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Integrating technology and banking is not easy, especially with acronyms

Some time ago, I mentioned that code is art and, if code is art, how do you attract great artists?

Banks are not really seen as a place for an artist. It is like bringing maths and art together. The two don’t mix. Like science and religion, certain academic disciplines should always be kept apart.

Yet now we need to integrate maths and art. Finance and technology. Numbers and code.

You may say that numbers and code are the same. After all, the binary tables of software are all just 1’s and 0’s. But then that artist steps in and says no. A qubit can be a 1 and a 0 at the same time. When is a cat dead or alive?


But I remember when I started my career, I wrote software. I was proud of my code. I thought I wrote beautifully. It was art.

I was reminded of this when I saw someone posted a picture of a poster from Silicon Valley.

This might not make sense in many other parts of the world, but it makes absolute sense to those who code. It made me think, however. It made me think: what would a banker make of this sign?

But then I was sitting back and thinking: what would a technologist make of this sign?

In banking, there is a nomenclature that is equally as confusing as beautiful code and, in finance, a banker may feel that their investments are art or, at least, that they make money. That’s the art of banking: making money.

However, the critical issue here is the gap between the two industries. It takes years to learn how to create beautiful code; it takes years to learn how to invest and make money, not lose it. Most people don’t have enough years or motivation to do both.

This means that there is a separation and yet, if you sit with either group, it soon becomes apparent that all of these terms are just created. And this is why the world is changing and changing fast.

It used to be that the banking people would talk about their MBSs and CDOs behind closed doors and the technology people would talk about their C++ and JAVA behind their closed doors. This is no longer the case. Now, coders and bankers sit together, side-by-side or they do in digital banks.

This really came home to me when I was writing Doing Digital and visited banks where small teams – typically 8 to 12 people – sat with a white board and were sharing ideas. There was a real noise in the room and motivation. When I asked these teams what they were doing, they were talking about a specific financial process and had business and technology people sitting side-by-side in the team.

Technology is no longer separated. It is integrated. Technology is business and business is technology.

I wonder what has happened to those teams in these days of isolation. Are they doing everything on video meetings? Are they still generating ideas in their kitchens, home offices and studies?

It must be challenging, but the critical factor is that you cannot delegate or designate technology to a function anymore. Technology is no longer the domain of the CIO, CTO or CFO. It is a responsibility for all and digital banks truly understand that technology is business and business is technology.

About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.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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