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Banker fighting to stop child abuse

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One of the highlights of the year for me so far has been my recent visit to Shanghai.

Shanghai is a great sprawling new City with life pouring out of every street corner, but that wasn't the reason why this was a highlight.

The reason this was a highlight was sitting over dinner chatting with Mike de Noma, Asian Banker of the Year.  Here's the description of why he won the award, as discussed by the Asian Banker magazine's press release:

In eight years at Standard Chartered Bank, Michael de Noma has made a mark in the retail banking industry in Asia by helping the bank build its retail banking division in developing markets, where the bank has been particularly strong, and diversify the bank's earnings away from its traditional business base of Hong Kong. 

The Asian Banker nominated 10 retail banking heads and distributed surveys asking senior retail bankers to rank them for their leadership ability, execution and performance, and De Noma received the highest number of votes by far.

You can read the full information on the pdf of the Awards here.

So why am I telling you this was a highlight? 

Meeting the Asian Retail Banker of the Year. 

Am I just some obsequious, brown-nosing toe-rag?

Of course.

But that's not the reason I'm telling you it was a highlight.

The reason it was a highlight is that Mike is an amiable guy with warmth and personality ... he also has a concern and a passion. 


As a man with a few of his own, he has a concern about children being abused and the #1 form of abuse these days is child pornography on the internet.

So sure, we're all concerned about that, but who does anything about it?


I can't name many people in the commercial world, but now I can name one.  And he's a banker.

Mike DeNoma.

Here's Mike's real story.

He's a leading fighter behind the cause "Light a Million Candles".

Light a million candles is a campaign launched with the objective of getting people to show their anger about paedophilia by lighting a virtual candle on the internet site 

The more signatures the more "governments, politicians, financial institutions, payments organisations, internet service providers, technology companies and law enforcement agencies" will work together to eradicate the viability of this industry.

The key here is that none of this will change without all of the influencers coming together.  And banks and payments providers are a core part of the fuel that can make or break the paedophile industry.

And it is an industry.

Here's a few facts:

  • online child pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry that is estimated to be worth several times more as an industry than online music sales is worth
  • as a result, sexual abuse of children online has increased 1,500% in the past decade
  • today, there are over 100,000 child pornography sites on the internet
  • up to 20,000 children appear on child pornography sites everyday
  • there are four or five new children forced into this industry every week
  • their average age is nine years old
  • some are aged three years and younger

This should make you angry. 

Go and light a candle at 

The campaign expected to reach the first million after 120 days and got there in 60 days.

Go and light a candle at 

There are now over two million signatures.

Go and light a candle at 

This was the content of Mike's acceptance speech and it was a good way to sober up an audience at an awards ceremony, but he's passionate about the cause.

Why will it work?

Because if you can stop the criminals taking the money, then you cut out the crime because it's not commercially viable.

Child pornography is primarily proliferated online and payments on the internet are more easily traceable than any cash, so banks and payments firms can cut this out.

That was Mike's message, and that's why I've repeated it here.

By the way, Standard Chartered's staff all wore the Candle badge on the evening too, so it's pervasive.

It's almost as pervasive as the wristband I saw Mervyn Davies, then CEO and now Chairman of Standard Chartered, wearing at a Banker Awards Ceremony last November.

I asked him what it was for, thinking that it was strange to meet a CEO wearing a wristband.  His response I thought was going to be "Stop Bullying" or something, but no.  It was for "Seeing is Believing", which he then explained to me is his passionate cause as you can see here.

For these reasons, I'm impressed by Standard Chartered as they're one of the few banks that show this demonstrable commitment to good causes that I've encountered.  And it's right from the top.

No joke, go and light a candle.



Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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