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Building a Better Bank

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In 2021, you’d think that just about everything has been digitized at this point, right? Wrong. In the world of banking, there are still local banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions that have been slow to hop on the digital bandwagon. NCR is here to help not just them, but their customers as well by providing all the technology necessary to make banking, digital payment, and other transactions possible on mobile, online, or anywhere you want. But that’s not all. As with everything from ecommerce to marketing, banking is about to get more personalized thanks to data and automation. 

On this episode of Up Next in Commerce, Doug Brown, the President of NCR Digital Banking, explains it all and paints a picture of what banking will look like for the average consumer as well as businesses big and small. He also talks about how solutions can and should be implemented regardless of the business you’re in and who you should be asking to get a handle on what consumers actually need. And he dives into where and how crypto will evolve next. Enjoy this episode. 

Main Takeaways:

  • Big or Small, Tech for All: Regardless of the size of a bank or financial institution, there is now technological capability to make them all function in the same way in the eyes of the customer. Every transaction can and should be available digitally, and the proliferation of tech like the cloud and edge computing has made that possible. This, by extension, allows for more flexibility and choice for people and businesses to choose the banks and financial institutions that work best for them.
  • Make It Quick, Keep It Personal: Today, consumers want two things: simplicity and personalization. They want to transact, move money, or make payments in a matter of seconds or minutes, not days or weeks. And they also want to know that when they are loyal to one bank or service, that they will be rewarded with unique, personalized deals. Those are the expectations that banks — and all consumer-facing businesses — are currently facing.
  • Not Even Close: Whether you run a bank or a retail store or an ecommerce shop, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is assuming you know what a customer wants or trying to bring in solutions based on nothing but trends and what’s flashy or new. More often than not, what you think is an issue is miles off from what the consumer is actually challenged with, and if you just ask them or test out a few things, you’d be able to find that out.

For an in-depth look at this episode, check out the full transcript below. Quotes have been edited for clarity and length.

Key Quotes:

“Banks have been trying to transform themselves to be more digitally savvy, digitally connected to their customers… to transform the business, convert technology, things in the backend, and those are fairly involved in complicated areas because they involve security and data and privacy, so it’s not something you do in a cavalier style. So helping drive those changes with the banks is underway. And then this event happened that we all know as the pandemic or COVID, and the force of change of operations to these banks really accelerated the need for the digital agenda.They needed a way to serve customers when things like the branches were closed down or call centers were so backed up with inbound calls because people were just in a basic state of panic about the state of the economy and their finances. They needed to really accelerate the way that they could address it and service everybody. So we’ve been very busy now helping them do just that, how you can help successfully leverage the technology to bring a great rewarding experience to the customers and meet their needs and reposition.”

“Technology now has enabled a whole new set of capabilities. And no matter what size the bank is, they shouldn’t force you to do things like come into the branch to do a lot of the activity. So developments around things like cloud is a major one that’s allowed for a flexible infrastructure for any size institution… so that whether it’s the hometown bank or a credit union, they should have the same set of capabilities in our view as the trillionaires, the Bank of Americas and the Chase.”

“A combination of both technology, attunement to customers, and treating us as a customer segment of one is now what’s possible. And so those that are doing it are the ones that are winning.”

“There’s a lot of relevance to crypto in different geographic markets. Some of them are driven by needs for convenience of use with payment to merchant, maybe it’s a better investment than the fiat currency of those geographic regions they’re in. So each one has a little bit of nuance of difference, but crypto overall still is being demonstrated as a very powerful mechanism that has a lot of use. And for us, for example, we liked the concept of how can we make money transfer out of the US easier for a US resident and consumer?”

“Within our innovation, we don’t just test with consumers, we hire hundreds and hundreds of college graduates and interns, and we put them into it and say tell us like, what is something of relevance to you that’s a problem? And it’s fascinating when you think you’re going to know the answer, but then when you hear what they say, you’re like, ‘Wow, we’re off by a mile on this one.’ So what does it mean? How do we retranslate it? So I think reinventing ourselves, transforming ourselves along the way, and infusing that into the knowledge is also what helps us stay in tune with it.”

“[Security is] something that you’ll never declare victory on, it’s something that you’re always at a constant battle with… hackers are very innovative and creative too. And so it’s a cat and mouse game at times to stay ahead of them knowing what’s current. Fortunately, we have the advantage of a lot of industry cooperation and collaboration where we can bring together both government sources, legal, law sources and other technology where we can bring this together. We all have a shared interest in keeping the fundamental system sound and safe. So there’s a lot of cooperation that goes on even amongst what you would think are typically competitors. And as a result, we want to outsmart and leverage those bad guys, but it’s not something that’s going to be oh, tomorrow, we’re done, we don’t have to worry about it anymore. It’s just a constant vigilance that we’ll all be on.”

Bio:

Doug Brown is the President of NCR Digital Banking. He joined NCR in 2018 after spending more than eight years at FIS, where he served as Head of Digital and Mobile. Prior to his work at FIS, Brown was the SVP Mobile Product Strategy at Bank of America. Brown has a Bachelor’s degree and an MBA in Marketing.

Up Next in Commerce is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Respond quickly to changing customer needs with flexible Ecommerce connected to marketing, sales, and service. Deliver intelligent commerce experiences your customers can trust, across every channel. Together, we’re ready for what’s next in commerce. Learn more at salesforce.com/commerce

 

Transcript:

Stephanie:

Hey, everyone, and welcome back to Up Next in Commerce. I’m your host, Stephanie Postles, CEO at Mission.org. Today on the show, we have Doug Brown, who currently serves as the president of NCR Digital Banking. Doug, welcome.

Doug:

Thank you, Stephanie. Great to be here.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I’m excited to have you on. So from a very high level, I’d love to hear, what is NCR Digital Banking? We’ve had on NCR in the past, but I would love it from your words to tell me a bit more about the digital banking aspect of it.

Doug:

Sure. We at NCR are all about providing digital banking to community banks and credit unions. And what that is of course, every day, consumers understand that as being able to use your mobile phone for your banking, your check deposit, money transfers and those types of activities. But we also have a broader set of capabilities where we’re helping banks and credit unions to digitize everything they do with their customers. So we’ll talk today about how that’s changing and how we’re helping them drive that change to address customer needs better.

Stephanie:

Cool. What got you interested in working in the digital banking realm? What is your background?

Doug:

Well, I’ve been in the technology space for a while, and I just really like doing something that has a meaningful impact on people’s lives. We happen to be doing it at scale here. We have over 25 million users of our products today across the US. So I really like doing something that helps people, helps drive change, and brings value to our clients like the banks and credit unions.

Stephanie:

Yeah, I love it. Would you be able to highlight, what does it look like being a small bank, being a credit union? You’re talking about digital transformation, and I think from a consumer aspect, I’m like, “It seems like things are moving quick, but maybe on the other side, it feels slow.” So I’d love to have you highlight the landscape of, what is it like being a bank right now? And what are they struggling with? And what are they trying to change?

Doug:

Great question, Stephanie. Banks have been trying to transform themselves to be more digitally savvy, digitally connected to their customers. So the things were underway, I’ll talk about pre pandemic, to transform the business, convert technology things in the backend like you’re describing. And those are fairly involved in complicated areas because they involve security and data and privacy, so it’s not something you do cavalier style. So helping drive those changes with the banks is underway. And then this event happened that we all know as the pandemic or COVID, and the force of change of operations to these banks really accelerated the need for the digital agenda.

Doug:

They needed a way to serve customers when things like the branches were closed down or call centers were so backed up with inbound calls because people were just in a basic state of panic about the state of the economy and their finances. They needed to really accelerate the way that they could address it and service everybody. So we’ve been very busy now helping them do just that, how you can help successfully leverage the technology to bring a great rewarding experience to the customers and meet their needs and reposition. So COVID has been an accelerant to all this digital transformation agenda that we’ve been helping to drive with our community banks and credit unions.

Stephanie:

Yeah, I’m sure. I can only imagine how many unique platforms and technologies and all that you have to deal with. I’m even thinking about some of the banks from my hometown in Saulsbury and just how outdated things were. I remember a couple of times calling and being like, “I need this,” and like, “You have to come in for that. We can’t do it here.” There is no app. There’s nothing. So, how custom does it have to be when you’re going and you’re striking these partnerships and trying to help them. It seems like it would all just be all over the place.

Doug:

Well, that’s where a lot of the technology now has enabled a whole new set of capabilities. And no matter what size the bank is, they shouldn’t force you to do things like come into the branch to do a lot of the activity. So developments around things like cloud is a major one that’s allowed for a flexible infrastructure for any size institution, and it’s something we’re driving very much at NCR, so that whether it’s the hometown bank you’re referring to or a credit union, they should have the same set of capabilities in our view as the trillionaires, the Bank of Americas and the Chase, and it should be able to service this.

Doug:

So that’s happening now, and that’s been an enablement feature to help them jumpstart these activities. And the net result for you is that, A, things are faster, more efficient, and you have choice. If you still want to go into the branch, we want to allow you to do that if that’s how you would prefer to do it, but we shouldn’t force you to. So this is about a customer choice capability set, and it allows you to, maybe you want to use an automated machine like an ATM or an interactive teller, or maybe you want to do it on your mobile phone, maybe you’d like to do it in branch or talking to someone live like an advisor.

Doug:

I think varying people have varying needs around all this. So our value proposition forward and what we’re helping the industry do is to afford that choice in an effective, secure, and cost efficient manner.

Stephanie:

Yep. Great. Earlier, you mentioned cloud, and I would love to dive a bit into that. I know you had a recent partnership with Google Cloud, and I want to hear what your partnership is and what the vision looks like for that.

Doug:

Yeah. So Google is one of our cloud partners and it’s great. We’re using them to deliver these services I just described to you, so helping transform this legacy infrastructure and capability into a modernized experience. But in addition, Google is also a great partner because they’re such experts in data and data management. Our go-to-market partnership revolves around new products and capabilities that allow the banks and credit unions to know the customer better so they can give you a Netflix-like experience of recommendation.

Doug:

So the Google partnership is really a powerful enablement for us where we can add mass scale, provide capabilities around all that, and really make it simple, take away all that complexity that you and I don’t like to deal with that as a consumer, when it comes to banking, simplify it, digitize it, make it Amazon or Uber like, is what’s happening. And Google is a great enabler in our partnership with them to go about doing all of that.

Stephanie:

That’s awesome. So paint the picture a bit more about, what is that going to look like from a consumer perspective? You’re saying like the Netflix, or be the Uber and all that, what would that look like? Today, if you want a bank you’re going to 1,000 different tabs on your website, you’re comparing things, maybe there’s a comparison table somewhere that someone put together of all the features and benefits, but what would it look like now?

Doug:

Yeah, it’s a great question. We describe it as simple made possible. So rather than present you with complicated tables and a whole smattering of things, like what does Stephanie really need or want? And let’s talk about a topic like, you might want to improve your financial wellness insecurity. You want to understand like how to improve your credit score. Well, we’re going to know that from our interaction with you as the customer, because we’re reading data, looking at what you’re doing when you’re in digital banking, and they’re going to help present to you, “Stephanie, did you know you could improve by taking out this new loan to cut down the rate and the point value will be on your credit score?”

Doug:

So very much helping guide and coach people around a theme like wellness. And the way we do that is being able to know you through reading the data you trust the bank and credit union to have, then I can render back to you just like Netflix recommends the movie you and I like, I’m going to recommend to you, “Here’s how you’re going to go about doing that.” So I give you actionable advice, it helps you achieve your goal and improve things, and it all revolves around the fact that the banks and credit unions know us individually and know what’s important to us. So eliminate all the noise, presenting what’s relevant in a nice, beautiful digital interface, and that’s what most consumers are looking for.

Stephanie:

Yeah. The world is definitely changing and people want quick and easy. And of course you should know everything about me right now, just present my options to me, what I actually want to look at. It seems like you guys obviously have a lot of access to data, data insights, trends with all of that. What are some of the newer trends you see popping up around banking or what consumers want other than they want it to be personalized and custom and easy. What other things are you seeing that are maybe a bit surprising?

Doug:

Well, we’ve seen just amazing uptick and interest in things around new capabilities around payments and money movement. Historically, if you wanted to pay, you owed somebody a bill, you would write the check, put it in the mail, send it off to the biller. They of course have now started to use online banking to make those electronic payments possible. But even those payments had a timeline with them and the current state of how things run today. People want to send that money right away so that the cable doesn’t get cut off, so you never lose access to your phone that we all live on. And so they want faster money movement that gets sent from the bank to the billers. So there’s some geeky backend stuff that we deal with at NCR to handle all that.

Doug:

At the end of the day, you just want to be able to, “I want to make a payment. I want to make it right now. And I want it to post to my accounts,” as example. So people are very interested in immediate money movement or real-time payments, that’s called. And in addition, they want to be able to send money to anybody, especially too coming back to the pandemic experience where people had the need to share money with individuals, friends, and family. So they wanted the ability to send money to people. And again too, the design needed was real time, “I need to send it right now.” And so there’s a lot of interest from customers and consumers around, “How can I send payments with less friction, faster, lower costs, and in a very timely manner?” Is what I’m after.

Doug:

So a lot of interested customers around those types of capabilities. And then, give me some value and reward for things. So when I’m loyal to the bank and a credit union, please give me the rewards, but also make sure it’s the rewards that I care about. I might be a Starbucks snob and not want to hear about Dunkin’ Donuts offers or vice versa. So when you’re giving me the rewards, please tie them to the people and brands I like and there’s an expectation that the banks, credit unions deliver that back too. So those are examples where there’s a high expectation, a high bar from the consumers about what kind of experience is rendered and delivered.

Doug:

And then the other piece too is that, much like we’ve seen at NCR with our restaurant business or retail business, people want the ability to, I want to schedule things in advance before I get to the bank and have it arranged so that either the banker is ready to greet me and know what I’m there for, or can even provide me what I needed very quickly, like a pickup type of model. So I’m there to get foreign currency because I’m going on a trip, have that currency pickup ready before I get there and not have to deal with waiting. And that gets initiated from digital banking to make the request, the branch is ready.

Doug:

Stephanie shows up, I’ll even go to the curb and hand you the currency when you arrive. So being able to detect and register all that is types of things that customers have now come to expect in the model today for banking and credit unions.

Stephanie:

Yup. When I’m thinking even about going back to the rewards piece, right now banks and credit cards, you go on there, at least for me, it feels so overwhelming. And it’s interesting that we’re still in that place with a lot of financial institutions that they just show all these options, and I’m just like, “Okay, just give me cash back.” Because I don’t know, that’s 100 things, I don’t need a hotel, I don’t need an airplane, I don’t want to buy a computer through here and get like the same one for one ratio, I would just buy one on my own. And it’s interesting to see that they haven’t really adopted the same ecommerce type of setup, ease of use, personalized where everyone else has headed in that direction maybe a few years ago.

Stephanie:

What do you think has been the reason for like lagging behind of seeing like, this is what consumers need, and maybe even rewards programs weren’t working as well as maybe they thought they should have?

Doug:

I think it just comes down to focus, you really got to get into what customer expect, and then again, make it, “I only want to see the relevant pieces.” So tie it to either maybe the brands I already have existing relationship with or an affinity for, or ones I’d be likely to do. I don’t want to see everything possible, that’s really not topically there. Some of it has been technology driven, as I mentioned, cloud is a big enabler where data can be processed faster and instantly rendered, and other things that have happened on a technology stack level that allows for the ability to, I can connect to, if it’s travel rewards, I can know which airlines or which hotels, if it’s travel, that you like better, and I can make it more topical.

Doug:

So I think a combination of both technology, attunement to customers, and treating us as a customer segment of one is now what’s possible. And so those that are doing it are the ones that are winning, and those that are not, are not high on the Doug and Stephanie list.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I agree it, and especially like credit card companies, you have all my data, you know exactly what I buy or what I’ve never bought in my 10 years of credit card history before. So it does seem like there’s a huge opportunity, like you’re saying, to implement the tech, personalize it and only show what’s needed.

Doug:

Yeah. So there’s no excuse from the bank and credit union side not to know who these customers are because we’ve entrusted them with all this information. So we’re helping them to leverage and weaponize that so that it can be used to address the customer needs.

Stephanie:

Yep. Cool. All right. Real-time payments. I’m circling back to the three things that you’re knocking out. But real-time payments, the first thing that comes to mind, obviously, I’m like, “Hmm, crypto, like really quick and fast. And I know there’s still a bunch of debate over if long-term, we’ll be able to use that. But what are you guys exploring to get that real-time payments that you’re mentioning to be able to quickly pay your phone bill or each other? What are y’all exploring over there?

Doug:

Let’s talk about that one first on the real-time payments theme. And that is, we’re helping the banks and credit unions connect directly through new payment rails. So again, something that consumers don’t really care about, but there’s things like real-time payments initiative from the Federal Reserve. We’re working with orchestrated bodies that connect all banks so the entire banking system connects to enable this. Something we do to enable our banks and credit unions that you would never have to know as a consumer. All you know is that, “Hey, my bank allows me to pay in milliseconds to the biller or person that I want to transfer money to.” Then we’re also working with large network capabilities. There’s an application called Zelle you might be familiar with. And Zelle allows you to instantly send money from your bank account to someone else’s bank account.

Doug:

And so again, the money’s moving instantly, all you have to have is the phone number or email of the person you want to send it to. So we take away all that pain of, what’s the routing number? What’s an account number? Most things that people don’t even know anymore, and just make it into an intuitive user experience side. All those applications are helping you, the consumer or small business, move money faster and pay or get paid faster. When you talk about new things on the horizon, my crypto. So this is one where there’s a lot of consumer interest and intrigue on the topic. And as people are starting to want to invest in crypto or use crypto, even for payments as merchants start to accept it, it’s going more mainstream.

Doug:

And so for now, the banks and credit unions, if they can provide it to you, the consumer, you’re going to trust the experience more, it’s less hassle. You don’t have to go register for a third party thing too use crypto and a crypto wallet. So if we can make it easier to use an access, which is what the consumers are now driving for across the US, this is where banks and credit unions come in to offer a capability that you know, “In addition to my checking account and my savings account, I’d like to have my crypto account because I think it’s going to be a good investment vehicle or practicality of using it.”

Doug:

So having it all in one stop, a one-stop-shop, makes it infinitely more convenient for the consumer. And it’s something that we’re driving at NCR to integrate that capability and now offer out to banks and credit unions so that they can extend it out as it becomes more mainstream.

Stephanie:

Yep. Do you see the banks and credit unions open to implementing that? Because a lot of times, I see older institutions seeing something new and then being like, “And I’m going to apply all my extra layers on top of it so that it is safer,” and it actually ends up taking away the idea from the start, whether it’s decentralized, whether there’s no limits. With a lot of different quick payment things, it’s like, “Okay, you can always pay up to $5,000, or here’s the limit of what you can do.” Do you see them being open to implementing that?

Doug:

They are quite open to it. And the reason is that they’ve got to transform themselves as a business, let alone the technology, in order to be relevant to consumers, and they do understand that. So that’s pretty well understood by the 650 credit unions or banks we work with today across their C-level suite. And as we do that, though, it does have to be paired with, it’s be safe and secure. We don’t want to get into something where we open it up prematurely and didn’t understand a risk, for example. So it is very much about introducing it where we’re taking into account the security, the availability, the privacy, and the like, as it goes. And the banks do have a big receptivity to the concept of crypto like you’re asking about.

Stephanie:

Yeah, that’s good. It’s definitely an area that I think is going to impact a lot, as long as it doesn’t get smothered in its original idea and can stay decentralized.

Doug:

Right. But there’s a reality too, that despite the fast moving nature of all these things, despite the power and people’s interest, it does take some time to phase in some of these new things. If we just let go back a bit to like Apple Pay, it took Apple Pay quite some time to reach a meaningful level of acceptance and use because some of these things have a complicated ecosystem that surround around them, there’s multiple parties involved. And so, while there’s been now recent acceleration and we can use our phones to pay in a lot more places, whether that’s restaurants, retail, or ATM machines to get the cash, that’s happening, but it’s taken quite a while to reach no more critical mass.

Doug:

And so crypto still is, a lot of interesting things that we happening, but it won’t happen tomorrow. They’re phased in approach as we’re going. We want to be on the forefront with our banks and credit unions to drive and enable this change and make it available when people are ready to use it.

Stephanie:

I oftentimes think it’s the front end interface is what nails it. Someone comes out with a way to interact with something and they don’t really know what’s going on behind the scenes per se, but they have an easy way of doing it. And I think about Apple Pay and Venmo, the second they had an easy way to just hit like, “Yep, there’s my friend, pay. Oh, scan their QR code or whatever it is, here’s their phone number. I can easily do it, just scan my phone.” They don’t really know what’s going on behind the scenes and it doesn’t matter because they know it’s working. And I think that’s a missing piece maybe right now with crypto, is people not understanding what a wallet is and where they have to send it to, and where their crypto is even being stored at and how to actually use it and how quickly it will go through.

Stephanie:

And will it drop in price or increase in price within that very small amount of time that’s being transferred. There’s still a lot of things that people are trying to figure out, and the front end part is also not the most user-friendly, I would say.

Doug:

Well, you’re spot that the front end piece is what attracts us in when you and I want to use, so that has to be there, no question. That’s like table stakes, I’ll describe it. But then on the backend, what happens from it? There’s a lot of incremental innovation and advancements that happen that make it better in the journey as it goes. So for example, if we just riff on the Apple Pay example, Apple Pay was cool, but then when we had to like physically type in our cards and that card information, now some people don’t want that hassle, don’t want to do it. So when they introduced the ability to use the camera, take a picture of the card, as example, then it’s like, “Okay, that’s less friction.”

Doug:

And even better, if I don’t have to do that with my bank, they know me, they know my cards, I’ll give them the phone access. And by virtue of that, we now enable auto provisioning so that you can provision your cards into the Apple Pay wallet and then it becomes a no-brainer. So yep, the user experience is key, and then there’s incremental innovation that happens that really makes it more flawless, more seamless, more applicable for everybody, and then that moves it into mainstream adoption curve.

Stephanie:

I love that example because so many companies, I think, haven’t really figured out that one little thing, like what is preventing people… I didn’t use Apple Pay forever, and same thing with Venmo in the beginning. I didn’t use it because it’s like, “Okay, you got to have this balance. Where do I get the balance from? Why do I have to keep it there? Do I just keep transferring it back and forth?” And it was like, “Oh no, you can just link it to anything and it’ll be automatic and you don’t have to worry about an actual balance in your account anymore.” And that to me was the instance, “Okay, now it’s easy. Now, I don’t have to worry about transferring money around or trying to make sure I have money before sending it, it just pulls it automatically.” Who knew?

Stephanie:

But it’s interesting how many companies miss those little moments that can change the course.

Doug:

That’s why I think for both us at NCR and our customers, clients like the banks and credit unions, we’re going to keep chipping at that friction that’s present and just make it so it’s so easy, so obvious, is our model and mantra to it. Again, it’s a constant challenge that you’re going to keep… There’s a new bar that gets established, and that’s where when you look at it, it’s not just what banks and credit unions are doing, it’s what are you and I doing in our everyday lives? What’s setting the bar, the standard around experience? And I called out like Amazon and Netflix as examples.

Doug:

So look at those how they’re relevant to what we’re doing. And that’s where the bar really is for what a consumer demands and that’s where it’s striving towards. It should be the best of best no matter what the application happens to be.

Stephanie:

Yep. Are you guys working outside the US as well? Because I’m thinking about so many areas that have such a high need for digital banking and maybe crypto, not having to rely on their home currency. And there seems like there’s a lot of need overseas. Are you guys exploring that? Are you strictly US right now?

Doug:

Well, you brought up on like crypto, for example, there’s a lot of relevance to crypto in a different markets, geographic markets. Some of them are driven by needs for convenience of use with payment to merchant, with maybe it’s a better investment than the fiat currency of those geographic regions they’re in. So each one has a little bit of nuance of difference, but crypto overall still is being demonstrated as a very powerful mechanism that has a lot of use. And for us, for example, we liked the concept of how can we make money transfer out of the US easier for a US resident and consumer?

Doug:

So I think some of these learnings that you’re asking me, how do we bring the information and knowledge back? We look at those things that like, let’s help with cross border payments. So there’s one that’s got more potential. And again, real time, secure, ease of use, and protect me as I’m using, would be an example.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I went to a Western Union the other day and I thought I was in the ’80s. It was very confusing of why I had to get money in that certain way. I was like, “I don’t know what time zone I’m in. Can someone just teleport me back to 2021.” But it made me realize how hard it is for people trying to send their money into the US and send it out. And I have family in Germany and I was like, “Can you all just Venmo me or just send me some Bitcoin or whatever it is. That’ll be way easier than whatever.” Just took place in a safe way, which was unenjoyable.

Doug:

You understand the needs, Stephanie, and the pain that a consumer experiences, and that’s exactly what we’ll go tackle with our clients and partners. And you also brought up an example there of then your hometown bank example, too. I would say, digital transformation and things we’re doing also applies into the in-branch experience itself. And so it’s transforming a branch, it’s no longer big, heavy iron desk with a teller sitting behind. It’s like, you want the background on the tablet talking to you, maybe shoulder to shoulder, and doing for you like, “These are the products that are relevant for you, Stephanie.”

Doug:

I’m not going to give you the whole menu, we know what you like, and we’ll give you thematic things. So digitizing experience too when you do come to a branch, for example is also set up in advance through scheduling, location identification. And a lot of that stuff too has got a thread across channels. So you might start and stop something, start on your phone, or starting a conversation with Alexa at home, and then you want to fulfill and complete the mortgage application doing that in person, for example. So all that is to say that we want to digitize experience everywhere you are and not just in these single transaction instances.

Doug:

And we’re going to give you choice. We don’t want to make you go to a Western Union office if you don’t have to, and you probably don’t want to basically is what you described, but if we have a bank [inaudible] transform itself, and it’s like a school as an Apple store, you’re like, “You know what? This is actually fun to go there, and it’s good, and it’s cool, and it’s interesting and that’s worth it to me, but I don’t want fully to go there.” Digital is about this choice capability for all consumer.

Stephanie:

Yep. And I think what’s so interesting around banking and finance is that right now, there’s such a big opportunity to look at other industries too, because what banking is having issues with right now, or finance, or any of that, some industries maybe have already solved it. Like you’re talking about coming in with tablets, I’m thinking, okay, airlines, self-check-in, something like that, someone still comes over. They can help you. You’ve got grocery stores that are doing self-checkout now, and people are still there to be able to step in and help and guide you through the experience.

Stephanie:

And there’s probably so many examples that you can look at in very different industries to be able to solve similar problems within banking and finance.

Doug:

Yeah, absolutely. One that’s a shared example I can bring up is we’ve introduced the concept of lockers in a bank. And so the concept like with an Amazon locker where you make your order and it’s made available and you go pick it up on your time. We’ve introduced for banks and credit union the capability yes, there’s something you have to physically pick up. Again, it might be cash appoint, maybe you’re a food truck business, and you have to have cash in point for your business. Well, you’re probably really busy during the day during standard hours, we’ve introduced the concept of like, we’ll order up that cash coin, it’s going to be sitting in a secure locker when you get there, you’ll use your phone to access it, grab it, good.

Doug:

And then you can do that in off hours. And you can focus on what you want to focus on, which is customer service at your food truck and not have to deal with accommodating a bank’s hours for an exchange of something physical. We’re digitizing everything we can, but it’s still much like the airline business you mentioned, or healthcare, or even physical grocery shopping and there’s still physical element that will get exchanged with things, so you’ve got to be able to do both. Let’s digitize the physical experience and make the digital experiences awesome, make it cool, and make you want to come and use it, no question.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I love that. How do you narrow down what you think a customer might want? Because when I think about all these industries doing cool stuff, it’d be easy to just fall into the trap of, “Okay, I want to try all 500 of these things. All these different startups are trying and doing and customers are liking.” Because some things are here for a very short moment. People love them, they’re fad.” It reminds me of Clubhouse, people are on it, loving it, and then it’s like, everyone’s off now. So how do you identify which ones you think will actually stick within your industry?

Doug:

Well, there’s three ways we go about that. One is we test, and test, and test. And so we do a lot of discovery with bringing in consumers and putting them into the lab environment and seeing what they do, what they like, and what they sense, and then interpret from that what’s a trend line underneath it. It’s not just that splash in the pan moment. What is it you are hearing and seeing from them, one. Two, we do look to see what’s a longer-term trend or phenom that is applicable so that we’re not just whipsaw reacting every time something comes up.

Doug:

And so we have a discipline strategy to continue to reevaluate, retest, we’re looking at what we know fundamentally is one, you and I were just talking about real time payments. We just know that people want payments going faster, more secure, and less friction. So that’s just automatically what we’ll be looking into and seeing who can help solve problems like that. And then third areas too, we like to build on the wisdom of the industry and the community, and the larger ecosystem. So as you mentioned, maybe there’s 500 fintech ideas that people are all pursuing, well, we like to stay in tune with what those are.

Doug:

We like to learn from the failures and see what’s having a traction and why, and then bring it back to how we’ll apply on it and act on it. So it’s a combination of just being aggressively informed, being ready to test and fail with a lot of different things, and then really put us through paces so that we can make sure it’s a meaningful and can be ready for prime time when we get to it.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I could see there being fun, like accelerator type of program within NCR to be able to figure out like, “Here’s the biggest problems we have right now, you’re going to get a grant for this. Here’s the prize.” You see all these other really large companies doing that. And I feel like finance needs that more than anyone right now in healthcare and many other places too, I guess.

Doug:

And we very much we’re all about that as a technology company. So within our innovation, we don’t just test with consumers, we hire hundreds and hundreds of college graduates and interns, and we put them into it and say tell us like, what is something of relevance to you that’s a problem? And it’s fascinating when you think you’re going to know the answer, but then when you hear what they say, you’re like, “Wow, we’re off by a mile on this one.” So what does it mean? How do we retranslate it? So I think reinventing ourselves, transforming ourselves along the way, and infusing that into the knowledge is also what helps us stay in tune with it.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I love that. I think the best companies that do that are the ones that win. And oftentimes, you always hear the ideas coming from the intern or the early day engineer of just being like, “Hey, let me give you my one idea.” And it turns into an entire business unit.

Doug:

And this is too where we rely on technology partners, we talked about Google earlier, both Google and Apple. And they’ll work with us as NCR because we have such reach and connectivity to a large number of banks and credit unions and consumers, and can’t delay your hometown bank, they might not have enough pull to get a meeting with Apple or Google, but on their behalf, I can be the enabler. I’ll be the technology provider and then help that hometown bank compete and win, and keep the relationship they’re trying to keep with you or your family, is what we’re all about doing. And that’s something we can do that they can’t do individually.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I’m thinking about the relationships of hometown banks, the technology is one piece, but I think a lot of the banks are going to have to figure out ways to engage their community in different and new ways, because that’s something I see happening. Everywhere I’ve been is that these smaller banks don’t know how to build this community, do things in a different way, pull people in, give them a reason to want to come in and just build a community around that, versus maybe in some towns, you see everyone supporting their hometown bank and other ones just don’t get it.

Stephanie:

But I don’t know fully what’s the difference between the two yet, the ones who have figured it out and have a community rallying around their small town bank versus the ones that maybe don’t know how to do that.

Doug:

Well, we provide to our clients that ability, we’re going to extend soon on the technology side and the capability side. They know what’s in their market, they know where the local brilliance and genius, which actually gives them the advantage over new banks or the larger banks. So if we can help them, they’re not going to be able to run a user group in their hometown with a bunch of college kids, for example, where we do that every day here. And as a result, we’re the partner that provides that.

Doug:

So our story is really much about being a platform of innovation that we can enable clients like banks and credit unions to stand on our shoulders, take advantage of it and put the special sauce on that they’ll know, but rely on us for some of this other stuff. And we’re uniquely positioned to help them do that.

Stephanie:

I love that. I want touch a bit on security too, I feel it’s like such a big topic. You always see so many scary headlines right now around basically you’ve probably been hacked 1,000 times. And there’s another big hack that’s going on, I think I just saw five in the past week. How are you guys approaching this from the banking side? What are you seeing behind the scenes? And is this something that can get solved? Or the hacker’s just too dang good and we can’t keep up?

Doug:

Well, it’s something that you’ll never declare victory on, it’s something that you’re always at a constant battle with. And so we up our security standards, have multiple levels of security to help protect everybody, individuals, the institutions and the value that’s behind it like the money. And so it’s something that we’re ever vigilant about, and again, just like the innovation game with the consumer side, unfortunate hackers are very innovative and creative too. And so it’s a cat and mouse game at times to stay ahead of them knowing what’s current.

Doug:

Now, fortunately we have the advantage of a lot of industry cooperation and collaboration where we can bring together both government sources, legal, law sources and other technology where we can bring this together. We all have a shared interest in keeping the fundamental system sound and safe. So there’s a lot of cooperation that goes on even amongst what you would think are typically competitors. And as a result, we want to outsmart and leverage those bad guys, but it’s not something that’s going to be oh, tomorrow, we’re done, we don’t have to worry about it anymore. It’s just a constant vigilance that we’ll all be on. And that’s something we’re committed to doing.

Stephanie:

Yeah. Well, it’s good knowing, especially if you’re a smaller bank that you have this bigger company taken care of, at least a piece of that for you and watching over. So I’m sure that’s comforting for many of them who work with you.

Stephanie:

I want you to pull out your crystal ball now and tell me what you think the future of banking is going to look like in three to five years, what is that going to look and feel like?

Doug:

It’s actually going to be just more ubiquitous and transparent and embedded in everything we do. So it would be less of like, “Hey, it’s time for me to do banking or bill pay.” It’s going to be more blended into everyday life you’re doing. So at the point of shopping, we talked about the example of, you know what, you want those rewards and benefits back instantly. So things will be more integrated and seamless on the everyday experience. And it definitely will have a technology everywhere capability set so that you will be able to do these things.

Doug:

Everything is maybe not even one touch, maybe it’s one thought, you’re just going to think it, it’s definitely it’s going to happen. And if I can get to that point of getting that much friction out of the environment, I can’t say that’s exactly in three years or five years, but just imagine that we’re going to keep pushing the envelope of that convenience, seamless, but having it with protection and reliability is where it goes. And then we’ll all be jumping on the space planes and the rockets and we’ll be using it on the moon. So that’s what we’ll be in three to five years.

Stephanie:

Are we sending you crypto from the moon, you’ll be on Mars though with Elon, and we’ll just be doing commerce transactions through space. I’ll send you a little, what are they called in space when you send something out? I don’t know, but I’ll send it to you that way, whatever it is.

Doug:

Teleport. You’re got to teleport.

Stephanie:

There you go. Oh yeah, I’m not sending it, I’m teleporting it. There you go.

Doug:

And we’ll just link it. That’ll be the interface. Our brains will be the interface.

Stephanie:

I do actually think that could be closer than we think, especially after seeing the Neuralink stuff with Elon, was in the pig’s brain, and it could be closer than we think.

Doug:

We’ve mentioned to it just the pace of change. Now we’re on the exponential part of curve where quantum computing, everything else, enablement, it’s absolutely incredible. So I think we have the power, it’s just how much imagination that we have to harness, it is how we look at it at NCR.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I love that. That’s a good tagline. I use that in a quote card. All right. Well, let’s move over to the Lightning Round. Lightning Round is brought to you by Salesforce Commerce Cloud. This is where I ask a question and you have a minute or less to answer. Are you ready?

Doug:

Okay.

Stephanie:

All right. First step, if you had a podcast, what would it be about and who would your first guest be?

Doug:

I would definitely bring Elon to the storyline to find out from him the latest and greatest thinking as to how all the cool stuff he thinks about benefits our lives and mainstream. So we’d love to bring a leader like that just to fuse together, incredible forward looking thinking with practicality to everyday life. So I’d vote for Elon.

Stephanie:

I love that. Me too. How do you stay on top of all the trends right now? What are you reading? What newsletters are you subscribed to or books, anything to get your information? How are you doing that?

Doug:

Well, I’d love to say aggressively attuned to it through a variety of news sources and things. I love Business Insider, particularly for me. But really staying connected to conversation paths to leaders in the space, my peers. And I think through that constant dialogue is what keeps me informed and attuned. So it’s combination of headlines and below the headlines.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I love that. What is the nicest thing anyone’s ever done for you?

Doug:

Well, I have to say my parents probably being up there for the nicest thing done, and not just the basic logistics, but just providing a support and creative challenge, challenge everything that you’re in, think about it, understand it, and appreciate it, but challenge. And so I guess I’d point to my parents doing the nicest thing.

Stephanie:

I like it. Go parents. Parents are great. When you want to get creative or inspiration, what kind of brands do you look to, to be able to get some ideas?

Doug:

Well, clearly the leaders always continue to inspire me, Apple, Google, the Amazons are constantly reinventing stories. So love that. I love people who are revolutionary and customer experience delivery. And so retailers like a Starbucks is a good example. So the classic leaders, and then just being observant to local things too. There’s some real incredible breakthroughs that go on locally. And as we started this, we talked about community banks, credit unions. So be observant of what’s happening locally and you can see the breakthrough there as well.

Stephanie:

Yeah. I love that. All right. And then the last one, what one thing do you not understand today that you wish you did?

Doug:

Well, that’s a tough one. I guess I wish I could understand why there isn’t just more shared harmony and collective goodness for us all that’s… We mentioned some common challenges we all face, so maybe can we all just advance ourselves and think about our communal interests. So I’ll put that one down the one look to. Maybe you and I can help change that today.

Stephanie:

Yeah. We will. Love wins everyone. Come on, get it together. I love it. All right. Well, Doug, thank you so much for coming on the show and spreading your knowledge. Where can people find out more about you and NCR’s Digital Banking?

Doug:

Yeah. People come visit us at www.ncr.com or look me up on LinkedIn Douglas Brown.

Stephanie:

Amazing. Thank you so much.

Doug:

Thank you, Stephanie.

Episode 134