Whine and Dime #0009

Whine

£0.12 for a single domestic text message is outrageous. Given that there is effectively zero cost involved in sending them, any price, let alone £0.12 (and £0.39 for international!), is a modern form of highway robbery. Coming from Australia, where text messages are generally just included as part of the monthly bill, getting whacked for 12p per message here in the UK is really hard to take. There's a lot to like about the UK, but the cost of mobile phones is not one of them.

Shine

Abel & Cole make the best mince pies.

Industry News

There is a lot going with blockchain technologies this week. There are now 25 banks working with distributed ledger startup R3.

International remittance is one area that appears to hold promise for blockchain technology, and there are a few startups looking into it. 27 according to this list. Visa Europe thinks there is merit in the idea too, partnering with Epiphyte.

A common misconception with international remittance is that it's the payment rails that make it expensive. This isn't really the case as much of the costs that customers end up paying come from hidden uplift fees and atrocious currency exchange spreads. Swift fees are modest in comparison. Identifying payers and beneficiaries is also a big component of the costs. 

Microsoft is also getting into blockchain tech releasing a cloud-based platform to help customers experiment. A smart move, even if it is just to get organisations familiar with the concepts.

The head of the IMF also recently gave support to join the blockchain bandwagon.

Banks should prepare for the Internet of Things, says TechCrunch. New data sources to assist credit scores is one thing, but the potential to use blockchain technology for tracking physical collateral items is really interesting. Everledger is doing just that with diamonds.

In non-blockchain news, there are signs that banks are starting to notice alternative lending firms.

Despite the almost unparseable headline of "Government payday cheques out big time for BPAY", this article makes the point that BPAY stands to pick an enormous amount of new payments volume with the NPP "Initial Convenience Service" to go ahead in 2016.

The phrase "Uber for X" is now a cliche. Here it is applied to banking by the WSJ.

What about AirDrop for Payments? Apple is apparently in talks with banks on a mobile person-to-person payment service ($). Here's some more from 9to5mac (un-paywalled, this time): Apple in talks to launch person-to-person Apple Pay mobile payments system in 2016. The impact of a simple, easy-to-use, and potentially free person-to-person payments mechanism will cast a long shadow over other in-flight, domestic immediate payments initiatives around the world. NPP, for example. Apple doesn't need to make money from the system because it's just another piece of capability that makes the rest of the ecosystem attractive to consumers. This will make it really difficult for other P2P networks that need to clip the ticket somehow.

The Financial Times thinks that banking is under attack on all sides. Maybe it's not "turmoil and decline", but just another case of software the eating world.

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