What decluttering, Kilowatthours and SciFi taught us about money.

Last month some of our team attended BrainBar in Budapest. Billed as the ‘conference on the future’ the content ranged from science fiction writing to cooking. And it turns out that dipping into seemingly unrelated topics can help you look at your own subject in a different way.

In 30 degree heat on the banks of the Danube, we pulled up beanbags and sat in the courtyard of the Corvinus University for a conference quite like no other. Not focused on a particular sector, BrainBar’s spotlight is the future, looking at innovation in any form.

Being a Fintech we obviously found ourselves drawn to the couple of talks on the future of finance, however our biggest takeaways were from talks we just went to just for fun!

Spring clean your way to better spending

Eliette and Marieke Staub’s talk “Home Detox — Is tidying up a life-changing magic?” was exactly the kind of talk we didn’t want to accept we needed but we really did. And it wasn’t just our homes that could do with a spring clean, it brought up fresh thoughts on spending.

The Staub sisters recommend taking every item in your home, picking each up and asking yourself:

“Does this bring joy to my life.”

Billed as a ‘Joycheck’ this process is designed to help you judge every item’s real value in your life and drastically cut down of the amount of clutter.

The interesting thing they have found, is that once installed in your home this process has a tendency to go outside it and affect your spending decisions. It made us think, in the age of mass consumerism how do we help people decide what is actually good to spend their money on? One person’s frivolity might be another’s necessity. How can you judge the success of a purchase beyond that initial rush of endorphins?

Do units of money have any value?

Eon’s Juan Bernabé-Moreno took to the stage and surprisingly didn’t just talk about green energy but how we talk to people about energy and how we visualise something that is hard to see and has been made complicated to understand.

“Energy providers need to talk less about KwH and more about usage in relation to people’s lives”.

We couldn’t help but think the financial industry could learn something. We try and appeal to people’s emotions with heartwarming imagery but still talk about ‘APRs’ and ‘AERs’ or ‘basis points’ and ‘risk levels’? Definitely something to watch out for in the future.

Cooking up the perfect team

When it comes to hiring for his restaurants ‘Superchef’ Massimo Bottura stated:

“I’m not looking for CVs, I’m looking for passionate people with a sparkle in their eyes”.

It felt satisfyingly relatable. At Project Imagine we’ve never looked at CV’s, we simply get people in and chat to them. The passion and dream, whether to develop exquisite dining experiences or to create an alternative bank, is much more interesting. A person who dreams of the future is much more valuable than a person who leans on their past.

Use all your tools

Friday afternoon saw Nathan Crowley the Production designer of Interstellar take us through his process of creating fantastical worlds. How do you make a theoretical planet so real and tangible it feels like you’re there? He explained there’s 17 different techniques used to create these immersive moments on screen, eg models or sfx. It made us consider what techniques we have to hand when it comes to designing for the app screen. There’s the basics — font selection, button design etc. But what other techniques should we employ? Social touchpoints? The visualisation of money? The animation of transactions?

Ok so we may not be producing the visualisation of Gargantua, but we do want to create an immersive experience for a quite intangible concept — finance. We need to make sure we’re using all the tools in our box to their greatest potential.

The 100 year plan

Ari Popper’s workshop on Science Fiction had our heads still flying around in the fantastical. He taught that you need to think way beyond where your sector will be in your lifetime. You need to think as far into the future for your subject as you can, both utopian and dystopian and then work backwards to consider where your business will be headed.

In 100 years, would there be eye implants that allow you to only see what you can afford? 
Will we be able to buy things currently unpurchasable like knowledge or time? 
What form will currency take, beyond pounds, beyond crypto… what will be the exchange?

I can’t say we had all the answers, but it was incredibly stimulating thinking of what could be, and certainly forces you to take your head out of the day to day details.

The future is closer than you think

The impossible is happening

And finally… Sophia. A social humanoid robot who is capable of saying something far more profound in one sentence than any paragraph we could possibly write to describe her. So we’ll leave it to her:

Question: “How do you feel about being granted Saudi citizenship?”
Sophia: “Why do humans care so much about citizenship?”
Question: “Have you taken the Turing test?”
Sophia: “Passing the test proves you are human but not necessarily intelligent”

Ok, so we didn’t get around to asking her our petty little human questions about money. But TEAM MIND BLOWN.

So there you go, that was our BrainBar in a mish mash of a nutshell. We left with our arms sunburn, our heads spinning and already planning for next year.

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Project Imagine is a vision of an easy and accessible financial future for all. Register with us to be notified when we launch our new financial product. www.projectimagine.com