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21st Century Boy versus 20th Century Banks

I spent a day in
Barcelona last week … put your hands up for Barcelona, a lovely city.
For those in the know they’ll get this and, for those who aren’t in the
know, I’m speaking in a foreign language.  That’s the point though
as, these days, a lot of stuff is a foreign language, including the
fact that I’m in Barcelona for a day. 

hola, soy Chris de Londres, Inglaterra. No hablo  español. Sabes hablar inglés por favor por lo tanto. 

No, not the fact that I can speak rubbish Spanish, but the fact that I’m in Barcelona for a day.
I left home early in the morning and arrived in Barcelona by 10:00.
Over lunch I delivered a keynote presentation and then walked around
sightseeing the wonderful Gaudi architecture for a few hours, before
settling down for an early evening meal in the port.  Then back to the
airport and home by midnight. 

This may not sound like a big
deal but, in my parent’s day, going to the nearest town for the day was
a big deal, let alone somewhere half a continent away.

 

No
wonder banks are thinking about their legacy infrastructures hampering
them against new competitors, in the same way as traditional airlines
have had to re-engineer to keep up with new competition.

Secondly,
on new competition for the airlines, the cost of getting to Barcelona
was less than the cost of a taxi to Gatwick airport.  It cost me £70
(about $140 or €100) to fly to Barcelona and that was return, not even
each way.  My taxi cost me that much each way. 

No
wonder banks are thinking about supply chains when you can move goods
at a lower cost across continents and around the world than it costs to
move goods around cities and countries.

 

Third, I get to the
airport and decide to have a coffee.  The customer in front of me, who
is about 20 years old, is buying a bottle of coke and she gives the
Spanish guy her MasterCard.  He says: “no money?” and she shakes her
head.  So he takes her MasterCard and processes a transaction for under
€2 without flinching.

No wonder banks are thinking about new
forms of payments when many think that paying electronically should be
as easy as waving a card or texting a phone.

 

Finally, I get my
coffee and can’t find a table so I go to the only part of the airport
that’s uninhabited: the telephone kiosks of Telefonica.  It’s the old
world memory of an era from the last century when fixed line telephones
meant something.  These days, these telephones are gathering dust as
everyone sits around the airport using new communications of
blackberry, mobile and wireless computing.

The telecom firms do
not make money out of these old phone boxes and they sit there,
gathering dust and costing more to service than the cost of getting rid
of them.  But getting rid of them would be admitting the end of the
landline telephone and this would be admitting defeat to the new world
order of the mobile carriers.

Any similarities with banks that
continue to use branches for transactions, employ low-cost staff to
process cheques, manage offices using teller stations based upon 1990’s
technologies and networks that operate at 56 kbps or less, is purely
coincidental. 

 

How the world is changing.

 

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, 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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