About

Please pay cash

Sanjiv Purushotham, Founding Partner, Bridge DFS

Sept 28, 2020

#Cashless #cash #payments #digitalpayments #digitallending #designthinking #strategyconsulting #digitalfinancialservices #banking #retailbanking #covid19 #fintech #startups

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At Bridge DFS, the Inspiration phase of Design Thinking is a constant companion. We’re always curious about trends that are shaping our industry as well as the larger context of the society that we serve.

I live in a tiny little microcosm that is at least an hour-and-a-half’s commuter ride to the business district. When the pandemic struck, like many, I stayed home. Initially by choice. It wasn’t as difficult as it has been for some. The amazing boardwalk on the sea, the phenomenal green canopy of the ancient forest, the little village market, online shopping and probably the best medical system in the world mitigated the chaotic situation around.

Like many, I feared using coins. I wouldn’t go to the village for my favourite kopi (thick black local coffee brewed in a “sock” and lightly sweetened with condensed milk). Just because Mr. Goh (name changed) says “Please pay cash”. But soon enough the other stalls in the village food court started displaying QR code stickers.

I loved that. What I had always predicted. Digital would replace cash. Out came my phone and I was making QR code payments with wild abandon. And as the weeks went by, I realized that I wasn’t as enthusiastic anymore. For one, I still paid for kopi with coins. And after a morning run in the tropics, my phone screen was moist and wouldn’t work. People around had adapted back to cash again. Spraying their hands before and after each transaction.

The QR code placards are still there. Not quite so prominent. Cash payments are in full swing. My card bills are down because the fancy downtown outlets don’t get my dollar anymore. I am also much happier supporting my local stores for shopping. Plus, it saves me the bother of the eternal wait for the online delivery truck.

Purely my view, but it seems as if a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform payments has been partly wasted by poor design. But there’s still hope. At Bridge DFS, we are inspired by these observations about how humans behave. We use this inspiration to ideate and help our clients implement outstanding financial services experiences for their customers.

At Bridge DFS (www.bridgeto.us) we focus on designing digital journeys in the area of financial services – payments, lending and money management. We base our work on several decades of practitioners’ expertise in digital financial services coupled with the Ideo-based Human Centered Design (HCD) methodology.

Digital – Divider or Equalizer?

Sanjiv Purushotham, Founding Partner, Bridge DFS

Sept 24, 2020

#WFM #digitaldivide #digitalfinancialservices #digitallending #digitalpayments #HCD #payments #lending #digitalbanking #banking #advisory #strategy

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In keeping with Bridge DFS’s Human Centered Design (HCD) approach to financial services, we are always inquisitive and eager to know more about the trends that are shaping our industry as well as the larger context of the society that we serve. Which brings into focus work-from-home or WFM. We’d like to hear more from you about the subject.

WFM has mitigated some workplace issues. Gender, race, education, origin and age related biases for example. Social media, on the other hand has exacerbated divisiveness. Even more, the gulf between the digital natives and the rest has hugely widened. Even while digital natives have become more closely aligned.

Investors have responded strongly. Zoom, Docusign, Dropbox, Slack, Amazon, Snowflake, Apple, Microsoft, Upwork are just a very small sample of the businesses whose trajectories reflect the confidence in the future of the digital workplace. But the unsung heroes of the pandemic are from professions that have not benefited as much from digitization – patient care, sanitation and waste removal, public transit, utilities, shipping. The list is long.

As much as digitization has positively impacted digitally savvy economies, the lack of it has brutally pushed back many others that struggle to catch up.

So what are your thoughts – divider or equalizer or both?

At Bridge DFS (www.bridgeto.us) we focus on designing digital journeys in the area of financial services – payments, lending and money management. We base our work on several decades of practitioners’ expertise in digital financial services coupled with the Ideo-based Human Centered Design (HCD) methodology.

Really? Is this happening today?

#banking #fintech #innovation #payments #lending #forex #designthinking #retailbanking

“Well, Mr. Purushotham, we’ll send you a form. Please fill it up and go to the nearest branch. Submit it there. Then we will transfer the money from your account to the recipient’s account,” said the lady from the bank call centre. So I countered with what I thought was logic – “Ma’am, but both I and the recipient have accounts with your bank. Why do I need to fill a form and submit it. Can’t I do this via your digital platform?” Her answer – “No. At best, you can scan the signed form and send it to us. We’ll do a verification over the phone before we do the transfer.”

It’s interesting. The only reason for doing the transfer in the first place was because I was sending money to a Fintech which had a corporate account with the bank. The fintech is in the remittance business. My bank was unable to give me even a remotely reasonable conversion rate for my remittance. Despite whatever made-up status I have with them. The fintech that I was transferring to offered me a rate that was far superior. Just a couple of basis points off the live rates. So not only was the bank unable to compete on rates, they were woefully incapable of handling a request digitally. As a matter of fact, I had signed up with the Fintech, including KYC verification, literally minutes before making the request.

This broken experience is the reason that we at Bridge DFS focus on the Human Centered Design methodology to help our clients see things the way their customers do. This helps our clients build their products, tech-stacks, business models, distribution and financials from the point-of-view of their customers. Now if I can convince my bank to use our services, that would be super cool :-). Clearly, whichever big consultancy firm they are using is not delivering the goods.

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Co-working: A cultural shift

#talent #designthinking #digitalpayments #payments #lending #banking #humanresources #innovation #hierarchy #fintech

Bridge DFS focuses on hunting for value for its clients by methodically deploying the Ideo-based Human Centered Design thinking process. We applied that methodology to ourselves when we started-up. In our line of work, perhaps more acutely relevant than in others, individual talent is a key success factor. Experience taught us that talent and hierarchy are not always synonymous. Therefore, in our design, we consciously separate leadership from hierarchy. In our projects, the talent with the most relevant skills, expertise and attitude is the lead.

To us, that is co-working. Allowing for individuals and teams to work together to co-create. To come up with different ways to hunt for value. We do our best to keep each of our co-workers clear about what is expected of them. And we are upfront about addressing expectations. We zealously guard this approach even as we grow.

This approach has prepared us very well for the pandemic situation. Allowing us to right-size and correctly resource initiatives. With no overheads or “management” of talent. Without the need for coffee machines and fruit bowls. And “campuses”. I’d like to think that we we got it right from the start.

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