Week 127

Igor joined a lunch with the top management of a German bank recently to provide some insights about mobile payment and customer-centric products.

When it comes to money – or more precisely – to spending money, we want to think about it as little as possible. Making a decision about what we want to buy is hard enough, we do not want to make decisions about how we want pay for it on top of it all.

This, somehow, seems to elude most banks, payment providers and basically everybody who is seeing a chance on earning a dime with all those transactions and credit card fees.

We have been involved in many different projects about mobile payment, loyalty programs and even couponing. It’s the wild west out there. Everybody wants to be in the money business all of a sudden. And for a reason. Technology, that’s the assumption by many, allows not-money-business actors to take a stab at that extremely lucrative, well guarded market.

And yet, the problems that many experience while attempting to enter the market are all the same: the insight is a wrong one. Last week, I attended a lunch with the top management of a big German bank. Or at least, it was a lunch for them. Them, being a very homogenous group of 10 men, had the chance to eat and ask me questions while I was busy trying to give them access to my thinking about finance with a focus on mobile. There was no time for eating, but I felt as if I made my vision of what I would be doing if I where them understood. Of course, the one question about the one thing that they should be doing emerged as well. The one answer that I could say without doubt was – and this brings us back to what I was said in the beginning of the post – is this: make the life of your customers easier.

The implications of this are big of course and apply not only to the finance sector. They are tide in closely with our general understanding of what we can help our clients with: offer products and services that people actually want to pay for.

Yet, especially the finance and payment sector has a lot of learning to do here. Money is part of our worlds infrastructure. At least in this particular version of our reality. Complacency, conservatism and the attempt to preserve what one has are incremental trade marks of any infrastructure operator. Sometimes with reason, most of the time without.

At this point, we feel as if we can create a significant contribution to this vital conversation and market. If you want us to elaborate on some of the ideas mentioned, please let us know.

What we read this week (23 Mar)

Nicholas Felton talks about Facebook’s Timeline design, online behavior tracking is a collective bargain, and while Google rethinks their Wallet strategy, Sweden is considering getting rid of cash altogether.

Quotes of the week

The challenge is no longer the technology, the challenge is in running a successful business and getting those products in people’s hands in ways that feel natural, useful and delightful.

Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino

“optimized for retinas.” Kinda describes present-day tech strategy in general. I bet we’ll remember our other senses soon enough though.

Kyle Cameron Studstill

Articles of the week

  • Domus: An interview with Nicholas Felton
    Interviewed by Dan Hill, Nicholas Felton, data visualizer extra-ordinnaire, explains some of the thinking and process behind Facebook’s Timeline design.
  • The Atlantic: It’s Not All About You: What Privacy Advocates Don’t Get About Data Tracking on the Web
    Helpful reflections on the deeper implications of online behavioral tracking. Let this quote show the framing: “The privacy discourse frames the issue in an ego-centric manner, as a bargain between consumers and companies: the company will know x, y and z about me and in exchange I get free email, good recommendations, and a plethora of convenient services. But the bargain that we are making is a collective one, and the costs will be felt at a societal scale.”
  • Bloomberg: Google Said to Rethink Wallet Strategy Amid Slow Adoption
    Google Wallet sees a very slow adoption rate. Beside the fact that the technology – as in mobile devices with NFC chips – haven’t really hit the market that heavily, Google sees also a problem in convincing carriers to accept their technology. The main reason for this: the mobile payment market is expected to grow quickly and into billions of revenues. The carriers want a piece of that cake and Google isn’t providing them with an incentive to use their technology instead of something that the carriers can build for themselves.
  • AP: In Sweden, cash is king no more
    Sweden was the first nation that introduced cash money and it is now the first to openly discuss of getting rid of it too. A world without cash might seem inevitable, but it’s not quite here yet, and there is privacy to consider as well: Without cash, there is no way of paying for anything without being tracked.
  • Striding with ITV into the future of news
    Made by Many launched the new version of the ITV News site and are covering their work for it on their company blog. They focussed the project on the question of “What would news be like if we had networked digital media (and digital cameras and phones and laptops) but there had never been newspapers or broadcast TV news programmes?” Tons of great insights about how to develop digital products in this series of articles.

Third Wave meets Deutsche Postbank AG

Today we are happy to announce that Deutsche Postbank AG has commissioned us to be their lead agency for the development of their Social Strategy.

We hinted in our week notes that we won a big pitch and today we are happy to announce that Deutsche Postbank AG has commissioned us to be their lead agency for the development of their Social Strategy.


As you very well know, we usually do not participate in pitches. Previous experience taught us otherwise. At first, we were reluctant to even participate in this pitch, but fortunately Postbank had good arguments for wanting us in this pitch. Our one condition to ourselves for this pitch was: no compromises.

Not that compromising is per se something evil. But pitches have often a very specific dynamic, and we wanted to use this one to show our full expertise, our conviction of how to approach Social as something that is substantial, complex and not only focused on technology (as in choice of platforms) or campaign-based.

The fact that we won certainly emphasizes that we are on the right track, but it also shows how much Deutsche Postbank AG understands what needs to be accomplished. Our commission comes with an extraordinary display of commitment and trust towards us. We are very well aware and excited about that.

What we will do

As you would imagine, we cannot go into details. There is a lot of real strategy work to be done. That includes an in-depth research phase, getting to know the company, communicating our decisions in a way that is understandable to every party involved. Big corporations are complex entities, full of individuals. Often enough the best strategies fail due to lack of explaining. To put in the words of our friend Matt Gierhart:

Don’t blame clients for not “getting” it. You didn’t tell the right story.

We are fully committed not only to tell the right story, but to create a fully operational framework for a strategy that works as a living organism and evolve over time. This will be a challenging task, no doubt about it. Globally, the future of finance is uncertain – and that is why now is the right moment to prepare, change and adapt. So far, we’ve experienced the work with one of the largest consumer banks in Germany as immensely gratifying and we are looking forward to collaboratively shaping the future of how social is applied in the finance sector.