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Walk the line …

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My yesterday blog about COVOID idiocrasy annoyed a few people. I was accused of writing a common tabloid ranting column, railing against the government.

Yea …

… so?


So … so, I wrote it with a point. How are they implementing these COVOID regulations? Who is checking on the people? You may say, but it’s obvs Chris. The government is checking you comply with the rules! And they are, but I thought well before my travels that if I ignored the rules, how would they know? Who is going to catch me? It’s the point I made about flying from Warsaw to Malaga, driving from Malaga to Gibraltar, and then flying from Gibraltar to London ... who would know? There’s always a way around the rules. That is the basics of money laundering and anti-money laundering. One side is chasing the other ... but which is more motivated?

This is why everything in our world is based upon compliance and resistance. Most comply with the rules; some resist. It’s called regulatory arbitrage. Ever heard of that?

Regulatory arbitrage is where you duck and dive between the regulations and the opportunities. We all do this in our day-to-day lives. You have a rule of no smoking and yet you smoke; you have a rule of no jaywalking and then you walk; you have a rule of no spitting, but you spit; you have rules ... and those who break the rules.

You have regulations but then you must ask: who is enforcing the regulation? Can they enforce the regulation? How will they enforce it? Who will enforce it?

So yesterday was a personal take on that theme, but then widen the lens to the world and ask: how does a bank comply with 100,000 regulations that change every 12 minutes.

Answer: you don’t. You walk the line.

You see the line? The line is a hedge between getting caught and getting away with it. What line do you walk?

Every day, we walk the line. I walk the line. Self-isolation versus going out. Travel versus no travel. Life versus no life.

Banks do the same. Profit versus no profit. Trade versus no trade. This border versus that border.

So, here’s the point: what is the line?

The line we walk every day between happy and sad, life and no life, freedom and jail.

When you personalise it that way, you can take the macro view to the micro. We walk the line. We walk the line between rules and unruly, regulated and unregulated, the law and the no law. Or maybe it’s I fought the law and the law won? This is the debate all the time everywhere – whether you are COVOID compliant or running AML properly. There is always a place in the middle. For example, after my blogs about HSBC and Huawei, I had this chat:

Meng Wanzhou, daughter of Huawei's found and CFO, walked the line but caught on the line. Where's the line? What happens if it moves?

Just as there are lies, darned lies and statistics, there are rules, darned rules and operators. Dodge, duck, dive. Walk the line.


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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