There are very few people who could honestly claim that they are in complete control of their finances. While the majority of us have used budgeting programs or applications, we often discover that getting insights from the data is not as simple as we are led to believe.
Until now, one man is on a mission to make your money talk to you, wherever you are and whatever you may be doing. His name is Brett King.
King of Financial Innovation
Brett King is the Executive Chairman and Founder of Moven, a mobile banking and financial management app that works in real time, even for signing up. For many customers Moven functions as their day-to-day mobile bank, one that allows you to conduct instant transactions around the world using your phone.
The idea for Moven came to Brett, who is an International Bestselling author, when he was promoting his first book in 2010. The book titled Bank 2.0, dealt with the evolution of the bank account, banking in general and the direction they were headed. While on his Bank 2.0 book tour, a skeptical senior bank executive told Brett that it was likely no banks had the capacity or will to deliver the types of services on which the book touched anytime soon.
This was where Brett found his window of opportunity. He also recognized that a mobile platform might allow him to strongly differentiate a new smart bank account around behavior, financial health, digital onboarding, and customer acquisition. Never one to procrastinate, Brett registered the domain, MoveNBank.com (Move and Bank) that very day and commenced work on the first app prototype.
Moven was established the following year and the first seed round in 2012 generated $2.5m. They went live in 2013 with Brett as the CEO, a position he recently relinquished to move into the role of Executive Chairman. Today, he continues to chart the strategic direction of the company and maintains his intimate involvement in the product design process.
The company has now bought in over $50m in strategic and venture funding, created a direct banking service in the USA and an enterprise software business that is licensing its technology to banks across the globe, from Canada to New Zealand. They are currently finalizing the process of acquiring a full national bank charter in the U.S.
One of the chief differences between Moven and the innumerable banking apps currently available is its focus on effecting real change in every user’s financial habits.
That is not just a throwaway marketing line or a pipe dream –statistics reveal that Moven customers save an average of 4-8% month on month from their peers after migrating from a standard debit card issued by a mainstream bank.
Rather counter intuitively, this is not achieved through interest rates and promotions, the two most common tools used by banks. Instead, Moven focuses on understanding the individual and then intelligently injecting behavioral prompts and gamification elements in the app to guide them in saving proactively on a daily basis.
It is not a static process; the app learns as it interacts and is able to predict the time of day and day of the week when a user is most likely to respond positively to a prompt to save better. In this way, Moven is creating smart savers who become progressively healthier financially the more they use the platform.
The enterprise component of Moven takes two forms. Firstly, financial institutions can use it as the basis on which to create a new standalone app or mobile bank account offering to help their customers in their quest for financial wellbeing.
Otherwise, they can take advantage of Moven’s proprietary app components, conveniently created as discrete modules, by inserting them into their existing apps. This gives their customers the same remarkable insights into their financial behavior enjoyed by Moven users.
Predicting the Future
Brett is absolutely categorical in his belief that every business, particularly in the finance sector, must adopt technology to stay relevant and competitive.
“You can be a bank without branches and without advisors today, but you cannot be a bank without technology,” he says, “Banks which rely on branch traffic for revenue will be an endangered species by 2025.”
To demonstrate that the march towards a technology-centric financial ecosystem is inevitable, Brett cites trends from the past four decades.
“We introduced the ATM machine back in the ‘80s, internet in the ‘90s, and mobile banking in the 2000s. That is a steady shift towards digital distribution and engagement at the core of the banking business, and one where we’ve sought to eliminate friction from day-to-day money situations.”
“We’re moving to a world dominated by digital with a focus on real-time, low-latency, frictionless delivery. By 2025, more people will interact with a bank’s technology layer daily than they do with branches annually – if branches still exist. We will just expect banking to be embedded in the world around us through technology, available when and where we need it.”
Brett alludes to this in his latest book, Bank 4.0: Banking Everywhere, Never at a Bank, his 6th book and the third in the series based on that first book that led to the founding of Moven.
“Central to the future is the fact that banking is no longer predominantly about being great at banking itself but rather about excelling at banking technology.”
He adds, “As we move towards embedded, ubiquitous banking, we are redesigning banking based on technology-led experiences and not the products we used to have at a branch. For example, we don’t need plastic in the Bank 4.0 world. You can pay with your phone, so why get a customer to apply for a plastic credit card?”
“Instead we’ll just provide credit access when and where you need it, instantly.”
However, Brett is quick to caution that it is not technology for technology’s sake, it’s a fundamental transformation of the banking model.
“The key pillars of the future really revolve around understanding when and where your customer needs your platform and advice as a bank. This will require tons of data, artificial intelligence, and technology delivery capability.”
“Much of what we have considered ‘core’ to banking – asset allocation and portfolio management, risk profiling, identity, fraud detection, smart contracts for trade finance, etc. – will be built into algorithms in the medium term.”
The obvious consequence will be that the banker of the future will be distinctly different, too. “The skills you need to be a successful banker will be really focused on being good at the technology of banking. The key roles that will differentiate banking tomorrow are things like machine learning, data science, behavioral psychology, experience design and so forth,” explains Brett.
Persistence and Vision
While so much of what Brett has predicted over the course of the past few years may seem obvious in hindsight, his perspective and approach certainly weren’t as readily embraced when he introduced them.
He reveals that his pitches did not immediately receive the positive response it has now been proven that they deserved. The fact that the nascent Fintech sector was so new did not help.
“As a startup, there were a number of challenges, the first of which was raising financing. I’d never done this before so it was a super-steep learning curve.”
“Secondly, finding the right team dynamic was a challenge. We had issues with team members who wanted to change the strategic direction of the company. That threatened to dilute our central differentiation; they were trying to skate where the puck was today, not tomorrow.”
“Lastly, we’re in a regulatory environment in the U.S. that has really done nothing to help FinTech players, so we’ve had to break new ground repeatedly along the way. I guess that is at the very core of being an innovator!”
Now that the first series of speedbumps have been overcome, Brett and Moven focused firmly on growth and expansion.
“We have pursued both a challenger bank model and an enterprise licensing model with one singular objective, to get our app and experiences on as many devices for as many customers as possible. By the end of 2018, we’ll have more than 5 million users across half a dozen countries. By 2019 we’ll more than double that again.”
He adds some advice for aspiring bankers, “Experiential design will dramatically influence the everyday use of embedded financial services and banking in the next 10 years. You can be certain that banks will not be competing against other banks in this world; they will be competing against technology players.”