19 November 2015: Barnaby Davis, Director for Group Retail Strategy , talks about his recent visit to Silicon Valley and how insights gained drive innovation at Nationwide.
I recently travelled out to Silicon Valley to visit a number of organisations including Google, Apple, PayPal and Coinbase. On my last visit I was discussing a partnership with Apple to become one of the first organisations in the UK to offer Apple Pay to customers, so I was excited to get insights into future developments and strengthen relationships with some of the world’s most forward thinking companies to support Nationwide as we continue to invest in new developments.
The first day started with a visit to a venture capital firm called Lightspeed which is looking to invest in the ‘next big thing’ and we joined a series of Dragons Den style pitches from startups. The pitches were fascinating, especially around how organisations are using data to improve customer experiences and streamline internal processes.
Our mobile banking app was used 165 million times last year, and our challenge will be to ensure each one of these transactions provides the best possible experience for our members. The number of transactions will continue to grow with features like Quick Balance and Impulse Saver proving extremely popular amongst members – Quick Balance has been used over 63 million times since its launch last year, and with this feature now available on both Android and Apple Watches it is easier than ever before for customers to access their money whenever and wherever they want.
We also visited the Google campus at Mountain View, home to 30,000 “Googlers”, where we strangely enough ‘Googled’ Nationwide on their media wall to see our total online presence including current Tweets and social media activity. We now respond to over 8,000 tweets each month which is increasing all the time as customers turn to new ways to talk to Nationwide about their accounts. Google is an exciting company always looking to develop new ideas, and like Nationwide has a clear focus on testing new initiatives which will improve the lives of customers.
Our final day was with Apple where we discussed their Employee App store and how they are developing apps for their ‘people’ rather than employees as they see the lines between personal and professional tech blurred. We have seen this with the large take up rates for Nationwide employees using their own mobile phones at work and it will be interesting to see how this trend continues to develop. I remember when computers at work far outstripped anything people had at home, but the tables are turning with the ever increasing power of tablets, laptops and smartphones.
It was my second visit to Silicon Valley, and I’m always struck by the pace of change, and real commitment to developing innovations which will have benefit on the way people live their lives. These are two things I see back here at Nationwide, and in the last 18 months we have championed wearable banking, Apple Pay, 24/7 social media and are continually striving to develop and implement initiatives which will have real impact on our members’ lives.