Hands up who wants to read another post about an exciting new financial data business?
Yeah, me neither.
I’m a designer and for the last ten years I’ve worked with big businesses and independent teams to put lovely new things out in the world. About three years ago I swore off working with any more financial services businesses. The familiarity of the questions and the predictability of the outcome made it all but an academic exercise. The reality is that everyone (established and challenger) has been trying to solve pretty much the same problems in pretty much the same ways for a decade. It’s created a whole industry, full of really smart people, dedicated to making fantastic, imaginative products that will only ever live (die) in a board presentation and a Sketch prototype.
There are a million reasons why stuff never ships — technology, apathy, model (and there are twice as many blogs picking through those reasons so I won’t add to the pile) but at root it’s just not anyone’s job to create and support the products and services we all know folk deserve.
A couple of the challenger banks are doing a nice job of creating simpler services on more modern infrastructure, and news like the partnership between JP Morgan and Plaid is encouraging. This may even be a sign that the grown-ups are moving from fear-fueled investment and acquisition to more synergistic partnerships that are in the customers’ interest.
But those are just access and infrastructure changes.
When Ellie, Brad, Neil and I started working together (on a previous project) we all understood that what was really needed was a fundamental shift in how consumers and services use financial data to create a new ecology. This shift won’t come from a challenger getting big, or from big getting nimble. It will come from hundreds of little shifts that together rewire the system and put financial data, and the ability to transact, in all the places people want it. Hundreds of businesses that are passionate about their product and whose only concern about financial data is that it’s correct and it works.
That’s why we aren’t starting an exciting new financial data business — we’re starting a useful one.
We are making the bits and blocks that will allow businesses and developers to design, build and ship new products and services that reflect, and create, new behaviors and cultures, designed to serve people in new, unobvious ways.