This first event was a lot of fun, and involved a fair amount of work. We asked a LOT of questions, and the Founding Xinjas attending asked a LOT back! The conversation ranged from quite deep feelings, to simple thoughts and suggestions, to some quite fundamental ideas about how banking should be. Overall it was fantastic input - a flavour of which is below - which will be used as we move further into devising and designing specific features and products.
Money habits (or lack of them……)
We asked some quick fire questions on some basic points which revealed, possibly, a typical mix of money attitudes - from high engagement with their finance to outright avoidance! Visiting branches amongst this group was pretty infrequent (reflecting the overall decline in ‘physical’ banking) with the most recent visit being 3 hours before, the most distant 5 years previously. The frequency with which people review their finances varied from daily to annually and (more ominously) “rarely”.
"Help me define a relevant & achievable Australian dream"
When we asked people to draw a picture of how they felt about money the main theme was gloom, depicting confusion, frustration, negativity. But people were not accepting of this mood. In our ‘Dream’ section, where people could let rip on what they would love their banks to do, they wanted “to feel optimistic about the future”. They wanted making money to be “stress free” and banks to “celebrate my success” , “value and reward my loyalty” and “help me define a relevant and achievable Australian dream.” Wow!
What gets your goat
The negative feelings were obviously driven from the gripes and frustrations with the current status quo. These spilled out when we asked questions about what banks always or never do, and in the “Vent” session. A common resentment was fees, but also the fact that “Banks always make things difficult”, “complicated” and take a long time to do anything. Behind this was a sense of punishment rather than opportunity; “Encourage, don’t penalise” - “Don’t tell me what I can’t do - show me what I can do.” There was a complaint of selfishness, with several people commenting that “Banks look after themselves.” Depressingly, the most common refrain was that “Banks always win” and one person “Banks always defeat me.” When did the relationship become so adversarial?
"How much profit is enough?"
What lights your fire
However, this doesn’t mean everyone was a resigned cynic. Far from it, there was a lot of passion in the room for what could be. And a lot of that was returning to a dynamic of mutual benefit and therefore trust. One person cited the traditional role of the bank in a town - “how it used to be”. This echoed a lot of the motivation we describe in the Xinja Story, about getting back to the place where customers and banks are on the same side. One person commented, “I would like to see a bank that’s owned by the people” which raised the point that Xinja is planning to give customers a chance to own a part of Xinja through crowdfunding, as soon as it becomes legally possible. Yes, many said that banks should “innovate” and “provide better service” but at a more fundamental level they were looking for an approach “not just about numbers” but as much “talk about me and my family”. The role of the bank to “be kind in hardship” and to “encourage and educate me” was important - to “BE PROACTIVE” (this from MANY attendees!) to help people do the right thing with their money. To know their customer; “tailor to my needs” and to “help me succeed [so] we both win”.
Down to the knitty gritty
Taking this further, people expanded on many ‘profit share’ ideas between customer and bank. Xinja was asked “How much profit is enough?” (to which Eric responded that we are designing products where our success is aligned to our customers’). Greater flexibility and personalisation of mortgage terms and rates, more offset options, and lots of tweaks to product structure were suggested. People wanted “rewards for good financial behaviour” and a “single source of truth” for all their financial information. They want help “making sense of the complex” and “balancing my needs with those of my future self.” And when we took time out of banking, to ask about their favourite apps, there were some common features spanning everything from surfing, to language learning, to travel, to entertainment. One being that they loved “recommendations” but as long as they were “relevant” and not sales. (For a list some of the features the Xinja pre-paid card product will include at launch, see here.)
"Whilst apps are technology, it is the human connection through them that matters."
Man vs machine
An overwhelmingly important feature in all apps it seemed was the social component. Whilst apps are technology, it is the human connection through them that matters. Many people cited the ability to auto-identify common contacts as a key feature, and the ability to connect to people directly. Similarly, one of the questions put to Xinja, was “How is a digital bank going to build human relationships with its customers?” although a lot of the ideas everyone came up with for the app were answering just that - about building in flexibility, kindness, a sense of people rather than accounts.
So a huge THANK YOU to all who took part. We look forward to testing features springing from this meet-up in actual prototype workshops with customers!