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Financial Services

How will speed, security, and convenience play a role in customer adoption?
October 7, 2015
6:00 PM - 9:00 AM
MaRS Centre
According to a Canadian Bankers report from July 2015, 23% of Canadians don’t think they’ll be carrying around cash in a decade, and 54% of respondents say they don’t think they’ll be using cheques in 10 years. Based on these findings, we thought it was high time we hosted DesignMeets: Financial Services.

Naturally, we couldn’t just ponder about the future of the financial world at our Oct. 8th DesignMeets. Rather, we posed a question to our panel of speakers: how can design thinking stimulate the evolution of financial services?

“Design thinking is a great tool for financial services,” says Pivot’s Creative Director Ian Chalmers, especially at this time of disruption.” He introduced the event, which we held at MaRS, alongside MC Dave Campbell, who outlined how the financial sector is changing, largely thanks to technological innovation.

The Speakers

First up to the podium was Adam Nanjee, Head of FinTech Innovation and Ventures at MaRS Discovery District. He highlighted the cluster of companies at MaRS and how they’re helping to innovate banking both in Canada and around the world. While the technology-side is disruptive, he sees the relationship of FinTech and Banking as collaborative.

TD’s Associate Vice President of Digital Sales, Valerie Shannon, described how desirable — and possible — it is to be innovative in the Banking space, as this is where products and services interact with the human element. Advocating for altering our current reliance on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), she said, taking cues from art — as in STEAM — we can use human experience and inspiration to guide technological advancements.

Jim Brown (above left), VP of Business Development at SALT Technology and the Co-Founder of MobileMonday, noted that as our monetary transactions become increasingly mobile, our identities become our payment system. Some companies, such as Apple Pay, validate users via fingerprints and some bio-hackers are taking it even further. He questioned the audience: how can we design a system that users will trust and be secure at the same time?

Almis Ledas (above right) also talked about mobile banking. He’s the COO of EnStream and devoted his time on stage towards the discussing the evolution of the company. “We’re facing a fork in the road: banks can deliver mobile services directly to customers and so too can third-party platforms such as Apple or Android Pay,” he highlighted. There may not only be one payment system in the foreseeable future.

These uncertainties can benefit from design thinking. And, that’s what RBC’s VP and Head of Digital Channels, Stephen Schroth, (above left) spoke about in his five-minute presentation. “What we’re doing in financial services now is reimagining and remaking what it means to be a bank,” he said. Fittingly, he looked at images from outside of the financial services world for inspiration on how to subtly turn bankers into makers.

Mike Busby, the Chief Design Officer at BitGold, described his process of designing an app that changes how users think about money on a global scale. That’s because BitGold is a novel, digital platform that lets individuals buy, trade and spend gold.

The Panel Discussion

Following the six illuminating talks, we turned to the floor to have a spirited and candid discussion with all of our panelists about how design thinking can help influence the financial sector as it continues to evolve.

Special thanks to our speakers and event sponsors. See more photos from this event on Flickr.

Adopting change is easier said than done. People are after “simplicity” but the Financial Service industry is still self-serving. How do we find the balance? Read Pivot Design Group’s probes on the topic.

On November 7th and 8th 2015, RBC will be putting Stephen Schroth’s words into action, as they’re hosting “The Make It Mobile – RBC Digital Challenge”. Get involved in the hackathon here: