Wallpaper made from banknotes

17-02-01 18:09 | Digital banking | The Digital Hub

A colleague said the other day that visualisation is king, and I couldn’t agree more. It helps customers understand complex relationships and contexts without the need for lengthy explanation. Improving digitalisation is what newcomers to the digital world often do; it is highly useful for some customer groups, like those with a loose grip on their personal finances. 

There’s a long-running TV show in Sweden called “The Luxury Trap”. Two experts help people whose economy has more or less crashed, to understand just how much they are overspending, and help them get back on track. They hang up rows of banknotes on a board, and get the unfortunate star of the show to count it out into columns representing their areas of spending. This has always puzzled me – why do they need to see rows of banknotes to know where their money goes? Then, a friend of mine explained that this is because a lot of people don’t understand the concept of digital money, so we still need to visualise costs in the form of a “wallpaper” of banknotes instead of through the “figures” we use at the bank. 

In a discussion over lunch the other day, we talked about the digital world and online shopping. One of the guys present thought that it’s easier today for people who lack self-control to blow all their money in online shopping (not to mention online gambling). In his opinion, the major difference is that, with traditional money, what you had was in your wallet, whereas now people can easily access their entire finances in just one click. I am convinced that visualisation could help them, i.e. letting them know that they need to save up for food and the electricity bill at the end of the month. 

There are other parts of our financial life that need visualisation, such as when major changes occur, like buying a new home, a new position at work, saving up for retirement, etc. I viewed my own profile recently in “My pension” – a service in Sweden that combines different data sources into a very simple graphical presentation of how much money you’ll get when you retire. This was a good example how visualisation can simplify complex information.

A common denominator of all situations like this is that it’s a case of understanding predictions – what will happen? It’s not that difficult to understand that once your money has gone, you won’t be able to pay your bills, yet we still get to see rows of banknotes hung on a board week after week in “the Luxury trap”. There are many situations in which we all need help, so let’s visualise the future with bright colours and money in the bank, to help us keep our finances on track. 

/Olov Brandt, responsible for the Nordea Accelerator in Sweden.

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