Our panel discussion at Fintech Week 2016 was called ‘Customer Experience in the Digital Age’.

It was a really cool opportunity to get together some of the brightest minds in Fintech – people who’ve worked with big banks and small, and know the pros and cons of each setup.

On the panel were Tristan Thomas who does product marketing at Mondo Bank, Peter Veash CEO of the digital agency BIO Agency and Matt Bagwell who’s managing director at Naked Communications. I hosted the discussion.

Watch it now, or read the summary below the player:

We talked about what would happen to banks and challenger banks in a new digital age where millennials expect to manage their money on a mobile phone.

Innovation can't solely be done operationally. It has to be done by thinking about the customer first, with mixed-discipline teams. - Highlight to share  -

Trust and transparency

Trust came up a lot amongst the panel. Tristan Thomas explained that one of Mondo’s key drivers was “to give people back control over how they spend their money”.

He explained that Mondo had a special way to convince potential clients and engineer trust in its new brand. The brand focuses on communication and transparency: the Mondo team originally met every single one of the bank’s first 5,000 customers (including some of my team at Reevoo).

Mondo’s relationship with its customers will remain key, even when Mondo scales further. He explained that it’s about giving people a stake in what happens and this “contrasts with the other banks where you have no idea what’s going to happen.”

“We’re really big on transparency, internally and externally,” Tristan said.

“Mondo tell customers what the bank plans to do over the next six months – by showing them mockups and screen shots, getting feedback as the team goes through the innovation process. And this priority on transparency is important at an internal level; team members CC everyone in the company into every single email.”

Promoting innovation

Matthew Bagwell explained what his marketing agency Naked does to promote innovation. Naked has worked with most of the major retail banks in Europe, UK and USA, on forward-thinking initiatives like the ‘bank of the future’, mobile-first services, and the process of transforming the front end by considering what that means for the culture within the organisation.

As CEO of the Bio Agency, Peter Veash helps large organisations go through digital change and supports institutionalised businesses to go forward. How difficult is it to engender that innovation? According to Peter, “it’s tough”.

But he said that thankfully most businesses realise innovation can’t solely be done operationally. It has to be done by thinking about the customer first, with mixed-discipline teams. Creating innovation labs is a valuable exercise “because it proves to the organisation that change can happen quickly.”

I asked Tristan if the big banks are worried about rapid innovators like Mondo. He said:

“The big banks don’t see us as a threat but we see their employees coming to get Mondo cards and seeing us as a threat. The culture in banking is that individuals can’t make change but individuals want change.”

Millennials may not be influenced by large enterprises or big messages but by the people they trust. - Highlight to share  -

Catering for millennials

One of the statistics that hits home most forcefully is that a good percentage of millennials (71 per cent, if you’re asking) would prefer to visit the dentist than the bank.

So how can banks change people’s attitudes?

Tristan explains Mondo’s approach.

“A lot of our customers are early adopters, tech geeks but this kind of banking has to become more mainstream. You do that by approaching it not as a current account but everything that comes with it – instant payments, sending money to friends. Bringing non-traditional banking features into your app attracts people who wouldn’t normally be excited by banking.”

Matt added:

“These millennials may not be influenced by large enterprises or big messages but by the people they trust… transparency is interesting. People are interested in the stories behind brands. What story do you want to tell? What are your ethical standards? Trust and loyalty are changing. It’s all about what story you are creating and want to tell.”

So what did I learn at Fintech Week?

• Listen to the consumer and involve them in the innovation process.
• Develop the story behind the brand to bring consumers with you.
• The individual matters – whether she or he is a consumer, a team member, or a competitor.

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The great and the good at London FinTech Week