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I met a large bank’s CIO the other day who was told to reduce his IT budget for 2016 by 40%. He was a bit upset, and asked me if I had any ideas?
I had a few but it’s a tough ask, especially when most banks IT budgets are exploding. According to Celent banks in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific are expected to spend a whopping $196.7 billion on technology in 2015, up from $188.1 billion last year, so how do you spend less in a market that is spending more? And why would you spend less in a market that is spending more?
Following our regular weekly interview, the Finanser talks this week with leading commentator on all things to do with digital money and digital identity: David G.W. Birch.
Dave is well known as one of the leading voices in the field of developments in new forms of payment and money. He is an internationally-recognised thought leader in digital money and digital identity. One of the 2014 “Power 50” in European digital financial services and a NextBank Fintech “titan”, in 2013 he was named one of WIRED magazine’s global top 15 favourite sources of news from the world of business and finance and was ranked the no.1 influencer in European emerging payments by Total Payments magazine.
As a man clued up on everything to do with digital money, digital currencies, digital identity, what’s the main things that you see happening at the moment?
Well, I would say tokenisation, HCE (Host Card Emulation) is really big for us at the moment. So, there’s a lot of effort going into the kind of revitalisation of mobile. And a lot of people who are saying this is the year that mobile payments finally break through are probably right, if that’s anything to go by. So that’s very hot.
We have a lot of identity work, which we’ve been talking about for a long time, but it’s interesting to see how the banks are beginning to take identity seriously and start to form their identity strategies.
Coming up out of left field, you’ve got the whole Blockchain thing which, and I know I’ll get criticized for this, is quite different from Bitcoin. I had meetings about this again all day yesterday. So, Blockchain is quite hot at the moment, that’s very true.
I just visited with Roberto Ferrari at CheBanca! in Italy. For those who don’t know CheBanca!, it is the digital first bank launched in 2008 by Mediobanca. Mediobanca provides merchant bank services in Italy and had never had a retail bank before. Therefore, it made sense in the post-meltdown digital age to implement a fintech bank fit for Italy, and CheBanca! claims to be that bank. You can find out more here.
Anyways, being a digital first bank does not mean being a digital only bank, and Roberto took great pride in showing me his branch.
I know, it doesn’t look like much, but wait till you get inside
Following our regular weekly interview, the Finanser talks this week with best-sellng author Jeffrey Robinson.
Jeffrey Robinson is a native New Yorker and an international bestselling author of 30 books. He is a recognised expert on organised crime, fraud and money laundering, and has been labelled by the British Bankers’ Association as “the world’s most important financial crime journalist”. After my recent coverage of bitcoin, the blockchain and cryptocurrencies, he got in touch to provide the other view of this world. As his most recent book is a year long investigation into the other side of bitcoin – “Bitcon: The Naked Truth About Bitcoin” – the conversation proved fascinating.
Following on with our regular weekly interview the Finanser talks this week with Matthias Kröner, CEO and founder of Fidor Bank, Germany.
Matthias Kröner has been CEO of Fidor Bank since 2006. He is responsible for investor relations, corporate communications, strategic development and communities. Fidor is an internet bank, its primary account combines elements of a traditional bank account with internet payments and innovative banking services. Fidor was the first bank to integrate Ripple’s payment protocol, allowing its customers to instantly send money in any currency in any amount.
Bitcoin still stirs up a huge debate about where it will go in the future; will it become institutionalised; what is the blockchain going to do to banking; and more. In order to clarify the debate, we interviewed Jon Matonis, a renowned expert on bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, to find out what is the truth.
Tell me about yourself and your background Jon.
I was involved with the Bitcoin Foundation since its inception, starting in 2012, as one of the founding board directors. At the end of last year I decided to retire from the Foundation board and give other people the opportunity to step forward and work on the board.
Following on with our regular weekly interview the Finanser talks this week with René Frijters, Founder and CEO of the Dutch digital bank Knab.
Knab is the digital first bank funded by Aegon. In Aegon’s latest results summary, there are some interesting comments.
Knab, Aegon's online bank in the Netherlands, has been recognized as having the best new investment concept for its simple, convenient and accessible investing. It provides sample portfolios to help guide newer investors as well as advanced analysis tools for more experienced investors. Knab’s innovations have now attracted more than 50,000 customers, following a strong increase in 2014 … Gross deposits tripled to EUR 1.0 billion. This was mainly the result of the continued strong performance of Knab, Aegon’s online bank in the Netherlands. Knab accounted for EUR 0.6 billion of gross deposits in the fourth quarter, up from EUR 42 million in the same quarter of 2013. The number of clients at Knab has grown significantly in 2014 and now stands at over 50,000, supported by very high customer satisfaction scores.
Here’s what René has to say about it:
Can you give me a bit about the background to Knab Bank? When did it launch and who is behind it?
Following on with our regular weekly interview, the Finanser talks this week with Soner Canko, CEO or BKM (Bankalararası Kart Merkezi), the ACH for Turkey.
BKM was established in 1990 as a partnership of public and private banks. Today, all the banks that issue a card and own a POS are members of BKM. The ACH is notable for being a key promoter of contactless payments and, more recently, launching its own mobile payments wallet for the banks to leverage to their clientele.
Starling Bank is the name of a new challenger bank being set up in London. The bank’s early days show how challenging the process of creating a new bank can be, as the Financial Times explains (see end of interview). Nevertheless, there is grand ambition to shake up the banking establishment, as outlined in this interview with founder and CEO Anne Boden.
A lot of people haven’t heard of Starling Bank. Can you give us an introduction and background to what you are doing, and the plans for the bank?
Metro Bank launched into mainstream UK retail banking in July 2010 and has been growing rapidly. As the first new retail bank for over a century, how is it fairing? In the second of The Finanser Interviews we talk to Craig Donaldson, CEO of Metro Bank, to find out.
I’ve recently been interviewing a series of innovators and challengers in the banking system, and will publish an interview here on a regular basis with these visionaries.
In the first of The Finanser Interviews we talk to Mark Mullen, CEO and Co-Founder of Atom Bank and former CEO of First Direct. Atom Bank is a major new digital bank due to launch in the UK later this year.
How did Atom Bank come about and how do you see the vision for the launch of the bank?
There’s one bank I regularly visit, which have their values emblazoned over their reception. These values are:
... or RISES for short.
It’s nice, but I always have this cynical little buddy on my shoulder, shouting in my ear: “do you think they mean it?”
The problem with the things like corporate values and mission statements is that they’re often a little bit wishy-washy. As pointed out to me regularly, look at any bank’s mission statement and they all sound the same.
Citi works tirelessly to serve individuals, communities, institutions and nations. With 200 years of experience meeting the world's toughest challenges and seizing its greatest opportunities, we strive to create the best outcomes for our clients and customers with financial solutions that are simple, creative and responsible. An institution connecting over 1,000 cities, 160 countries and millions of people, we are your global bank; we are Citi.
I was going to keep quiet during this holiday week but, in the spirit of selfishness, I’m going to post a few blog entries about the Ukraine.
Ukraine is a country I’ve not visited before, but was invited to fly over just before Christmas to run a discussion with Privatbank, the largest retail and commercial bank in the country.
Bearing in mind the issues in the Ukraine, which I will post some thoughts around in the next few days, this was quite a special visit, particularly when we stood in the Maidan Square in Kiev where, just a year earlier, most of the population had stood in protest at Russia’s annexation of the Crimea.
This Russian aggression resulted in worldwide protest and led to the American and European sanctions against Russia, which I’ve blogged about before.
I had been invited to present a keynote speech that would be broadcast live at the bank’s headquarters in Dnipropetrovsk, the fourth largest city in the Ukraine with around one million people. I didn’t think much about this until I arrived at the bank’s offices to find a billboard poster with my face on it.