Who says a radio broadcast focused on the banking industry can’t draw an audience? With sometimes controversial and always visionary Brett King as the host, the Breaking Banks radio show just celebrated the 100th episode after debuting in May of 2013.
Close to 250 guests, appearing on the show from over 20 countries, have help make Breaking Banks the show to listen to, stream or download for those wanting to keep up with an industry in transition. It has even become the foundation of a best-selling book by the same name.
Originally intended as a way to offload some of Mr. King’s 5-10 hours a week spent developing written content for his personal blog and syndicated articles for Finextra, The Huffington Post and other publications, Breaking Banks not only took on a life of its own, but became a weekly habit for between 25-35K listeners a week. More than 10K additional downloads per episode usually occur after the normal 3PM ET Thursday shows.
“The core objective had always been to provide a snapshot of the emerging FinTech sector every week to the industry and business at large,” stated King in discussion with The Financial Brand. “We’ve seen an incredible explosion in FinTech generally since the show started, with global FinTech investment being only a few billion USD in 2013, and that investment most likely exceeding $60-70 billion USD or more this year.”
When asked which show was his favorite, King had a hard time picking a favorite. “There have been so many great shows, but I probably remember my favorite guests more easily. Robert Tercek, Robert Scoble, Ramez Naam, Peter Diamandis, Boris Johnson (the Mayor of London) and, of course, anytime one of my fellow ‘FinTech Mafia’ members join.”
When I inquired about what show he has not yet done, but would love to do, the answer was much more definitive. “I’d love to have Bill Gates and Marc Andreesen on a show together … that would provide awesome insight into two very different FinTech futures.”
Here is a consensus Top Ten list from the first 100 shows. This is only the tip of the FinTech iceberg, however. Any banking executive wanting a look at the present and future of financial services should set aside time to listen to all 100 shows.
1. Artificial Intelligence: Ally or Foe
Artificial Intelligence is all around us. From Siri to interactive screens to drones and beyond, we rely on the speed and reliability of computers to create ease and aid decision making in daily life. AI has the ability to aid us in ways we have barely tapped into, democratizing information and opportunity in every sector of the economy. But some see a darker side to AI and what our drive to create machines with human intelligence means for humanity. In this broadcast, Chris Withers, the lead for the IBM Watson financial services team, discusses the great possibilities in AI lifting humanity, while author James Barrat, who wrote Our Final Invention, provides a warning about the potential darker side of AI.
2. Designing for Mobile Payments
‘Simple is hard. Easy is harder. Invisible is hardest’. (Jean-Louis Gassee) In this show, Brett got a chance to chat with Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, on the explosion of the FinTech center in London. In addition, King talks with Chuck Davidson, CEO of CardFree, and Jared Spool, Founder of UIE to discuss designing the mobile payment experience … creating an environment where consumers have less friction and more security.
3. Context Rules!
In this episode, Brett King interviewed geek-famous blogger Robert Scoble, one of the authors of Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy, Poynt Founder and CEO, Osama Bedier, as well as Pierre Castagne and Fabrice Aresu from Luxoft. This show also finishes off with a ‘Moment of Snark’ from Ron Shevlin.
4. Hack to Better Security
Nothing seems worse the consumer than being hacked, but hacking is the new creative problem solving activity. Hackers keep online spaces healthy and happy. In this episode, Brett hosted Keren Elazari, cyber security expert, to discuss the virtues of the hacker. If you aren’t familiar with Keren, catch her amazing TED talk. Also, the show checked in with Alec Boere about the amazing Rufus Leonard #hackathon, where they had the goal to redefine money and the fintech sector. They also interviewed Leon Majors at Phoenix Marketing International about whether ApplePay is a game changer while Andy Mclean interviewed Gary Dykstra about his dream of building a Bitcoin economy in beautiful Bali.
5. Leaping Ahead
Unencumbered with aging technology, several banks in Africa are creating amazing outreach through mobile banking that requires absolutely zero physical branches. But mobile accounts also require a merchant infrastructure that can accept and encourage mobile payments and movement of money. In this show, Brett hosted Ben Lyon, Director of Kopo Kopo, which is on the forefront of allowing mobile payments to flourish in all the “corners” of the globe.
6. Banking Innovations in Dubai
We all know mobile disruption is changing the nature and ideas behind retail banking, often not as fast as consumers would like and faster than banks or regulators can keep up. For this show, Brett hosted David Horton, Chief Transformation Officer, Mashreq Bank and Suvo Sarkar, General Manager of Retail Banking & Wealth Management for Emirate NBD. They discussed the innovations that banks in the Gulf region are making in mobile accessibility, social media outreach, and exciting ways of dealing with and encouraging digital disruption. US banks should take notes!
7. The Underbanked Don’t Need Banks Anymore
With the introduction of mobile financial options, more and more people are opting out of traditional bank accounts and turning to the myriad of financial options that are becoming available as an alternative to traditional checking accounts. Between pre-paid debit cards, gift cards, Western Union accounts, Paypal, pre-paid cell phones, mobile wallets available, social payment systems, the PayNearMe service, and Peer 2 Peer lending taking off, people can avail themselves of all the benefits of banking without having to enter a bank branch or deal with fussy application procedures and small print fees. Breaking Banks discusses the way that people are turning to these options with Rachel Schneider with the Center of Financial Services Innovation and Danny Shader, the CEO of PayNearMe, which allows those that have opted out pay for rent, utilities and bills in cash from convenient locations they visit every day.
8. A Penny Saved (in a bank account) is a Penny Earned!
An axiom of banking is that access to the financial system is universally beneficial. Once people have bank accounts, they begin to save and their long term financial health improves. But the current financial situation in the US has changed customer’s outlook on what is beneficial and beyond their means, and the financial crisis and has created a more permanent crisis of confidence in the financial industry. Meanwhile, developing nations have struggled to increase overall access to banking for their working poor, and found huge infrastructure barriers.
But today, technology, particularly mobile, has paved ways allowing for greater access than ever before. In the developing world, mobile phones outnumber toilets. The opportunity to help consumers take advantage of participating in the financial system, and the subsequent rewards of that, has never been greater.
But can banking be flexible enough to recognize this opportunity, and if it can’t, do we need traditional banking in order to help consumers gain greater financial inclusion? In this episode, Brett spoke to Kosta Peric, Deputy Director of Financial Services for the Poor at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and to Jennifer Tescher, President & CEO, The Center for Financial Services Innovation about the exciting developments to help the poor gain greater access and how technology could be the key to greater inclusion.
9. Disruption Abounds
Not since the printing press has a new media been as disruptive as the internet. Because it is about connection, conversation, and a pure democracy of ideas, it is changing every business model and all ideas about traditional services. The first wave of new media disruption was against old media, but that was only the start. Now financial services is ripe for the disruption wave. On this Breaking Banks show, King talked with fellow futurist and innovator Robert Tercek about how to utilize the disruption wave and how stay ahead of it.
10. Here Come the Millennials
Millennials present a huge generational tidal shift and therefore a lot of opportunity for those that can tap into how they think and what appeals to them. For banks, this has become particularly crucial as this generation is more skeptical of the system and turning to outside financial resources.
A millennial would consider a checkbook a quaint relic and think that the necessity of going to a bank branch as cumbersome. They are nostalgic for simplicity and they know it is the future that provides it. In this episode, Brett King hosted Sam Maule, Manager at Carlisle and Gallagher Consulting Group, Dan Coates, President of YPulse, Scott McCormack, President of Social Money and SmartyPig, and Amanda Stanhaus, Blogger of XOBettie, to talk about what everyone who works, plays, sells, or serves a millennial should know. Also, there was an update from Sonny Singh on the ways to keep updating the system to keep up with the new demands.
What’s on the Horizon?
When I asked Brett, “What comes next?,” he mentioned the introduction of a new book that will be available around the end of the year, entitled Augmented: Life in the Smart Lane (already available for preorder). Interestingly, this new book is not about banking per se, but a journey into our future. It will discuss a world with incredible technological and scientific advances, and how society and individuals might adapt to that future.
In discussing an example about how banking may be different in the future, King said, “The future bank account or value stores may be instantiated in real time by ‘things’ and not account holders. We’ll have to completely rethink value stores, wallets, payments and identity. The banks of tomorrow will most likely be unrecognizable in terms of structures, products and modality from today. They won’t even be banks in the classical sense.”
According to King, the new book will discuss how the future will be an age of incredible possibility and massive disruption that will come through three key elements. The first will be Artificial Intelligence. The second will be an intelligent or smart infrastructure and massive disruption of the energy, transport and telecoms sector and the distribution value chain. And the last will be distributed, ubiquitous experiences redesigning how technology and humans interact.
It is clear that the future in banking … and with everything we do and touch … will be far different.