Financial Fitness
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Financial Fitness

Don’t give the data, provide meaning. Do not shower with detail, narrate the context

This post is part of a upcoming series covering or being inspired by the FCA Tech Sprint event, as well as illuminating the background story for FF — a platform narrating digital transactions to build powerful stories to nudge user spending.

I’d kick-off with a analogy: with the past US elections and looming election results where emotional concepts of certain politicians beats the cool-headed and factual approach. Facts require tools to assess, appraise and internalise them. Emotions follow the brain “fast-track”, aiming for the limbic system that have evolved to help humans survive and decide “fight-or-flight”.

The high stress situation shuts down circuits powering analytics routines and is redirects brain processing power towards emotional concepts earlier learned by the afflicted. Deflation or withdrawal is painful and stressful. High volumes of cortisol are emitted and suppresed by “sweet” actions — sugar consumption and from recently, incessant and unstoppable consumption.

In a world where physical feedback from cash transactions is dissapearing with the token originally counted and kept closely, digital exchange does not provide the reassurance or doubt that controlled for the splurge.

Moreover, emerging tech and mobile connectivity allows for instant gratification mode.

“Alexa, buy me a nice doll house”

“Siri, please order tickets to Bali”

“Dash button, where art thou?”

Where originally payment tech has been the force pioneering fast consumption, Visa in the 70ies installing its BASE-1 platform to cut down transaction time from minues to tens of seconds, today the moment of undo is in miliseconds — past the barrier of no return for the mind to conceptualise.

Today world requires a complete redesign of how people interact with the information he is given, what tools are available to make sound forward judgements and how the actions taken progress him towards those things that really matter to him, rather than to the purveyor of services offered to him.

Where data flood is immense and according to one study, our brain processes an estimated 11 million signals every second — adding new social modes and interactions and routines only makes it hard to approach every action analytically, and activates the limbic approach. We are at risk of falling for more emotionally driven decisions than we did.

Due to excess of emotions we process, social media becomes an easy channel to vent them off — easily hooked for the receptive nature of doing it and having the seemingly receptive audience — the illusion of everyone listening.

Rather than create tools to protect us from the inconsequential and adverse effects of overshare, social platforms, by design of their commercial models, prey on the emotions and either cast a illusionary filter conforming us with the mean group, or directly convert the emotions into sales opportunities.

The enveloping emotionally-driven behaviour:

  • makes it impossible to return to the analytical route an
  • makes it alluring and addictive only to use the former
  • makes it hard to plan, as we increasingly rely on short-term signals and act impulsevly (why bother, my AI assistant knows better where to go, whom to congratulate etc.)

Emotional businesses are in huge position to decipher and control our attention and while testing new algorithms — be that for better ad tech, or for control for adverse mental states:

Banks are still operating in the rational domain:

  • unable to curate the adequate amount of information given to users
  • unable to embed those with a social narrative appealing to the mass users, already under sway of social media behavioural modes.

Financial institutions, in a world of diminishing returns for utility services like payments and lending, must not lose touch with the user base and convert every interaction generated by the installed base of accounts and financial tokens they have distributed — in an opportunity, catering to the needs of users, whims of retailers — and optimum financial behavior.

Keeping in mind:

  • the evolving mental state of users under pressure from the data world
  • the tricks used to extract emotions in the void of social media
  • the need to narrate the future, discarded by the short-terminism

The FF concept was born, an analytics to embed emotions to transactions to:

  • help people contextualise their decisions
  • help them narrate future paths by happiness infused rationalisation of past transactions
  • give this powerful analytics platform for global financial instutions to establish a powerful narrative for each digital transactions they process
  • counter the loss of touch with physical transaction tokens with an emotional path for each digital transaction that would contribute mentally, phychologically and financially to the user’s fitness score

More on FF in our upcoming posts as we get ready for public launch with several major institutions down the course of 2017.

(A short) Reference reading list :

Robin Dunbar — Human Evolution

Yuval Noah Harari — Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Daniel Levitin — The Organised Mind

Walter Mischel — The Marshmallow Test

David DiSalvo — What Makes Your Brain Happy



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