Brett King is a bestselling author and was voted the Innovator of the Year for 2012 by American Banker (Bank Technology News). Since 2010 King has released 5 Globally Bestselling books, including Bank 2.0, Branch Today – Gone Tomorrow, Bank 3.0, Breaking Banks, Augmented, Bank 4.0 and his latest, The Rise of Technosocialism. His books have topped bestseller charts for banking in 18 countries and have been translated into nine languages. A global thought leader in financial services and customer experience, he regularly publishes in his role as industry advisor on Huffington Post, Internet Evolution, FinExtra and his personal blog Banking4Tomorrow.com. He has recently been featured on Fox News, Bloomberg TV, BBC, CNBC, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, and The Economist.
Brett King was born and raised in Australia and interestingly notes that he started his career as a rapper and a coder many moons ago. “But I soon found that I could communicate between business people and technologists, which was fairly unique. So I decided to carve out a career of it,” King says.
With his newfound passion, he started as a programmer and then moved into project management and technology integration. His early career included working at Deloitte in the late 90s, followed by a digital ad agency. He says, “So I’ve got a strong understanding of e-business and customer experience.”
King then worked in the financial services industry, including banks like HSBC. He says, “I did a lot of strategy work that made its way to the board on numerous occasions, and I still have excellent relations with the team at HSBC. I have also worked with the likes of Standard Chartered, Citi bank and American Express on conducting digital strategies.”
In 2009, King decided to take a year off and wrote his first book, BANK 2.0, a manifesto for digital banking. It was the first book of its kind that provided a 360 view of the digital space and how it could it completely transform the banking industry in the future. It was instantly a bestseller in 20 countries and translated into a dozen languages. He says, “So as a first book, it was pretty extraordinary in terms of the success. This success then led to the creation of Moven.”
Talking about the inception of Moven, King says, “I was working on my book tour for BANK 2.0. I was in LA, meeting with like-minded, interesting individuals such as VCs, and there were many conversations about how the banking industry would change and what a bank account would look like in a decade. As I described what I believed the future bank account would be capable of, one of the VCs turned to me and said: ‘Banks won’t be able to do this.’ That was my epiphany moment.”
One of the primary purposes behind Moven was to build a bank account that was futureproofed and optimized how Millennials used financial services through their phone and digital platforms. He says, “This was the start of the model, and as we developed it further, we came up with the concept of financial wellness and progressed.”
King was also previously involved in attempting to digitize one of the largest banks in the world, where he faced heavy opposition internally. He adds, “Not necessarily because they didn’t like the digital space, but more so that the larger banks had trouble changing their mindsets about the fact that for the last 60 years, they had accumulated all their revenue through retail branches. Banks couldn’t conceptualize that shift.”
So King had two choices: Continue to be the digital transformation guy trying to push incumbent banks to change, which was a long and cumbersome process, or demonstrate how the industry could change by building his own bank. He adds, “And I chose the latter.”
In 2011, King co-founded Moven (formerly Movenbank) app that provides real-time updates for debit card purchases. The company raised an initial $2.4m of seed money in 2012 and released the Beta version in February 2013. The app was described as the ‘Bank of the Future’ by Wired, Forbes and the New York Times.
Talking about the scope of Fintech in the future, he says, “We’re getting a lot more choice, and that’s where Fintech, I think, is important. It not only gives a different standard to banking when it comes to things like user experience where you’ve got technologists who are focused on that stuff. But you have to think about all the innovations that have come out of the marriage of the Internet and social media around this. Businesses like TransferWise with cross-border payments, even Bitcoin as a payment mechanism. And so there’s a lot of innovation also coming through these players, making banking much more frictionless and accessible.”
King has also shared his expert views in his best-selling books. His book Augmented on the topic of Artificial Intelligence was also cited by President Xi Jinping and was voted Top Foreign Author for 2019 in Russia. He has recently authored the book ‘The Rise of Technosocialism: How Inequality, AI and Climate Will Usher in a New World Order.’ Talking about it, he says, “The idea that one nation should have superiority over another nation, or that the people of Bangladesh are at fault if they’re getting inundated with terrible sea level rise, will give way to a view that the world collectively created these problems and we need a collective global approach to fix them.” Thereby paving a new way to solve problems by collectively acting on them and using the resources that are available to us.
Due to his incredible work in the industry, he was also named ‘King of the Disruptors’ by Banking Exchange magazine and the ‘Godfather of Fintech’ by The Australian newspaper. In addition, King was voted American Banker’s Innovator of the Year, the world’s #1 Financial Services Influencer by The Financial Brand and was nominated by Bank Innovation as one of the top 10 ‘coolest brands in banking.’
In conclusion, King says, “The key skill sets in this new world will belong to the data scientists who understand when, why, and how customers use bank products and the storytellers who can place the product or service in the customer’s life when and where they need it. Not those who attempt to pull me into a branch so I can jump through the risk hoops to prove I am worthy of a product.”