Is blockchain the magical cure for banking? Technology will help, but it’s not going to change culture, says Duena Blomstrom.

 Warning: Monday mood post ahead!

The other day, I published an infographic on what banks can do to have their customers fall in love with them by becoming true brands, and while most of the response was great, a couple of comments managed to infuriate me.

They weren’t much in the way of a structured discourse, but seeing how they came via Twitter, one could argue the author only wanted a bit of attention, and being contrarian with an off-the-cuff remark seemed to be the route to get it. Just general ‘FintechTrolling’ of the sort we see too often these days. The gist was to “forget about emotions, let’s just do blockchain” and it really made my blood boil.

Here’s a person – regardless how new and clueless – who believes that we are stepping away from the value of important technology by thinking of such frivolous topics as emotions. Someone who genuinely thinks that’s straying from the core of the issue, and that to change banking and give consumers the experience they deserve, all we need to do is adopt blockchain at scale.

Is this person new? Likely. Do they matter in the grand scheme of things – will they influence bankers, the community, change the course of financial services history? Unlikely. Even in today’s overinflated environment, knowledge is starting to emerge, so most people in the industry would see how “green” and naïve a statement this is. Is this person wrong? Hell, yes!

Becoming passionate and agile

The only universe in which adopting blockchain would be the magical cure for banking is one so AI-driven that no human is involved in any of the running of a bank. Machines would have taken over, rebuilt the back-end (on his beloved blockchain) and are now offering optimal experience tailored to the tiniest details of the customer’s most inner needs. So pretty much a universe where machines too have had to not “forget about emotions” but build an algorithm around them.

That universe doesn’t need to consider how to navigate organisational culture in banks in a way that allows them to become passionate and agile, and lets them use technology – such as blockchain – to enable them to build an amazing customer experience to become a brand.

Until that universe exists to make it work in this one, we have to consider plenty of emotions: those of the consumers of the banking products and those of the makers of those products.

The bigger picture

I’ve said this time and again: thinking about emotions in general in a context as numbers-driven as banking isn’t easy. It’s uncomfortable and it’s frustrating, and we would all collectively much rather keep talking about technology with its wonderfully tangible, measurable benefits. That stuff is easy.

Those of us who choose to look at the bigger picture and try to change culture (shout-out to one of the greatest bankers and technologists of all time having recently swapped P&L for thinking of this “fluffy” stuff) didn’t choose this because it’s the easy rainbows and unicorns part – on the contrary, it’s the hard, heavy lifting “change” part, but we did so because we’ve lost our illusion that it’s about “just going to blockchain”.

Am I advocating we forget about blockchain and just do emotions? Of course not, that wouldn’t work either, but let’s not fool ourselves that any technology is the silver bullet the industry needs to change to finally give the consumer what they need and deserve. We have to do both and we have to do it fast.

NEXT: Shaun Weston talks to Duena Blomstrom about emotional banking, cognitive dissonance and Temenos MarketPlace:

– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here.

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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