Adapting to tech disruption in the financial sector
Our series, From Bartering to Bitcoin, has been looking at how rapidly changing technology is making us think differently about money. As part of that series, we want to see how the world of finance is being disrupted, and how Canada's financial establishment is working to remain relevant and on top of the latest financial technology, or fintech, as it's called.
One challenge the banking industry is facing is that millennials seem to want nothing to do with them. A recent survey found that 71% of millennials would rather go to the dentist than go to the bank.
Another person interested in how new technologies are affecting the roles traditionally held by big banks, is Colleen Johnston. Colleen is TD Bank's head of technology and former Chief Financial Operator. For her bank, she sees a future in creating partnerships with startups that help them scale and get customers, and keep the bank at the forefront of technological disruption. But besides realizing that they have to cater to an entire generation that has never seen interest on a savings account, Canada's big banks are also facing a challenge that's potentially much bigger: the notion of money itself.
When it comes down to it, Kyle, Darrell and Colleen all agree that removing so-called "friction" from the process of banking and spending and borrowing money is really the key to advancing the system. Examples of this sort of friction include lining up to speak to a bank teller or to withdraw money from an ATM, or having to pay fees when exchanging one currency for another.
When Colleen says that the banks aren't really facing an existential threat, it's a claim that both Darrell and Kyle, however reluctantly, agree with.
There's one other thing they do agree on: The times they are a'changin.