The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

Wall-Mart Executive says Chip & Signature is worthless


Finally the voice of reason from a US retailer.

Wal-Mart Treasury Exec: Chip & Signature is ‘Worthless’

Cook told CNNMoney that migrating to chip-and-signature is barely an improvement over magnetic-stripe cards, and said that Wal-Mart would have supported moving to a chip-and-PIN system. “The fact that we didn’t go to PIN is such a joke,” Cook said.

Written by Colin Henderson

April 6, 2015 at 22:12

Posted in Uncategorized

Identity – how can you prove you are you?


Identity is an interesting subject. How can you prove you are you?

This is something that was a compulsive topic in the late 90’s but died down after the assumed solution of PKI was understood as too hard to implement.

Recently a colleague re-opened the topic. It was noted that Dave Birch has been on about identity recently too through his exploration of how Government mandated free provision of API services to be delivered by UK banks resulted in alternative business model thinking.

Dave has some interesting ideas particularly in the area of “attribute verification” whereby Banks could provide positive attribution to third parties on customers identity, creditability, positive bank account experience etc.

I took some time to reflect on what the Canadian Government have been saying. It is hard to keep up because the pace is so slow, but in 2009 they produced

Federating Identity Management in the Government of Canada: A Backgrounder

Since that time the activities of SecureKey have dominated the discussion although they have largely moved south in their predominant efforts as witnessed by their home page featuring the US Congress building.

The focus in Canada has been on the limited space of identity in respect to Government of Canada and Provincial services.

This is very clear from this GoC page on Cyber Authentication.

All this to say that the UK government is particularly pro-active in this area with pressure on the banks, and the Canadian government is not. Directionally this probably arose from the particularly weak position that the UK Banks were in post 2007 vs the strong position that Canadian Banks found themselves at that time and despite the underlying risk merely being shifted off balance sheet.

Identity management services as a business model in Canada is up for grabs it would appear.

Written by Colin Henderson

April 5, 2015 at 23:35

Posted in Uncategorized

Nadella is doing the right things but will it save Microsoft


Like many readers I have been following the rise of Microsoft in the 90’s to flatlining when browsers really important due to page speed, and finally when Google made the browser an operating system.

Opening Windows | Economist

Mr Nadella’s formula for reinvigorating Microsoft is to move as quickly and as far as possible away from being a Windows-only company to be a global network of giant data centres that provide a broad range of online services for companies and individuals. So far he has done well in beginning to turn round a supertanker of a company, with 123,000 employees and $87 billion in annual revenues.

Things have changed. We use Microsoft Office and Windows because it is prescribed by our employers. At home we use very different devices and software because they are better.

I wish Microsoft the best but I cant see yet how they make money with free iOS Outlook & Office. At best the hope must be that if they can be free and available on mobile devices that users will be more willing to accept the software they must use at work.

This discussion has to take into account the OS X Pages/ Keynote/ Numbers apps that are just simple to use and highly effective across devices.

Directionally it makes sense what Nadella is doing by becoming cross platform. Cloud is critical but cloud only matters in context of the apps that work for the user to the cloud. Users and employers are not even closley aligned on usage of cloud especially in financial services.

Written by Colin Henderson

April 5, 2015 at 03:06

Posted in Uncategorized

Tangerine Online Banking adds Apple Watch support


A whole swath of my iphone apps were updated yesterday all on the same day which is unusual unless something big is changing.  

In this case it was Apple Watch.  Everything from NY Times and Evernote to Tangerine Online Banking.  Curious to see how Tangerine (Scotiabank) handles Apple Watch.  

Written by Colin Henderson

March 28, 2015 at 20:23

Posted in Uncategorized

Sabadell agrees to $2.54 billion takeover of TSB


Sabadell agrees to $2.54 billion takeover of TSB | Finextra

Banco Sabadell is making its first play for a European business outside of its home territory as Lloyds agrees to sell 50% of TSB to the Spanish bank.

Written by Colin Henderson

March 22, 2015 at 23:51

Posted in Uncategorized

Lee Kwan Yew leaves a powerful legacy


Lee Kuan Yew has passed away.  The Strait of Malacca defined the trade route of that area from the 18th century until today.  Lee Kwan Yew took a strong appproach to managing Singapore and over three decades turned it into an economic powerhouse.

Singapore patriarch Lee Kuan Yew dies  ft.com

Foreign investment has flooded into Singapore, much of it by multinationals such as Procter & Gamble, Caterpillar and Google, seeking to use the city as a regional headquarters for operations in the fast-growing economies of surrounding Southeast Asia and, more recently, the wider Asia region itself.

Singapore is the largest ship-bunkering port in the world, the largest foreign exchange trading centre in Asia and is second only to Hong Kong in terms of wealth management by assets.

The banning of the sale of chewing gum — except for medicinal purposes — was among the more benign examples of a rule that occasionally saw political opposition handled harshly, including the use of financially crippling lawsuits to silence critics.

Lee was often accused by rights groups of restricting civil liberties in Singapore’s multiracial society, over which he exerted a distinctive moral authority.

Written by Colin Henderson

March 22, 2015 at 22:18

Posted in Uncategorized

Bitcoin – what is the use case DEC_TECH


The lecture by Andreas Antonopoulos was highly entertaining with anticipated shots at banks.  In the audience of 400+ there were 6~ bankers so we were an easy target.

Apparently banks are busy developing strategies he surmises for use of the blockchain without the currency, or with normal currency.  He poo pooed that idea noting that the bitcoins and the blockchain were inseparable.

Having said all that and thoroughly enjoyed his talk I am still no wiser for the use case, let alone the business case for Bitcoin.  Some facts mentioned tonight are well known:

  • bitcoin is unsupervised with no centralized authority
  • Fintrac have indicated that standard KYC and AML checks are required on Bitcoin service providers
  • Volatility;  no real answer.  Reality of large surges in demand.
  • Standards:  there is no similar standard to PCI/DSS
  • Block chain is a ledger 
  • Bitcoin is 100% confidential although this is at odds with the stance taken by Fintrac and that remains to be sorted out

Interestingly of the 400~ people there tonight, the majority had wallets, and have made purchases.  

Antonopoulos joked about the naysayers who were obviously not in the room who see the internet as a bad place and Bitcoin as a method of complete confidentiality in purchases of dubious nature and where confidentialiity was essential.  This is one element of use case that may have relevance for some or more than we care to think about judging by the chuckles, but again there is a conflict with Fintrac and how they can manage their proposed rules.

Antonopoulos wrapped up projecting that countries can never use Bitcoin or blockchain, including his home country of Greece. His reasons for making that statement were primarily economic noting the outcome would be no different than with the Euro.  hmmm

Further he predicted an explosion in exchanges and wordwide prevalence.  He does not once however indicate the use case for Bitcoin.

So I am still left with the position taken earlier that Bitcoin is an investment first and foremost, with an unfortunate undercurrent of payment utility with dubious intent.  

There was one mention tonight early on from  Jeff (Kryptokit) who noted they are deconstructing the math part from banks. I don’t pretend to understand that passing comment, however there could be something there.  I have long speculated that Banks business model is being deconstructed piece by piece as other companies, specialists, take on those roles and do it better and more effectively.  Examples are Paypal, Lending Club, and Ripple. Perhaps there is a similar role for Bitcoin, but its not clear yet.

I shall however continue to test my assumptions and think more about this.  The sheer magnitude of tonights turnout certainly suggests strong interest amongst the tech community.

Written by Colin Henderson

March 17, 2015 at 20:43

Posted in Uncategorized

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