. We’ve accomplished nothing. We’ve taken exactly zero honest, deep looks into the psychic of a consumer we are asking to buy life-altering products from us.

Incumbents and challengers alike the world over, there is not one example in the industry of a bank having created at least one MoneyMoment that was a feelings-driven experience – contextual, emotionally charged, significant and addictive- and not just another repackaged financial product.

Who here, reading this, can say they’ve had any moment with their bank where they felt a surge of positive reaction other than gratitude it was not as painful as they anticipated or experienced in the past? One where you could say “Ah! I didn’t even realize there was a financial product or transaction behind this moment of my life! My bank just served my actual needs and it was pleasant!”. They didn’t because they still don’t know what the need is, what the feeling they need to enhance or inhibit is. And I wonder if they’ll ever bother finding out.

We live in an interesting time. In terms of CX for banking something tells me it’s both too late and too early. Our kids will think of banking as we know it as we think of dial-up or landlines.

I do believe they will have the seamlessly pleasant Invisible Banking experience our bank are unable to create for us, but it requires a blank slate to really do away with all existent banking products as we know them and design for truly investigated consumer emotions and people with brains, courage and passion to do so. One could argue it all boils down to which company, whether they are in Financial Services today or not -and my money is on “not”-, has enough of those and the common sense to let them get on with it already.

When FinTech Dreams of Electric Sheep

Recently I’ve had to turn down a couple of interviews and requests to be involved in write-ups or speak because the theme started to severely irk me – the “future of banking”.

It’s not even close to Christmas and everyone wants a run down of the trends, of what we think is coming next, of the next shinny ETH. It’s like picking a new fondant from the box while placing a half-eaten one back in.

Here’s a trend evolution analysis if we must have one. Last year at this time it seemed our world was finally waking up to design. There was lots of buzz over what it can do so that it helps banks quickly take hold of a crucial part of the defense against being obsolete – the relationship with the consumer. That of course involved looking at the proposition and at least sketching a new one. I hear less and less about that. We moved on to the next thing. That is a trend and it’s not a good one.

Now, I’m as much of a SciFi fan as the rest of us and I get it’s infinitely more fun to spend 3 hours imagining in detail what the battle between humans and machines will be like than 30 minutes describing what a current account today.

Our collective imagination in the industry can’t help but shiver with the anticipation of an imaginary future where a chatbot will read our mind and extend our wealth while we build or implement one for the sole purpose of firing the 236 people who only ever tell a client what their balance is over the phone.

I’ve said this many times – ours is an industry like no other. We need to know a lot but can do little. We need to run at the dizzifying speed of technology in theory while crawling at the frustrating speed of banking systems and culture in practice. It creates vast amounts of tension in all of us involved whether we think of it or not.

In a way, this obsession with trends we seem to have as of late, this appetite for completely new propositions coming into the market are a form of escapism from this tension. As long as we keep thinking about the next best thing we can’t be accused of being stuck in the difficult now.


This doesn’t apply to bankers only. While they have painful and real constraints that shackle them to the art of the immediate possible, on the other side of the equation, in start-up world valuations sore every day on futuristic approaches to a business proposition. No one sells a business model anymore, everyone turned into Phillip K. Dick and paints a picture of how electric sheep will access the blockchained banking matrix.

It’s tempting to explain this by referring to how society is moving at the speed of light in every aspect but the difference there, is the gap between status quo and the next best thing is being bridged with every sizeable change science or technology brings in all other industries, whereas in FinTech the gap only grows wider.

Ours is an industry where the gap between what the consumer wants and what the consumer gets is so wide, it doesn’t bear thinking about what they are forced to make do with “now”, so we take refuge into thinking what we could give them “later”. Except, unless we stop wasting time escaping reality and become brutally honest about what is there “today”, what systems or mentalities need to change, that “later” won’t be “tomorrow” but “too late”.

Blockchain yourself to emotions

***WARNING: Monday mood post ahead***

The other day I published an infographic on what banks can do to have their customers fall in love with them by becoming true brands and while most of the response was great a couple of comments managed to infuriate me.

They weren’t much in the way of a structured discourse but seeing how they came via Twitter, one could argue the author only wanted a bit of attention and being contrarian with an off-the-cuff remark seemed to be the route to get it. Just general FinTechTrolling of the sort we see too often these days. The gist was to “forget about emotions, let’s just do blockchain” and it really made my blood boil.

Here’s a person – regardless how new and clueless- who believes that we are stepping away from the value of important technology by thinking of such frivolous topics as emotions. Someone who genuinely thinks that’s straying from the core of the issue and that to change banking and give consumers the experience they deserve all we need to do is adopt blockchain at scale.

Is this person new? Likely. Do they matter in the grand scheme of things – will they influence bankers, the community, change the course of financial services history? Unlikely, even in today’s overinflated environment knowledge is starting to emerge so most people in the industry would see how “green” and naïve a statement this is. Is this person wrong? Hell yes!

The only universe in which adopting blockchain would be the magical cure for banking is one so AI-driven no human is involved in any of the running of a bank. Machines would have taken over, rebuilt the back-end (on his beloved blockchain) and are now offering optimal experience tailored to the tiniest details of the customer’s most inner needs. So pretty much a universe where machines too have had to not “forget about emotions” but build an algorithm around them.

That universe doesn’t need to consider how to navigate organizational culture in banks in a way that allows them to become passionate and agile and lets them use technology –such as blockchain- to enable them to build an amazing customer experience to become a brand.

Until that universe exists to make it work in this one, we have to consider plenty of emotions. Those of the consumers of the banking products and those of the makers of those products alike.

I’ve said this time and again – thinking about emotions in general in a context as numbers driven as banking is not easy. It’s uncomfortable and it’s frustrating and we would all collectively much rather keep talking about technology with its wonderfully tangible, measurable benefits. That stuff is easy.

Those of us who choose to look at the bigger picture and try to change culture (shout-out to one of the greatest bankers and technologists of all time having recently swapped P&L for thinking of this “fluffy” stuff) didn’t choose this because it’s the easy rainbows and unicorns part, on the contrary, it’s the hard, heavy-lifting change part, but we did so because we’ve lost our illusion that it’s about “just going to blockchain”.

Am I advocating we “forget about blockchain, just do emotions”? Of course not, that wouldn’t work either but let’s not fool ourselves that any technology is the silver bullet the industry needs to change to finally give the consumer what they need and deserve – we have to do both and we have to do it fast.