James Gardner: ‘I have noticed that the future is not a gadget’

30.08.2011, 13:36
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James Gardner started his career in Australia where he got a PhD in Innovation Management. About 10 years ago, he moved to London where he became head of innovation and investment for Lloyds Banking Group, which is one of the largest banks in Europe, and built a big innovation programme there. He then was responsible for the innovation and design for the UK government. James has written three books on innovation, including Innovation and The Future Proof Bank and Little Innovation Book. He now works for the technology company Spigit. On August 25, James Gardner participated in The Future of Money conference organized by Strelka Institute and MasterCard Ltd.


«I have been working in the area of innovation in financial services for 5-6 years. I have learned a few things about innovation, particularly in banking, and the result of my work was to come to a new way of thinking about banking innovation, money innovation. Because everyone always goes for obvious things they always need to be about gadgets, they always want to give financial services via gadgets — mobile phones, for example. But can anyone imagine that the future is going to be… a gadget? I have noticed that the future is not a gadget. The future is a new way of doing business. And in banking, we are already experiencing the difficulty of the old system. The old system is about trying to be a commodity, we tried to differentiate by having different kinds of products and then everyone copied that and then we decided that we would differentiate on the basis of services (that you got on the branch) and then they copied that too. And in the end there was no difference between any bank anywhere. And this old way of trying to be different — you spend more money to try to be different, you buy difference. Because the thing is that the only one who can win this game is the bank that is big enough and has very deep pockets.

So the future of money, the future of banking is the new ways to innovate, new ways to propose things, new ways to create products which are not just different but get better the more they are used. One of the products [I talked about at the Future of Money conference] is not even a banking product but Cure It Together — it is the most amazing thing: people log in and say, ‘I have this illness and I have tried these treatments and here is the effects that I got’. And hundreds of thousands of people log in and they do this to share their experience. They begin to discover amazing medical outcomes that no medical company would ever consider. For example, I have discovered that the best cure for the clinical depression, serious depression that makes people kill themselves, is exposure to sunlight. Now, no drug company would do a clinical trial to prove this because they have to sell medications. So the idea is that people together can build a product that is very powerful.

The future of banking, the future of money is this kind of product — the more people use it, the better it becomes».