Payments UX

Cash and money moments – nobody cares about (B)itCoin

Cash and money moments – nobody cares about (B)itCoin. Image: Michael Hilton, Flickr Creative Commons
Written by Duena Blomstrom

Duena Blomstrom considers the potential where it concerns brands affecting payments behavior.

Let’s get something clear: people don’t think of banking. If you’re reading this and frowning, chances are you’re in financial services. They don’t. They don’t even think of their banks, let alone the act of banking (unless, of course, it gets in the way of life). The only time people think of their bank is when it fails them; when it fails to empower or enable a respective Money Moment (TM) in their everyday life.

The same goes for payments. People never think of payments. They may think of the act of paying, and they only do that intently if something goes wrong. Whether it’s by cash, card, itCoins or hypnosis, people just want to remove the barrier between themselves and the goods or services they desire.

What they use to accomplish this is intensely unimportant to anyone but the tens of thousands of us in financial technology. What is regrettable is how focused we in the industry are on the ‘what’ instead of the ‘how’. There are synapses being fired every time we use a payment method, and while our rationality may only make a brief appearance to (attempt to) keep us out of debt or help us do the bank’s job by the mental free-to-spend we perform in our heads every time we pay, our emotions may play a bigger part in how we perceive a Money Moment, and this is worth exploring.

Cash Money Moments

Brits finally spend more on cards (just about), so cash is still everywhere. Even thinking about cash seems like such a strange topic to even bring up in this fintech bubble of ours, where all we talk about is the rails of contactless and the experience of paying with a wearable (which is the next installment in this series). Yet, outside of it, in the real world, people carry cash, offer and take cash and, in the case of taxi drivers in most cities, even demand it to the point that it caused the appearance of a new economical model.

When it sunk in, I was mighty peeved, but did I turn around and leave?
While preoccupied on a conference call the other day, I entered a trendy Shoreditch coffee shop I like and read the bolded, red ‘CASH ONLY’ sign as I simultaneously wondered if they’re taking Apple Pay. I reached into my wallet for my card. It just didn’t compute to me that they could have meant it, that cash would be what they require, or even that it’s an acceptable means of payment. When it sunk in, I was mighty peeved, but did I turn around and leave? No, I didn’t. I fished enough coins for a cup out of the corners of my bag.

The shop is ‘happening’, with hipster grey overtones on their very tall, plush chairs, chargers on tables and plugs in every wall. It was worth the literal coin. But it did make me think about how much of our attitude to money is tribal, and how heavy brand association is in all its forms, accounting for what we are willing to have as a Money Moment.

I think cash in particular is interesting in the way us, in the overly digital world, use it. Exploring who still does use it, and why, would be interesting because I suspect it pours right into the exploration of brand. My suspicion is that the stronger the brand association, the more likely it is we are willing to change our Money Moments for it, that we would have our payments behavior driven by intense brand association. If I’m correct, this has potentially heavy implications in how banks could encourage behavioral changes – perhaps even healthy group attitudes around money, such as common saving goals, and more.

It’s neither outrageous nor conceited to imagine a future in which banks will be smart enough and brand enough to change customer behavior for the better, but to get there, we need banks who will build labs to understand, enable and empower Money Moments, not count (B)itCoins.

 Read part 2: Invisible banking – which superpower would Tom choose?

– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. You can read the original article here. Image: Michael Hilton, CC

About the author

Duena Blomstrom

Duena Blomstrom is an independent digital banking consultant, an entrepreneur and VC, a mentor for Startupbootcamp and Techstars, an uncomfortably opinionated blogger, and a public speaker at industry events.

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