As overused as the word "innovation" may be, it's still an important concept to the financial services industry, where nimble newcomers can easily crop up and steal market share with the clever use of new technology and new communication outlets such as Twitter and Facebook.
The innovators in these pages may not be the next Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs. With a few exceptions, they're bankers and financial services executives who are adding new elements, such as crowdsourcing, mobile text alerts and context-aware computing, to more traditional financial services. But they're enhancing their offerings in a way that provides much-needed convenience, simplicity, debt assistance and faster access to credit.
Our first choice, Brett King, stands out from the rest. He's one of the few who is not a banker, but on the contrary a bank critic. He doesn't have an actual product or working service yet. But the disrupter compay he plans to open this summer, Movenbank, will be closely watched by all in the industry.
At a recent conference, King showed a video in which his toddler daughter was shown a magazine and practially cried as she tried to click on it and got nothing. Then she was offered an iPad and she began merrily clicking and swiping around on the user-friendly device.
This is what banking needs to be like one day, King says: Frictionless, easy and fun. Will Movenbank make it so? We look forward to seeing what King accomplishes.
In Pictures: The 2011 Innovators of the Year
Articles on honorees:
• Brett King: A Vision for 'Frictionless' Banking
• Jose Olalla: Pioneer in the Public Cloud
• Jeff Dennes: A Granting of Grace
• Robert Frohwein: The 10-Minute Small Business Loan
• Howie Wu: Getting New Members Quickly on Board
• Susan Andrews: Drawing the Best Ideas Out of 263,000 People
• Shekar Pannala: Aware of the Context
• Frank Eliason: Taking Social Media to a Chattier Level
• Harry Gunsallus: Speeding Apps to Market
• Jim Smith: A Plethora of Online Banking Options