The Finanser's Week: 23rd March 2015 – 5th April 2015

Our biggest stories of the past week are …

Why bitcoin will be bigger than the internet

“In Spanish, we have a saying that when a genius points at the moon, a fool looks at the finger. I find that happens a lot with bitcoin.” —Wences Casares

The Finanser Interviews: Roberto Ferrari, General Manager of CheBanca!

Following our regular series of interviews, we turn this week to talk with Roberto Ferrari, the General Manager of CheBanca! and Board Member of Mediobanca Innovation Services.

To say “banks are failing to grasp the mobile opportunity” is like saying “Apple is failing to grasp the technology opportunity”

At last week’s Payments International conference, Dave Birch and I engaged in a fun Oxford style debate entitled: This House Believes That Banks Are Failing To Grasp The Mobile Opportunity.  Unfortunately Dave got to propose the motion – we both said afterwards we could have argued either way – and, purely because a lot of bankers were in the room, he lost the motion.  I opposed it and, purely for the record, thought I’d share my notes, for what they are.

Does anyone really need a mobile wallet?

Reflecting on another conversation at last week’s conference, there were lots of discussions about why the mobile wallet wars were lost.  No one’s won the mobile wallet war yet, not even Apple, but it is there to be won.  In fact I wondered why it took a firm like Apple to take up the mantra and aim for this crown – not forgetting WeChat, Alipay and others – and realised it’s because no one has yet worked out what a mobile wallet is for.

Corporate bankers … do you need to wake up?

So I’m talking with a group of corporate bankers and the conversation goes into the normal alleyway.  This alleyway is the one that says: “we are corporate bankers and will not be disrupted”.  The conversation goes something like:

Corporate bankers …buy some extra pillows

So I blast the corporate banking world for being slow to change and believing their customers won’t change … and maybe they’re right.  After chairing a panel of large corporates including Jaeger, Virgin Media, Illy and Hotel Booker BV, the view seemed to be that banks were doing a good enough job and that corporates aren’t looking for innovation or new technology capabilities from their bank partners but other things. 

Where is the Uber of banking?

The smartphone revolution has radically restructured every industry from booking a trip (TripAdvisor), a room (Airbnb) or a taxi (Uber), but where’s the Uber of banking? There isn’t one yet and consumers will soon defect to new players unless high street banks wake up.

The billion dollar fraud and how deep learning might avoid it

Banks are being hacked all the time.  According to various statistics, banks get over a million cyberattacks a year, and protecting the bank from breach is getting harder and harder.  This was well illustrated by the Kapersky report of a cybercrime group in February gaining access to over $1 billion in two years by targeting over 100 banks in 30 countries. 


The major general news stories of the past week include … 

Monitise founder Lukies moves on – Financial Times
Shares plunge as mobile money group decides to go it alone after rejecting offers

Bank of England rapped over payments system failure – The Independent
The Bank of England has been criticised by an independent investigation over its handling of a breakdown of its electronic payments system last October, which disrupted a “significant” number of house purchase transactions and created “considerable inconvenience” for ordinary households and companies.
The world’s next credit crunch could make 2008 look like a hiccup – The Telegraph
Is this why central bankers are so scared of raising interest rates?

Sell Commonwealth Bank and buy this stock instead – Sydney Morning Herald
Commonwealth Bank’s share price has more than doubled since the Global Financial Crisis and price-to-book ratios for the big four are at the top end of their historical averages.

Deutsche Bank ‘Horribly Undercapitalized’: Regulator – Here is the City
A top U.S. banking regulator called Deutsche Bank’s capital levels “horrible” and said it is the worst on a list of global banks based on one measurement of leverage ratios.

Challenger bank Shawbrook fetches £725m valuation on IPO – The Telegraph
Shawbrook Bank is the latest start-up bank to float on the London Stock Exchange and is widely thought to be the last listing until after the election

Banks must ‘raise their game’ to win back public trust – The Telegraph
Chairman of the body tasked with improving standards in the financial sector says trust has been ‘badly damaged’ as she unveils new board

Western banks axed 59,000 jobs last year, more cuts to come in Europe – Reuters
LONDON (Reuters) – Top European and U.S. banks axed 59,000 jobs last year as they restructured and cut costs, with headcount expected to shrink further in Europe as bosses strive to improve profitability that has been hit hard by tougher regulation.

British Airways says some frequent flyer accounts hacked – Reuters
LONDON (Reuters) – British Airways said on Sunday tens of thousands of its frequent flyer accounts had been hacked and that it had frozen those affected to sort the problem out.

Nationwide defies banks’ branch closures with major cash injection – The Telegraph
Mutual expected to spend around £300m over five years on upgrading physical outlet


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