umpqua sfoFrom Aspiration’s democratisation of investing with a focus on social good, and Spain’s La Caixa loved by the people of Catalonia … to Moven’s money management concept launching in New York, and Zidisha enabling peer to peer lending for African entrepreneurs … the future of banking is different, and increasingly diverse in format.

Life flows better

In the past, every town centre had its bank, with a queue of people and bars between you and your money. In fact you were lucky to even get there, given that they only opened when everyone was at worked. Even today, most banks still seem antiquated. They work hard to hide the best deals from customers, and simple transactions presumably requiring only a few keystrokes, like an international payment, can take a week. Whilst it was the greed and incompetence of corporate banking that drove the world to financial crisis, most customers see the whole banking system as opaque and not to be trusted.

The next generation of banks do things differently.

They have no time for these out-dated practices. They design their services around the customer, less interested in outwitting innocent account holders with complex schemes and random charges, instead focused on (as a Visa ad campaign said) helping your money to flow smoother, and life to flow better. They focus on adding value to people’s lives, where money is an enabler, applying and embedding finance into richer lifestyle experiences, be it for managing your home, shopping, travelling or entertainment.

Escape the branch

The best ideas often emerge from low tech environments. When Safaricom started operating a system of text-based promises to pay, M-Pesa emerged as a digital currency for Africa. Eventually the major players like Visa followed suite with V.Pay. More generally, the smartphone is seen as the future of branches, creating everything you need to manage your money, anytime anywhere. Brett King, author of Bank 3.0 recently put his theories on the line, launching his own solution, Moven, entirely virtual.

In the real world, the full service trend goes beyond a smile, pioneered by Umpqua Bank where Ray Davis created a fusion of Gap, Starbucks and Ritz Carlton hotels in the form of a boutique bank. When Richard Branson promised to make money fun, he created lounges and started serving cocktails. Somewhere in between these worlds are the kiosk formats, favoured by the likes of Citibank and Bank of America, providing convenience on each street corner, supported by video-based advisors.

Money enables more

Many banks stand out by focusing on specific audiences, rather trying to be all things to all people with the inevitable confusion of complexity, or blandness of average. Alior Sync creating a social media enabled, gaming embedded, digital bank just for 20-30 year olds, Bank of Inner Mongolia targeting China’s wealthy mining region, Bank Nizwa of Oman, chose to focus on creating the state’s first Islamic bank. Silicon Valley Bank is specifically designed for entrepreneurs, and Indonesia-based Bank BTPN focuses on micro loans, and in particular its hugely profitable pension loans service.

Once you are focused on a specific audience, it is much easier to do more for them, understanding their specific needs, and then linking to other partners who can offer a more complete experience. Finding a vacation to match your preferences and budget, or the best deal on your new car, is what customers do. This also opens up a wide variety of new channels and affinity brands through which to enable more.

Consider, for example, you buy a new suitcase to go on vacation. Selling travel contents insurance, maybe on an annual subscription, is an obvious way to reach consumers “in context”. Or imagine you are hunting for a new house. It shouldn’t be hard to take out your smartphone, take a photo of a property you see for sale. With visual recognition, the house can be found on the database of estate agents and details pulled up. Connecting to your financial profile, funds available and credit scores, enables an instant assessment of whether it is affordable for you. Rather than the bank becoming the major obstacle to such transactions, it becomes the enabler.

The question, however, is whether banks themselves will provide these human-centred, integrated and enabling interfaces, or whether other brands will embed banks within their richer, more inspiring financial and lifestyle experiences.

Explore more

Meet the Gamechangers in Futurebank

Aspiration – Investing with a conscience

Aspiration was born to be the financial firm for everyone. Because everyone deserves access to the best banking and investing products. Everyone deserves a financial partner they are confident they can trust. And everyone deserves to put their money in an institution that puts “good” ahead of “greed.” Profits are important. But what sets Aspiration apart is the belief that people are too. Our “Pay What Is Fair” fees mean we go to work every day committed to do great for our customers. And as a financial firm with a conscience, we are motivated by the mission to help you make money and make a difference at the same time.

Read more about Aspiration >

Commonwealth Bank of Australia – When we believe, we can

CommBank's innovative products and services are all about helping you to achieve more - to find a better home, to travel the world, to serve your customers better, to grow your business faster - its about more than money, its about you.

Read more about Commonwealth Bank of Australia >

DBS Bank – A bank for Asia, a bank for the digital world

DBS (the Development Bank of Singapore) leads the way in digital banking innovation, in Asia and across the world. It operates across 18 markets. We are an Asia-centric commercial bank focused on harnessing the region’s long-term potential as the centre of economic gravity shifts eastwards to Asia.

Read more about DBS Bank >

Ezetap – The Square of India ... cashless payments in fast growth markets.

"Over the next decade, India will move from a cash-based, opaque economy ... to an economy that is digital, instantaneous, and where every citizen is not just on the grid but the quality of their families’ future will be materially better" says Bobby Bose, cofounder of Ezepay.

Read more about Ezetap >

First National Bank – eWallet becomes your financial hub

South Africa's FNB puts innovation at the heart of its culture. The bank’s innovative eWallet, hosted on your phone, acts as a hub for many other creative solutions to making money flow easier and faster.

Read more about First National Bank >

goHenry – The bank account for kids, designed by parents

At last-an easy (and fun) way to pay pocket money, and teach your kids good money habits. goHenry is a Pre-paid, Pocket Money Card and App with unique parental controls, for young people aged 6 to 18.

Read more about goHenry >

Goldman Sachs – Investment banking enters the consumer market

Marcus Goldman was a German banker, businessman, and financier. He was born in Trappstadt, Bavaria and immigrated to the United States in 1848. He was the founder of Goldman Sachs, which has since become one of the world's largest investment banks. However the bank has started to change its own game, entering the consumer market with "Marcus by Goldman Sachs".

Read more about Goldman Sachs >

Kiva – Loans that change lives

Kiva is an international nonprofit organisation, founded in 2005 and based in San Francisco, with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. We celebrate and support people looking to create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.

Read more about Kiva >

Lemonade – Insurance driven by AI and behavioural economics

Lemonade is reinventing insurance to be instant, easy, and transparent. It offers home insurance powered by artificial intelligence and behavioral economics. By replacing brokers and bureaucracy with bots and machine learning, Lemonade promises zero paperwork and instant everything. And as a Certified B-Corp, where underwriting profits go to nonprofits, Lemonade is remaking insurance for social good, rather than a necessary evil.

Read more about Lemonade >

M-Pesa – Safaricom creates a new currency for Africa

M-Pesa became the mobile currency of Africa, embracing phones to do more than connect people, and improvising for the lack of infrastructure in fast growing markets.

Read more about M-Pesa >

Macquarie Bank – The Australian bank that seeks opportunities that others miss

Macquarie is a diversified financial group providing clients with asset management and finance, banking, advisory and risk and capital solutions across debt, equity and commodities. The diversity of our operations, combined with a strong capital position and robust risk management framework, has contributed to our 49-year record of unbroken profitability.

Read more about Macquarie Bank >

Monzo Bank – A bank that lives on your phone

Promoting itself as a “new kind of bank”, Monzo is just that. Placing technology at the core of everything it does, the entirely online bank is designed specifically for smartphones and is built to solve problems in a transparent and convenient way. Customers can use the app to manage their money, set monthly targets for regular expenditures such as groceries and eating out, and will receive notifications if they’re spending too quickly. The bank also has plans to make it easier for users to find the best utility deal, automatically switching them to the best provider. Monzo doesn’t offer a savings account, but instead will put customers’ money in the ISA or savings account that will work best for them. Furthermore, Monzo can be used all around the globe, meaning customers don’t need to inform their bank when they’re abroad: no extra fees are charged, and the exchange rate isn’t marked up.

Read more about Monzo Bank >

Moven – Bank 3.0 that promises to be different

Moven is a digital financial manager designed around the mobile consumer, making banking and life easier, and through a range of easy and fun analytics, embracing games and social media, and even makes you a rockstar!

Read more about Moven >

Ping An – The world's largest insurance company

Ping An Insurance Company provides products and services through its five ecosystems in financial services, healthcare, auto services, real estate services and Smart City solutions. The Group's insurance business writes property, casualty, and life insurance products. It is the largest in the world.

Read more about Ping An >

Robinhood – Removing all the barriers to stock trading

Robinhood is the worlds most innovative financial services company ... with a mission to democratise access to the financial markets, with a simple smartphone app.

Read more about Robinhood >

SoFi – Digital finance for millennials, with a focus on student loans

Armed with a fresh $500 million infusion, SoFi is trying to shake up the world of finance by finding time to mix career coaching and even dating events in with your mortgage payments.

Read more about SoFi >

Square – Making payments easy, anywhere anytime

Square’s insight came from the millions of small businesses who lose sales because they cannot accept credit cards. Empowering first the retailer, and the consumer, Square had to fight to change the rules of the market.

Read more about Square >

Stripe – Helping people spend online

Launched in 2010 by Irish entrepreneurial brothers Patrick and John Collison, originally called /dev/payments, the payments processing software and APIs for online platforms, and has received $1.6 billion funding and is now valued at $36 billion. Stripe describes itself as a technology company that builds economic infrastructure for the internet. Businesses of every size, from new startups to public companies, use Stripe’s software to accept online payments and run technically sophisticated financial operations in more than 100 countries. Stripe describes its purpose as "to increase the GDP of the internet".

Read more about Stripe >

Umpqua Bank – Fall in love with "the world's greatest bank"

Umpqua reimagined the banking experience around customers, inspired by parallels such as Gap and Starbucks. A passionate focus on people and service has created a digitally-enabled physical experience like no other.

Read more about Umpqua Bank >

Zhong An – China's first online insurance brand, with a quirky approach to selling

Ping An, Tencent and Alibaba joined forces in 2013 to launch Zhong An, China’s first truly digital insurer. Zhong An is China’s first property insurance company that sells all its products online along with handling claims.

Read more about Zhong An >

Zidisha – Peer to peer microfinance in developing markets

Zidisha is a non-profit organisation that matches African entrepreneurs with peer to peer loans from around the world, keeping interest rates low by cutting out intermediaries and using simple technology.

Read more about Zidisha >