Car enthusiasts or not, we’ve all heard about Toyota. However, not everyone is familiar with its financial services operations. This is why during the Money 2020 US event, we could not miss the opportunity to check the fintech industry pulse through Bishop B. Curry, one of its key Consultants.
G2A PAY (GP): Toyota Financial Services: could you describe the company’s mission in just a few words?
Bishop B. Curry IV (BC): We provide our customers with financial services that include auto sales financing, credit cards, retail sales, as well as insurance.
GP: Against the backdrop of the Money 2020 US discussions held around technology, innovation and regulation, do you consider the latter an impediment or a key factor towards innovation?
BC: I think it is a partnership. As technology moves faster and faster and data becomes more and more available, there is a way to innovate faster. We just have to be open to perspectives from our regulators and regulating bodies and as I said during one of the event sessions, we are basically talking about regtech. That is encouraging, I think the general perception of regulators has been that they are an impediment. But they are actually more of a collaborative partner. At the end of the day, we innovate in the direction of our customer and we want our consumers to have a seamless interaction.
GP: What does innovation stand for, in your opinion?
BC: The definition of innovation in Merriam’s dictionary is related to doing something different than you’ve done before. In my opinion, it is really about understanding what customers want and changing our approach to delivering it. Without any doubt, there is a race to do it. It is about looking at what you do, what you actually provide in the way your customers are or aren’t expecting.
GP: The company has been involved in blockchain trials for financial and non-financial applications. What’s your opinion about the present or future role of blockchain?
BC: I think that blockchain is something that any player (in capital finance, banking etc.) can use as a competitive advantage. We are already doing that across the company in several different areas. And at the end of the day, I think it will help us be able to perform better, and obviously continue to meet our customer needs. I don’t think there is a single industry that is currently not looking at blockchain.
Going back to your regulatory question: we have to understand as much as we can about it, how to leverage it. Also, there are some important generational differences: Gen Z is more comfortable with blockchain than Boomers, so that is another aspect that needs to be taken into account.
GP: What challenges do you think that online merchants are facing in this complex environment?
I think it’s competition, volume, and how they can differentiate themselves. I think that is a major challenge. The word frictionless came up again and again during the Money 2020 US sessions. Customers are looking for ease of use and frictionless interaction and this is where the industry is going. Larger companies which have operated in the same way for years and years are a good learning point for startups, which are now seeing the gaps in providing that seamless and frictionless service.
To conclude, leveraging technology in a smart and right way, as well as providing a frictionless interaction is where things are moving to.
GP: Future industry trends: which ones will dominate industry event discussions two years from now?
BC: For the last 5 years, the focus has been on Millennials. In my opinion, Gen Z is going to be a topic for intense discussion. Their perspectives and buyer behaviour, the way they look at government and technology – all these are setting different industry directions. Companies have invested a lot of efforts in addressing the needs of Millennials, now they’re going to have to be able to be agile and flexible enough to provide for Gen Z, as well. I think brand loyalty and strategic marketing is going to be vital when it comes to Gen Z (who are very passionate about what a company stands for and what they don’t stand for).
About Bishop B. Curry, IV:
Bishop is a Technology Innovation Consultant for Toyota. He leads efforts to enhance technological capabilities that align with the company’s financial services strategic road map. He collaborates with business groups and leaders at each level to help Toyota meet its strategic organizational goals. Toyota Financial Services is one of the nation’s largest and highest rated captive finance companies.