Trends in Consumer Banking.



Like other sectors, Banks have always been boosting and incorporating new high-tech systems to make banking easier for consumers and to enable their transition. Here are some developing technology and design changes that are shaping today’s transition in the Banking Sector.


The bricks-and-mortar locations where banks traditionally conduct business in person with their customers are going through a big period of transformation.

Banks are closing branches, relocating branches, shrinking the square footage of branches and moving branches into shopping-center spaces to be closer to their consumer. They’re also changing the nature of services that banks offer customers at branches.

Transactions, which have been the backbone of branches, are migrating out of the branch and into other channels – Mobile apps, online, ATMs and other technology influences are taking the transactions out of the branch itself. “Intelligent ATMs” offer more transaction services or video screens that can connect customers to live tellers at call centers.


As transactions move out of branches, tellers must become less transaction-oriented and more focused on sales of bank products and services.

Even their job titles have changed from teller to personal banker, and now, universal banker. This new position describes branch employees who not only process transactions but also pitch products and services to customers through cross-selling and up-selling.


Early on, banks experimented with mobile, website-based banking services. But the trend today is toward mobile banking apps designed to deliver banking services via a smartphone.

Most banking apps allow customers to check account balances, review transactions, transfer funds from one account to another within the bank and pay bills within the bank or externally.

The big unknown is the extent to which mobile banking apps also will allow customers to complete transactions that are harder to authenticate remotely.


The risk of identity theft creates the incentive for consumers to take responsibility for the safety and security of their personal financial information. Whether that means a password-protected cellphone or one with virus protection, consumers have to be smart users of technology.

Banks are doing their part, too. One trend is stricter authentication systems that require more than a simple username and uncomplicated password to access a bank account.

But banks today don’t stop with authentication. Many are taking “a layered approach” that begins with authentication and adds plenty of other security systems.

“It’s like securing a house, you want strong locks, but you shouldn’t stop at the locks.”


Transaction security, in particular, will continue to be a challenge.

The magnetic strip, or “mag stripe,” found on the back of most debit cards and credit cards is old technology. The new tech, already widely used in Europe, involves a so-called EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) chip, which is much more secure than a mag stripe. The EMV chip produces unique coding for each transaction and transfers some of the liability for fraudulent transactions from banks to retailers.

Some past data breaches (for example target in the U.S) may have been prevented by having more robust card technology.

“I think we could see some drastic changes in the way we bank and the way the card is used”


Despite the ubiquity of plastic payment options, consumers still use cash and coin to pay for plenty of goods and services, particularly when small dollar amounts are involved. And much of that cash and coin passes through bank accounts at some point or another.

That could change as new payment technologies, like smartphone wallets and virtual currencies, make a run at displacing the cash and coin.

Banks offer some of these technologies, but many other nonbank companies also do it. That could mean some stiff competition in cash-replacement, technology-based services.


Stop Thinking, Start Feeling …


Top tips for writing great briefs:

1) Don’t over think things.
2) Release yourself from the tyranny of conscious thought
3) Express everything in a simple yet interesting way
4) Something that allows people to ‘feel’ not ‘be told’
5) Turn functional into exciting
6) Ignore details and distractions and focus on clarity
7) Briefs that are exciting, infectious and ‘bursting with possible’
8) A proposition that opens doors rather than creates small boxes

Originally posted on The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]:

The reason I mention this is because recently I came across a quote that seemed to explain why these 2 subjects are inherently linked:

You see the problem I have is that I often think too much about something.

OK, that’s wrong, we should never undermine the ability to think something through with rigour and purpose … it’s just that sometimes, in my focused state [I know, amazing eh!] I find it almost impossible to express all that I’ve learnt and had to consider in a simple – yet interesting – way.

And that’s where music helps and why that quote is so good.

You see once I’ve worked out the context of what I’m trying to convey, I basically look for songs that have that theme in their title and then just listen to them.

I know that sounds utterly ridiculous, but you’d be surprised how often…

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What does Obesity have to do with Advertising?

Peter Attia

This talk is interesting not only from a nutrition & health perspective (it might lead to a debunking of some long held beliefs about obesity & diabetes) but because of the scientific thought process behind it which we could learn from. It shows a willingness to challenge the pre-accepted hypothesis and to develop empathy with a situation rather than just passing quick judgement.

It is a demonstration of open minds, courage to throw out yesterday’s hypothesis, and a recognition that scientific truth isn’t final but constantly evolving.

So how can we learn from this for our own industry? For me there are two points:

First, although advertising is not a science but we should try to make it so – for example we search for an insight just like researchers looking for Cholinesterase inhibitors treating Alzheimers. The difference is that we shouldn’t debate, procrastinate and pontificate over it but instead invest in a true process of discovery.

Second, even when we do uncover an amazing insight, the enchantment of great advertising is not actually the insight itself but about taking a straight forward insight and turning it into something amazing.

The point is that ultimately advertising is an entertainment / creative & social industry. Maybe we shouldn’t be over-thinking creativity and searching for a holy grail, and instead just letting go of our inhibitions and enjoying ourselves (just like when we watch something that engages us). Let’s be honest with ourselves – these days whether a campaign for a noble humanitarian cause or the next big Soda campaign, the life span of an idea is a few days / weeks with a # before something else takes its place. So let’s be nimble, let’s be flexible, let’s search for entertaining ideas rather than unequivocal truths because there are very few unequivocal truths in the world, but many points of connection.

I’d like to leave you with this message from Joi Ito. If innovation has been broken down and democratized, then it’s right for advertising to be also broken down and democratised. The future is about not getting bogged down in words and statements and more about quick prototyping, experimenting, learning to trust the team and building on each others ideas. This doesn’t take the responsibility off strategic rigour, but it recognises that advertising just like Science and Innovation is about experimenting, coming up with quick iterations, building and breaking hypothesis and then getting to the point where we can make a creative leap to something fresh yet useful.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Those that do.


Maker is a documentary about people who make stuff. It is what I was referring to in the post about the Transition Economy.

I’m happy that the trend was identified and termed more eloquently by others ;) The project is definately worth checking out on Kickstarter and supporting.

Be happy.


A Half-Baked Reflection On Influence

The world is teeming with people we refer to as “influencers”.  Marketeers and advertisers will befriend influencers when launching a new product or a campaign in order to gain access to their entourage. We try to gain their favor in order to reach out to those who look up to them.

The word ‘influence’ comes from an Old French astrological term meaning “emanation from the stars that acts upon one’s character and destiny”. It’s no coincidence that ‘influence’, originally exerted by the stars, is nowadays exerted by ‘stars’ of a different kind.

Influenza’ comes from Medieval Latin influentia, meaning  “a flowing in”, which also refers to the stars, since influenza was believed to have occult or astral influence.

It’s the similarity between influencer-the-star and influenza-the-disease that strikes me as interesting — the concept of influence as an epidemic, in the etymological as well as metaphorical sense.

Are we influenced out of conviction or out of contagion? Do influencers convince us, or do we only want so desperately to be like these stars that we succumb to (and fall ill with) their opinions? The mechanics of ‘influence’ are worth a deeper study, perhaps elsewhere.

The ‘Socialmediazation’ Of Life

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“You should tweet that!”

You’ve probably received this advice from someone in response to something you said; something admittedly not as profound as your friend made it seem. It’s only normal to ask someone to tweet what they just said, of course. It’s akin to the knee-jerk reflex when the doctor taps your tendon with a hammer.

“You should tweet that!” That’s the new, natural ending to a conversation. That’s evolution, baby.


Your napkin sits lightly on your lap. Crumbs on the table tell of your skirmishes with the bread sticks and butter. In your peripheral vision you spot the waiter approaching with a tray. You turn to your friends to express your joy about the food’s arrival.

But then,

As the waiter comes closer, three out of the four people at the table have already pulled out their phones to Instagram their plates. It’s the new saying grace, the new “بسم الله” before you eat.


Were you at the Metallica concert? Did you check in on Foursquare? Did you then upload photos of yourself to Facebook, standing in a sea of ebbing humanity, with the stage (and maybe even James Hetfield) behind you, miles away, the size of a pinhead?

If you did, then inspect those photos for a moment. Inspect the background, notice smart phone screens in the air as hundreds, thousands (who’s counting, right?) of people are taking videos of the concert with one hand as the other hand flashes the sign of the horn.

Your photos document this convergence of an outdated “heavy metal” hand gesture with the more contemporary addiction to documentation.

An addiction to the ‘socialmediazation’ of life.

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Kik it, Vine it, upload it to YouTube. Or pin it, GIF it, tag it, share it. Send it out like a ripple; a digital echo diffusing into the vast virtual space. It’s all exhibitionists and voyeurs out there. Feed them.

But when you’re finished, right before your phone battery runs out, or just as your dried-up eyes start begging you to go to sleep, ask yourself these:

Were you really there in that moment? Did you ‘experience’ it?

Or were you too busy reporting it to the internet? Did you really want to be there, or did you just want to be able to say you were there; to show off  how much life you’re living? Did you feel anything or were you too preoccupied with publishing the fun you were ‘having’?

Come back. The moment needs you.


PS: At a public art exhibition on JBR two months back, a lovely European violinist performed on the sidewalk in a flowing red dress, her melancholic melodies riding on the night’s lazy seaside breeze. As people passed by, they snapped photos or took videos of this rare presence. They stood there just long enough for the photo/video before moving on to the next ‘thing’. No one stopped to actually listen or watch her perform.

Telling your story.

Previously, I’ve written about the progress of Marketing and Communications over time (Marketing Era’s; From-functional-to-aspirational-to-meaningful-economy). One might argue that such definition of trends and cycles is outdated even irrelevant, since the pace of change in society and culture today is so fast, things move on before we can even discuss them. But, I still believe it is worthwhile to scope out the landscape we are working in, if for nothing else, just to know its modus operandi. Also it is worthwhile (1) to understand the changes in people’s behavior and how to deal with them (policies, products, conversations). (2) To understand the effects of these changes and how to navigate the future. After all, the intelligent brand/ corporation is one who can adapt and be ready for the future.

With that in mind, I believe that the current cycle is one of conversation / experience. More than that, it is one where stories shine. If we consider the rise of WordPress, tumblr, wordpad and even Pinterest and Instagram, I believe one thing they have in common is the idea of sharing our ‘stories’ with people. Even when we tweet we are sharing a ‘story’ of sorts.

Thanks to (as a result of) the digital revolution, people have become accustomed to giving more media more of their time. People spend short – sometimes long – chunks of time engaged in watching videos (Vimeo, youtube), reading (slideshare, blogs, facebook and twitter links), playing games (with all the emotions they involve). Only an interesting ‘story’ makes people do that.

If you look at the print ads below (source: Archive magazine vol.3 2012), you will see that they tell interesting stories. They engage people with an introduction, main plot and conclusion of sorts.

The notion of stories in marketing is not new. But what I believe is important is the way we look at stories from a brand viewpoint.

A brand story is not just a manifesto. Everything the brand does is part of its storyline. And unlike in the past, the ‘storyline’ doesn’t need to continue identically through all communication touchpoints. In fact, we can consider all touchpoints and all aspects of the brand as having unique stories with unique sub-plots, characters and settings across all touchpoints. They don’t all need to look or feel or sound identical. As long as they tell the story in total. At different points in time, one outweighs the other (see diagram below).

So next time you’re briefing your agency, make sure they understand and have a plan to tell your brand story though various touchpoints and that each touchpoint has its own engaging story and emotion. That’s what we do for our brands ;) It’s what keeps our work fresh, intriguing and interesting.


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