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Digital banks are 35+ times more productive than traditional banks

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I'm launching the new book Digital Human in New York on April 12 (if you want to come, register here), following on from our recent London launch.

In London, I was delighted to host Ashok Vaswani, CEO of Barclays Bank UK, and Li Wang, Head of Alipay and Ant Financial for EMEA, as panellists to debate the themes back on March 19 at Barclays RISE in London. Over 100 guests joined us for the evening, and it was a great night. Martin Arnold, Banking Editor at The Financial Times, kindly moderated the evening and we recorded the whole event for sharing afterwards. Therefore, in the spirit of sharing, here is the 60-minute launch of Digital Human, of which the panel is 45 minutes and Q&A is 15 minutes.

If you don’t have 45 minutes to an hour free to watch or listen to the above, a few highlights included Ashok saying that Barclays is a bank that is over 300 years old and has adapted to all the changes over those years: wars, financial crisis, the whole industrial revolution and more. He’s pretty certain it will continue to adapt to the future.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin

However, this was offset by Li’s commentary about Ant’s achievements, documented in the new book. For example, at one point (41m11s), Li mentions that each employee generates RMB100 million (over £10 million) in revenue per annum (Barclays’ employees generate £276,551 each, according to YCharts).

That’s a pretty startling difference. In fact, it means that even the most efficient banks are competing with new, digital players that are operating at 30-40 times more efficiency through automation. That's a striking line in the sand for digital transformation imperatives.

At another point, (32m15s to 33m33s) we talk about Ant Forest, the carbon emissions offset app that is part of Alipay. It was an idea of one person in Ant Financial, it was their hobby, and now it’s one of the most used gaming apps worldwide (over 250 million active users). It also garnered the biggest laugh of the evening when I interjected with my nerdy stats.

Anyways, if you don’t have time for this, there are a couple of shorter excerpts that you may find interesting. For example, I had a nice chat with my 11FS colleagues about the book recently down at our local pub. The first 15 minutes were generally about the book’s themes with David Brear:

And the second 15 minutes talk specifically about the Ant Financial case study with Jason Bates:

If you would rather download the discussion and listen to it, then there is a podcast version and, for those who really can’t be bothered watching or listening, there’s a blog summary if you prefer.

Thanks to the 11FS team for all their support, and also a shout out to other friends for giving the book launch some coverage.

Monty Munford

“He acknowledges a debt and respect to Yuval Noah Hariri and his best-selling books Sapiens and Homo Deus, but this is a different book, albeit worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as Hariri’s works of brilliance.”

Jim Marous

Chris Skinner’s “newest book, Digital Human, is a logical extension of his previous two books, providing an in-depth look into the impact of digitization on all aspects of our lives; from the structure of banking, to digital identities, new forms of currency and economic inclusion. Skinner also includes the most extensive English language case study ever done on Alipay, China’s largest third-party mobile and online payment platform.

Steve Cocheo

“The history of money is wrapped up in sex, religion and politics, the things we are told not to talk about. Yet these are the themes that rule our lives, and money is at the heart of all three.”

Brett King

Chris says technology is changing the way we talk, trade and transact. We are now interfacing with technology whenever we do business, make friends, and go about our lives. What does this mean for business, banking, society and government?

And everyone else who has been supporting my efforts so far. Specifically a big thank you to Barclays RISE, Ashok and Li for supporting the launch evening as well. Oh, and if you want to be the first to get your hands on the new book in the USA, register here for our New York event on April 12.

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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