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We had a revival of the Innotribe from SIBOS on Monday, by gathering the great and the good to discuss cryptocurrencies at the Escalator, an incubator for new fintech start-ups in East London run by Barclays Bank (if you want a primer on this, see Learn Cryptography).
The session was led by Richard Brown, Executive Architect for Industry Innovation, Banking and Financial Markets, IBM UK. Richard has become a semi-authority on the area, educating banks worldwide on the meaning of the technology of bitcoin and the blockchain. His speech was certainly appreciated here.
So it’s been another busy week with Financial Services Club meetings in London, Edinburgh and Warsaw. I’ll summarise each one over the next week, but will begin with our meeting in Warsaw which saw John Rendall, CEO of HSBC Polska, presenting his impressions of banking in Poland (see my blog from SIBOS for more background).
As mentioned yesterday, banks are not sleeping ostriches but are very awake to the digital revolution.
In fact, many are investing in that revolution with four incumbent banks standing out on my radar for their investments in these efforts.
The first of these is Sberbank, mainly because two friends of mine are running their venture capital fund: Mircea Mihaescu and Matteo Rizzi (Mircea is our guest at the next Financial Services Club meeting in Warsaw).
In late 2013, we researched the views of how payments markets are responding to change. The results are intriguing, so here's the management summary. If you would like a free copy of the report, just download here.
I really enjoyed the presentations in Oslo, particularly the case studies by Nordea and ValYou.
Nordea spoke about their experiences with social media usage. This, in itself, is fascinating as just a few years ago no bank spoke about social media in finance. Now, I am building case studies about how banks see this as both a customer service channel, and a platform for full deposit account usage (mBank and ICICI).
But there is still quite a spectrum of banking from those who ban the use of social media in the office ot those who embrace it for communications.
Nordea falls somewhere in the middle, according to Rune Sjøhelle, Head of Brand Management and Social Media in the Nordea Group and Head of Communications in Nordea in Norway.
As mentioned, we had our first meeting of the Financial Services Club in Oslo last week, and a fine affair it was. The most impressive aspect of the meeting being the palatial surroundings of the British Ambassador's Residence in Oslo.
We hold many of our European meetings in partnership with the British Embassies, and sometimes we meet at the Embassy buildings and, on occasion, at the British Ambassdor's Residence. This meeting was at the Residence and, to give you a sense of the building, here are just a few views of the building and decor:
We had our second meeting of the Nordic Financial Services Club in Oslo last week.
It was a fantastic meeting with case studies from a number of local firms including Schibsted Media Group, ValYou and Nordea. I’ll write up some of this later this week, but wanted to begin with some history.
Not some history of the Financial Services Club, but some history of the Nordic region.
This is because, by coincidence, I happened to pop into the Viking exhibition at the British Museum yesterday.
It’s a fascinating exhibition, although very crowded, and clearly shows that the Vikings were brave, bold and traders as well as raiders.
It's been a manic season of Financial Services Club meetings now that we are in eight cities - Bratislava, Dublin, Edinburgh, London, Oslo, Stockholm, Vienna and Warsaw - and it does not look like changing soon so, in the spirit of sharing, here's the headline events for the Club over the next four months:
Jon Matonis, Executive Director with the Bitcoin Foundation, spoke at our Polish Financial Services Club meeting last week.
It was challenging timing, as the issues with MTGox and other exchanges had just come to light. What issue was this? It’s best described in this week’s Economist:
The problems began with the discovery of a flaw in Bitcoin’s code at the start of February. Bitcoin is, in effect, a giant shared transaction ledger, recording who owns each individual unit of the currency at any one time. Everyone must use the same copy of the ledger—known as the “blockchain”—to prevent the same coins from being spent twice. The flaw, known as “transaction malleability”, muddles up the ledger so that successful Bitcoin payments do not appear to have been made. This could make it possible for hackers to trick badly-coded software—such as the proprietary Bitcoin wallets used by some exchanges—into sending money repeatedly.
Still busy in the Financial Services Club world with meetings in Stockholm, Vienna, Warsaw and London all in the past two weeks.
The interesting theme of all these meetings, and those in our future plans, is the digitisation of banking.
Most notably, the Chi-x BAT effect noted in our Stockholm launch meeting of the Nordic Financial Services Club, and the presentation from Gottfried Leibbrandt, Chief Executive of SWIFT, at our London dinner last week.
Gottfried kindly indulged us with a view of where SWIFT’s vision now lies.
We had a lively meeting at the Financial Services Club the other day, talking about cloud computing in banking.
I say lively because it is still clear to me that cloud is misunderstood in banking.
I guess because cloud is this amorphous mass of stuff that is ill-defined and hard to track down to a real requirement.
You have all these things as a service you see. Software as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service … you name it as a Service.
Nevertheless, we did spread some light on the subject by a panel discussion that comprised some lawyers (Kemp Little), some providers (Amazon Web Services), some users (Visa Europe) and some innovators (the Currency Cloud).
This weekend is the Lord Mayor’s Parade, where we do literally parade the new Lord Mayor of London, Fiona Woolf.
This is not the political Mayor of London, Boris, but the Lord Mayor, an office that dates back over seven centuries to the year 1189.
To celebrate the previous Lord Mayor's year in office, the Financial Services Club recently hosted Alderman Roger Gifford to reflect upon his year in office.
This was a timely and appropriate meeting, as Roger has been a career banker before assuming office, and has been head of Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB) in the United Kingdom since 2000 where he now returns after leaving office.
Here are Roger’s presentation notes from the meeting, for those who were unlucky enough to miss it:
The Financial Services Club is delighted to announce the
opening of our new Nordic Region Club in Q4, with two meetings planned in
Stockholm and Oslo.
London, the Financial Services Club was established in 2004 as a private networking
club for financial professionals that focuses on the future of financial
services. The Financial Services Club meet regularly for debates,
commentary, ideas and discussions and provides a platform for practitioners,
regulators and industry leaders to meet, network and discuss the future of our
industry. The Club currently hosts over 50
events a year, in a number of different European countries including Dublin, Edinburgh, London, Vienna
The Financial Services Club further extends its geographic
reach to cover the Nordic Region, hosting a number of meetings in Stockholm,
Copenhagen, Oslo and Helsinki over the coming twelve months in partnership with Capco, Cicero and FIS.