Are We Systems?

Just a thought…why is it that something as personal as our money can only talk to us in columns and rows?  Wouldn’t it make more sense if our digital banking dialogue felt more like a human conversation and less like a data dump?


Think Big

John Gruber referenced the following quote in a piece on “The Tablet”. I think it’s one that innovators in the banking industry should take to heart in this new year.

“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.”


SmartyPig: Harbinger of a Cash-only Generation?

In case you’ve missed it, SmartyPig is a goals-based savings network that helps people establish a clear path towards their wants and needs.  They’ve built a simple and assistive interface around a basic savings account.

Recently, SmartyPig launched some new features that definitely enhance the saving experience.  Instead of simply withdrawing at the end of your goal, they’ve partnered with a variety of merchants to create an interesting and lucrative new option.  At the end of your goal, you can funnel all or part of your savings to gift cards for merchants like Macy’s and Best Buy.  Additionally, they will boost your cash by up to 12% of your total balance.  So, in addition to your interest, you could potentially earn $240 just by transferring your balance to a Macy’s gift card.  The percentage earned varies by merchant.

If this great recession has taught Gen Y anything at all, it’s that debt can make life hell.  Services like SmartyPig could potentially change the way we go about getting the things we want and need.  In this model, the consumer determines the monthly payment and instead of paying 12% in interest, they could actually earn that much in the end.  At the end of the term, the consumer has all the cash they need plus interest, possibly a wad of extra cash and zero debt.  I’d say that’s well worth the wait.

If banks can find a way to adopt and market this kind of interface, it’s possible that they could change consumer behavior in a way that does away with our appetite for instant gratification by rewarding patience.  This could go a long way towards ensuring that we don’t repeat the mistakes that led to these dark times.

IDEO Bakes Up Gen Y Banking Experience

By now most of you should have heard about PNC Bank’s Virtual Wallet.  I tried it out for about 6 months before moving my deposit.  It’s a great interface but their core banking system is still flawed in many ways.  Anyway, IDEO has an interesting read detailing the design that went into Virtual Wallet.