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Shaping the future of finance

Technology is key to banking future … really?

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It’s intriguing to see how the world has now got the FinTech message.  The Telegraph ran a conference about it (I was there); The White House has published a report on it;  America’s Celebrity Apprentice has one of our own on it; and The Banker has run a magazine feature dedicated to it.There’s even a magazine completely dedicated to FinTech called, you guessed it, FinTech Finance.

Along with this, there’s been a lot of discussion in bank boardrooms about FinTech.  I should know, as I’ve been at a lot of those discussions.  In those discussions, I often use a range of great quotes that have been sprinkled through my presentations over the years …

Walter Wriston, the former CEO of Citibank in the 1970s, wrote books in the 1980s contending that the basis for wealth has evolved from land to labour to information and that:

“Information about money has become almost as important as money itself”

His successor, John Reed, stated that “banking is just bits and bytes”.

By 2014, every bank boss had got the message, especially when Jamie Dimon says that hundreds of Silicon Valley start-ups “all want to eat our lunch”.

Soon, all the CEOs of  the biggest banks were competing to be digital leaders from BBVA proclaiming that they would become a software companyy to DBS announcing they are a micro services, cloud-ready bank.  They can claim that as they just got voted as the best digital bank in the world.  You can argue the toss, but it’s interesting to note that banks like JP Morgan Chase, BBVA and DBS have been working on their digital strategies for at least five years (2012+).

So it’s not surprising that I heard a FinTech snicker on the internet last week, when Deutsche Bank’s CEO announced at Davos that:

“Technology will be key to banking in the next five years”

Really?  Has he only just heard about this?  A little behind the times, aren't you?

What he actually said, when asked where the biggest changes in big banks will be over the next five years, is the following:

“We are placing our bets on technology.  We're not sure that the fundamental nature of products will change much, although regulation tends to impact that. We don't think the demands of our clients and counterparts will change much, it's the delivery mechanism. 

“We don't think the demands of our clients and counterparts will change too much.  We can use technology to improve our own controls. We can use technology to improve our efficiency and then we can use technology to improve the customer service.

“We haven't been innovative other than in delivery channels. So technology is key in the next five years."

When asked how new firms might impact the incumbents, he firmly placed regulation at the heart of the debate:

“As regulation becomes more granular, traditional institutions tend to become less innovative and we're looking elsewhere for disrupters.  Everything regulated tends to continue as it is. Regulation is not generally a facilitator of change.“

You can watch the whole of the one hour panel discussion on the future of finance at Davos below:

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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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