When the buzz wears off (what we learned from Open Banking)

As we approach Open Finance, let’s remember that you can’t always engineer your way to success.


High-level use cases sound simple and compelling. At least, the good ones do. How else can you get investors behind a plan?

Here’s one:

  • Consumers want convenience
  • Therefore, they want everything in one place
  • Dashboards!

A hundred Open Banking dashboards blossomed in 2018. They were artfully made, but few consumers cared. How did that happen?

Maybe we were more buzzed about technology than customer value.

New technology is just exciting. To adopt it we need to break ground, which means resolving lots of technical uncertainty. Engineers love that stuff! They won’t stop buzzing about it.

The Open Banking engineers did their job well. And we layered on ‘usable’ interfaces so our dashboards looked great. We were all so buzzed that we forgot that you can’t always engineer your way to success – especially when your goal is to change human behaviour. 

Human behaviour is less predictable than code. To change human behaviour you need a different way of thinking and a different set of tools.

That’s what we got wrong during the Open Banking gold rush. We were just too buzzed. We spent nearly all our time solving complicated technical challenges.

We didn’t scratch below the surface of our simple and compelling use cases, to figure out what consumers really needed or the barriers they might face. We could have figured that out much sooner – it would have saved everyone lots of time and money! We might even have struck gold. We had the tools, we were just too buzzed to use them.

Instead, at the end, we wondered: why isn’t anyone using our dashboards?

Stu leads a team of experience designers who solve knotty, systemic problems for our clients in Financial Services – delighting their customers and making the regulator happy.