is a Webby Award Official Honoree

Webby Award
After a lovely four day weekend, I arrived back at my desk at work this morning to find out that had won the status of Official Honoree at this year’s Webby Awards.

From their site:

Congratulations on being selected as an Official Honoree

Your submission has been selected as an Official Honoree of The 11th Annual Webby Awards. As a result of the exceptional quality of submissions this year, the Academy has chosen to recognize work exhibiting remarkable achievement that was not selected as a Nominee. Out of more than 8,000 entries submitted to the 11th Annual Webby Awards, less than 15% are deemed Official Honorees.

After years of producing web sites, this is my first Webby. Needless to say, I’m extremely excited. And just in time for my Net.Finance presentation next week!

Thanks and cheers to Kate Dugas and the team at Social Signal for making this happen.

America Saves

Interesting article in the NYTimes: Can Poor People Be Taught to Save?

Why can’t poor people save money? Part of that psychological barrier… was social pressure to not save; the minute people got a little surplus, friends and family would start asking for loans. There were other obstacles too. People in both communities feared losing welfare benefits if they accumulated cash. Many families didn’t even define savings monetarily; they talked about the things they would sell in desperation – baseball-card collections, heirlooms or other low-value assets.

Enter What is America Saves?

America Saves is a nationwide campaign in which a broad coalition of nonprofit, corporate, and government groups helps individuals and families save and build wealth. Through information, advice, and encouragement, we assist those who wish to pay down debt, build an emergency fund, save for a home, save for an education, or save for retirement.

It’s a social network changing the peer pressure in poor communities from spending and lending to saving. According to the article, “about nine million households have effectively no financial assets – nothing to fall back on for emergencies or retirement.”

Banks help out by joining the program and creating accounts that charge no fees and have no minimum balance requirements. Amazing.

Something credit unions should get involved with. Creating wealth and assets for those with none. Banking for the under-banked and under-served. Hey, isn’t that already our mandate?

PS: Thanks for the link, Rob

Focus groupie

We held a focus group with members of the community. Fascinating stuff.

I don’t want to give away anything proprietary, but the trust the members of the focus group have in Vancity is amazing. It’s a bit of a virtuous circle: they use CE because they trust Vancity as a local, mission-driven organization with strong roots in, and ties to the community (if we replaced the Vancity logo with one of the big 5 banks, they wouldn’t even have tried the site even if everything else remained the same), but it goes the other way too because their trust in Vancity has improved because of CE and our lack of ulterior motives.

We also walked away with a lot of usability issues to address and some interesting functionality enhancements, which hopefully we can afford to make. There are some frustrating issues with the site, and seeing it through their eyes makes me happy the site is so sticky that it keeps our users coming back in spite of the technical issues. They all really liked the design, the open space, the colours. The Vancity brand lends itself well to this kind of endeavour, both aesthetically and thematically.

Watch the site over the next few weeks and even months for changes we’ll implement as a result of this amazing and inspiring evening.


I find the explosion of peer to peer lending very interesting. Avoid the bank, lend money to someone who needs it – you get a better rate on your investment than a bank would give you, they get a better rate on a loan than a bank would give them. It’s a win-win. As long as no one defaults.

I love the openness of it, the eBay quality. We buy and sell things for money, why not just buy and sell money itself? Clearly a reputation mechanism is key to this working.

So if we go five years in the future, will anyone remember this, or will the banks be screaming mercy? Is this to the banks what Napster was to the recording industry? Is this a classic case of a spider battling a starfish. I look forward to finding out.

If I was a betting man, I’d say that this will have a significant impact on banking, not a life or death impact, but enough that banks and credit unions will notice and either try to buy some of these guys up or start their own.

Time will tell if I’m right. What do you think?