I found it when I was last at my parents’ house, a few weeks ago. It’s a little tattered around the edges now, as you might expect of a small book more than 30 years old. But still clear on the front cover are the words Griffin Savers: Oxford Dictionary. And on its back, a note of who gave it to me: ‘Midland. The Listening Bank.’ For those of you outside of the UK (and indeed younger British readers) Midland Bank was one of the country’s most-storied banks, until it was taken over by HSBC in 1992.
It says something about the type of relationships that the majority of us have with financial services brands that a freebie given to me when my dad opened the account for me in 1989 means that I’m still banking with HSBC to this very day. And yet, this comfortable inertia is, in theory, about to be blown away by the fintech revolution.
Our travels and researches for issue 4 of Magpie have confirmed that rapid, dislocating change is here, and reshaping the sector. Whether it’s trust, the impact of the blockchain, or working culture and diversity, financial services are going to look radically different than they are today; we give a flavour of how this future will look and feel. We take the view that a revolution isn’t really a revolution until it leaves traces in unexpected places – so if our list of fintechs to watch startles, so much the better.
Too often though, thinking about financial services tomorrow forgets some core ideas: that financial capability and literacy remains important, that old technology doesn’t just disappear, and that money has this rather annoying tendency to dematerialize, and not just from our wallets. We muse on that and more. But we’re pretty sure of one thing: that some of the brands featured in this issue will become as beloved in people’s lives as Midland is still in mine.
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