The cost of a new way to pay

Online retail giant recently revealed a new checkout service borne from the Swedish payment solution company, Klarna. The partnership is still in its infancy, and Overstock admits that this is very much a testing period to see how customers respond to the integration of this new system into the buying process. But what was the reasoning behind the introduction of Klarna to a new audience? Well, it’s pretty clear once you understand how Klarna works. This system allows users to purchase products through Overstock simply by typing in their email and shipping address and perhaps their phone number. With Klarna, there is no need to type in your credit card information. 

Considering the growing amount of time that consumers spend on their mobile devices, it’s no surprise that many retailers are looking for the best way to enhance the user experience when it comes to a digital interface. Retailers like seek payment systems that make it as easy as possible for the consumer to buy.

Klarna addresses this with a system that combines the ease of Apple Pay or Android Pay with the “one click” element of buying something through something like Amazon’s app. The difference is that with Klarna, you aren’t limited by your device or the specific site that you’re visiting to utilize the service. Klarna works on various platforms and on many different sites.

When a user types in their email address, Klarna’s system almost instantly decides if it can allow you credit, by analyzing public and private data about you as a consumer. If the system deems that you qualify for this mini-loan, then it allows you to place your order and have 14 days to provide payment information. This system has already proven to be not only effective, but powerful in places like Germany, where almost nobody uses credit cards.

In coming years we will see how the system fairs in other countries with similar buying habits.

You must pay in cash

When you talk non-stop about digital, it sometimes gives you a reality check when you actually live life in a physical world.  The frustrations of crashed systems, products that don’t work, call centre operators who aren’t co-operative and check-in staff who can’t check-in.  Equally, there are the moments of pure bliss such as the smell of freshly cut grass, the first coffee of the day, the sight of a butterfly and the feel of the hot sun on the back of your neck.

We must not forget these realities, as digital should be all about making our physical world experiences even better.  Digital should be resolving the frustrations and augmenting the bliss.  However, the reason I mention this is that I also realise how far we have to go in some of my travels.  Two cases in point.

I saw a vending machine in the airport and wanted to buy one of the products shown.  The machine gave me two options.  Pay in local currency, of which I had none, or pay by credit card through their online service.  I chose the latter – the airport had free Wi-Fi – and entered their website domain.

First, the site would not load on my mobile.  Eventually, when it did, it was hardly navigable so I gave up and decided to get some local currency.  After a brief argument with the cambia de exchange, I returned with some crispy new notes in my hand and pushed one into the cash entry on the machine.  The machine rejected it.  I tried again.  It was rejected again.  This process was repeated several times and then I thought: I wonder if these notes are too new and crispy?  After crunching a note into a small ball and then straightening it again, I pushed this one into the cash slot and it worked.

Hmmm … I guess this vending company doesn’t sell very much.

The second experience was just paying for parking.  I’d left my car in the hotel car park for three nights and needed to move on.  Upon checking out, I asked the hotel if they had a deal on car parking.  No sir, said the nice checkout lady, you must pay separately at the machine as you enter the car park.  OK.

I walk to the car park and find the machine, enter my ticket and the grand sum of €94.80 appears.  I then try to see where to put my credit card.  Oh.  There’s no card slot and, sure enough, the screen shows a card with a big red cross over it.

Maybe the other machine will accept cards?  No.  Same again.

OK, so maybe I can pay the attendant as I have no cash.  I slink over to the attendant’s window, just as I spot him moving rapidly to the back door to escape.

Excusez moi!  I say loudly.   He turns and gives me the evil eye.  Canna I paya avec moi cartes?  My German isn’t very good, but he gets the idea, and walks out of the back door.  He comes around the side of the office and appears next to me, and grabs my arm.  No words are exchanged. 

The old man gives me the steely eye look again.  He points at my hand holding the credit card and at the machine’s screen, where the card with the red cross appears.  He then gives me a shake of the head to show the answer is no.

I get the idea that this is a cash only car park.  Wherea canna I getta money?  I ask in my best local accent.

He points out of the car park door and then shows a turn to the left and then a turn to the right in big sweeping motions.  I leave the car park and find the ATM nearby.  As I’m leaving the country, the last thing I wanted to do was to get more cash but … returning with €100 note in hand, the car park machine duly accepts my payment and gives me an exit ticket.

I purely recite these two examples of many, to illustrate that we are moving away from physical to digital but it’s going to be a slow process.


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Things worth reading: 22nd May 2015

Things we’re reading today include …

This week’s Economist:

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The wifi payments world of the very near future

I was talking about the internet of things again today, and realised that I have a grand vision of the not too distant future where everything communicates with everything.  We have chips as tiny as nanodots inside every brick, pavement slab, tyre, wall, ceiling … you name it.  We have more intelligent chips inside car engines, visual entertainment systems (the TV is no more), wearable devices from rings to necklaces to bags to shoes.  Everything is communicating with everything and our devices are all attached to us through the blockchain.

The result is that my Star Trek vision of no one paying for anything becomes a reality.  I drive to the big city and park.  My car tells the metering system it’s my car and it’s parked here until I come back.  When I come back it asks the system how much it owes and pays.  I do nothing.

My car then drives me to the gas station – I don’t drive anymore as it’s self-driving – and it asks the station robot for $30 of LPG.  The robot pump system delivers and I just sit, working and enjoying the entertainment and world around me.  The car drives off and all of the transaction is seamlessly in the background.

I’ve asked my Tesla to take me downtown to a decent bar – I haven’t been in this town before – and it delivers me to Joes 99er.  I have no idea who Joe is or why he’s talking 99 and I don’t care, I just want a drink.  Joe – or the guy behind the bar – gives me a large Whisky and Bud.  It’s my usual tipple and my shoe just told his stock management system that’s what I’d want.  I felt a little vibration from my shoe that confirmed this would be ordered and just let it go.  It was too much trouble to shake my left foot for a Gin & Tonic.

After three Buds and Whisky combos, I jump back in the car and am ready to hit the casino.  The car asks me three times if I really want to do this – it knows what happened last time – and I just say yea.  I’m cool and mellow and a little bit drunk, something I’m ultra-aware of as I’m supposed to be sober in charge of a self-driving car.  Why that law still exists, I have no idea.

So the car drops me at Caesar’s Shed, it’s kinda five steps down from the Palace, and I start shooting some Blackjack.  My shoe vibrates again, as I’ve just lost $2,000 in the first five minutes and my budgeting balance for the month for gambling has been reached.  But it’s only June 2nd for heaven’s sake.  I stamp my foot and the balance is lifted, along with a healthy top-up of $10,000 moved from my savings account in real-time.

By the end of the evening, my savings are gone and the bank’s given me a loan of $15,000.  I hate it when I click my shoes together and say there’s no place like home.  After all, that’s the trigger for my biometric check to ensure it really is me saying that I want an extra line of credit.  No-one notices the heartbeat check and the touch of my finger to the side of my glasses.  Works every time.

Unfortunately, it works and makes sure that I lose every last dime of my money but then I have this lady who seems to have joined the ride home, and the car is asking where to go.  I say home with an S (for seduction), and the car heads to my destination of choice.

As we arrive, the nest is bathed in purple light.  Ed Sheeran schmoozes Thinking out Loud from the wireless speakers and we’re soon enjoying an intimate moment.  As our bodies touch, something in my ring tells me a transaction just happened.  It is only then, with the combination of my gambling losses and Bud combos, that I realise this is no ordinary woman as I gather she’s not here for a long-term relationship.

In fact, the following morning, as my red eyes open and realise she’s gone, that the sun rises on my virtual walls and my infomediary assistant tells me my account has been frozen.   It just goes to show that the shoes I brought last month really are a bad influence.  Next time, I should stick to the watch.

Ah well, a good night was had by all and not a payment or authentication was visible to all.  Just wireless credits and debits from the stamp of a shoe to the touch of an eyebrow. 

The world has changed a lot in the last ten years.  I remember in 2010, I used to keep lots of pocket change in my car to pay parking metres, and got frustrated with the endless stops at toll booths to swipe my credit card.  By 2015, things had improved immensely.   Now I just had NFC payments, prepaid apps and one time passwords.  No longer would I jiggle around trying to find the right change.  My tech would help me to sort out the detail.  Now, my tech just does it all for me.  I just try to work out : was it all worth it?

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Why banks (and PayPal) don't simplify

As the internet reinvents commerce on this planet, it’s interesting to see the two things that enter the innovation mix: simplicity combined with connectivity.  When you think about the Uber, Airbnb, Facebook, Google, Amazon and more, you realise that they have all simplified some complex things from sharing to finding.  Google’s home page has stayed pretty much the same since day one.


Clear, clean and simple, it’s a SEARCH engine.  It helps you find stuff.  It’s easy.

You don’t think about the complexity of the thousands of servers that are indexing everything non-stop.  That’s the complex stuff that sits behind the simple home page.  You don’t think about the connectivity needed to do this.  The fact that Google is linked into every server on the planet to index the internet.  You just assume the homepage is there and will find stuff. 

It’s all simplified through global connectivity.

The same is true with Facebook.  You share your life with your friends, from links to funny videos of cats and babies to pictures of your own cats and babies.  You don’t think about the complexity of the thousands of algorithms required to tag, link, upload, organise, store and manage all your stuff.  You just want to share stuff.  You don’t realise how Facebook is getting smarter and smarter.  You just want to connect with your friends and family.

Amazon is the same.  Again, you’re just buying things you like.  It’s simple and easy.  You don’t think about how Amazon has created a global store of everything through connectivity to every sales outlet.  You just buy things.  You don’t think about how Amazon can read your mind and predict the next things you want to buy through indexing all purchases through meta-tags.  You just enjoy the fact that it has suggested that you might want that next book by Anna North.  You just like the fact that it can read your mind and your tastes.

Uber and Airbnb are doing something different however.  Rather than simplifying how you find, share and buy things, they have simplified marketplaces.  The taxi market was fragmented and disorganised.  Uber organised it.  In this case, the simplification is through connectivity rather than complexity.  Uber’s purely connecting people with cars through an app with people who need driving.

Airbnb saw a similar opportunity to sell spare space by connecting people with rooms to people who need rooms.  It’s the P2P connectivity that provides the simplification of markets (transport, lodging), rather than purely simplifying activities (finding, sharing, buying).

Which brings us around to banking.  What activities can we simplify in banking and which marketplaces could be simplified through connectivity?

These questions have already been answered in some areas.  PayPal and Alipay simplified the activity of paying by providing a layer over the traditional complexity, called an email.  Prosper and Lending Club have simplified the credit markets by providing connectivity between those who have money and those who need it.

Paying and enabling credit are the narrow areas of finance being attacked by simplification, but what else could be flattened by connectivity.  I must admit that when I look at this chart from CB Insights (doubleclick image to see a larger version):

Unbundling of a Bank

It really makes me take note, as any financial activity can be levelled by technology.  Any financial activity can be simplified.  Any financial marketplace can be flattened by connectivity, peer-to-peer, person-to-person.

This is why banks must change tack, and become integrators and aggregators of components of finance.  A bank cannot compete with a specialist who is simplifying a marketplace or financial activity.  Instead, they need to work with the simplifiers and incorporate their best practices into their own.  This is why the likes of Moven and Fidor are being brought into bank operations as partners.   This is why the likes of Venmo and Braintree are brought by PayPal.

Any incumbent player who tries to resist the onslaught of the simplifiers is going to fail, because the simplifiers are reinventing activities and markets overnight.  My favourite current example in fact, is Venmo.

If you don’t know the story, Venmo was invented by two mates during a long weekend.   The whole story is here, but the gist of the story goes like this:

One of the weekends we were getting together to work on this idea, Iqram was visiting me in NYC and left his wallet in Philly. I covered him for the whole weekend, and he ended up writing me a check to pay me back. It was annoying for him to have to find a checkbook to do this, and annoying for me to have to go to the bank if I wanted to cash it (I never did). We thought, “Why are we still doing this? We do everything else with our phones. We should definitely be using PayPal to pay each other back. But we don’t, and none of our friends do.”  So we decided, let’s just try to solve this problem, and build a way to pay each other back that feels consistent with all of the other experiences we have in apps we use with our friends.

After four years, Venmo is now processing almost $4 billion in social payments a year and was acquired first by Braintree in 2012 (for $26 million) who were then, subsequently, acquired by PayPal.


Could PayPal invent Venmo?


Did PayPal invest Venmo?

No way.

Why didn’t PayPal invent Venmo?

Because simplification comes from kids and complexity comes from incumbents.

The incumbents are too dogged in their own complexity to see simplicity in too many cases.  That’s why banks spend all their time talking about regulations, regulations, regulations, whist Fintech start-ups talk about innovations, innovations, innovations.

The startup has the excitement of simplifying complexity; the incumbent has the weariness of dealing with complexity.

That’s why Fintech is so hot – because it’s reinventing financial activities and simplifying markets.  Watch this space for more.


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Fintech is hot, hot, hot

I was flicking through the Economist this week and was surprised to see a big quarterly special all about Fintech.  Wow, this stuff is hot, hot, hot.  That’s what the magazine makes clear:

From payments to wealth management, from peer-to-peer lending to crowdfunding, a new generation of startups is taking aim at the heart of the industry—and a pot of revenues that Goldman Sachs estimates is worth $4.7 trillion. Like other disrupters from Silicon Valley, “fintech” firms are growing fast. They attracted $12 billion of investment in 2014, up from $4 billion the year before.  

The magazine probes these areas in depth, citing Lending Club, Venmo and others on my list as disruptors and concludes that: “the bigger effect from the fintech revolution will be to force flabby incumbents to cut costs and improve the quality of their service. That will change finance as profoundly as any regulator has”.

In other words, the industry does not disappear, just the big, fat, lazy players.  I agree.

By coincidence, this article hit my radar the same day as the great guys over at Finovate were running their annual West Coast bash.  In preparation for this, Jim Bruene posted a list of Unicorns – start-up firms founded since 2000 that have achieved over $1 billion valuations – and notes that the list has tripled over the preceding year, from just 11 companies in 2014 to 35 in 2015.  Simlar to other lists, a third of these are in lending and credit markets and a third in payments – that’s where the action si ffolks.

With a big thank you to Jim for compiling this, here’s the names of the biggest Fintech firms around:

1. Lufax (Lending)

2. LendingClub (Lending)

3. Square (Payments)

4. Zillow (Real estate)

5. Zenefits (Insurance)

6. Stripe (Payments)

7. Powa Technologies (Payments)

8. Klarna (Payments)

9. Xero (Accounting)

10. CommonBond (Lending)

10. CreditKarma (Credit Reports)

10. Oscar (Insurance)

10. One97 (Payments)

14. Prosper (Lending)

15. Dataminr (Analytics)

16. Zuora (Payments)

16. FinancialForce (Accounting)

16. LifeLock (Credit Reports)

16. Adyen (Payments)

20. iZettle (Payments)

21. SoFI (Lending)

21. (Real estate)

21. Qufenqi (Lending)

21. Revel Systems (Payments)

25. On Deck (Lending)

26. FundingCircle (Lending)

26. Jimubox (Lending)

26. Kofax (Doc mgmt)

26. TransferWise (Payments)

26. Trusteer (Security)

26. Mozido (Payments)

32. Avant (Lending)

32. IEX Group (Investing)

32. RenRenDai (Lending)

32. Coinbase (Bitcoin)

32. ClimateCorp (Insurance)



Wonga (Lending)
Wealthfront (Investing)
Rong360 (Lending)
Betterment (Investing)
Braintree (Payments)
Q2 (Banking)
WorldRemit (Payments)
Taulia (Payments)
Radius (Marketing)
Oportun (Progreso Financiero) (Lending)
Circle Internet Finance (Bitcoin)
AnJuke (Real estate)
Kabbage (Lending)
EzBob (Lending)
FangDD (Real estate)
VivaReal (Real estate)
Motif Investing (Investing)
Snowball Finance (Investing)
PolicyBazaar (Insurance)
Credorax (Payments)
Cardlytics (Marketing)
Zopa (Lending)
CAN Capital (Lending)
Receivables Exchange (Lending)
Affirm (Lending)
Ayadsi (Analytics)
21 Inc (Bitcoin) (Payments)
FreeCharge (Payments)
U51 (Lending)
Financial Software Systems (Risk Mgmt)
Strategic Funding Source (Lending)
Ping Identity (Security)

Source: Compiled by Finovate, 8 May 2015


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Repeat after me: Bitcoin Bad, Blockchain Good

I wrote a while ago about the contrast between the innovators (jeans and beers) and regulators (suits and canapés) and was struck by this again as I attended EBADay in Amsterdam.  Like SIBOS, EBADay is attended by the best people in transaction banking and payments, and they all wear suits and ties.

The focus of these meetings is often on a regulatory dialogue, and EBADay didn’t let us down with panel sessions on BASEL III, Beyond SEPA, The Regulatory Hurdle, PSD2, ISO20022 XML, Financial Crime and Security and so on and so forth.  There was a bit on the blockchain too, and here is really struck me that things were awry.

I’ve been tweeting a while that bankers are all repeating the mantra Bitcoin Bad, Blockchain Good.  This rallying cry is now so strong that if you challenge it – is bitcoin really that bad? – everyone quashes the discussion.  I’m now of a mind that the majority quash such discussion because they really don’t know what bitcoin is about.

Reid Hoffman – the co-founder of LinkedIn and early investor in PayPal and Facebook – talks about this in Wired this month.  Interestingly, Reid only got interested in bitcoin two years ago after meeting Wences Cesares, who interview featured on the blog in March.  Reid says a few interesting things in this space.

“There are three aspects to Bitcoin that are interwoven … One, it’s an asset, like digital gold 2.0. Two, it’s a currency in as much as currency is like the digital app that allows you to begin to transact and trade. And, three, it’s also a platform where you can build financial and other products on top of it. These attributes all bound together are what convinced me that there’s a certainty that there will be at least one global cryptocurrency and that there’s a good argument that it’s Bitcoin, or that Bitcoin is one of them, if not THE one.”

He goes on to talk about how other VCs and protagonists are dissing bitcoin and says that this pleases him, as he’s investing for the long-term and the long-term says that bitcoin, or a relation, will win.

Now, back to the banking audience, and they’re talking Ripple – Chris Larsen was the opening keynote here – and, since I arrived, I’ve heard this mantra about Bitcoin Bad, Blockchain Good. 

So why would someone as intelligent and informed as Reid Hoffman – and Marc Andreessen, Richard Branson, Wence Cesares, Jon Matonis, et al – be so pro-bitcoin when the banks are not.  My answer is that most of the people dissing bitcoin haven’t looked under the hood.

So here are two test questions for all of you reading this and thinking Bitcoin Bad, Blockchain Good. 

One, have you actually read Satoshi Nakamoto’s white paper?

Two, can you explain to me exactly why the blockchain is good?

I don’t do this, as I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but I’m guessing that 99% of the Bitcoin Bad, Blockchain Good people would answer no to both questions.

So, to help you along the way, here is Satoshi’s white paper and the abstract pretty much summarises what you need to know (but read the rest anyway as I’m going to test you on it):

A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution. Digital signatures provide part of the solution, but the main benefits are lost if a trusted third party is still required to prevent double-spending. We propose a solution to the double-spending problem using a peer-to-peer network. The network timestamps transactions by hashing them into an ongoing chain of hash-based proof-of-work, forming a record that cannot be changed without redoing the proof-of-work. The longest chain not only serves as proof of the sequence of events witnessed, but proof that it came from the largest pool of CPU power. As long as a majority of CPU power is controlled by nodes that are not cooperating to attack the network, they’ll generate the longest chain and outpace attackers.

Here’s a quick explanation of the blockchain that works well for me from the

The block chain is a shared public ledger on which the entire Bitcoin network relies. All confirmed transactions are included in the block chain. This way, Bitcoin wallets can calculate their spendable balance and new transactions can be verified to be spending bitcoins that are actually owned by the spender. The integrity and the chronological order of the block chain are enforced with cryptography.

A transaction is a transfer of value between Bitcoin wallets that gets included in the block chain. Bitcoin wallets keep a secret piece of data called a private key or seed, which is used to sign transactions, providing a mathematical proof that they have come from the owner of the wallet. The signature also prevents the transaction from being altered by anybody once it has been issued. All transactions are broadcast between users and usually begin to be confirmed by the network in the following 10 minutes, through a process called mining.

And here’s why bitcoin is integral to the blockchain: because the blockchain does not work without a native cryptocurrency, and why would you create an alternative to bitcoin when over 90% of all cryptocurrency transactions are based upon bitcoins?

Maybe that’s why Nasdaq is using bitcoin as the blockchain currency to record securities settlements:

Nasdaq will leverage the Open Assets Protocol, a colored coin innovation built upon the blockchain. In its first application expected later this year, Nasdaq will launch blockchain-enabled digital ledger technology that will be used to expand and enhance the equity management capabilities offered by its Nasdaq Private Market platform. Nasdaq’s blockchain technology will offer efficient, fully-electronic services that facilitate the issuance, transfer, and management of private company securities.

And no, they may not mention it in the press release, but yes, Nasdaq is using bitcoin as the native currency for their blockchain developments.

So please stop being parrots and squawking Bitcoin Bad, Blockchain Good as some parrots are Norwegian and may find themselves in a Monty Python sketch if they don’t watch out,.



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Brett King's Moven 4.0 wins Best in Show at Finovate

I’ve been involved in Brett King’s new venture, Moven, since its inception and was pleased to see the new renovated version won Best in Show at Finovate yesterday in San Jose.  In a key announcement, Moven has partnered with Accenture to roll out their capabilities worldwide and, in what many are referring to as Bank 4.o, demonstrated key new features including links to the Apple Watch and a feature called Impulse that locks up your money unless you explicitly unlock it.

Rather than talk about this in depth, good friend  Jim Marous provided an in-depth review on the Financial Brand, and has kindly allowed me to replicate here.

New Moven App Encourages Savings, Eliminates Product Silos

Moven introduces a mobile banking application that uses real-time contextual insight to encourage savings, discourage impulse purchases and provide emergency funds seamlessly on a mobile phone or wearable device.

At a time when most traditional banks in the U.S. are falling behind consumer expectations with respect to providing basic mobile banking services, Moven continues to blaze a trail of innovation that disrupts conventional banking paradigms. With the advantage of building a mobile banking platform from scratch, CEO and founder of Moven, Brett King was joined by Moven president and co-founder Alex Sion as they presented what some are coining ‘Bank 4.0′ at Finovate Spring in San Jose.

The introduction of its new Impulse Savings feature was one of several major expansions and enhancements to Moven’s overall experience that was introduced to another sold out crowd of bankers, investors, news media and others interested in fintech innovations. Moving beyond providing insight into spending behavior, Moven customers will have access to tools designed to encourage savings behavior and thus improve overall financial well being.

Data-Driven Contextual Experience

The 2015 Retail Banking Trends & Predictions report says the future of digital banking will combine four key elements underrepresented in the majority of today’s mobile banking apps:

  1. Data-driven contextual experience
  2. Highly visual mobile-first design
  3. Integrated share of wallet expansion potential
  4. Expansion beyond the smartphone

The new Impulse Savings feature leverages Moven’s existing real-time contextualized notifications, including instant receipts that automatically categorize every transaction, as well as an updated, color-coded Spending Meter® and app home screen, making it even easier for users to turn spending insights into savings behaviors in line with the app’s financial wellness mission.

Screenshots Savings Categories

According to King, “The entire app responds to the user’s behavior, using proprietary gamification and behavioral design to eliminate the need for budgeting in order to save. Users can track their spending, seeing how much and how fast they are saving  in real-time.”

“Most banks have some form of mobile notification, a smaller number have actionable notifications, but Moven’s contextual notifications raises the bar for all FIs in the U.S.,” stated Alex Jimenez, SVP, Digital and Payments Innovation at Rockland Trust and an attendee at Finovate Fall. “Context gives intelligent emotion to real data. People need to believe in themselves first, then achieve success to change self-defeating behaviors,” added Lisa Kuhn Phillips, founder of inaVision, LLC.

Mobile-First Design

Very few traditional mobile banking applications in the U.S. provide innovative ways to save or provide incentives for positive behavior. This is one of the reasons alternative providers such as Digit and other fintech players continue to develop new mobile applications.

Moven is one of only a few truly innovative banking organizations in the U.S., statedMichal Panowicz, deputy head of digital banking at Nordea and previously with mBank. While mBank, La CaixaGarantiDenizbankKotak MahindraHana BankIdea BankCheBanca! and quite a few others are impressive fintech innovators worldwide, the largest U.S. financial organizations are lagging international leaders in the online and mobile banking arena.”

The Impulse Savings app from Moven introduces several innovative feature including:

  • ‘Lock Away Savings’ Prompts: With ‘lock away savings’, users are notified whenever their spending behavior has placed them far enough in the green (below their average spending) that it makes sense to set money aside. Moven gamifies that moment, turning that typical impulsive spending moment into a savings moment. This savings feature is perfect for the wearable form factor.

Impulse Saving Process

  • Visual Wish List Leveraging Pinterest, etc: The ability to set up a visual wish list of items a user wants to save for, as well as the option to quickly and simply curate these directly from a user’s Pinterest board and others in a few simple taps.
  • ‘Break the Glass’ to Unlock Savings: When users have reached a savings milestone, they can access their savings by tapping the app interface three times to simulate ‘breaking the glass’ – employing simple behavioral gamification to make the user think before spending their hard earned savings. If they proceed, their savings funds are immediately transferred into their Moven spending account for their desired purchase.

Break the Glass 350“It’s refreshing to see a unique way to redirect the strong energy behind typical buying impulses and the craving of material belonging into savings,” stated Duena Blomstrom, FinTech and Digital Experience Specialist at Duena Blomstrom Consulting. “The banking industry needs more ways to change current addictions to shopping into addictions to savings. Using gamification concepts may be the path to intensely emotional contextual Money Moments of Saving.”

Integrated Share of Wallet Expansion Potential

The majority of today’s mobile banking applications do a terrible job of selling additional services based on contextual insights. Banking in general is steeped in traditional product silos and have a difficult time viewing their products from a consumer perspective (selling loans as opposed to providing real-time borrowing solutions).

There are exceptions, such as with mBank’s 30 second mobile loan application andPNC’s virtual wallet, but these are exceptions. “It is clear that unbridled by technology legacy platforms, and critically bulging business unit and product divisions who stifle most traditional banking product innovation, Moven is inspired and able to deliver services that customers will actually want, use and benefit from. The products and services offered by traditional banks today haven’t fundamentally changed since the 1800’s merely how they are distributed. In most cases, this is the equivalent of trying to sell vinyl through the Apple Store,” states David M. Brear from the London-based Think Different Group Ltd.

To combine checking, savings and lending services, Moven unveiled its Emergency Cash feature to provide users the spending capacity for their regular purchases beyond current balances. The emergency cash notification leverages GPS-technology to alert users when funds are low as they enter their favorite or most frequented places.

Using Moven’s real-time behavioral insights on a user’s typical spending habits at any location (i.e. average grocery shopping bill), users receive a notification offering them a real-time overdraft opportunity. This notification comes with a transparent upfront fee, to help bridge the gap between typical spend at the location and their current balance. The emergency cash advance is settled when the next deposit is made.


The benefit of this integrated solution is a breakdown of traditional product silos and the ability to increase share of a consumer’s wallet in real time, eliminating the traditional friction of an overt sales process.

“With Moven’s contextual savings and credit, we’ve eliminated the need for separate products like checking, savings, overdraft, credit card and fixed deposits. We’ve replaced these silos with contactless payments and a real-time receipt, impulse savings, emergency in-store cash, wish-list savings and eventually, the potential to gamify your savings rate through referral,” stated King.

After seeing the new application, David Gerbino from DMG Consulting said, “What King and Sion and the rest of the Moven team have done is to begin the process of eliminating traditional bank products and services that were operational constructs and replaced them with a financial offering designed to aid its users in managing and improving their financial well being.”

Expansion Beyond the Smartphone

One of the early pioneers in integrating banking beyond the smartphone, Moven will enhance many of these compatibilities with the benefits of wearables. Impulse Savings will be made available via wearable devices, such as the Android Moto360 and Samsung Gear smart watches as well as the Apple Watch.

Users on all these devices will be able to receive instant receipts, see insights on their spending habits via the Spending Meter® and be gently nudged to save their spare cash via the new Moven apps. According to Alex Sion, Moven’s wearable strategy is not to deploy an app on a watch or on smart glasses, but to provide experiences or insights that are optimized for the location or the moment.

“Moven has taken the checking account, savings account, overdraft, credit card and fixed deposit or CD and we’ve made an app that provides savings, payments capability and credit in real-time, based on context,” said King. “However, perhaps the greater innovation is the removal of budgeting, or what we call the envelope or ‘goals’ personal financial management (PFM) concept, in favor of accelerated savings behavior via gamification – you don’t need any discipline or plan, no financial education or literacy … you literally just use the app everyday and it will help you save.”

“Moven gets moving again and has becomes an integral front end system for many banks. In other words, it is now the innovative front end software house for banks, but not a bank. It will be interesting to see how that pans out as their software becomes the customer interface of choice,” stated Chris Skinner, Chairman of the Financial Services Club and author of the book, Digital Bank.

“What Moven has captured is the shift from primary financial institution (PFI) to primary financial application (PFA),” stated Bradley Leimer, industry thought leader and Finovate attendee. “They have developed a tool that provides an aggregated view of a consumer’s financial life, including real time payment analysis and a contextual savings tool. They have also shown the power of moving from traditional push notifications to actionable real-time insights. This is a significant step in the evolution of the Fintech space.”

While Moven was initially introduced as a mobile-based alternative to traditional banks, it has recently moved beyond its home market of the U.S., partnering through licensing agreements with TD Bank in Canada and WestPac in New Zealand. To expand this initiative, Moven and Accenture announced a collaboration in deploying Moven’s experience-as-a-service platform at Finovate.

According to King, the alliance with Accenture will help Moven expand the distribution of their next-generation digital platform globally, reaching tens of millions of users worldwide.

Jim Marous is the publisher of Retail Banking Strategies for The Financial Brand. Marous also publishes the Digital Banking Report, a subscription-based publication that provides deep insights into the digitization of banking. There are 150 reports in the digital archive that are available to subscribers. You can follow Jim onTwitter and LinkedIn.

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Why the blockchain will radically alter our futures

There’s an interesting debate about blockchains, sidechains and identity taking place that is emergent right now but, soon, will be mainstream.  For those who are unclear about these things, blockchain is the technology protocol invented by Satoshi Nakamoto with bitcoin, although it doesn’t have to be based upon bitcoin.  The blockchain allows you to create a public ledger system that is accessible for all and secure.  This is achieved by having public recording of transactions whilst they are secured by private keys.  As a result, any exchange on the blockchain is secured until the private key is passed along.  At that point, the ledger records the exchange of the key and the movement of a digital asset, and that asset can be anything from a currency transaction to a securities settlement to a mortgage deed to a marriage contract. 

In fact, in order to allow different markets to create different blockchains to record these different styles of transaction, there is now this thing called sidechains.  Sideschains are just spin-offs of a blockchain used to record a specific market transaction, such as house deed sales, and sit alongside the main blockchain.

It is this is the technology that all the banks are excited about, as it allows the exchange of digital assets to be recorded digitally for near free and, for those who read them, the recent case studies with Ripple, Jon Matonis and Jeffrey Robinson illustrate the great debate around this technology well.  The core of this debate is whether this blockchain technology needs to reside on the bitcoin currency.  For some, such as Jon Matonis, this is a given.  Why would you create another currency?   For others, such as Jeffrey Robinson, as soon as blockchains are endorsed and operated using dollar, euro or yen, then why the hell would you need bitcoin?  You can make your own mind up, as this is a sideshow to the emergent discussion about the internet of things and how the blockchain may make it work effectively.

So here’s the scenario in the very near future.

You buy a fridge, a car, a house, a smartphone, a wearable, a whatever.  All the things you buy have clear serial number identifications as well as chips inside to enable them to transact wirelessly over the web.  Upon purchase, your device is recorded as being yours using your digital identity token (probably a biometric or something similar).  That recording of that transaction takes place on the blockchain. 

Now, you have multiple devices transacting upon your behalf.  Your fridge is ordering groceries from the supermarket; your car auto refuels as it self-drives the highways; your house reorders all the things needed for the robot vacuum and other cleansing devices it uses; and so on.

Each transaction is a micro-purchase around your wallet, but involving no authentication of you.  The authentication is of your devices.  Should a large transaction occur, or maybe just to check-in as contactless payments do with every twenty or more transactions, you are request to agree that this is your device ordering on your behalf by providing a TouchID or similar.

And all of this is being transacted and recorded on the open blockchain ledger of your bank cheaply, easily and in real-time.

What this provides is the scenario I keep talking about. The scenario invented years ago by Gene Rodenberry, when he came up with the idea for Star Trek.  Now Star Trek has lots of things that were forecasts of the future that came true from communicators that were the predecessors of Motorola flip phones to body scanners that could be hand held.  One of the other predictions was that we wouldn’t need money.

Did you ever see anyone ever pay for anything on Star Trek?

The reason you don’t need money in the future is that all the transactions you make take place wirelessly around you, through your internet of things.  You walk into a store or mall, and all of your devices and identity are communicating your location and intention.  As a result, you never pay for anything.  You just authorise with the blink of an eye or the wave of a watch.

The future is so bright, I gotta wear shades, and it’s coming within the next decade.  By 2025, the only humans who will be using cheques, cards or cash, will be the ones who are happy to pay the penalty fees charged by the merchants and banks for these transactions.  The rest of us will be using chip-based identities for ourselves and our devices to wirelessly order everything without having to think.


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