Home / Future / Can banks meet the hybrid challenge?

Can banks meet the hybrid challenge?

It’s taken me a while to work out why  social media and stuff is such a fundamental change for banking, but I finally think I've got there and it's clearer.

It started with the rise of blogging and social media
such as YouTube.

I still retell the story of McKinsey’s Chief Executive who
was side-blinded by the appearance of YouTube back in 2006.

The morning papers appeared on his desk
with the headline: Google acquires YouTube for $1.65 billion.

He had never heard of this company and so called in his team and asked the question: “What is

None of them knew.

So he typed in www.youtube.com
to his PC and the message came back: “you are firewalled out of this website.  Please contact the administrator if this is a

It sure was a problem.

That was six years ago.

It’s a bigger problem today.

For six years, we’ve seen Facebook become this billion user
customer behemoth, along with the rise of Twitter.

For most of that time, I’ve been engaged with banks to
explain to them what these websites mean, as they are firewalled out.

However, as mentioned before, these are not websites but platforms. 

Think of internet platforms as Explorer, Chrome, Firefox and
Safari.  These are the access points to the
internet.  Now think of Facebook and
Twitter as the access points to socialising, as that is what they have become
and this is evolving all the time.

How can you
educate someone who is firewalled out from this complete new universe of communication
and commerce?

The critical difference between McKinsey’s realisation of
being firewalled out six years ago and today, is that the world has shifted and

Like two tectonic plates colliding, the world is no longer
separated between work and life, business and social, but is integrated.

The two have become one.

There is no separation between work and life.

We just live life as we work and work as we live life.

I realise this more and more as I talk about the impact of
social media on banking.

Yet we still trivialise
this area as being those weird social
connected by technology, rather than realising this is the world colliding
because of technology.

Many social creatures no longer distinguish between online and
offline, real-time and mytime, working and socialising … they just live with
both aspects of their lives integrated.

I’ve blogged about that before too,
and now it’s getting more and more interesting because we have traditionally
segregated commerce from community.

This is where banks are being forced to change, as are all
of us.

When Facebook started, most banks and businesses thought
that people would not want to transact or be involved in commercial activity
whilst they were engaged in socialising in community activities.

This assumption proves to be wrong, as Facebook becomes more
and more of a commercial entity.

But it is still a social entity. 

A hybrid if you like.

And that is what our world is becoming.

We can no longer segregate social activity online from commercial
activity online.

This is why Amazon and Apple ask if you would like to share
your purchases with your friends as you buy and download online, and is why
some banks like FIDOR
get the idea of this new world of hybrid

It is why one person like Mohamed Bouazizi
or Molly Katchpole
can create an Arab Spring or an embarrassment
for Bank of America, and why the hacktivist movement #Occupy can move from being off-the-radar to
being considered ‘entirely constructive’ by the bank regulators.

The criticality of this message is that if we continue to
treat the socialising nature of today’s technology as trivial, which most
appear to, then we will fundamentally miss this shift of the axis of the move from
a segregated work-life to an integrated work-life.

If you don’t believe you have an integrated work-life, how
many of you sleep with your smartphone and check your emails, status updates or
tweets before you go to bed?


Banks must play a critical role in integrating work-life and
becoming hybrid commercial-community managers of value.

I know I keep banging on about it, but the more I talk about
it, the more I fundamentally believe we are missing a trick.

Come on!

Time to get those community currencies to be stored in your account;
time to offer an exchange between Bitcoins and Diablo gold via your deposit account;
time to create e-identities so that I sign on with my bank’s details rather
than Facebook’s; time to enable my storage of my most critical media in the bank vaults rather than the social vaults; time to enable communities to transact commerce as part of being
social, rather than just where we do business; time to facilitate P2P everything
(loans, savings, payments and more) rather than leaving it to the disruptors …

… OMG, I could go on for another few hundred blog entries.

OMG, I already have (many times)



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...

Check Also

Will platforms replace governments?

I often talk about my week in Hangzhou last year, writing the case study on …