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There’s an elephant in the room

There’s an elephant in the room.

Isn’t that a lovely phrase?

It’s meant to say there’s something so big that’s in your sphere of business (or life) that it can no longer be ignored.

For Barack Obama, it’s terrorism.

For David Cameron, it’s the economy.

For Chris Skinner, it’s ubiquitous connectivity.

There are other elephants in my room, but this is the big one in my business life.

And I don’t mean mobile or tablet computing but the everything, everywhere being connected.

Sure, that’s the internet of things, but it goes beyond this to the wireless augmented world of digital reality.

That’s why I keep banging on about focusing upon the customer’s point of existence because you can now track and engage the customer anytime, anywhere.

I also find it funny that I’m still using that phrase: “anytime, anywhere”.

I first used it in the mid-90s when talking about Martini Banking. 

Martini was a drink that was advertised with the slogan: “anytime, anyplace, anywhere, there’s a wonderful world you can share”.

At that time, AT&T who owned NCR had a vision of Martini Life, using the voice of Tom Selleck to talk about anytime, anywhere connectivity.

So this vision of the internet of things, ubiquitous connectivity and everything communicating and transacting is hardly anything new.

And there’s the rub.

Y’see, I’m not looking for the elephant in the room.

By the time it becomes a fully-formed elephant, it’s too late.

Or it would in any other marketplace where barriers to entry are not as high as in banking.

And that is why banking will always be with banks.

In fact, the banks’ elephant in the room is regulation rather than competition or technology.

Regulation is the biggest change factor in banking, rather than new and emerging trends.

Yes, that’s harsh, but new competition can always be copied or acquired.

New technology can always be introduced once proven.

Regulation however, forces change and, in forcing change, can make a bank introduce new technology.

But I’m back with being the technologist in banking, and so I’m always looking for the next big wave of change.

So I was talking about internet banking in the early 1990s, and it became the next big wave of change in the 2000’s.

I was talking about mobile banking a bit in the 1990s, and a lot in the 2000’s and now, in the 2010’s (what is this decade called, the teenies?) it’s here.

So now I’m talking about the everything, everywhere elephant which will be the big tech driver for the next decade.

And what this everything, everywhere connected world really means is that everything can trade and transact.

Cars, phones, walls, ceilings, books, posters, glass, bricks, babies and even elephants.

When you can put a chip inside anything and everything, you can track, trace, communicate and trade with anything and everything.

And that’s the reason why it’s my elephant in the room, as I’m trying to work out exactly what form of trade and transaction we will be offering and enabling when anything communicates with everything, everywhere.

  • What will be the process?
  • Who will be the providers?
  • How will security and authentication work?
  • When will banks start deploying products and services that leverage this capability?

and so on.

There’s already about 300 new things that I can see happening as a result of these changes, and the list grows every day.

However, I disagree with my friends out there who threaten that the players who will create and provide these new services will be Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook.

As mentioned, banking has big barriers to entry from capital requirements to compliance to licencing to auditability and more.

For these reasons, banks will continue to be the core providers of transactions, whilst the Google’s, Amazon’s, Apple’s and Facebook’s will partner with them to provide innovations in the everything, everywhere world.

Or that’s my two-penneth worth for today.

Let’s see how we feel tomorrow 😉



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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  • mike riddell

    My bet is that the successor to Bitcoin will be the next big thing and won’t as you say come from Apple or Facebook or America.
    The next killer app, according to Don Tapscott, will be the one for saving the planet.
    The platform that empowers others to self-organise and take collective action to bring about REAL CHANGE will be a currency.

  • Money works via networks and entanglement, in the sense that Bitcoins, Eurodollars and commodity derivative are all ways to weave a value-web, and would be meaningless without the connections. Although a brandname can act as a currency, the network needs a minimal amount of nodes to connect with everything else for the currency to have any sort of value. These nodes are banks… but they don’t have to be, and that is where things get tricky..