Banks, credit unions, insurers and financial technology (fintech) startups are transforming the landscape of finance, moving interactions with customers onto smartphones, with instant access to account balances, paying bills, borrowing and investment portfolios.

Often lost in this Digital Transformation is accounting for the impacts that individuals and small businesses/NGOs create through their financial lifestyles and choices.

Storytelling 2.0

Whether as faith-based sacred texts, great literature or TED Talks, humans use storytelling to capture the drama of turning frustration into intention, and then into actions that shift human lives and the history of communities. Storytelling is part of the appeal of  smartphone technologies through applications (apps) like Wikipedia and YouTube that bring curiosity and attention to common and untold stories in developed and developing countries.

Money 2.0

Money has moved from metal, to paper, to digital fiat, to crypto-currency, and all the forms of investments in which money is stored as a debt, equity or guaranty obligation. A major advantage of money in digital form (including investments recorded digitally) is that its ownership, use and repayment can be more easily mapped, so that lenders, investors and financial institutions can improve the speed, safety and trustworthy outcomes of handling funds.

What’s missing?

So far so good, storytelling and money have both moved online into digital formats.

What’s missing is a trustworthy way for the owners of funds to see the stories their financial lives create.

Taking the challenge step-wise, our storytelling money™ services connect the dots:

  • Fund Owners – Whether as depositors in a bank or investors in a mutual  fund, as pensioners saving for retirement or policyholders paying premiums for insurance protection, fund owners and beneficiaries are stories, living lives where challenges and personal courage and character are key to building personal careers and legacies of meaning. As stories, these individuals expect those who use their funds to do so responsibly, and ideally, to become part of the Fund Owners’ stories of creating meaningful impacts.
  • Fund Users – Funds do not sit idly in a bank, mutual fund, pension fund or insurance pool. Funds are constantly in motion, invested for short or long term maturities into monetary and non-monetary forms, such as commercial, residential or industrial real  property, farms and agricultural means for growing the food supply, hospitals, clinics and healthcare services, energy generation and networks, and an infinite variety of business, nonprofit and government organizations. Ultimately, each  Fund User repays a share the profits of their economic activities. And each Fund User is a storyteller, as an individual, business or NGO brand, or government agency. Fund Users tell  their stories in relation to the impacts created for the customers they serve: a grocery feeds people, an energy company lights people’s homes and businesses, a hospital returns people to health, a city uses municipal bonds to fund roads, schools, parks and other capital assets serving the community.
  • Funds Intermediary – Traditionally and often by regulation, the role of matching Fund Owners and Fund Users is entrusted to commercial, community and investment banks, credit unions, registered securities dealers and fund managers, and others professionally competent to handle others’ funds and to move the funds to safe and profitable use. Increasingly, generations born since the advent of the Internet (so-called Digital Natives) are demanding more of financial intermediaries, such as greater transparency into how fees are charged, and what environmental, social and other impacts their transactions create.
  • Impacts Transparency Tools and Reports – Funds Owners, Users and Intermediaries need a consistent language and dashboard for tagging the story elements that each represents and creates in handling money. Urban Logic’s storytelling money™ services represent this holistic approach through whole-systems information design and financial reporting, including: (A) pragmatic, innovative research and advisory services, (B) strategies and strategic information on leveraging financial transactions, investments and insurance for positive impacts and (C) ways to improve urban sustainability and socially responsible business practices.

How to use Storytelling Money™ Services

If you would like to learn more about our Storytelling Money™ services, feel free to contact Bruce Cahan bcahan [at] urbanlogic.org.

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, aa Lecturer at Stanford University's Department of Management Science & Engineering, a Distinguished Scholar at Stanford mediaX and a former CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979). Bruce has been licensed to practice law in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

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