A multidisciplinary crack team of data scientists, product
designers, service designers and user experience experts is working
to help Barclays bank transform itself.
Speaking at Wired Money, design director Lee Sankey told the
audience about how the bank is thinking ahead about how it can stay
relevant in a digital age, and must shift its focus from thinking
purely about money to thinking about values.
“Much of the conversation around financial services innovation
is around tech and user experience, but there are other important
things,” said Sankey. As more and more things become possible
through tech, the conversation moves from “can we?” to “should we?”
and “what happens if…?”
This requires companies to ask the right questions. “Often we
miss the cultural aspects around behaviour,” he said, pointing out
that people used to be able to smoke on the London Underground. “It
seems totally bizarre now. It used to be perfectly acceptable,”
Sankey says, adding that the way we use technology and smartphones
may change completely thanks to cultural factors. “Culture enables
tech, and sometimes that’s missing from the conversation.”
Barclays is thinking about three stages of financial disruption:
what is happening now, including digital banking, crowdfunding and
cyrptocurrencies; the emergence of new combinations, which might
include integrating payment into CRM and insurance meeting big data
(so car app might measure how you drive and get a lower premium);
and new beginnings, which looks at “completely new
So much is possible through technological advancement, but just
because we can do things doesn’t mean we should. Technology, for
example, allows for completely frictionless payment possibilities.
“We can blink and pay, nod and pay” but is that always the right
experience? He suggests that sometimes we might need more of a “tea
ceremony” than just “a cup of tea”. “Sometimes it’s about what you
add rather than take away.”
This comes down to values, about pausing to have a think about
where we should be going. “If we could just pause things for a
second — all this stuff we are overlaying on Earth’s systems.
Would we make different choices?” People are now more
productive and healthier than they have been before, but they are
also stressed. “What is the point of being healthy, productive and
When we think about redesigning the future of money, we should
consider whether we are making the world better, and he referenced
the “rise of mindfulness” in a world of ubiquitous connectivity,
suggesting that the luxury of the future might not be having the
latest technology but disconnecting from it.
“Maybe luxury is time and not being connected as opposed to
being uber connected,” he said.
New measures of success may tie into other global challenges,
such as dwindling global resources. “Why aren’t gyms connected to
the power grid? What if I could get a lower council tax bill and
get a better rate from Barclays if I could contribute energy?”
Banks like Barclays have to think about trends such as the
circular economy, access being the new ownership and crowdfunding.
“We think there’s an important role for banks in society as we see
these changes taking place,” Sankey said.
“Maybe it will move from a world of ‘me’ to ‘our world’,” he