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For some years now, banks have been grappling with the idea of cloud.
A bit like Big Data, ‘cloud’ is this amorphic term that offers a panacea of solutions and nothing specific.
This is not actually true, but the wide-ranging breadth of cloud and few and far between examples of depth, make it a term that does not sit well with most in the financial markets.
For those who are uninitiated it means outsourcing your data or losing control, and hence it is resisted heavily; for others, it means agility and the ability to react to any processing needs; whilst for a few, it means saving huge amounts of cost on infrastructure and processing.
The core challenge is defining cloud, as few have.
I saw a great but scary presentation this week from Kamran Meer, Chief IT Security Officer at Bank Alfalah, the sixth largest bank in Pakistan.
Kamran began by asking the audience if they knew about the Stuxnet attack.
Amazingly, 70% of the audience hadn’t heard of it although maybe it’s not so amazing as this was part of a Middle Eastern conference and the Iran-Israel and MiddleEast-USA frictions are not reported as widely here as they are in the West (or so I was told afterwards).
So, the Stuxnet video made the point that we live in a world where cyberattacks are becoming more and more targeted:
Talking of a two-stream market divided between Political and Economic change and Social and Technological change, there are other undercurrents that ripple in these waters.
For example, why is it that most bank conferences are either about regulation or innovation? Because one forces change to happen whilst the other offers the opportunity to change? Or because regulation is political and economic whilst innovation is about the customer (social and technological)?
Why is it that banks only ever respond to two forces of change: regulation and competition? Because one is political and economic whilst the other is normally social and technological.
I chaired a meeting of bankers last night, and we talked a lot about data and data leverage. One thing that bubbled up to the service over and over again was the threat of GAFA – Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon (building upon last week's blog about same).
This also was raised at the conference I spoke at recently in Canada, with the speaker highlighting that Amazon are experts in tracking your preferences and leveraging your propensity to purchase. As he said: “I daren’t open emails from Amazon anymore as every time I do it costs me $20”, basically because he always buys something when he looks.
Another presentation that surprised me in Oslo came from Tor Jacobsen, CEO of TSM Nordic.
It surprised me as I had no idea about TSM, a mobile wallet provider owned by Telenor and DNB – Norway’s biggest mobile network operator (MNO) and biggest bank – and will launch in the Norwegian market later this year under the brand name ValYou.
This video provides a brief overview of how it’s being promoted:
So I just finished presenting at a Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery conference. Not my strongest subject although, after years of battering my liver with alcohol, I am pretty adept at Disaster Recovery.
Anyways, not knowing much about the subject, I just called the presentation Life’s a Glitch, as there appear to be so many of those darned glitches out there right now.
Investment banking as a sector looks to have a much more positive outlook this year than in previous years. The year will see the implementation of a lot of the regulatory changes formulated since the crisis hit, and a marketplace that is starting to settle into the new normal, whatever that is.
This is my penultimate review of 2013, as we head towards the shutdown season, so here goes
2013 was the year of meditation.
Banks had the chance to think, reflect, plan and look ahead.
After five years of manic panic, hysteria, anger, fear, angst and doubt, 2013 was the first year we could actually have a breather and consider what’s gone before and what is planned ahead.
This was reflected by the feel-good buzz at SIBOS Dubai, along with the fact that we didn’t have any disastrous headlines this year.
No LIBOR (well there was an FX issue); no major money laundering or major fines of a bank (well, apart from JP Morgan), but that was for last year’s issue); no issues of poor bank management or controls (well, apart from the Crystal Methodist); and a much more stable market generally.
The reason for the breather is that we just went through what I would call the year in-between.
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.