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Are the big banks failing the people?

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I wouldn’t usually blog on a Saturday, but these are exceptional times and these are exceptional ideas. I’ve already seen some incredible innovation from start-ups looking to help those in need. For example, I listened to the ideas of Curl on Thursday, who are running a campaign to Save Our Local. The idea is that people in local communities can buy vouchers from local businesses – shops, restaurants, repair shops, whatever – and the local business gets the money now, for a service that they will give you in the future.

I saw a demonstration of a great idea using blockchain technology to rapidly distribute services to those in need and who the government are trying to help.

A debit card launched in days to get cashflow and money to businesses in need; and a challenger bank who created a novel idea to get government aid fast to people through their app.

Meantime, I’ve also seen a lot of stress on the system. I’ve seen banks who have closed call centres because they relied on India, and India shut down. I’ve seen banks promising emergency loans but unable to  process them. I’ve seen people visiting banks and arguing with them, as their livelihoods and lives are at stake.

Equally, the worst traits of banks have been exposed from paying shareholders dividends, bonuses and benefits just before the crisis hit, to telling customers they don’t qualify for the state-funded aid packages and must, instead, take a normal bank loan with high interest and personal guarantees against their residence and assets.

Interestingly, the challenger banks have responded in a completely different way. They are telling customers to come, engage and talk. They are deferring bonuses, salaries and executive pay, and trying to reassure their customers and staff that they are safe and well looked after. It’s a very different attitude.

These are strange times, but let the innovators solve the issues and the incumbents fail. If these behaviours continue, they should. After all, in 2008, the people bailed out the banks when they messed up. In 2020, the (traditional) banks are ditching the people when the world messed up.

Overall, and the reason why I’m blogging on a Saturday, is that the speed of ideas and innovation from the tech community amazes me. The sloth and attitude of some of the traditional banks disgusts me.

#Just saying

Can anyone give me an example of a traditional bank doing good things in these bad times please?


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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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