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Virtual currencies will be the next wave of change

At #Eurofinance2011, I chaired another panel on innovations in payment channels with MasterCard, Coca-Cola and the UN World Food Programme.

My opening piece talked about mobile channels and a lot about virtual currencies, including Facebook Credits, Ven Currency and Bitcoin.

The mobile stuff garnered lots of nods and acceptance; the latter on virtual currencies seemed to cause more bewilderment and confusion.

I am used to such looks.

I got the same looks in 2004 when I talked about mobile payments as the next wave of banking innovation and disruption.

No-one believed me then, when I said that the idea of using the mobile as a wallet was going to be business as usual.

Now, MasterCard talk about Google Wallet and everyone seems to see this as the new normal.

In 2004, I asked when mobile payments would be workable and most people said not in the near future.  Some even thought they would never see this in their lifetime.

Most of those people are still alive, and mobile is taken as read.

It's even used in the extremes of poverty, with the UN World Food Programme using mobile wallets via SMS text messaging to deal with crisis in disaster and war-torn territories for aid.

Over 70% of populations in the most extreme, hard-hit and greatest poverty areas have access to these mobile technologies apparently.

Mobile is here as demonstrated by this week's Economist which shows the true state of affairs …


…. mobile connected devices and tablet computers are mainstream.

The Economist’s figures show how such devices are rampantly taking over and as I talked about tablets and apps for treasury ops, the audience all nodded in agreement and acceptance.

And yet, at Eurofinance Asia just 18 months ago, I felt like I was being accused of being a heretic for saying that treasury ops could be redefined through simple apps on tablet PCs, and would be because it allowed any organisation to deploy treasury apps for idiots.

So now I talk about Facebook Credits, alternative currencies and hybrid banks that manage virtual and real monetary exchanges.

The audience thinks I’m a heretic but, just as mobile took over as a core channel over the last decade and tablet PCs have established themselves in the heartland of banking and treasury services in the last 18 months, virtual currencies will soon be the new stomping ground of innovation in payments.




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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