Chris Skinner is known as an independent commentator on Fintech through his blog, the Finanser.com, and as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank and its new sequel ValueWeb. In his day job, he is 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), one of the Top 5 most influential people on BankInfoSecurity’s list of information security leaders, as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News.
Described by Seth Wheeler, Brookings Guest Scholar and Former Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy at the White House, as “one of the most authoritative voices on Fintech anywhere”, Chris has previously written many books covering everything from European regulations in banking through the credit crisis to the future of banking. His new book is a sister to his last book, Digital Bank. ValueWeb describes the impact of Fintech and how mobile and blockchain technologies are changing the face of finance in building an internet of value. As a result of the emerging internet of value, banks have to become digitalised, and Digital Bank provides a comprehensive review and analysis of the battle for digital banking and strategies for companies to compete.
The Financial Services Club is a network for financial professionals, and focuses on the future of financial services through the delivery of research, analysis, commentary and debate. Founded in 2004, the Financial Services Club meets regularly in Austria, England, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Scotland, Slovakia and Sweden.
Mr. Skinner is a regular commentator on BBC News, Sky News and Bloomberg about banking issues; he is on the Advisory Boards of Innovate Finance, Meniga and Moven; and is a Judge on many awards programs including the Card and Payment Awards and the Asian Banker’s Retail Excellence Awards, as well as having worked closely with leading banks such as HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Citibank and Société Générale, as well as the World Economic Forum.
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As Sweden was the first European country to use cash for payments back in 1661 it’s unsurprising that it’s the first European country that wants to be cashless. This is why, for several years, I’ve been watching the regular speeches by Lars Nyberg, Deputy Governor of the Sweden’s central bank, the Riksbank, talking about eradicating the use of cash in Sweden.
Cash is still the king. Given the rapid increase in the use of cards in Sweden, particularly in the late 1990’s, cash should have been expected to fall in importance. This, however, does not seem to have happened. The use of cash, measured as the ratio of the value of currency in circulation (M0) and GDP, fell during the first half of the decade, but have been fairly constant since then, lately even increasing somewhat.
Wrapping up thoughts on #Money2020, the Vegas show is by far the biggest of this monster event organising company. I’m guessing there were around 15,000 folks there this year, and everything but everything was being covered: AI, machine learning, mobile wallets, core banking, distributed ledger, blockchain, cryptocurrencies and just about every other aspect of making and taking payments.
Usually the keynotes on the plenary stage don’t impress me much, as they’re just product pitches, but a few did stand out this year. I was particularly impressed by the content of Oliver Jenkyn’s presentation. Oliver is EVP & Group Executive, North America for Visa and I usually hate Visa’s content. But Oliver began by talking about a messaging conversation he had with his ten-year-old daughter that finished with her asking:
Continuing yesterday’s discussions about a big bank’s conference, I was intrigued at how often the subject of cryptocurrencies and bitcoin came up. But there again, it’s a topical thing at the moment with the price of bitcoins surging past the $4,000 mark and Goldman Sachs going against JP Morgan, and saying that they might even trade in it.
The conversation at this particular large bank’s meeting went along the lines of bitcoin being a broken model, it’s a bubble and you should definitely not invest in it. The reason for not investing is based upon two major factors.
I was at a large bank’s wealth management conference recently, where the CEO was being quizzed about various areas including a lot about technology and FinTech. He made several statements that I noted with interest:
“Roboadvisory services improves our speed-to-market and human productivity, but does not replace humans. In particular, I can see that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning makes it far easier for us to comply with and implement regulations and deal with regulatory change in the back office.”
I’m making a presentation on cybersecurity this week at our Nordic Finance Innovation meetings. This meant preparing a few new slides from scratch as I don’t have a set deck for cybercrime, and sat and started ideas just as the news dropped about the Equifax breach. You’ll all know about this by now, but over 143 million Equifax accounts were hacked during June-July 2017, including customers’ social security numbers, name, address, date of birth, driving licence and other sensitive info. In other words, all the information you need to open new accounts and access existing accounts.
I don’t usually tell people that I’m a qualified expert in insurance as it’s not relevant, but I’m mentioning it today as I just presented at a private insurance event. There are lots of interesting nuances in insurance. You and I probably think it’s just that once a year renewal of our auto policy, or maybe the regular premiums we pay for life and pensions. That’s an important part of it and is a challenge as people don’t buy insurance, it has to be sold. Think about it. You don’t wake up and think “oh, I might die today! Better get some life insurance”, but you learn through advisory sales that this is what you need to do.
Then there’s a whole other raft of insurance where the real money is made: commercial insurance. Insuring ships, aircraft, offices and employees is where the big-ticket policies arrive. These are more complicated, as the risks have to be calculated in more depth. Under assess the risk and the insurance company loses; over assess and a competitor might steal the business. Equally, the corporate relationship becomes important in this space, as that’s where the strength of understanding the client comes from.