Derek White: My role within Barclays is Chief Design and Digital Officer which is the creation of new product services and businesses. We like to refer to it as the creation of the future of Barclays.
DW: The great aspect of working for a world leading organisation like Barclays is that there is a natural thirst for innovation recreating our organisation over time. That comes from the talent that we’re able to attract globally, through to having deep market presence as well so we attract talent that has a thirst for innovation. We also create an environment that encourages our colleagues to explore the creation of our future. But at the same time – another example is that we’ve created a digital platform that allows colleagues all across the group to share their ideas for the next product, service or experience and then for them to be voted by our colleagues across the business based on what they are hearing from their customers and clients. We call that ‘pitch in’ and that’s how we harness colleague innovation.
We also have an open system where customers can give us their thoughts and feedback. If you look at all of our mobile banking applications, they have a ‘design by you’ component where our customers and clients can give us feedback and comments on the future evolution of our products. It’s not just about capturing new technologies and translating those technologies into new businesses but it’s about constantly and rapidly evolving those technologies. On our mobile banking applications, such as Barclays Pingit, we’ve had well over 100,000 comments from our users on what the future evolution of that product can be and we’ve implemented close to 80% of those suggestions from our users. We fundamentally believe innovation in financial services no longer needs to be done within the walls of the organisation. We’re increasingly moving to open innovation through partnering with key shapers of ecosystems as well as partnering with our customers and clients and colleagues to shape the future of our innovation.
HT: How does Barclays work with start-ups to help solve its innovation challenges?
DW: That is what I love to do and what we’re doing here at Barclays. It stems from our CEO and his passion for helping start-ups. Well over 200,000 businesses start their financial life with Barclays every year. We hear a lot from them and the one thing that they need more than anything is a customer, whether it’s on the enterprise side or the consumer side. We’ve created a number of initiatives that demonstrate Barclays’ commitment to helping entrepreneurs. Last year we ran an event called Barclays Innovation day which hosted over 300 start-ups. We opened up our strategic agenda and threw out the biggest challenges that we have as a financial services company. We then invited the start-ups to come and help us solve problems which were based around four or five different key themes.
The second example is that we’ve created a twenty thousand square foot space right in the heart of London, where we’ve become part of the entrepreneur eco-system. Not just sponsoring it but shaping it, with partners like Central Working and Techstars. We partnered with Techstars to create a fintech accelerator which we had close to 350 start-ups apply from 48 countries.
HT: How do you foster an entrepreneur attitude within a 140,000 person strong business like Barclays?
DW: Barclays has a deep history of innovation, which runs in the DNA of the organisation. In some pockets of the organisation it’s simply reawakening that or building on that DNA that already exists. The Barclays Pingit product, that we created close to two and half years ago, took us seven months from idea to actual market launch and when you do that in seven months in a large corporate the organisation starts to ask, how did we do that? The answer is simply we acted like a start-up. We had to find a way of articulating how we did that with Barclays Pingit and the simplest way of describing it to people was to say it’s the start-up way of working. Its design thinking, thinking of your end user and designing your business around them. It’s agile methodology from a technology build stand point and then it is the two pizza team approach – you don’t have a team larger than you can feed with two pizzas!
HT: What is the product that you are most proud of?
DW: It is incredibly exciting to see what the product that we created in Barclays Pingit has evolved into. When we launched Barclays Pingit, it only did four things; that was register on a mobile device, send money, receive money and see money. That consumer, person-to-person product has evolved into a platform that cuts across multiple businesses in Barclays. Our corporate business is now getting 20% of our corporate clients coming to the bank primarily because we have Barclays Pingit. Not only has it evolved – because we see the evolution of digital, in digital financial services, digital banking and digital evolution – as evolving from product to platform, from platforms to open ecosystems. We’ve created open API’s which means start-ups are now creating businesses off of the Barclays Pingit platform and creating an open ecosystem. That is probably the thing that I am most excited about. The actual implementation of an open API model where start-ups are creating businesses directly as a result of our Barclays Pingit platform.
HT: What is the biggest challenge Barclays is facing today?
DW: The biggest challenge that we’re have today, is balancing the regulatory demands with our need to consistently ensure that we maintain the trust of our customers while we create the future of the bank. Barclays is a unique institution operating globally with multiple regulators. The evolving regulatory environment in a digital world is changing. How we as an organisation ensure that we can create and maintain that trust with our customers and clients is one of our biggest priorities.
HT: What is your one piece of advice to fintech entrepreneurs?
DW: My one piece of advice for fintech entrepreneurs right now is to absolutely embrace the realisation that fintech is white hot right now. There is no other industry that I believe is in a hotter space at the moment, so my advice is to double down on fintech, double down on your vision, your commitment to the space and your pace of execution because it is evolving incredibly rapidly. The opportunity is enormous and the creation of the future of financial services is literally on our doorstep. It’s the entrepreneurs and the emerging technologies that will create that future.