The Economist Event held at the end of January in the 5 Stars St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel raised more questions than answers, not least of which being what banking may look like in 2030. To branch or not to branch, that being a question Craig Donaldson of Metro Bank addressed, his answer can be found on 41 streets in the UK. Millennial chasing marketeers talk in apps only, and Ann Cairns, president of international markets, MasterCard, spoke of Applepay and the need to add more features to widen appeal. She’s probably wrong about this, sorry Ann, Applepays’ weakness is that it’s embedded in a phone it doesn’t need more features it needs less hardware. Let’s discuss over canapés.
The panel debate moved on to Collaborate or Die?, a question answered some time ago we feel, by this newspaper, regarding the relationship between fintechs and incumbents. Regardless, the Silver or Lead non-refusable offer still makes a catchy header for any event or campaign slogan for political office elect. Is London set to lose its fintech crown? Provokes the third panel, Eileen Burbidge delivers the No, along with CEO of Innovate Finance Lawrence Wintermeyer to the genial agreement of Nicolas Veron and Olle Zetterberg representing the Bruegel and the Nordics. An anatomical dissection of a startup acquisition follows lunch, with unlocking big data for those still hungry for small bites. The blockchain versus blockchain panel attracts attention, Jeremy Wilson, vice-chairman of Barclays Corporate Banking, spoke at length regarding the highly sophisticated operating systems being developed in house. Adam Ludwin, CEO of Chain.com, spoke of his work in developing blockchains for NASDAQ and VISA, including a ‘B2B service to rival Swift’. The technological challenges of these are daunting, especially the final of the ‘three chasms’ as described by Adam Ludwin, that being the migration of (data) assets from the old systems to the new. This may prove so problematic as to give rise to parallel products and services to attract new customers and clients rather than migrating existing ones. Auto-Disruption may become the new collaboration in coming years; it’s a long play and the beat goes on.
The following has been produced as a result of conversations, interviews, debates, presentations and other interactions from companies, individuals and organisations in the technology, finance, fintech, political, and media sectors.
Editor of The Fintech Times