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How do you self-regulate?

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There was an old game called Scruples that asked what would you do in a particular situation. What would you do if you discovered your best friend was cheating on their partner? Would you tell the partner? What would you do if you knew your colleague was stealing from the company? Would you tell the company? What would you do if you found your boss sniffing cocaine? Would you report them?

It’s still around and has an app.

I was reminded of this game the other day when I found a wallet on the street. I picked it up. It had £100, and credit and debit cards inside. Then I saw the driving license and realised the wallet belonged to a neighbour. If it was a stranger, would you have taken the cash and cards? Because it’s a neighbour, what do you do?

Of course, I knocked on their door and said they’d dropped their wallet. Cash intact and cards inside. But it made me think: am I a good guy or a bad guy?

The reason this is important is that we broaden this out to the network, where the network si now self-regulating, and we have to wonder: are the majority of people good or bad?

I believe most are good, but if we self-regulate, does that have bigger implications? If you found someone’s wallet, would you give it back? If there was £100, $200, €500 in that wallet, would you take it?

In my experience, having lost wallets in the past, they would normally come back with the cash removed. But then I realised: who carries a wallet or purse these days?

I don’t have a wallet. I have a mobile wallet. I have a mobile wallet where you would need my face to get access. So, therefore, today’s wallets are far more secure. Drop your mobile on the street? First, the person picking up needs to know your PIN and second, to get access to your cash, they need your face.

Equally, with no wallet I have no cash. So return my mobile and you still didn’t get the cash, as there isn’t any cash. It’s no longer relevant.

However, in general and overall, I wonder how we regulate in a self-regulating system governed by the network. Will people generally be honest? If I found your username and password, would I use it?

But then this makes me hark back to the words of hackers. I’ve met a few hackers and one line stayed with me: “I would rob my grandma, brother, sister, ma and pa if I knew their account details”.

Hackers don’t think like you and me. They purely think about themselves. That mentality is alien to the majority of us. After all, we are law-abiding citizens with principles. But you then have to realise that the small group of people who want to abuse and rob and not law-abiding and have no principles. They purely want to buck the system.

This is the challenge of self-regulating. If one percent of the network want to ignore the rules of the ninety-nine percent, what does the ninety-nine percent do? Oh, occupy Wall Street …




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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