Understanding Peoples' Lifestyles & Behavioural Drivers

A Conversation with Etienne Iliffe-Moon, Director of Design and Strategic Partnering, BMW Group Designworks + BMW Group Technology Office USA

In Featured, Insights, Technology by Paul Brandner

BMW Designworks’ visionary defines the future premium and reveals the roadmap to a seamless, elegant mobile banking experience.


Spanning three offices throughout the world, BMW Group Designworks propels the speed of innovation by keeping an ear to the ground and eye on the future. We recently caught up with the creative consultancy’s Director of Design and Strategic Partnering, Etienne Iliffe-Moon, to get a better sense of how fintech players can elevate users’ banking experiences and secure their trust and loyalty. 

Carta: Designworks uses creative cross-fertilization in innovations for clients. What are some of the external technology and design trends that will be key in the advancement of bank disruptors?

Etienne Iliffe-MoonEtienne Iliffe-Moon: At Designworks, we’re constantly looking for leading edge phenomena that may catalyze into trends, from cultural, social, technological, environmental or political perspectives. The heart of what we do is understanding peoples’ lifestyle and behavioural drivers, and how that influences future consumer experiences. It’s important to think about technology as just an enabler—it’s the human side of things that drives the experience.

In the near future for banking and payments, we’ll be seeing a heavy emphasis on artificial intelligence—the role of sensors and data, which if not done right could dehumanize the experience. At Designworks we’re very interested in how AI and intelligent assistants can deliver a human experience that empowers people in their lives through interactions that are smart, contextual and super simple. Mobility in the next decade will be marked by intelligent, autonomous, connected, electrified and shared experiences—and this will be mirrored in our digital lives.

A future for banking that is cardless, digital and influenced by block chain seems highly likely. But its adoption will be very closely tied to consumer behaviours and values. We’re also seeing a trend towards consumers adopting more quick-change, lightweight lifestyles. As a result I imagine we’ll be seeing a significant shift to thinking about banking or payments as an embedded experience rather than a transaction. So with our view of autonomous mobility, when the car drives you, there’s a significant opportunity for the banking world to enable new in-car experiences that were previously not possible. This new mobility will be giving people back their time and space, and empowering them with the choice of doing so much more than we currently do in our cars.

The idea of developing trusting relationships that connect consumers, retailers and banking, will be crucial for new companies and existing banks. The relationships that people had with their banks have somewhat eroded in the last decade or so, but inherently there’s still a trust in the institution. Alongside simplicity and convenience, new payment products are going to have to learn how to build up that trusted relationship with consumers in an authentic way to be competitive in the fintech arena.

Carta: What should banks and fintech innovators prioritize when it comes to designing new payment products?

Etienne: At Designworks we’re obsessed with understanding what premium is in the future. We see it as simple and effortless, a curated and very individual experience. I’m trying to avoid the word ‘customized’ because it goes beyond that—we’re looking towards services that can accurately anticipate our changing needs. In our lives today, there’s so much distraction and noise, and our attention is being pulled in many different directions. We need to be designing experiences that elegantly minimize that distraction, deliver instant and easy gratification and are a seamless part of the consumer’s digital life.

I’m personally really interested in how the intelligent assistant, like a future Alexa, will enable me to simplify my life. We see in our daily lives the constant juggle between services, apps, devices and platforms—that’s just begging for some thoughtfulness in the transitions in between. How can a personal assistant solve this? And how do I deal with banking in that virtual world of intelligent assistants? That’s a really interesting experience design and brand opportunity.

Carta: You and your team design for the future. How do you keep up with how quickly consumer behaviours change?

Etienne: One of our core principles is a strategic understanding of the global context. Our three studios across the world—in LA, Shanghai and Munich—are doorways into these global regions. We’re constantly sending teams out there—scanning, exploring and investigating those cultures, local behaviours and values. We use insight and foresight research to inform and inspire our creative process. In design research the challenge is less about keeping up with the research and more centred on how you capture insights, translate them to design, and convey them to your stakeholders.

Carta: Being a part of the Silicon Valley community, how does this affect your team’s design process?

Etienne: I’m heavily involved in the West Coast collaboration between BMW Group’s Technology Office in the Bay Area and Designworks in Los Angeles. Between the tech office and our design studio, we’re immersed in one of the world’s leading economy, technology and lifestyle cultures. The vibrance of the West Coast shapes who we are and how we work. It influences how we think and inspires new ideas. The exposure to technology networks and enablers here is certainly important, but the diversity of the West Coast lifestyles couldn’t be more influential. Having the diversity of San Francisco and LA, with beach, city and mountains in such close proximity inspires how we design for people and their lifestyles.