Wealth 2.0: Value expectations, trust and society
By 2020, it is estimated we will have reached global digital maturity, where three quarters of the planet, will have access to an internet-enabled device. By this time, most global organisations and brands will have built digital platforms and most will have even restructured their businesses around them. These platforms and the converged technologies they support will be valued, monetised and commoditised as capital assets in their own right.
The experiences they enable will be measurable, quantifiable and tradable through digital footprints or experience data much like brands on the stock exchange are now. Businesses will use the data as currency, to trade globally across key market verticals like finance and health, disrupting current commercial models of value just as social media platforms did when they first came into being.
The music industry, one of the first hit by the digital wave, has now become pioneers in trade in intangibles. De la Soul recently proved it is possible to trade data with consumers direct. By releasing their entire back catalogue for free download, in exchange for fan contact details, they were able to build their own audience community platform where they can market their music to fans direct in hours.
For banks, seemingly benign technological offerings like micro payments and omni-channel financial services in apps and platforms, are opening potentially game-changing monetization channels that will redefine the way in which we perceive wealth and finance and behaviourally engage.
Today Amazon customers can use Amazon Balance, a facility you can top up on and offline; AmazonPay to pay for services; and, if you’re one of the 100 million paying Prime subscribers, for every purchase via the facility you get 2% cashback. That looks and acts like a bank account with a balance, which incentivises you to spend with the benefits a bank-issued card might provide. With that power, firms like Amazon are primed to reimagine what financial services looks like through adjacency at scale and stealth rather than directly competing around the traditional current account.
There is also a huge opportunity to redefine and future proof next generation financial trade to encompass intangible value. Digital technology has disrupted whole sectors by making commodities that were once artificially scarce, abundant and removing entire supply chains in the process. However, technology is moving far faster than society can process, so there is a big role to play in helping to educate consumers on how to manage their financial data beyond simply communicated changes required by new rules such as GDPR or PSD2.
Incumbent Banks currently maintain a high level of rational, utility-style trust from consumers but very little emotional engagement with them. Rational trust says that when I turn the taps on in the kitchen water will come out, and when I put money in the bank today, it will be there tomorrow. I don’t really care exactly who provides my water, or bank account so long as it works as I expect.
This basic, rational trust has traditionally reinforced the huge customer inertia that underpins the incumbents and has facilitated their complacency.
Institutions with physical branches also have the added perceived responsibility of contributing to the local community as a key part of High Street and urban architecture. This perception is critical to their rational ‘intangible’ brand wealth in terms of heritage, value to consumers, as witnessed by the outcry over the scale of branch closures, particularly in smaller UK towns and villages.
It is also a double-edged sword in terms of balancing the diverse financial needs and brand perceptions of society with efficiency and delivery costs. However, as the notion of life-first financial services rather than products continues to evolve, so too will the concept of the physical branch and how it delivers truly customer-centric propositions.
Banks that can leverage the value of existing rational trust to unlock consumer desire for services and experiences are best placed to stay relevant to consumers. But success will be determined by their ability to build connected brand experiences.