Whine and Dime #0006


This week's whine is short. To you, the person that keeps placing non-removable paper stickers onto every product I buy, that peel off badly leaving behind a sticky mess, I have three words for you: Ice. Moon. Prison.

Industry News

More cryptocurrency activity from Tier-1 banks, looks set to see RBS pilot a product based on blockchain technology in 2016. This would make RBS one of first major UK banks to offer a product based on the emerging technology that many predict will radically disrupt the way the banking sector operates.

The UK Government is highlighting the benefits of blockchain technology, with a pledge to inject £10m into "research addressing the opportunities and challenges of digital currencies and their underlying technology as part of its larger pledge to innovation in FinTech." Exciting times for cryptocurrencies, if not for quotable sentences from Government departments.

Looking to the future, here are 10 predictions for bitcoin in 2016. It is refreshing to see someone making falsifiable predictions, even though some of the predictions (eg #3, #4) are far from profound. Missing entirely from the list is the interplay between bitcoin and Ripple over 2016 and beyond.

Are biometrics the future of security? They may be, but there are also some challenges, such as befell this poor dude: Malaysia car thieves steal finger. Ouch. That's the law of unintended consequences at work. Hat tip @caelyxsec.

Maybe the fact that the UK had 2.5 million incidences of cyber crime in the last year explains why everything to do with making payments here is so hard. It would be good to know exactly what the crooks are doing, because it's hard enough to do the right thing and get a payment through. This is contrast to Australia, where only 2% of small businesses are bother about online security. That seems to tell a story about the very different security profile facing organisations in the two jurisdictions.

MasterCard is going to tokenize MasterPass for online and in-app shopping.

Mobile payments awareness is high, but mobile payments usage is low. At least according to Accenture.

Eftpos Australia is trying to remain relevant, but might struggle against the international card schemes. One really interesting tidbit:

"Eftpos has lost market share to Visa and MasterCard. In the two years to June 30, 2014, it carried 2.4 billion debit transactions worth $139 billion, but this represented a 60 per cent share, down from 80 per cent. Eftpos' share of all card payments fell by 10 percentage points to 40 per cent in the same period. Much of this was due to tap-and-go payments, which are now about 70 per cent of all Visa and MasterCard in-person transactions in Australia, as well as more people buying online."

Times change.

An ongoing problem at all levels of banking is the lack of quality, technical depth. Chris Skinner agrees, speaking in Madrid at Innomoney he said "A good indication that change is needed can be found just by booking at the majority of bank executives, in particular CEOs, who tackle financial tasks such as risk management and regulations based on accounting backgrounds; but they have no grasp of, or training in, technology". This gap will become an increasingly serious problem as more and more banking and financial services becomes a technology pure-play.

Citi looks to set up a unit to design a mobile banking solution for consumers.

Sony is going to have a crack at mobile payments with a view to supporting its Asian expansion plans. However, as Square and others have seen, making money in the payments business can be tough, which has forced them to consider other business opportunities beyond payments.

Wrapped in red tape, Aussie banks and other companies lack digital readiness, says PwC. Comments here about 'lack of competition' and 'small local market' certainly ring true.

In the hopes of addressing some of the issues of innovation in the Financial Services industry (and red tape, too), the Australian Government released its response to the Financial System Inquiry. Under new leadership, the Government seems a lot more interested in technology and innovation, and this response has a whole chapter dedicated to innovation in financial services. Of particular note are changes to allow for crowd-sourced equity funding, and reductions in excessive credit card surcharging. Perhaps most interesting is the proposal for a national digital identity. I can hear the old arguments from the mid 1980s against the Australia Card being reheated as we speak.

One of the biggest changes in the Australian banking industry over the next couple of years is the New Payments Platform. Canstar is of the view that NPP is on track for release in 2017, whilst the Australian thinks that new payment systems point to a cashless society. If the banks can sort out their NPP implementations, then both of things could end up being true. If they can't, then this will end up just like M@MBO.

On reading that Microsoft is making another attempt at payments in Windows 10, one could be forgiven for thinking that they have "no chance". Props for trying, tho.

Blog Posts

Worth Following

  • @mattheath is doing great things with golang at Mondo
  • @caelyxsec is one of the smartest thinkers in security in Australia
  • @openbazaar has some really fascinating ideas about distributed reputation
  • @CoinCorner is doing some interesting things to make bitcoin simpler

Nerding Out