Sorry I've been away for so long -- these days, when you have good work to do and are busy, you can't take that lightly. So I have pent up ideas, pent up writing. In my head, I'm talking to you regularly. It's been fun, but somewhat one sided.
One of the things I've been watching is the development of mobile this and mobile that, as part of my trendwatching duties.
What I'm specifically interested in is the financial stuff -- that great marriage of digital money and digital platforms. Credit cards, then debit cards, ATMs, multi-branch banking, telephone IVR, then internet. Wow, internet, what a lot of possibilities THAT opened up, and still being explored. And now mobile. Not just mobile access to internet, but things you can only do on a mobile teleconnected computer aka a smart phone.
It feels to me like a gold rush, where everyone is trying to get a stake a claim as quickly as possible.
Announcements are being made practically daily. My favorite source is Finextra -- it reads like the racing form these days, or the sports pages (pick your metaphor) -- telling you who's up and who's down, who's breeding with who, who's out of the season.
We're not talking about simple financial apps here, or simply internet via mobile access to your bank account. We're talking about being able to buy a burger and pay for it with your phone, and have that transaction integrate into your financial management software immediately. That kind of integration -- although it scares people -- seems to be what we want.
Depending where you live in the world, this is either old news or bleeding edge stuff. And there's a good reason for this -- it relates to when your current legacy infrastructure was created, and who is most invested in it. If you happen to live in Sweden, or Japan, or many other places, some of this is old news.
Here in Canada, where I am, we were fairly advanced in things like ATMs and debit cards -- but the lines were drawn then, and these lines are getting in the way of development now. No one in the regulatory business some 30 years ago could have easily envisioned that a telecommunications company might want the ability to execute payments on your behalf. Without paying a bank every time. Which is exactly what they want to do now, and are trying to do. And so are a bunch of other people.
Another thing that is interesting, is that the technology folks, who kind of thought they were going to sweep in and show those dusty old banks how things are done, are finding that the settlement process is much much much more difficult than they thought. Gee whiz, there are all those different currencies. And different regulatory structures! People want interoperability. Who knew it could be so complicated!?
Throughout history, when new land was settled, the immigrants changed things. This time will be no different. The old players will have to adapt to new neighbors, and their different ideas. The new participants will also have to adapt, change their plans, and learn a new language.
The technology may not actually be the biggest thing, it may ultimately be the marketing of the technology that really changes things up, as new players get creative to be heard.
For the rest of us, we can be fairly confident, (I think), that at the end of the day, there will be a lot more functionality for consumers and small businesses than we ever thought possible. We will truly have control over our money, in the same kinds of ways that global corporations have had for years. But instead of having to invest in a CFO and a treasury management department, we will have it all on our smart phone. And won't that be fun.
That's my take. What's yours? What developments do you think are most exciting, or most scary? Best analysis you've seen? Company to watch?