Putting the ‘digital’ in Digital Intermediaries:the role of technical infrastructure in building business models

McKnight, John Carter and Ferreira, Jennifer and Perry, Mark and Fish, Adam Richard (2014) Putting the ‘digital’ in Digital Intermediaries:the role of technical infrastructure in building business models. 3rd Party Dematerialisation and Rematerialisation of Capital.

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The UK economy has a huge dependence on financial services, and this is increasingly based on digital platforms. Innovating new economic models around consumer financial services through the use of digital technologies is seen as increasingly important in developed economies. There are a number of drivers for this, ranging from national economic factors to the prosaic nature of enabling cheap, speedy and timely interactions for users. The potential for these new digital solutions is that they will allay an over-reliance on the traditional banking sector, which has proved itself to be unstable and risky, and we have seen a number of national policy moves to encourage growth in this sector. Partly as a result of the 2008 banking crisis, there has been an explosion in peer-to-peer financial services for non-professional consumers. These organisations act as intermediaries between users looking to trade goods or credit. However, building self-sustaining or profitable financial services within this novel space is itself fraught with commercial, regulatory, technical and social problems. This report addresses the mutual shaping of business models and innovations in digital technical infrastructure – both client-facing and administrative back-end – in two retail financial products currently in use in the United Kingdom: peer-to-peer consumer lending and a local digital/paper hybrid currency system. The two products and their issuing firms, Zopa Limited (Zopa) and The Bristol Pound Community Interest Company (the Bristol Pound), respectively, are established leaders in their respective product areas: Zopa was established in 2005 and the Bristol Pound in 2010. Each of these firms seeks to disrupt an established financial market through the application of digital technologies and processes: consumer lending for Zopa and retail payment for the Bristol Pound. Our research has involved teams from Lancaster University examining Zopa and Brunel University focusing on the Bristol Pound over approximately a one-year period from October 2013 to October 2014. Extensive interviews, document analysis, observation of user interactions, and other methods have been employed to develop the process analyses of the firms presented here. This report is comprised of three primary sections: descriptions of the business and technological processes of each of Zopa and the Bristol Pound, and a final analytical section drawing preliminary conclusions from the research presented.

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18 Nov 2015 09:20
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12 Sep 2023 03:41