Neal Cross: Disruption is someone else solving problems better than you
After leading the digital transformation at DBS Bank, Neal Cross left his role as Chief Innovation Officer last year to join the board of Razer Fintech, the financial technology arm of gaming company Razer.
The British expat is now tasked with replicating the feat and help Razer Fintech bring disruption and innovation into the growing and fiercely competitive digital banking and virtual payment space. The company now has its own virtual payment app (Razer Pay) and entered a partnership with Visa last year to allow payments without the need for a bank account.
The word ‘disruption’ is a term conveniently used and something that many businesses strive to achieve. But what exactly is a disruption?
There is no better person to answer that than Cross, who was awarded the most disruptive Chief Innovation Officer (CIO)/Chief Technology Officer (CTO) globally by a panel which included Sir Richard Branson and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.
“I feel that we really need to dig deeper on what digital disruption is and how we can become disruptors ourselves. The common consensus is that disruption was caused by technology, but in my mind, it was really caused by a misalignment between what a company thinks it does and what their customers think it does,” he said.
“If you talked to most banks, for example, they would say that their business is giving their clients savings accounts, car loans, life insurance and investments. Now, if you ask their customers what they think the bank does they may well answer that they feel banks help them with their child’s education because they give them a savings account.
“The bank helps them solve their transport problems as they give them a car loan and car insurance. So, in my mind, every company has just one job to do and that’s to solve their customers’ problems and really, disruption was caused by someone else solving your customers’ problems better than you.
“Now this is true all the way through history, not just for today’s wave of disruption. Whether its rail roads being disrupted by road haulage, or the film camera being disrupted by digital cameras, the same pattern plays out: the companies involved didn’t really understand and focus on the problems that their customers needed to be solved,” he added.
Razer submitted an application to secure a digital full bank licence with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in January. And the company said that its fintech arm will build Razer Youth Bank if it receives approval.
Looking ahead to bringing another wave of disruption, Cross enthused, “I don’t think that any organization has really nailed youth banking to date even though many have tried. I really want to see what it takes to bank the next generation and deliver this in a way that makes sense to them and the emerging world they live in.
“So many things across work, play and education are changing faster than ever before and I would love to build a bank that is hyper tuned to these changes so that it remains consistently relevant.
“I’ve had a sneak peek into what Razer Fintech has planned for its digital bank venture and am highly excited to see how I can come in to help them build towards a vision that is very much aligned to mine.
“It would be such an achievement to produce financially savvy citizens through this initiative, adults moving through life who are financially happier and making better decisions about their future,” he added.