Pivot Preview: Crowd-Sourced Finance

an interview with
Paul Wilmore Managing Director of Consumer Market, Barclaycard USA

Innovation doesn’t just happen.  It takes innovators; individuals and organizations willing to take a chance, to go out on a limb to try something new and unexpected.  One such innovator is Paul Wilmore, who as Managing Director of Consumer Market, is helping his organization, Barclaycard US, crowd-source product ideas like the new Barclaycard Ring.  I was delighted to catch up with Wilmore before he speaks at the upcoming Pivot Conference in NYC.

Drew:  Your Pivot topic, Crowd-Sourced Finance, is quite intriguing.  Can you give me a preview of the conversation you’re going to have with Brian Solis?
Crowd-sourcing can be used to take the guess work out of product development and traditional market research tactics. It’s a more interactive and intimate way to build a better product. That goes beyond just Finance but Barclays can leverage this new model to build better products and deepen relationships with our customers.

Drew: What role might a major financial institution like yours play in crowd-sourced finance?
I am hopeful this model changes the way financial institutions engage their customers, forcing them to build products that are simpler and more transparent and allowing the end consumer to be part of the solution not just a user of an end product.

Drew:   Is crowd-sourcing in some ways a threat to the traditional banking model?
Not a threat but a better way for consumers and financial institutions to work together.  Crowd-sourcing helps to take the guessing out for the bank and get right to the questions of what’s important to customers.  Financial institutions need to have the fortitude to be completely open and honest with their customers in order for this model to really work.

Drew:  Could crowded sourced finance have an impact on the credit card market?  If so, how might that happen?
It’s already happening.  You’re seeing issuers coming out with tools to put more control into the hands of consumers such as the online capability to re-structure a debt, change a payment schedule to ensure that a loan is paid down and set up auto payments.  Consumers have more choice in reward card redemption options – most programs now offer travel, cash back and merchandise.  And now with Ring, consumers actually decide jointly how it works.

Drew: Because of regulatory concerns, most banks have been reluctant to fully embrace social media.  Will the same trepidation apply when your competitors look at crowd-sourced finance? 
There is no question that banks have a long way to go in social media.  However, I’m pleased that my institution was willing to embrace social media for the launch of Barclaycard Ring and allow our team to have conversations with members of the community, answer questions frankly and share what’s happening with the program.  Today, our members review an updated, online profit and loss statement for the Ring card portfolio.  This is a big step for banks.

Drew:  Tell me about Barclaycard Innovation Lab.  Where did the idea come from and how has it worked so far?
The Barclaycard Innovation Lab was created as an initial step to invite consumers to help us co-create the launch of Barclaycard Ring.  We know it was very important to be in market quickly with this idea and get real consumer feedback (focus groups only go so far).  Six months after the initial crowd-sourced concept was pitched to the company, we were in market with an invitation only community, asking members to help us co-create the next evolution of the credit card.

Drew:  Since you launched the Innovation Lab in May, what has been the biggest surprise?  
The level of engagement of the community members.  Members are answering other members questions about the credit card and financial products in general.  Members are posting very thoughtful ideas around how the community concept and underlying products should continue to evolve.  Members have voted on product features and charitable organizations to support.  This level of engagement has been very strong and fairly consistent since launch.

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