By Jonathan McCallum, George P. Johnson, Chief Strategy Officer
FinTech fascinates me. The mystery of BitCoin. The ongoing juxtaposition of tangible and intangible financial technology; freedom and regulation; agile and traditional planning; start-up versus institution and disruption versus conformity.
But as I write this after just topping-up my bright orange Monzo card, it turns out I might be more of a traditionalist than I thought. Let me explain.
It’s easy for someone in the creative communication industry studying FinTech to get carried away with the disruption fervour.
But firstly, let’s consider FinTech in the context of the financial system which it has shaken up so much. Putting to one side the ‘what’s the next UBER?’ metaphor for the moment.
The finance industry is not driven solely by ‘disruption’, it’s driven by money, or more precisely, profit.
The banking system, since its early days of the Medici, has fought ‘disruptive’ forces. It’s in its DNA to fight against instability.
The Wall Street Crash 1929, The Nixon Shock 1971, The Dot-Com Crash 2002, and the housing bubble/credit crisis 2007-9 all impacted greatly but did not break the system.
FinTech has created a legacy of change via transformative contribution, not just ‘disruption’. Innovators in FinTech are predominantly technology first. Seeking advancements in financial methods, operations and service.
But the fundamental principles of success always apply in finance: Are you making it easier for households and businesses, and making money (even potentially) along the way?
That is because, as new behind-the-scenes process, products and interfaces are created, societal and economic drivers remain solid – even in these confounding and uncertain times. The financial needs of households and business remain the same.
The future of Fintech will be based on the industry meeting these needs more efficiently and effectively. It was ever thus.
What I have seen first-hand in the FinTech world, through our work with Innovate Finance to produce their Global Summit this week, is the flow of new ‘disrupters’ now exist within an established eco-system. FinTech is a mainstream part of the financial sector.
Which leads me on to the direct comparison with the cornerstone of effective event communications. Where my traditionalist perspective comes through. Often, we get distracted by shiny new technologies and innovations, especially in the world of events and experiences.
However, success is still determined by the ability to create compelling interventions that inspire, inform and influence businesses and consumers to change behaviour or perspective. It matters less what device delivers the message.
Our industry’s mirror to FinTech is the development of new interactive experiences, like VR. For a while, the existence of the disruptive technology was deemed enough.
But thankfully, the experience industry is returning to a value that we, at George P. Johnson hold dear. It’s the ability to distil the insights which ignite the process that generates the work, above the flurry of new technologies, that is the cornerstone.
At GPJ, our mantra is ‘The Power of the Moment’. Where our work creates an intervention that delivers at a point-in-time that profoundly contributes to a brand’s core objective.
As we continue to work with the developing FinTech sector I expect it to benefit even further from insight-led experiences that demonstrate their own valuable moment of positive disruption.
I also hope that a continued fascination with FinTech may mean that I’m there when we finally found out ‘who is Satoshi Nakamoto?’
About the author
Jonathan McCallum, George P. Johnson, Chief Strategy Officer
Jonny has spent nearly 20 years working in the agency world, specialising in devising strategies to use sponsorships and experiences to sell brands’ products and services. During his 10-year tenure at Ogilvy Group, he was Head of Sport and Entertainment and worked across a portfolio of brands including PUMA, AIG, Ford, YouTube, Barclays and UPS. At George P. Johnson (GPJ), Jonny is transforming the way that GPJ, an independent and creatively driven experience marketing agency, applies the principles of brand planning and strategy.
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