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Two Behavioural Shifts Re-Defining Banking




by Ashwin Rajan

Banking is facing disruption everywhere, globally. We know this.

What fascinates me is how incumbent banks will transform in an era where their primary markets are being captured by startups that look and behave nothing like them.

At Fabric, we consider the very material our work to be human behaviour. And so we've been studying what we call 'behavioural megatrends' - complex and large-scale shifts in human behaviour that change industries. We call these megatrends 'Connected Shifts': global or local behavioural patterns emerging as a consequence of specific digital technologies being adopted by specific cultures.

Here are a couple of shifts that we think will fundamentally alter banking in this decade.


Digital technology, including banking services, in their current avatar are largely gender-agnostic. And this is a good thing. It means women everywhere are touched and can interact with digital tools in an equal participatory capacity as men. This brings a historically unprecedented number of women into the political and social sphere, and in tow brings women's unique needs, perspectives and approaches into the use and shaping of these digital tools. Banking systems and services that meet and adapt to these novel approaches will be rewarded with use and value.

Research has shown that men tend to be goal-oriented shoppers, while women tend to be experience or 'narrative-driven' while shopping - preferring to browse and immerse themselves in stories. This means we might design qualitatively very different shopping experiences for men and women.  

For example, research has shown that men tend to be more goal-oriented shoppers than women, who are more experience or 'narrative'-oriented. Currently, 'Femtech' products seem centred around the reproductive differences and special needs of women in the physical / health domain. But building on the behavioural insights of differences between the sexes in other domains like shopping, education, etc. might mean we can expect novel banking services designed 'by women, for women' to emerge.

The current 'Femtech market map' is almost totally around reproductive differences and health (below).


There is a tendency for digitally-armed cohorts of people to gather allied resources - from transportation to living spaces to food to any number of others - in a ground-up, emergent way. The total value and utility of the resource base gets amplified as a result. I call this behavioural phenomenon 'pooling', a tendency to gather together related resources based on their use and the motivations of the users, and collectively handle the responsibility fort their handling, distribution and management. Note this is a different phenomenon from 'sharing' - which is essentially a shift from ownership. 'Pooling' is not about ownership, it is about the amplification of value from sharing. This shift from an individualistic approach to resource use effects the very creation, acquisition and exchange of those resources.

Disruptive banking services will be innovated out of the emergent behaviour around the 'common purpose' of the groups that pool. They will be shaped by the resource being pooled and by novel systems of value exchange. They will also be tailored and customised by its participant individuals on-the-go. For instance, pooling might lead singular use case services such as Splitwise (which helps friends Split bills) to integrate slowly and deeply over time with personal finance services such as Wally or peer-to-peer lending systems such as Lendbox to allow new forms of transaction and value exchange to emerge.

Wally is a personal finance control app (below).

Lendbox is a revolutionary peer-to-peer service from India (below).

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