A few years ago, living in New York City and working miserably long hours, I often found myself in the back of a taxi. At seemingly any hour, there was a cab that would come speeding towards me at the simple wave of my hand and got me from point A to point B. Even when many of my tech-forward friends started using ride-sharing apps, I stuck with yellow cabs.
This loyalty lasted for some time, but was ultimately doomed by a weekend trip to Boston. Over this weekend, I needed to get from Brookline to a downtown bar to watch a Bruins playoff game. Because cabs in the Boston suburbs can be scarce, I decided to give ride-sharing a try. I finally understood what my friends had been raving about. The ease of calling for a ride at anytime and anywhere, the ability to track your route, the seamless payment upon ride completion (and even complementary phone charging)–every detail seemed to be designed to make the customer experience effortless and convenient. To get anywhere close to the same experience with a cab, I had to be in the right place at the right time, yell directions to the driver every couple of blocks, constantly watch the meter, and deal with card readers that somehow never seemed to work. The two experiences were barely comparable–I was hooked on ride-sharing.
While it’s perhaps easy to see innovations like ride-sharing apps as peripheral to our daily lives, I think the contributions are much more significant. We now expect to initiate and control transactions spontaneously from our mobile phones, to have full transparency into transaction pricing and details from start to finish, to know who we are dealing with, and to replace time-consuming, repetitive, and cumbersome tasks with automation. These apps have changed what we expect and demand from countless industries, pressuring them to place greater emphasis on the customer’s experience and the need to accommodate our diverse lifestyles–all of which, I believe, is for the better.
“I believe we both need and deserve more than just “fine” from our banking relationships”
I often think about the prospect for similar technological innovations to redefine other products and services that are fundamental to our lives, particularly money and finances. This time around, I seem to be cast in the role of advocate and my friends are the skeptics. In a recent conversation, one friend told me, “My bank is fine. It provides me with the services I need…a place to store my money, accessible ATMs, and a mobile app.”
Banking is an industry where we still seem far too willing to accept the yellow cab experience. But with banking services, I am convinced the stakes of inaction are much higher. Many headlines, from revelations of exploitative practices to studies examining the frail state of consumer savings, continually remind us of the consequences of sticking with the status quo. I believe we both need and deserve more than just “fine” from our banking relationships.
At Varo, we’re striving to change banking and financial services. Taking our cues from innovations in many industries and our own collective experiences of what’s broken in the banking industry, we are working toward a solution which will:
I joined Varo because I know there is a huge gap between what banking services should provide and what’s currently acceptable. I am convinced that closing this gap is not trivial, but rather, essential.
Jonathan Gurwitz is a graduate of Dartmouth and Stanford Graduate School of Business.