There are five camps out there.
The first is the FinTech camp. This camp sit around the campfire and go “down with banks, down with banks”. They believe banks are out-dated legacy firms who have no idea about the modern age of technology. They believe banks are money-grabbing Shylocks, purely trying to steal the cash out of our pockets. They believe that banks can be destroyed by start-ups and are actively trying to replace them.
A second camp are the big technology firms. The GAFAs, FANGs, FATBAGs or whatever you call them. They have the Jeff Bezos, Pony Ma and Mark Zuckerberg around their fire. They’re looking at the banks and wondering about them. On the one hand banks are the biggest users of their cloud services and the biggest spenders on their advertising; on the other, their services are weak, and they are tempted to offer alternatives. Hmmmm. What to do, what to do.
A third camp don’t care about the banks at all. They ignore them. They focus upon the technology and what technology can do. They believe technology is incredible and can change the world, not just for shopping but for everything. They are building new ideas with new technologies to create new financial services. They don’t even look at the banks. Their brethren include M-PESA, Ant Financial and Trov.
The fourth camp are the banks. They have the biggest campfire. In fact, theirs is not a fire, but a furnace. They sit around their furnace and burn. They know no-one likes them but, when people gather around their heat, they find it’s actually rather nice. It’s warm and cosy and they offer anyone the chance to toast a marshmallow. Unlike the impression that everyone has outside the banks, when they gather around their fire, they find they’re actually quite friendly.
Finally, there’s the regulators. Their campfire is a fridge. It’s pretty cold. They are trying to start the fire, and some have a few embers burning, but they find it hard as so many people tell them that their fire is cold. They are shivering. They’re trying to warm up.
In the evening, the people turn up on the beach and see the fires burning. They look around and immediately walk towards the furnace. It’s the largest heat and, in the evening, that’s what they want. The problem is the crowd gets too big, so some people start wandering around, looking at the other camps to see if there’s anything better or friendlier. Most of them end up in the second camp, with the big tech companies. However, those firms do not try to steal them away from the furnace. They share their space.
Meantime, the loneliest space is the camp with the coldest fire. Do you ever feel sorry for the regulator? Brrrrrr.