BarCampBank Seattle returns.

BarCampBank SeattleKudos to Matt Vance for resurrecting the BarCampBank brand, with the forthcoming BarCampBank Seattle on February 9th.

Almost six years ago Jesse Robbins held the first North American unconference focused on banking. How damn prescient in light of the financial crisis that would begin to erupt later that year and go full-blown a year or so later. Way before anyone thought of occupying any street.

For me, new to financial services at the time, it was a chance to form a community that has nourished me to this day. Many of us were embracing social media and met for the first time in Seattle on July 21st and 22nd, 2007. I wrote several posts about it at the time, including a sum-up on NetBanker.

We created a couple of BarCampBank BC sessions in the two years that followed (with the fun acronym BCBBC).

What I want to talk about…

I think the time is absolutely ripe for a continuation of the dialogue, but in the time since the BarCampBank days, I have changed my focus from digital to community investment. BarCamps, which come out of the tech and dev world are steeped in discussions about technology and its power to disrupt. Personally, I want to move past talking about technology and to something much more deeply rooted and philosophical. I want to talk about values-based banking. Because if community banks and credit unions don’t start increasing their relevance, there’s no need for many of them – perhaps most of them – to exist. And looking at the movement towards strengthening local economies, combined with a pursuit of more sustainable and ethical business practices, we have a giant opportunity to focus ourselves on something meaningful. Reconnecting our cooperative and local heritage to the modern, engaged consumer and citizen.

I look forward to discussing that with you. Buy your ticket now. And let me know if you’ll be there…

Crowdsourcing the next BarCampBankBC

BarCampBankBCFor the last two Septembers, Tim McAlpine, Gene Blishen and I have planned and put on BarCampBanks here in Vancouver. We have been discussing what to do this year and we think it’s time for new blood.

So here’s the deal: I’d love someone to step up and take over the planning of a BarCampBank here in BC. It’s a great event, but the three of us feel like we’d be re-hashing old territory and some new energy and ideas need to surface.

Leave a comment if you’re interested, and we’ll go from there.

BarCampBankBC2 was a local, reflective event.

BarCampBankBC2BarCampBankBC2 took place today. Tim McAlpine, Gene Blishen and I decided to make it a lower key, locally-focused event, given the economic times. It took place in the Vancity board room, and about 25 people from FIs and FI-related organizations took part in the conversations. The conversations focused a lot on co-operation, and, as often happens at BarCampBanks, the participants were mostly from the credit union world.

We talked about co-operation amongst co-operatives, about innovating new products, about channel strategy, about pulling together our members’ data to help them understand their finances more easily.

As I reflect, I think the main theme that emerged was the implicit or explicit barriers that are in place in our various organizations that hinder innovation, agility and sometimes even common sense. In some ways it was a ‘grass is always greener’ conversation where smaller organizations envy the resources bigger organizations have, and larger organizations envy the agility and lack of silos in smaller organizations.

It was a pleasure to discuss the issues of the day with some Twitter friends, including @eddron, @wendyholm, @dcesarini, @currencyTim, @pennyminder and @ebrett. Almost all of whom were at BarCampBankBC last year. So, I think we’re safe to say we’ll do it again next year. Perhaps same place and same weekend…

The wifi was spotty, and the conversations were involved, so there wasn’t a lot of Tweeting, but the Twitter tag was #bcbbc2, if you want to see the commentary.

On a personal level, BarCampBankBC2 marks the end of one of the busiest periods in recent memory for me. Starting with buying our house, going to Bologna, moving, launching the League of Kickass Business People in Vancouver, Ivan starting Kindergarten, finishing a major business case to revamp our intranet and bring enterprise 2.0 to our organization, writing an online service experience strategy, driving Vancity’s co-op week activities, plus some critical business issues at work and, oh yeah, my day job. Summers are usually a little slower, but this one was jam packed, almost all with outstanding items, but slightly more than my plate could hold. It’s one of those times where I’m excited about all the different things I’m involved with, but I’ve still been looking forward to having some of them behind me and not in front of me.

So there it goes.

Less than a week until BarCampBankBC2.

We still lots more room at BarCampBankBC2. I know that there will be people from most of the major credit unions and FIs in the region, plus some visitors from Alberta, Washington State and Oregon. Should be a good time.

If you know anyone who works in financial services and is interested in a freeform, innovative forum to learn, share and discuss, please spread the word.

See ya there!

Register now for BarCampBankBC2.


Yesterday, my friend Tim McAlpine who is helping to plan BarCampBankBC2 with myself and Gene Blishen, blogged that BarCampBankBC2 is less than 60 days away. So true!

Things have been so busy, I haven’t written much about BCBBC2 recently, but I am very excited about this banking innovation event.

It’ll take place on Saturday, September 26th from 9am to 5pm at Vancity’s head office at 183 Terminal Avenue in Vancouver (map below). I especially want people at local banks and credit unions to attend and join the conversation.


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We’re charging $10 (CDN) to cover a pizza lunch and to ensure people will actually show up if they say they will. You can register for the event now.

If you’re coming, please add your name to the wiki.