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Could we run the banking system outside the banking system?

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I’ve asked myself this question often recently: could the banking system be run outside the banking system? I guess the start point of this discussion is: what is the system? Just like to be or not to be, that is the question. What is the system?

It’s a debate I’ve been having for years – ever since bitcoin appeared and challenged the system. What is the system? Is it run by a government – a centralised authority – or can it be run by the people – a decentralised democracy?

This is the very heart of the debate we are having today, particularly in this debate around centralised currencies versus decentralised cryptocurrencies. Which system works?

The traditional view would be that you have to have government, and government control. The enlightened view is that you have to have governance, and governance control. It’s a subtle difference, but very important, as it’s all about belief and following. What do you believe in? Government and state or network of the people? Would you believe more in the verdict of a court with 12 jurors, or in the view of a few billion people online?

It's a fascinating debate as we have never had a few billion people connected in a network. Is it really a billion people? Actually, according to estimates, it’s over five billion people. That’s most of Planet Earth. Five billion people can make judgements, views, likes and shares, and verdicts. You could be a good player or a bad actor overnight, based upon the views and opinions of the global audience.

Which brings us back to the system. Is the system global or local? Is the system run by your nation or your state or your network?

These questions would never have appeared in the past, as we weren’t networked in the past. In the past, we lived in our village or town or city and that was what we knew and who we knew. However, in the past century, all of this has changed. In the past century, we have globalised. A hundred years ago, no one flew and yet, today, we fly every day. Getting on a plane is like getting on a train today. It’s just moving us from A to B. And so the same applies to the system and, I guess this is why I’m blogging about it, what is the system?

Is the system the nation, the state, the government and our country; or is it the network, the people, the democracy and our views?

We are in a critical moment of time – I have called it the fourth revolution of humanity – where we need to recreate our government, governance, society and structure. A little like Les Miserables we have to create and break down the barricades. Do you hear the people sing?

The reason why this is important is that the banking system is run by government. Could it be run by the network? Could the banking system that we know be completely disrupted and run by the network? Could the world change so dramatically that governments, countries and management that we knew of old be completely laid waste by the rise of Big Tech, the network and a collection of connected people who really don’t care about the past and just want a better future?

Oh my gosh. I’m asking too bigger questions. Let’s just get back to normal and switch on Netflix (a globally connected entertainment channel – just saying).

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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