Stories about company X launching something that will cause massive disruption in industry Y and possibly industry Z are all too common. If we believed them all we would go mad. If they all came true, chaos would rein.
The centre of the storm is the money magnet.
FinTech companies are laying waste great swathes of the banking world. Modern banking – or perhaps post-modern banking – does not need bricks and mortar, low level advisers or ATMs on every corner. Smartphones and clever money apps will give you almost everything you need, without the ridiculous and tooth aching process of providing endless bills, passports and what have you to your bank manager to prove that you are still you.
Telcos, once again, are trying for their (and banks’) customers’ money. T-Mobile is working with BankMobile and executives (who did not want to be named) ‘confirmed the company has launched a pilot program with BankMobile to test a mobile banking product’. This product will offer interest on basic checking accounts, amongst other things.
Facebook owned WhatsApp has an offering that it is testing on about a million customers in India, with the support of the Government. This will offer a payments service between customers as well as allow them to pay bills.
Google, for some (probably good) reason in Lithunania has been granted an e-money license which will allow it to do significantly more than it can do with good old Google Pay.
These are just three recent examples of telcos trying to disrupt banking, tech trying to disrupt banking and banking trying to survive.
Banks, like telcos, have been around a long time. They are big, slow and cumbersome, suffocated by regulation, inertia and legacy systems, processes and politics.
The good news, for them at least, is that their deep pockets and infrastructure means that they will probably survive long enough to change. The disruption of the global financial crisis and the resultant regulations about liquidity will help them.
Some are launching apps, some are visibly changing and some are losing customers.
An important point is that what works in one country or region will probably not work in another. In one region banks are trusted more than in another. Telcos too. In others, neither get the vote.
Disruption will not be consistent, nor global. It will be patchy, opportunistic and the level of disruption on a region will depend to a huge extent on culture. It will look like a lava lamp.
And trust. No matter where you are or who you are, the question for the consumer which will determine whether disruption will do its worst (or best) is ‘who do you trust with your money’?