Your background briefly?
I left University with a degree in Design, so spent the first 10 years of my career in creative, designing brands and digital pieces in Australia and Europe. Then I moved to the corporate sector, at NAB, a major bank in Melbourne running their customer experience and innovation practice for their direct channels. So I began to learn the corporate world, it was a major shift!
How did you end up in Singapore, and how are you finding it?
A move to Singapore came up with OCBC in Singapore in a similar role, then transitioned to DBS as well. Singapore is a great centre for the region’s activities and growth, with a perfect mix of lifestyle and culture, with all the region’s diversity within 5 hours or so. The business community here is hungry to grow and show the world what it can do, so it’s exciting times.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day is a juggle of endless news items and points to share, keep across; working on projects and with clients and colleagues; and working on some new concepts and trying to get them off the floor to show potential clients and partners; mixed with meeting various people who reach out for some guidance on the region and the broader fintech area – happy to meet more! Throw in the odd conference talk or panel once every few days and that makes for a big week too.
Nextbank, how is the venture faring? How do you manage a global focus?
Next Bank is now 4 years old, but to me still only really scratching the surface of what it can achieve – now as fintech is flourishing, I think our deeply embedded role in the industry is more important than ever. The global focus is the real key and the secret to it, and its something we’re focusing on more in 2016 through more city chapters and expanding the member base. Now we have some really substantial events coming up in Silicon Valley on May 12th, and soon in New York and London (both in September) and our annual Fintech Finals in Hong Kong in January. We’re opening up to 100 chapters in the coming 18 months, and working on education and consulting plans as well – to be an industry platform, we need to do all these things well.
— Next Bank (@nextbank) April 18, 2016
Which areas of FinTech are you most excited by?
I think the most exciting developments really are in the areas that banks have yet to address well – financial inclusion is certainly one I think that will be the most transformative to the globe, if the intent and execution is correct. Other areas I think that are exciting are some of the ways we can use beautiful and useful design to make the experience of interacting with money more pleasurable – managing money, getting good deals, achieving goals etc.
Can traditional banks successfully innovate to deal with the rise of FinTech banking disrupters?
Of course they can, there are no monopolies on much of the technology they employ, so the same is available to banks. The mindshift needed is the challenge for the banks here, but again soon enough the banks feet will be at the fire to really change very quickly – some will succeed and many will not purely due to hubris or lack of pace.
If you could make everyone in Banking do what you told them, what would you command them to do?
Focus on the customer and the pace at which they adopt technology – and think one step ahead of that, build just for that. Fintech isn’t about the tech, its a state of mind!
Will bitcoin achieve wider adoption or not? What are your thoughts on the viability of wider adoption of cryptocurencies?
I don’t think bitcoin will achieve wider adoption in the short to mid term, purely due to it’s very pioneering nature, and the ability to make as many rivals or comparable formats, but the adoption of cryptocurrencies will be exciting to see – the role of government here is the really crucial part, in regulatory, economical and political ways. The notion of digital currency is pretty much taking over of course, but alternative currencies that bridge old ones or replace them will be something to see.
FinTechMafia, what do you enjoy about being a member?
It’s great to have such immediate access and close kinship with some amazing leaders scattered across the globe. We’re always sharing and learning, but mostly empathising and confessing!
Which thought leaders do you like to read / follow?
Our good friend and Next Bank leader JP Nicols stays on message and hits the bankers with simple take home messages. I also like Chris Skinner‘s equally easy and simple take on single topics. He can break down some large items into bite size pieces that help you understand and connect the dots. Dave Birch is probably my favorite story teller, you can get wrapped in his narratives and references to help really understand the broader picture or progress around us. Some other newer faces like Jessica Ellerm from Tyro, Aki Ranin from Tigerspike and Philippe Gelis from Kantox.
— Rob Findlay (@robfindlay) January 9, 2016
How do you manage online / offline, work/life challenges?
It’s difficult to be deeply involved in fintech and juggle other priorities like family and personal time, but it seems like everyone’s job these days isn’t just 9 to 5, it’s wedged into whatever time you have. As long as I’m building it up to something, the hard work and long hours are worth it, but I also spend plenty of time doing completely different things than sitting in front of a screen!
Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked you?