Trust is king: How the financial sector embraces change

The finance industry is in a challenging situation: On the one hand, new legal frameworks and an increasing demand from different sides – governments, other economic sectors and especially the people as customers – for transparency make it hard for banks and insurance companies to stick to their businesses as they have been for decades. On the other hand, thriving startups and new businesses in the field of financial technologies dig into the market with a huge range of human-centred digital services that make managing financial issues easier, more comfortable und more accurate for the people.

In this article, we connect the dots a bit: How do we as a design company help established financial institutions to embrace change? Which platforms do we create to bring people together to share their thoughts and opinions? Which examples of evolving businesses in financial technologies do we find interesting? Which relevance do big data have in the global finance industry? Which insights regarding these topics did we take with us while attending the re:publica conference recently (also have a look at our recap of the conference)?

Enjoy the reading and feel free to join the discussion!

Creating platforms for sharing ideas

With the Thru The Heart Talks, we offer a nice setting for vibrant discussions on several topics. At the first talk on Tuesday, May 24th, we focused on “Innovation in Banking & Insurance” as we closely work together with clients from the financial sector. We warmly welcomed an interesting crowd of people from banking and insurance companies at our Graz office. We were happy to have our very own Maurizio Poletto in the round, as he is both Partner and Creative Director at EN GARDE and one of the Managing Directors of BeeOne, the digital innovation hub within the Erste Group. Among the other participants were real estate managers, health insurance consultants, fintech professionals, web developers, designers, and the CFO from YES BANK, a leading bank in India, who took part via conference call.

It was an inspiring and insightful evening (view more pictures here). In this setting, we primarily discussed the fact that innovation in a sector like banking or insurance only is successful when the product or the service is tangible, trustworthy and adds value to the life of the people the companies want to reach and have as satisfied customers. It is relevant that financial institutions put their customers into the focus of everything they do to trigger engagement, to build up a strong brand preference and to make financial issues more enjoyable. A crucial way to make this happen is to think products and services not only from a technological perspective but also from an experience-focused and design-driven perspective.

Trust has never been more important for financial businesses then now – after years of scandals, a crisis with huge consequences, leaks of delicate business methods and tax avoidance systems, people look for companies with products and services which offer full transparency on transactions, policies and processes, and which actually provide an added value, also regarding important facts and insights on financial topics.

Together with Erste Group, we currently work on projects for the free learning and dialogue space FLiP – Erste Financial Life Park at the recently opened Erste Campus in Vienna. We created the overall corporate design and we are also responsible for several social media activities. The venue offers a space for information and education for families – here is a sneak peek into the venue:

FLiP is in prototyping mode at the moment – the official opening will take place in October (like the Facebook page to receive updates). We enjoy bringing ideas to life that help people to get a better understand of things and that generate sustainable relationships between a company and their customers.

A lot of the solutions we elaborate as a design company are results of highly collaborative processes in interactive sessions together with our clients, as we did for FLiP, slipping into the shoes of target audiences and developing solutions that fulfil their needs. If you are interested in co-creation methods and tools we use, feel free to get in touch with us!

Improving financial services through collaboration

Now let us have a look at recent developments on the business side: Last week, the Pioneers Festival in Vienna took the stage for its 2016 edition. We followed a bit what happened and we are excited that – during a Financial Forum – the current improvements in financial technologies (fintech) were one of the major topics at the festival. One take-away we find interesting: Last year, more than one billion Euro was invested in fintech businesses within Europe. Peter Bosek, board member of Erste Group, also took the chance to make the announcement that the group starts a collaboration with the Vienna-based startup predictR. They developed a forecasting tool to create scenarios and explore the possible future. One comment was that Erste Group does not want to invest in startups but rather provide George as a platform for startups to gain new customers:

We will follow the developments and are looking forward to seeing results of this collaboration. It is also nice to see that Austria evolves to a major spot for innovation in financial technologies and that established corporations take an active role in making their contribution to the evolution of the sector.

One evolving startup in fintech we came across earlier is NUMBER26, a Berlin-based business serving as an alternative to traditional retail banking. The service is free for customers, it is app-based and all-through mobile. They collaborate with Wirecard as a strategic partner. We had the chance to get in a discussion with some employees of NUMBER26 at the re:publica conference and one issue we found out to be extremely relevant – obviously for their customers but also for themselves as a service prodiver – was security. We received the information about a video in which Markus Müller, Head of Product at NUMBER26, explains the security functionalities:

Managing and governing data

As our lives become more and more digitally connected, hardly any discussion about internet and digital culture comes without  talking about data. We want to share some insights we could take with us while listening to JP Rangaswami – who serves as the Chief Data Officer at Deutsche Bank – at a session at the re:publica conference. He talked about the definitions and effects of innovation, invention and adoption, and their role in business. One statement that got stuck in our heads was:

“Any form of learning for being able to create invention becoming innovation becoming adoption is crucial. The sustainable form of adoption is what makes the difference in any kind of business.” – JP Rangaswami

He also pointed out that he sees markets as conversations – conversations between a business and its customers. We really like this approach as the feedback loop between company and customers is a continuum. He sees the move from desktop to mobile to smart mobile to wearables not only as a change of affordability, but also as a change in the growth of the sheer number – everything and everyone is connected. The challenge now is to extract valuable information out of this connectivity. With an “infinite array” of connections, you are able to listen to the right things by choice. It is also relevant when you are able to connect time and place. Contextual pieces raise the quality of data.

As a conclusion, he points out the facets of his role as a Chief Data Officer: He governs data, sets up policy and rules – good data is created when there is discipline. And data are useless when there is no access to it. Small data are important and big data come when you did all the hard work – creating insights that makes a service better for the customers.

Watch the full speech here:

Thanks a lot for reading! Do you also want to share some insights or interesting findings on innovation in banking and insurance, financial technologies or big data? Do you know some promising fintech startups to follow? Are you interested in another talk about “Innovation in Banking & Insurance” and do you want to share some insights? Send us a tweet or drop us a note via e-mail!

And kudos to Thorsten Urschler from Heldentheater for capturing the moments at the Thru The Heart Talk with his camera!