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Shaping the future of finance

The Finanser’s Week: 30th November – 6th December 2009

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The biggest news stories of the week include ...

UAE central bank moves to head off run on banks in Dubai - The Times
Traders stuck with LSE in spite of crash - Financial Times
Barnier fails to reassure City over 'catastrophic' appointment - The Independent
Sarkozy cancels UK visit over City tension - Financial Times
We are in charge now, Sarkozy tells the City - The Times
RBS board may quit if £1.5bn bonus plan is vetoed - The Independent
Fears of credit card crisis as bank write-offs double - The Telegraph
Twitter founder Jack Dorsey launches iPhone payment product - The Telegraph
Goldman Sachs, Guns, and Bloomberg's B.S. - the Market Oracle

And our biggest stories of the week are ...

We don't need your customer service

For a while now Monitise,
the mobile payments processing firm, has been researching views on the
future of banking with the Future Foundation, part of Experian.  Their objective is to find out how our relationship with money is
changing and to understand how the culture of money will develop over
the next few years.

Fragmenting the banking structure

banks have evolved from days of branches and large offices, to banks
with multiple channels of distribution and extensive technology
backbones.  The issue banks have with this structure is that the technology backbone is broken.  As a result, banks must reinvent their operations and focus on componetising their offer.

Future Risks and Opportunities: CEE

We had our final meeting of the year for the Financial Services Club in
Central & Eastern Europe (FSClub CEE) this week, with an excellent
panel discussion about the risks and opportunities across the region
looking forward.  The panel comprised:

  • Franz Reif, Head of Strategic Risk Management, Volksbank Group;
  • John McFall, Chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee;
  • Johann Strobl, Chief Risk Officer and member of the Managing Board, RZB Group;
  • Lutz Schiermeyer, EMEA Head of Banking Risk BD, Global Risk Team, SAS institute; and
  • Istvan Lengyel, Head of the Banking Association for Central and Eastern Europe.

Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, has lobbied for the
return of the Glass-Steagall Act - the post-Depression legislation in
the USA that separated investment and retail banking, repealed in 1999
by the Gramm-Leach Bliley Act.  This way we could let an investment bank fail whilst the remainder -
the payments processing, retail and commercial parts of the bank which
must not fail - could be protected.  In a little reported speech, John McFall, Chair of the UK's Treasury
Select Committee, has said that this is their top priority for review
next year. 

Interesting stats from the Payments Council

Just received a press release from the UK Payments Council that makes interesting reading.  The figures show that spending by card, cheque, cash and automated
payments over the last six years has changed little, beyond the usual
variance to consumers' payment habits, despite the difficult economic

Wells Fargo: still big in virtual worlds

Wells Fargo have just expanded their virtual world, Stagecoach Island,
with a University where customers can take exams to become even more
proficient with their finances.  But with most banks shutting down such investments, why would Wells
Fargo do this.  In a candid chat with Tim Collins, SVP of Experiential Marketing with
Wells Fargo, I found out.

Just back from Athens at a conference with a keynote by Sir Terry Leahy,
Chief Executive of Tesco.  Sir Terry made it quite clear that his bank will be very different,
with deep customer understanding and dynamically risk-adjusted
pricing.  For example, his bank has 15% more risk accuracy when
pricing products than the Royal Bank of Scotland, he claims.  If true, banks better watch out.

Sir Terry Leahy's Ten Commandments

Terry Leahy, Chief Executive of Tesco, presented his Ten Commandments
for Good Management at a conference I attended yesterday. 

The Card Awards 2010

Last year, I was a judge with the Card Awards.  This year I couldn't make it, but they have just announced the shortlist.

Facebook is now bigger than America

If you didn’t spot it, Facebook just reached 350 million users.  In
fact, Facebook is now bigger than the USA (population: 307 million) and
would be the third largest country on the planet if it was a country.

Alternatives to Facebook ...

Following the news yesterday about Facebook now reaching 350 million users, I love this chart from the Focus business news service of social network sizes and the years they began...


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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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