Holiday reading, book 4: Bank 4.0 – Banking Everywhere, Never at a Bank (Brett King)

For anyone at all interested in banking or technology, this book is compulsory reading. I am normally easily bored by discussions of technological developments with which I am familiar but King takes it all and wraps it up in a narrative which is compelling and to the point. His intimate familiarity with the traditional banking business allows him to make astute observations about how organisations function and what the dangers are in failing to adept to the one-swipe-right-now world of the digital native.

The author is particularly clear about the best way for banks to work with FinTech's – cooperate (cheapest and fastest) or acquire rather than duplicate in-house. He mentions some sobering examples of the latter. There are also many fun things such as the Emirates NBD Shake n’ Save [sic] product which lets you put away a fixed amount for a rainy day by shaking your phone. Other interesting morsels included a reference to ERMA project at Bank of America in the early 1950s which introduced account numbers. Yes, account numbers.

One of the great questions King proposes should be asked in the banking "C-suite" is whether the head of digital outranks the head of branches. My feeling is that sometimes there is not even a head of digital delivery (experience) but there would be a head of branches. What this says, I do not really know. In his taxonomy, many banks are really stuck in "Banking 2.5" which means they do a lot of things on their app but the digital channel is still (except for challenger banks) a bit of an add-on.

Incidentally, he talks about "false positives" for branch use which does cover all branch use in my case – e.g. when you go there to pick up a card because it is going to simply take too long to give your address over the phone to the courier and the bank simply did not get around to giving your address to the courier. Why my bank does not get the delivery address form the app, I would not know... The head of branches probably decided that phoning worked well in 1985 so it should work now.

I took dozens of photographs from the book of things that I wanted to follow up or check. Like many modern books, the editorial quality is not what it should be – any author can write "Netflix" when they mean "Blockbuster" but it is the job of a good editor or critical reader to pick this up. Some of the graphs are not readable in grayscale and I had a hard copy so I do not know where one would find the original colour graphics.

If you are even remotely interested in banking, do read this book!

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