Fintech innovations are stepping outside the bounds of an industry that for too long has clung to old practices. And these traditional banking practices have arguably produced more institution-based barriers than individual benefits. Given today's business climate and changing demographics where most millennials are skeptical of banks, the key factor for success is how well new technologies can resonate with people. That is, user experience has never been more crucial to companies, according to panelists at the Oct. 13 CapX Talk in Seattle.
Jake Fuentes, founder of Level Money, suggests that financial institutions have served the role of gatekeepers between people and money, but many have failed in adding as much value as they could have provided for their customers. "Here's what a lot of bankers don't understand. It's not actually about the numbers. It's not about the inflows and outflows and whether or not you end every single month in cash flow positive."
Humans aren't always rational with their cash, therefore, banking innovations can serve them right by helping people, especially the younger crowd, make good decisions. Decisions that are highly practical in their daily life.
"It's about the emotions behind it," says Fuentes. "We can't just solely talk about the numbers in people's personal finances. We need to talk about the things that make them happy and bring that [emotion] into the equation."
Money's transformation from paper cash into digital currency is creating opportunities for forward-thinking companies, not just Wall Street but also those in Silicon Valley, to offer better and faster solutions to age-old problems.
"There's an entire industry out there that takes friction out of making payments, where spending money involves just one click on Amazon.com, and one click to get inside an Uber cab," says Fuentes. "What [tech] has done is made it really easy to spend money and forget about it. And we need to counterbalance that by making it just as easy for people to make good financial decisions."
Some in Wall Street and Silicon Valley are adjusting their practices to accommodate tectonic shifts in people's preferences. Consider that millennials have recently outnumbered baby boomers in the United States. Innovations that achieve viral success will likely see similar concepts from competitors that are more open-minded and unconventional in their approach.
Business reality after the 2008 financial crisis requires bold ideas in a competitive marketplace. Take Amazon's Alexa. The voice-assistant technology that aims to compete with Apple's Siri is introducing the ability for bank customers to pay their bills and manage accounts through voice commands on their smartphone.
Panelists at the CapX Talk in Seattle were asked what innovators in the banking industry are doing that's breaking away from tradition. Stefanie O'Connell, author of The Broke and Beautiful Life, says "they're building culture and community. Millennials will prioritize these over numbers. They will work at a company whose mission will align with theirs, and that will be a priority over their salary. And that will be true in other aspects of our lives."
"[Millennials] need to have mission," adds O'Connell. "They need to have purpose and they need to have community."
For Erin Lowry, founder of BrokeMillennial.com, financial institutions should leverage the research discoveries of academia and other fields and incorporate these into new apps and other tech. "Technology can facilitate the marriage of psychological therapy and finance," says Lowry. "[Tech] has to click into people's psyche and guide them into how to do the right thing with their personal finances."
With financial technology, the possibilities are ushering in exciting kinds of innovation. #Interview