The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

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HM Treasury and “Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) in banking” – really?

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While perhaps well intentioned in calling for solutions that provide better quality comparison shopping, it worries me when I see HM Treasury calling for banks to provide an API as the solution, and also solution to what?


2.176 Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) in banking – Following publication of a Government commissioned report on APIs and open data, the government will launch a Call for Evidence on how APIs could be used in banking. This will enable financial technology companies to develop innovative solutions to allow customers to make better comparisons between different banks and financial products.

I think they should stop at the “develop innovative solutions” if they are really serious about this, and let technologists develop an approach for whatever they intend to gain.

But having said that what is the governments intention. Based on the earlier Banking Commission findings, its probably in the realm of reducing friction for consumers wishing to change banks. If that is the intention, then ‘better comparisons’ is not what they seek. Better comparisons will be provided by innovative FI’s and innovative comparison providers, which is an area UK is already ahead of most.

The friction which I believe they are concerned about lies in the area of Direct Debits and Credits and the pain involved in making those changes. However that pain is significantly reduced now compared to 10 years ago.

Which takes us back to … what does HM Treasury intend in this Autumn Statement.

Written by Colin Henderson

December 7, 2014 at 20:46

Posted in Uncategorized

Uber is not going anywhere after raising $1.2 Bn

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Despite a few missteps that seemed to place Uber on the wrong side of ‘do no evil’, (Uber Godview) this financing round seems to unequivocally see them as a force that will continue to expand and battle against legal and taxi interests attempts to slow them down.

Uber valued at $40bn in latest funding round

Investors looked past Uber’s recent controversies over its handling of competitors, the press and users’ privacy to give it a huge $40bn valuation as it announced the completion of a $1.2bn funding round on Thursday.

Written by Colin Henderson

December 4, 2014 at 23:23

Posted in Uncategorized

Stripe land another $70 million

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I have been following Stripe for a while, and now I wish they were listed :-)

Stripe banks $70m in fundraising, valuing company at $3.5bn

Good for them. Stripe and Ripple are the two that I would bet on in payments.

Written by Colin Henderson

December 2, 2014 at 23:04

Posted in Uncategorized

Moven agrees to partnership with TD Bank

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This is an interesting partnership. TD are portraying as a PFM play. Moven has been promoting till now as a full debit account with Spend, Save & goal tracking. It will be interesting to observe how TD implements and how this impacts Moven strategy going forward.

Written by Colin Henderson

December 1, 2014 at 12:44

Posted in Uncategorized

“Market rout as oil slide rocks energy groups” | Are we entering the next economic crisis

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Oil is down 30% in the last 3 months. There are strong hints this is a systemic shift and not an aberration.

Market rout as oil slide rocks energy groups

He compared the surge in North American shale to the dotcom and subprime mortgage booms, and said Opec’s objective now was “to get small producers with large debts and low efficiency to pack up and leave the market”.

Is hard to tell who is really behind it.

  • Middle east producers attempt to kill off smaller US shale producers who have produced a world oil surplus
  • US influence on Saudi Arabia to isolate the Russian economy
  • Simply a middle east producer attempt to regain control of the oil market

Whatever the underlying motivation they all have the potential to be systemic resulting in lower petrol/gas prices at the pump, but more importantly changes in the economic infrastructure that will impact interest rates, stock markets and inflation.

Written by Colin Henderson

November 29, 2014 at 17:03

Posted in Uncategorized

Echo chamber classic

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This is probably a screw up but its funny given the tenure of those involved.

First Scoble has this post and mentions Openstack. That link was interesting so I clicked and got this link.

I arrived at the Gigaom site and clicked the lead story. (This experience might change as they add stories, but this is too much fun to ignore.)

There I clicked the lead story “Why eHarmony is rebuilding itself atop Hadoop and (probably) OpenStack”.

That link took me back to Scobles story. Round and round we go!

It is a classic circular reference. I love it that experienced guys can still totally screw up! I am a big fan of both by the way.

Written by Colin Henderson

November 21, 2014 at 03:39

Posted in Uncategorized

Payments – whats going on?

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The world of payments is going crazy. Payments is supposed to be about SWIFT and land in SIBOS annually. Darn. The usual suspects at SIBOS Boston in October past must be suffering from brain exploding thoughts about Singapore next year.

But seriously payments ain’t what they used to be. Apple Pay certainly drove payments front and centre, but Stripe have been quietly making significant moves the in the background.

Here are just three stories tonight from the interwebs. Payments have been a story for a while but finally they are showing as consequential change, and banks are not in the story.

Infosys, a leader in consulting, technology, outsourcing and next generation services, announced today that it has successfully implemented its Finacle™ core banking solution for Discover Financial Services DFS, +0.06% a leading U.S. direct bank and payment services company.

“When we first did it, a lot of people hadn’t even heard of Alipay,” Collison said Sunday at the Techonomy conference in Half Moon Bay, Calif. Alipay, an Alibaba affiliate, is the largest payments company in China and processes millions of transactions a day.

Worldpay Announces Agreement to Acquire SecureNet Payment Systems – “SecureNet is a market leader in multi-channel commerce technology and has pioneered the payment industry’s only cloud-based solution that seamlessly integrates point-of-sale, mobile and eCommerce payments processing, inventory management and data analytics for merchants.”

So what is happening here? Its a mixture of two shifts in my view:

1. Stripe etc: a quiet background effort from startups with Stripe leading that basically understands and undermines the hold traditional banks have on payments, and

2. Apple: the installed base of Apple gizmos that can suddenly pay for things is unprecedented. There are 6% of apple devices on old software We don’t know how many are upgraded to ‘6’ but its a safe bet that Apple have a base that is unprecedented in terms of earlier platform adoptions.

Shift 1. has been gradual, ok superfast in bank lingo, over last 5 years, then Apple showed up this year and cemented that shift.

Relevance to Bankwatch:

Despite the circle of craziness surrounding payments right now whats interesting is that the direction isn’t at all clear.

- will payments always centre on credit cards?
– where does debit figure?
– what about direct access to bank accounts without traditional debit and credit? and
– why do we have to think about credit and debit? why can’t customers have direct access to their products without having to think about it?

Payment strategy is on a rapid transition path that will mean 2015/6 presents very different challenges for banks.

As always, thoughts and questions welcome.

Written by Colin Henderson

November 12, 2014 at 00:19

Posted in Uncategorized


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