Tuesday, 22 July 2014

KYC: too many cooks?

At the best of times banks are reluctant to share ideas and information with each other, but it is clear that in some cases there is no discernable advantage to differentiate. KYC, for instance, is one of them, as I discussed during this piece in the IBS Journal in May. Today’s news that Swift has added six major banks to its KYC service, launched earlier this year, raises the question once again: Why does the industry have so many KYC utilities?

Friday, 18 July 2014

Free in-credit banking under threat in the UK

Don't end free in-credit banking
At least in terms of perception, the UK banking sector is in flux. There are new banks, new regulators, new suppliers, new business models and new scandals. Now, we can add a new ‘joined up’ and ‘in depth’ investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into personal current accounts and small business banking, again including current accounts and small business loans.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Why do banks have so many staff?

Rabobank HQ interior
I had my first visit to Rabobank’s new headquarters in Utrecht last week (locally dubbed the ‘binoculars’, due to the exterior look, while inside it is undeniably Dutch-style funky - http://www.sander.nl/en/sander-architecten-international/clients/companies/rabobank-nederland.aspx).

However, my meeting was in one of the bank’s other offices in the city, accessed by a Rabobank people-carrier, shuttling between the two complexes. Which gave me time to ponder, why do banks have so many staff? The new HQ certainly looks large but it is insufficient to house all of the bank’s staff in Utrecht. In total, Rabobank has 61,000 full-time employees. What do they all do?

Friday, 11 July 2014

Misys' EMEA market forum: the inside track

Jordi Cruz, Masterchef Spain's presenter,
and gin and tonic bubbles with mango sorbet
Last week’s Misys EMEA Market Forum in Barcelona was relatively upbeat, with more than 500 bankers, technologists and analysts in attendance. CEO Nadeem Syed kicked off his opening plenary outlining Misys’ vision and introducing yet another rebranding of its offerings into a ‘Fusion Family’ – Fusionbanking, Fusioninvest, Fusioncapital and

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Bitcoin: If it keeps moving, regulate it

Bitcoin: If it keeps moving, regulate it
IBS recently noted the reluctance of existing banks, suppliers and regulators to engage with bitcoin and other virtual currencies (VC), but at least it hasn’t suffered the same fate of the Liberty Dollar in the US, which was stamped on by the FBI in 2007. Its computers were seized, its currency, backed by $7 million in gold and silver, was confiscated and its founder was eventually found guilty of ‘making, possessing and selling his own currency’. 

Monday, 7 July 2014

Open source technology: is it a legitimate model for software vendors?

Increasingly, open source technology is popping up on the IBS radar, with the latest addition to our Risk Management Systems & Suppliers guide, Open Gamma, being a proponent of the open source model. Other notable examples of vendors which have taken this route include Romanian supplier Allevo, which earlier this year launched its open source community, FINkers United, to the public, with access to the code of its qPayintegrator payments platform.

Atom Bank: second mover advantage

It’s easy to be critical of the branch-first strategy of Metro Bank in the digital age, but listening to Anthony Thomson at the launch of Fiserv’s new Agiliti system gives one a more sympathetic perspective. The cumbersome regulatory process cost the bank millions; the payments system was jealously guarded by the existing high street banks; and the capital requirement was huge, even at a time when the industry was gasping for collateral.

Heightened competition? Be careful what you wish for...

Heightened competition in any sector is typically seen as desirable, giving greater choice to consumers and encouraging better pricing and service levels, but it is seldom this simple. For one thing, it can be a case of, 'be careful what you wish for'. In financial services, payday loan companies have brought more choice, for instance, but not in a good way. And if the additional choice is just more entities providing the same types of service with the same business models as the incumbents, does this really help?

Signs of life in the UK core banking market.....at last

Is the UK core banking software market finally showing signs of life? Vendors large and small are flocking back to the once dormant space as around 25 entities are waiting for approval from the country's regulator, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), to launch banking operations.

Swift, a political lever?

One man's KYC regime is another man's foreign policy. Indeed, it seems to be the US's main weapon at present: the sanctions against Russian individuals and companies which were expanded by the EU and US in the last week of April have echoes of an earlier controversy about whether Iranian banks should have been expelled by Swift in 2012.