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Barclays European CIO wants to be the Google of banks

Mark Chillingworth | July 19, 2012
"When people think of music, they think Apple, when they think search they think Google."

"What happened at RBS was in real terms a unique event and from what I can tell was more to do with a failure of people and process then technology alone" Watson says. The CIO, as you'd expect, is hesitant to comment directly on a rival bank, but did of course analyse the situation at RBS and what it meant for his own operation.

"We constantly review and invest in our technology" "Constant improvement and investment in new technology ensures our platforms are more efficient, stable and more reliable," he says. Watson not only analysed the technology of his organisation uses, but also ensured his human assets and operational processes were not a potential issue for Barclays."

Barclays in Europe has almost 14,000 employees with Watson providing technology to the vast majority, excluding Investment Banking, Wealth and Corporate Banking.

Watson is passionate about the role technology will play for banking and its customers.

"Banking is the most technology focused industry out there. Think about it, every transaction a bank performs is executed through technology. There are not many things you can do in a bank without technology. In fact I can't think of any! Banking, in very real terms touches people's lives. I want to make sure everything we do at Barclays has a positive impact a person's life, each and every time they engage with us, regardless of which channel they chose".

"As a CIO I want to work with the business in a technology led transformative fashion. Technology will enable our vision of becoming the "Go to Bank"," he says. Watson cites JP Morgan Chase & Co Chairman & CEO Jamie Dimon and Steve Jobs former CEO of Apple as both a business and technology inspirations for the young CIO.

"We want to transform the experience at every channel and every place the customers are at. We have realised that the banking experience can be so much better. So we are working on making our products and services transparent, seamless, attractive and simple to use".

"Banking has a tradition of making things very complex. Basically what a customer wants is real time and seamless banking that's channel independent," Watson says of the vision since joining Barclays almost three years ago.

"Barclays has a rich history of innovation; we were the first to use ATMs, the first to offer a plastic credit card, I want to build on that rich legacy."

Watson is enthusiastic for recent Barclays innovations including Pingit a mobile payments system.

"The feedback we have had around Pingit in the media and on Twitter was amazing, we were in the top spot for a while with that launch, only porn stars get that sort of traffic twitter," he quips.

 

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