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Finance is a difficult industry at the best of times but mix in the theoretical and technological changes it has faced in a very short period and you have an unsure industry that appears to be standing at a precipice waiting for a pair of hands to push it over the edge. Steeped in regulation, “history is the business model” mentality and risk aversion as standard it’s hardly surprising how the industry got to where they find themselves yet, the full room at Wired Money 2014 conference (held in the impressive Level 39 at Canary Wharf) was hopeful of real change without destroying things (too much at least).
Throughout the day of speakers, the industry’s relationship with technology was described in a few ways : “transformative”, “explosive” and “disrupted”. Once shrouded by secrecy, inward facing decision-making the industry is facing a reconnaissance, which is a good when you consider the part it plays in people’s lives and the control (or disabling nature) it has over so many.
A varied line-up refreshingly gave few glimmers about new technologies and models, instead plumping for a focus on how to make what we have more workable and a call to help the public adopt emerging technologies instead of blocking them. A welcome change from the usual reaching for the stars whilst ignoring what’s already here.
Birch believes we are going backwards in some respects and holding on to outdated methods for verification, Kröner spoke about how his customers are the bank and that a variety of models are needed for success. For me, Khan summed up cryptocurrencies perfectly; ” I don’t remember the US government selling cocaine seized from raids, so you can’t say it’s illegal and shouldn’t be allowed.”
Three key takeaways that struck me as the day progressed:
1. Bitcoin has huge potential but an unknowledgeable mass
If it is to truly have the transformative power many believe it can – retail, businesses and the consumer has to a) understand it and b) want it. Start talking to your customers and seeing what you can create before you are stuck with systems and processes you’ve not had a hand in creating. As Khan puts it “…we are step 3 or 4 of 100.”
2. Security can be fixed but remains a core issue for banks and retail
There are still many flawed approached to security that are holding companies back from giving better service and building real relationships with their customers. Smart companies will review practices and really invest in this area to break down barriers, change faulty procedures if they truly want security (and a happy customer). An interesting fact from the day was that ¼ of all students leaving college this year have no signature.
3. Value is the key
I think it was mentioned in one way or another in almost every presentation. Currently banking is sufficient but it does not add value to the end user. Successful start-ups are focusing on the small things that seem to make a big difference.
Have you navel gazed recently and seen what you can fix? Lee Sankey from Barclay’s named three small changes his team identified and rectified that have raised customer scores significantly. What are these things for your business?
Image: Michael Gray via Wired.co.uk