December 31, 2015

Banking For My Generation

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:10 AM

Banking of the future [Source:]

The British rock band The Who is probably best remembered for their breakout hit, 'My Generation,' in which Roger Daltrey sings: "I hope I die before I get old!" The song resonated so well in the 1960s because it was about a new generation of consumers, born in the second half of the 20th century, who were not bound by their parents' traditions.

The same goes for today's generation. I think Max Levchin really connected with the youth when he co-founded PayPal. Why? Because he loathes traditional banking and everything it stands for. Interestingly, Levchin also helped start Yelp, which crowdsources reviews about local businesses, and has invested in Evernote, a multi-platform note-taking app. What's common between all three is that these are businesses that put consumer convenience above everything else. That's important to grasp, because financial services companies like PayPal are addressing the needs of younger and digitally-savvy consumers. These are the sorts of consumers who do not want to stay in traditional hotels on their vacations but are opting for 'experience' stays on Airbnb. They want to use their mobile phones to book or share cabs on Uber. These also do not tolerate long lines at a bank branch or banker's hours.

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December 23, 2015

Would You Trust A Robot With Your Money?

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 12:06 PM

Should You Hire a Robot as a Financial Advisor? [Source:]

Every year the Consumer Electronics Show features robots doing amusing things. Whether it's Honda's ASIMO humanoid robot shaking hands with dignitaries, or the round robot whose mission it is to vacuum carpets - there seems to be a novelty robot for everything. This year there is much more to look forward to. First, there's the holiday shopping season that will result in coffee-making robots, lawnmower robots, and even childcare robots. The second is the reboot of the 40-year-old Star Wars franchise, which has plenty of robots known as droids.

Fun, yes. Entertaining, without a doubt. But what do serious robotics experts and inventors have to say about the fact that the world doesn't seem to take bots seriously unless they're welding a car frame together? That's a question that was burning inside a brilliant young engineer's mind whose family had emigrated to the United States from China. After landing a job a Microsoft, he prudently shopped around for wealth advisory firms that catered to people like him: not rich at the moment, but with a lucrative career in a high-demand field, he might have some funds to invest down the line.

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October 16, 2015

Blockchain Tech Is Fundamentally Transforming Finance

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:53 AM

CNBC: Meet The Blockchain [EN] [Source:]

I was amazed at what the CEO of Digital Asset Holdings, Blythe Masters, said recently in an interview with Bloomberg. With regard to the emergence of blockchain technology and the many cryptocurrencies floating around the capital markets, she said: "You should be taking this technology as seriously as you should have been taking the development of the Internet in the early 1990s." In other words, blockchain tech could become a watershed moment in the history of finance. Even the World Economic Forum (WEF) is predicting that blockchain technology could be a kind of 'tipping point' when it comes to widespread use of cryptocurrencies. Economists at the WEF foresee that by 2027, some 10 percent of the global gross domestic product will be stored using blockchain tech.

To be sure, I've heard it said many times that Bitcoin, for all the negative press around it, is onto something. It's not so much Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies), which has been used by mysterious figures across what's known as the 'Dark 'Net'. It's the technology that underlies Bitcoin that's catching the attention of established global banks.

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September 18, 2015

Could Lending Startups Disrupt 1,000 Years of Banking?

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:22 AM

Disrupt or be disrupted, right? Well, try telling that to the innovators of startup businesses in the extremely challenging financial services space. According to a report by the U.S. Federal Reserve, a typical small company in America spends 24 hours applying for loans. That's a full day's worth of work.

The pay-off, unfortunately, isn't as impressive. According to the Fed, just 33 percent of these startups receive all the credit for which they've applied. Some 45 percent of companies are denied loans altogether. We keep hearing that small, innovative startups are the lifeblood of any economy. That's because they grow into large companies and employ lots of people.

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August 14, 2015

Updating Bank Technology Results In Rediscovery

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:28 AM

Updating Bank Technology Results In Rediscovery

I was recently listening to a fascinating panel discussion whose members agreed that radio as a medium is enjoying a renaissance. In our high-tech age, who would have thought that a technology as old as radio could have a resurgence?

The fact is, there is a timelessness to listening to that which is entertaining and informative. It might be more than a century since the radio was introduced, but the content has changed very little. It's the devices (from a 10-kg wooden box morphing into a 100-gram smartphone) and the business models that deliver the content that have changed. Broadcasters and producers have state-of-the-art digital editing tools. But people still enjoy listening to their favorite music and news.

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May 6, 2015

Why We Should Worry About The "New Brain-Drain": Negroponte @Infosys Confluence 2015

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:52 AM

Negroponte @Infosys Confluence 2015

Practise what you preach. If there's one characteristic that captures the essence of technologist Nicholas Negroponte, it's that he sticks to his advice. He practises what he preaches.

Of course, this world-famous academic, who enthralls crowds everywhere from the World Economic Forum to last week's Infosys Confluence, doles out an amazing amount of insights and predictions for the future. That's one of the reasons he is so noteworthy: He manages to live out his mantras each day - not always the easiest thing to do in a world in which technology is evolving by the minute.

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April 9, 2015

Cell Phones Change the Way Money Moves

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:08 AM

Financial Services for Everyone - Agent Banking in the Democratic Republic of Congo [Source:]

The mobile digital device is changing the world in more ways than you think. In the field of microfinance, for example, the humble cell phone is revolutionizing the rift between the world's richest and poorest communities.

Microfinance has officially been around for decades. But it was a labor of love in that loan organizations sent representatives to some of the remotest areas on earth to sign people up for loans and make the payments in person. Now, however, a cell phone connection allows budding entrepreneurs in even the poorest of countries to solicit and receive loans digitally. They don't have to wait for the banker to come to their villages with signed bank checks.

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March 13, 2015

Online Payment Companies Hone In On Financial Lending

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:53 AM

SMEs turn to peer-to-peer lending [Source:]

It was the legendary technologist Andy Grove who said: "Only the paranoid survive." Smart advice from a smart businessman. Today's marketplace is shifting and changing so rapidly that it certainly does pay to keep one's eyes on the prize.

Consider, for instance, the online payments space. The post-global economic crisis created a new world order, especially when it came to financial services firms. During the World Economic Forum (WEF), the best and brightest from the banking world discussed how nimble even the largest banks have had to become just to survive. And how, by the power of crowdfunding, new entities are giving them a run for their money.

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February 13, 2015

How Big Data Is Transforming Finance

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:57 AM

How Big Data Is Transforming Finance
There is so much data that even the savviest global banks don't know quite what to do with all of it

Recently, I was reading about a fascinating new push for graduates with data mining experience in the financial services field. Now here is something the world's big economies should be concentrating on: the science and mining of Big Data. Indeed, the consultancy McKinsey predicts that as soon as 2018 the United States alone could be facing a shortage of up to 190,000 people with data mining experience.

It's not that there aren't plenty of data specialists already. It's just that the amount of data has grown exponentially in the past few years. Think about this: 90% of the data in 2014 was created in the last two years. In 2015, the same amount of data will be created in one year. And in 2020, it will take less than a second! Also, there will be 80 billion sensors in devices and 100 million viral connections per minute by 2020. In fact, there is so much data that even the savviest global banks don't know quite what to do with all of it. What they do know is that hidden in the gigantic haystack are a few priceless needles. They are struggling to find them because if and when they do, their financial services operations will reap the benefits.

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January 8, 2015

Finance Is the Real Focus of CES

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:41 AM

CES 2015: The Internet Of Things [Source:]

Fact: Finacle by Infosys serves 451 million banking customers around the world. That's 18 percent of the global financial services population. So a word to those of you who are enamored by the sleek drones, the pint-sized computers, and the cool robotics that come out of the annual Consumer Electronics Show: Have fun, but always, always remember that it's money - and not those neat gadgets - that makes the world go 'round.

Indeed, the real star of the CES is digital finance. It's not as pleasurable to look at or as fun to play with as all the other innovations at the annual show, but tools that enable and empower people to make better financial decisions are becoming really hot. CEB TowerGroup says that Finacle is best-in-class when it comes to solutions for large banks. Although the success of Finacle is nothing new, the way consumers use such banking solutions will be. During CES, what I've been seeing is a spirit of cooperation among fierce rivals that stimulates the imagination.

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December 31, 2014

Financial Services Serve Up Social Media

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 4:09 AM

Digital connections can help financial services companies connect with customers in a more meaningful way

An important metric for any industry is to measure conversation length over social media. Some sectors, like the retail industry, know how to foster consumer loyalty and get them talking about it over social media channels. I bring this point up because some industries have a long way to go when it comes to leveraging this valuable medium.

Among them is the financial services sector. Recent analysis found that the average length of time spent discussing banks online is just 30 percent of the time consumers discuss telecommunications. And it's just 15 percent of the time that those same people spend chatting about media and entertainment companies.

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December 23, 2014

How Digital Visualization Tools Will Move Markets

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:33 AM

StockCity: A virtual look at your stock portfolio | CNBC [Source:]

When you think of high-tech, innovative research and development facilities, industries like defense and aerospace, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications probably come to mind. But mutual funds? Yes, there is such a thing as a mutual fund R&D laboratory.

In fact, one such lab is associated with Fidelity Investments, the largest mutual fund firm on the planet. What amazes me about pushing the envelope in the mutual fund industry is that at first glance there doesn't seem to be an envelope to push. An investor allocates a certain amount of money toward buying into a fund, and each month she gets her statement. OK, so maybe the statements come online instead of in the mail. But is there any serious need to tweak this age-old system? It works well enough.

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October 17, 2014

Sending Money Socially

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 10:08 AM

In France, Transferring Money With Tweets [Source:]

The power of the proverbial wake-up call. Some of us are lucky to receive them. They keep us nimble and always push ourselves and our organizations to improve. But there are those among us who are unlucky; they're the ones who don't receive wake-up calls. Remember the man who, more than 100 years ago, said the 'horseless carriage' wouldn't catch on because of all the petrol stations that would have to be built to serve them? Then there was the executive in the 1970s - a computer company CEO, no less - who said he could never see people keeping computers in their homes.

Today we received a couple of huge wake-up calls. The question is: who will heed them and who will ignore them? The call involves the fact that a French mega-bank, Groupe BPCE, is teaming up with Twitter to allow customers to transfer money via Tweets. And that's not all. Indian private sector lender Kotak Mahindra Bank (KMB) has launched a Facebook-based instant fund transfer service where money can be transferred to users' friends on social media network in real time and for free!

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September 3, 2014

How Banks Use Technology To Improve Security & Quality

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:10 AM

Beware of technology for technology's sake. Experts who predicted the demise of the Big Box retailers 15 years ago are now fairly mum about the bricks-and-mortar resurgence. These are the same kind of people who predicted that the radio would become extinct the minute consumers started to buy television sets.

I bring up these examples because of a ground-breaking new survey by TD Bank, a large and influential Canadian financial services firm. TD Bank weathered the global economic crisis because it didn't jump head first into offering collateralized debt obligations to customers. The bank was conservative in its approach to savings. It also has a track record of stellar customer service. So good, in fact, that many so-called millennial customers in its survey said that they actually enjoy visiting bank branches because the employees there are so friendly and helpful. These are young customers who do everything online. So when they say they enjoy face-to-face interaction with bank branch employees, those survey results should all give us pause and help us learn from how organizations should be operating their bricks-and-mortar branches at the dawn of the digital age.

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August 4, 2014

Tired Old Branches Vs. Cool Technology

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:43 AM

Rise of online banking sees decline of physical bank branches in the UK [Source:]

It doesn't take a veteran banking analyst to predict the winner of the contest described in this column's title. Commercial banks, especially in the West, are saddled with a lot of real estate. Their branches are vestiges of how customers connected to their banks in the old days. They would stand in line and wait (and wait and wait) to speak with a teller who was behind a foot of bulletproof glass.

I, for one, am not lamenting the waning of the commercial bank branch. Given that the alternative is a lot of cool technology, more bank branches are going to be gone with the wind and few, if any, customers are going to take notice. They'll be too busy using their tablets and smartphones to open accounts, make deposits, wire cash, and apply for loans. Don't take my word for it. The chief executive officer of one of the world's largest financial services institutions, Bank of America, recently predicted that more physical branches would be closing under BofA's brand name because customers are realizing they carry a bank branch in their pockets.

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July 21, 2014

What Western Banks Can Learn From Emerging Markets

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:35 AM

SnapScan to revolutionise S.African banking [Source:]

You don't find as many merchant banks today as you would even a generation ago. The point of the merchant bank of old was that Western firms could scour the emerging markets and the Third World to find economic opportunities that, with the right amount of capital and Western know-how, could flourish into profitable enterprises.

How the global economy has changed! Instead of Western bankers applying their monetary rules and economic guidelines to other regions, it's the emerging economies that are giving the Western firms a lesson or two in banking. Frankly, I think the reason that there are generally fewer old-line merchant banks around today is because banks in the emerging economies are becoming innovative and technological powerhouses that can attract and invest capital quite well by themselves.

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July 3, 2014

Disrupt Or Be Disrupted. Really?

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:41 AM

What do banking customers want? [Source:]

Innovation - literally "to make new" - hasn't always been considered all that desirable, in the corporate world or anywhere else, for that matter. Executives, sometimes, become so focused on pleasing customers and shareholders that they miss the forest through the trees. Indeed, these executives don't fail because they make bad decisions; their businesses fail because of their good decisions! As they focus on bringing more and better products to market (so-called sustaining innovation), the established enterprises tend not to see other things that customers want.

Disruptive innovation doesn't always work out the way it's put forth in books. And the financial services sector presents some interesting examples. A disruptive innovation to the banking industry in the late 1990s was the creation of rolled-up, ready-for-sale products like subprime mortgages, collateralized debt obligations, and mortgage-backed securities. Banks were reaching a whole new audience and creating an untapped market with these "brilliant" innovations.

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June 25, 2014

Number of Banking Apps Has Low Correlation to Satisfaction

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:22 AM

The Best in Personal Banking Apps [Source:]

I think I might need an advanced degree in computer engineering to use a few of the apps that my bank has provided me. There are so many apps to begin with. Not all of them are easily accessible nor is it always apparent as to how to go about launching them. I thought online banking was rooted in convenience. Indeed, maybe there's the rub: the distinction between online banking and banking apps.

The influential tech consultancy Gartner Group has even gone on record warning banks that the sheer number of apps offerings could eventually hurt customer satisfaction in a major way. The analysts at Gartner cite two issues in particular. The first is that there are so many apps that banks make available to customers that they've essentially inundated the space. With so many available to one customer, each one gets less and less promotional airtime and therefore less use. If that weren't bad enough, it's a chore for a customer to find the app that she needs. One of the reasons for this confusion is that banks release apps often listed by line of business.

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June 4, 2014

Tackling Poverty With Banking

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:09 AM

Revolutionary mobile payment M-Pesa turns seven years old [Source:]

Maps of the world displaying political boundaries or topographical details - mountain ranges, deserts, and vast rainforests are commonplace. But look at a map based on a proportion of the world's population, and, you'll know why companies are thinking of ways of tapping into the Asian and African marketplaces. Up until the 20th century, these two continents did not control a remarkable amount of the world's wealth. But as their populations grow and enter the middle class, they are where any smart company wants to be in the 21st century. On a proportionate-population map, Asia and Africa would be even more enormous than they are on a political map. Most of the people on this planet - about 8 out of every ten - lives in either of those two places. Add economic power to a vast population and you can see why global enterprises are looking eastward for expansion.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently published a table that looks at the world in a way that's not unlike those proportionate-population maps. The table envisions the world as 100 people, a very basic and clear way of delineating who is who and who has what. For example, out of the world's 100 people, 48 of them live on less than $2 a day. And 13 of them do not have access to clean, potable water. And what about English, the so-called language of the Internet? Only 5 of them are native English speakers!

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May 12, 2014

Are These Stupendous Disruptions On the Way?

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 12:23 PM

4D Printing is the Future of Design [Source:]

The analysts at the research arm at megabank Citi are once again creating a buzz for their Top 10 list of the technologies that will disrupt our world.

For example, one of the innovations on their latest list is 4-D printing. Essentially this development will allow people first to use 3-D printers to print out materials that can then assemble themselves. The United States Army, a group that tends to be keen on the latest technologies, seeded a total of $855,000 to a handful of universities that are doing research on 4-D printing. If the military has expressed interest, I imagine private industry has plenty of potential uses for this technology as well.

A promising technology on the bank's new list is immunotherapy. The idea is that doctors can train a person's immune system both to recognize and (if needed) attack cancerous cells.

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April 30, 2014

Mobile Payments Catches On

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:13 AM

Mobile Payment Apps are Boosting Payment Processors like Visa [Source:]

Ah, the promise of the picture-phone. For the better part of the last half-century, telecoms firms dangled the technology before us and enticed us with the proposition that we could look into the eyes of everyone we chatted with on the telephone.

Although the technology has existed in one form or another for decades, it never really caught on. True, Internet chat services like Skype have probably come closer to fulfilling what the first inventors of the picture-phone envisioned. It was a great idea, wasn't it? So why didn't the market ever really warm up to it?

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April 18, 2014

Bitcoin ATM & Other Uses For a New Infrastructure

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:01 AM

BITCOIN ATM OPENS IN HONG KONG - Get your Bitcoin in cash: World's second Bitcoin ATM [Source:]

It was a spectacle enough when one of the top luxury hotels in the United Arab Emirates offered its well-heeled guests a gold ATM. Just slide in your cash and out pops a small, solid gold bar. With the economy in the shape it's in and the public's penchant for investing in precious metals, that ATM proved to be a hit.

After the first ever Bitcoin ATM at Canada last quarter, now there is a Bitcoin ATM in Hong Kong - the first of many planned for Asia. The ATM's owner is hoping that the financial world's fascination with Bitcoin will make them well received and even more of a go-to source for the crypto-currency than online exchanges such as Mt. Gox. Whether you're a fan of Bitcoin or not, one thing is undeniable: The technology that makes this new type of currency a reality is here to stay, and it might have more uses than just Bitcoin.

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March 25, 2014

Untamed Financial Innovation

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 10:27 AM

Flexcoin is the Latest Bitcoin Bank to Bite the Dust [Source:]

When it comes to the world of entertainment, I enjoy two genres the most: the lavish Bollywood musical and the traditional Western. Both so enjoyable because it's so formulaic. Every movie Western ever made is essentially the same story; it's what happens when an unwilling hero decides, in the name of justice, to go up against those who would do us harm.

That being said, see if you can figure out which Western this storyline is from. I've removed the name so as not to give away the answer:

"On March 2nd ----, [name of bank] was attacked and robbed of all coins. The attacker made off with [amount]... As [name of bank] does not have the resources, assets, or otherwise to come back from this loss, we are closing our doors immediately. [Customers] who put their coins in cold storage will be contacted by [name of bank] and asked to verify their identity. Once identified, cold storage coins will be transferred out free of charge. Cold storage coins were held [not in the vault] and not in reach of the attacker. [Name of bank] will attempt to work with law enforcement to trace the source of the [robbers]."

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March 3, 2014

How Technology Fuels a Cultural Change in Banking

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 11:10 AM

Technology at Morgan Stanley [Source:]

The financial services industry is at a crossroad. OK, I know what you're thinking: That sector is at several crossroads. Post-global economic crisis, it's probably the most interesting time to be in or be observing the big banks. There is a profound cultural shift that is emanating from within the world's most prestigious and well-known banks. Many banks have decided that a culture of overwork has had its day.

If any of you have worked in a financial services firm, you're aware of how long the hours can be. "Face-time" is an aspect of this culture. You want to make sure that the managing director sees you in the office at all hours, even if you're not necessarily working on a project. For the better part of the last couple centuries, being upwardly mobile at a bank meant putting your personal life on hold and devoting your life - seven days a week - to the firm.

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February 25, 2014

Geosensory Data: The Next Big Innovation in Finance

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:37 AM

Big Data in Banking [Source:]

As an organization that enables enterprises around the world to realize their goals, we're never at a loss to explain the power of Big Data. Whether it's in retail, healthcare, or even banking, the more a company knows about its customers, the more it's able to make lasting connections with them.

I'm reminded about just how powerful Big Data has become by reading a profile about a handful of MIT graduates who were intent on creating a hedge fund. Now for those of you who don't follow the world of alternative asset management, hedge funds haven't exactly had the easiest last few years in the wake of the global economic crisis. It's gotten more challenging for hedge fund managers to allocate capital in such a way that it creates a "hedge" against more traditional investments.

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February 21, 2014

Helping Banks Help Consumers

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:18 AM

I was struck by how someone recently described the new chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of the Unites States. Janet Yellen, she said, is not only the first woman to hold that post. But she's also the first Keynesian who's *open* about being one.

Being a Keynesian, of course, means that you have great faith in the power of monetary policy to affect the economy as well as the banking sector. That there have been central bank governors who have believed in Keynes is without argument. It's fascinating, though, that she is the first one in her country not to hide her devotion to this philosophy. I bring this up because monetary policy is back in the news again. Our colleagues who attended the World Economic Forum last month came away with a healthy dose of discussion on the topic.

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January 30, 2014

Innovating Around Financial Concerns

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 11:45 AM

Innovations in Payment Processing - WorldPay [Source:]

This past holiday shopping season was a bit of a wake-up call for the tens of millions (possibly hundreds of millions) of consumers whose credit card data was reportedly hacked off store computers from a 17-year-old boy sitting a continent away. That indeed was a clarifying event as far as the retail industry was concerned.

We live in an age that is exciting because of all the technological possibilities. One of the basic requests of digital consumers, however, is that such levels of excitement not include heart palpitations when you realize a hacker has stolen your credit card information. If multinational retail chains can tap into Big Data to give us excellent deals and a wide array of products that we love, then can't they use such information to ward off criminals as well?

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January 24, 2014

How Banks Are In the World's Future

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:51 AM

How Banks Are In the World's Future

Christine Lagarde : [Source:]

Christine Lagarde's inspirational address at the World Economic Forum pointed to some cold, hard facts about the year ahead: First, every country - whether developed or frontier market - must work to ensure that reforms stemming from the Global Economic Crisis take root.

Second, a strong and lasting economic recovery occur leveraging factors from a number of fronts: fiscal, structural, and financial. I think a very important player in the global economic comeback is the financial services institution.

To be sure, regulators and policy-makers from every country have worked very hard during the past five years to prevent, as Lagarde termed it, the Great Depression Part II. But it's the role of banks, and particularly the consumer-oriented commercial banks, that are vital to creating an atmosphere that encourages people of all socio-economic levels to save for retirement, invest for their families, and borrow funds to buy homes and build businesses. A statesman once said that the business of his country "is business." I see what he means. When people of all stripes are saving and spending with banks as their user-friendly intermediaries, the entire economy benefits from their actions.

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January 10, 2014

Game Theory & the Future of Financial Services

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:58 AM

Applying Game Theory to Your Trading [Source:]

One of the more talked-about movies of the winter season is "The Wolf of Wall Street," a high-octane story about the greed and excesses of a bunch of poorly behaved stockbrokers in the early 1990s.

An academic view of the movie would remind us that game theory - the same tenets of which explain why cricket players decide on certain strategies in order to win their matches - is front and center in any story about the stock market. That's because the capital markets are very much the end result of passionate, very emotional decisions as to how best to invest money. Financial services firms have been trying to tap into how their customers think and act as a way of better serving them - and, of course, improving their bottom lines.

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December 16, 2013

Variety Is the Spice of Global Finance

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 4:32 AM

BBC NEWS Is Bitcoin the future of currency? [Source:]

One of the more interesting debates in the realm of digital finance is whether Bitcoin is the way of the future or a flash in the pan. To supporters, the world needs an online currency that falls out of the purview of central bankers. Their reasoning goes that if politicized central banks don't have the ability to print more paper money every time their country's economy takes a tumble, the currency will more closely resemble an inflation-proof entity more closely aligned with gold. That's because there are a pre-determined number of them and additional units cannot be minted.

Detractors say many things, not the least of which is that without central bank oversight and an existence solely in the virtual sphere, Bitcoin isn't immune from cyber-thieves who could conceivably hack into the stash on your hard drive. In fact, one of the appeals of precious metals like gold is their physical existence. Of course, if you count existence as a file on your computer, then you might have a better time accepting the basic idea behind Internet currencies.

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November 29, 2013

The Exciting Potential of Digital Finance

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:44 AM

Jeff Berwick on Fox Business: Is Bitcoin the currency of the future? [Source:]

When consultants and academics speak of a disruptive innovation, they usually mean that the new entrant disrupts a market. If we take a long, hard look at Bitcoin, however, we see that innovations can also disrupt the people who develop and use it.

For those unfamiliar with Bitcoin, it's digital currency. What drove its initial development was its proposition - that it exists solely in the digital world and away from the control of government regulators. The values of other currencies can rise and fall when a government's central bank decides to print more paper money. Because Bitcoin is digital and there is a finite number of them, the expectation is that it won't be prone to such devaluation.

Of course, the idea behind is different from how it's played out so far. Speculators have hoarded Bticoin just because there are a finite number of them. And when banks around the world decided to shun the currency, its value took a tumble. The people and businesses that make transactions using Bitcoin, therefore, have dealt with their share of disruption. It's a kind of disruption I'm sure they'd rather not have.

Continue reading "The Exciting Potential of Digital Finance " »

November 15, 2013

Throwing Money Away Has Its Benefits

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 4:28 AM

The Future of Money: Todd Hirsch at TEDxEdmonton [Source:]

Nothing catches a crowd's attention quite like telling them they're throwing money away. That was the subject of a recent report from a financial services company.

What it meant was that many countries are moving toward getting rid of their paper currencies in favor of other modes of payment. When you think about it, the exchanging of cash for services or merchandise is a pretty antiquated system. It's been around for eons. One of the reasons it's remained popular is that small businesses continue to accept bills and coins even though cashless payment systems abound.

Some economists say that a nation's dependence on cash can be symptomatic of both short- and long-range problems. In fact, the act of printing paper money and striking coins can account for as much as 1.5 percent of a country's gross domestic product. It's clear that as economies become more sophisticated, organizations will come to rely on cashless systems because of their efficiency and effectiveness.

Continue reading "Throwing Money Away Has Its Benefits" »

November 7, 2013

How To Transform Your Organization When Times Are Good

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:55 AM

Lead and be the change: Mark Mueller-Eberstein at TEDxRainier [Source:]

Winston Churchill once said that you should never let a good crisis go to waste.

As business leaders we know exactly what he meant. It's often an imperative to transform your organization when times are tough. Outside challenges give you the excuses to act quickly and decisively. You can shake up the company without the board of directors of fellow executives questioning your every move.

In some respects it's more challenging to transform an organization during a period of relative calm. If the economy as well as your business is chugging along, then why rock the boat? Why bring unnecessary heartache into your life by hiring and firing and charting a new strategic course?

Continue reading "How To Transform Your Organization When Times Are Good" »

October 28, 2013

Automation Innovation Changes Banks

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:10 AM

TEDx - Simon Dixon - Changing The Rules of Banking @TEDtalks []

A wrap is more than just a tasty sandwich rolled up within a soft tortilla shell. And it's more than what a director of a movie yells when they film the final scene. In the financial services world, a wrap is another term for a banking innovation known as the Unified Management Account (UMA).

Up until recently, a money manager who was doing the bidding of his clients - to build a diverse portfolio of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds - would open up a separate account for each asset class. The UMA, or wrap account, allows the banker to place all of these diverse assets into one account. Doing so saves a lot of time and money. In turn, the bank has the ability to serve more clients, so it can be more profitable.

Indeed, the "wrap revolution" is an exciting development in how the financial services sector is evolving to meet the needs of its individual clients. It used to be that it was relatively inefficient for a bank to concentrate a lot of time on a single individual when it could be catering to a large institutional client instead. The development of innovative products like wrap accounts allow single consumers to get the kind of attention only the big institutional players would otherwise receive.

Continue reading "Automation Innovation Changes Banks" »

October 17, 2013

All the Right Money Moves

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 4:22 AM

Ben Milne: Breaking the Bank [Source:]

If you want something done right, do it yourself.

Let's all be honest here: Each of us has muttered this to ourselves at least once this week. Or maybe it was as recently as today. Either way, we sometimes have to rely on our own push and perseverance even though we work in large organizations where teamwork stands as one of our guiding principles.

If you ever get a chance to meet Ben Milne, a young entrepreneur from America's Midwest, he'll unabashedly tell you that his entrepreneurship has succeeded because he never waits for other people to pick up the slack. His philosophy is that if there isn't a business solution to a particular problem, solve the problem on your own. And then move on with confidence to the next set of seemingly impossible challenges.

Continue reading "All the Right Money Moves" »

September 30, 2013

What We Learned From the Global Economic Crisis

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 10:09 AM

Infosys Finacle Mobile Banking - Simple, Secure, Future -Ready [Source:]

Chances are you remember exactly where you were five years ago this month when the global economy began crashing down. "Financial Armageddon" was the term many an analyst and economist used to describe what happened during those frightening couple of weeks in September of 2008.

As with any traumatic event, we human beings tend to prefer not to think about what transpired. That's only natural. But if we can look back upon what led up to that meltdown and how our institutions handled it, we can learn a lot about how to prevent something like that from happening again. I think one of the positive things to have come out of the GEC is that banks are using technology in new and innovative ways, especially when it concerns their customers. Some aspects of mobile banking might be the keys to preventing another economic crisis.

First it helps to look at the crisis through both quantitative and qualitative lenses. If you view what happened quantitatively, a criticism might involve the sheer size of some of the banks - banks that were "too big to fail." Whatever your opinion on this matter, the American government made sure that many of those banks did not fail because of their Troubled Asset Relief Plan (or TARP). As a comparison, their neighbors to the north, the Canadian banks, tended to weather the crisis better because they'd taken fewer (and smaller) financial risks in the years leading up to the crisis.

Continue reading "What We Learned From the Global Economic Crisis" »

September 13, 2013

Consumers Can Win When Banks Change Course

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:16 AM

Reuters Breakingviews: How to stop banks treating customers like meat [Source:]

Stripped down to its most basic elements, banking is a fairly straightforward business. A bank can make money on interest rate spreads or the fees it charges its customers. Beyond that, everything else is icing on the cake.

For the better part of a decade, financial services firms have expanded mainly thanks to the second way: increasing their existing fees and coming up with new ones. Credit the overall sluggish nature of the global economy for this phenomenon. When one business line becomes more challenging, it's common sense to ramp up your other source of income.

Continue reading "Consumers Can Win When Banks Change Course" »

July 17, 2013

Winklevoss Brothers Reveal Plans For Bitcoin Trust

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 12:23 PM

Winklevoss Brothers Reveal Plans For Bitcoin Trust [Source: NewsMedia24]

Nobody ever said an innovative product on Wall Street assured immediate gratification.

Warren Buffett has tried to teach us otherwise. For decades he's been expounding Graham & Dodd's value investing mantra, initially to housewives in an Omaha classroom and eventually to the better part of the world. But it's easy to grow impatient with the Oracle of Omaha's measured approach to investing. If he can't immediately grasp how a business or a financial instrument operates, he tends to stay clear of it.

Being careful and investing with a long-term outlook is a trait that doesn't seem to sit well with some consumers in the digital age. They want immediate results and have grown accustomed to lightning fast transactions and communications. Why should the practice of investing be any different? Experiences created by the retail and internet businesses are spilling over to influence expectations from banking. People cannot wait over 30 seconds for a burger at their favorite fast food joint and are pampered by the likes of Google that delivers results even before a user completes her query. Little wonder, consumers expect instant gratification from everywhere. In fact, in the U.S, the average investment holding period dropped to less than 4 months in the year 2000 in contrast to nearly 16 years in the 60s-70s.

Continue reading "Winklevoss Brothers Reveal Plans For Bitcoin Trust" »

July 5, 2013

Could Anyone Be a Bank?

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:26 AM

Jimmy G's Restaurant Raising Money Through Crowdfunding [Source: ]

Too big to fail. We've heard this description uttered many times in the past few years by bankers and policy-makers alike. Some financial services institutions have become so enormous that if they were to go under, they'd pull many of us down with them.

Depending on your point of view, if a big bank is ailing then it pays to prop it up, at least until the bank can weather a financial storm or two. Another side of the argument is that the bank might operate more efficiently and need less outside assistance if it weren't so large.

Continue reading " Could Anyone Be a Bank? " »

June 12, 2013

Market Dominance through Inclusivity

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 12:03 PM

Airtel Money, powered by Infosys WalletEdge, pushes the limits of financial inclusion in India

Google recently announced a plan to help build and maintain wireless networks across the emerging markets. Doing so could connect Google's lucrative ad-based model to billions of people who have yet to experience an Internet connection. Of course, reaching billions of people in places like South Asia and Africa may take a while. But do we really have any doubt their next market will be in outer space? I am kidding, of course. Well, just a little... What I mean is that these guys at Google have a track record of aggressively protecting and enhancing their revenue model. If you've watched their success over the last decade or two, you realize that this company defines inclusivity as more than simply reaching far and wide. It's more about maximizing market reach through new markets and services and dominating the market they're already in. Google's market is inclusive of the connected world.

In fact this concept of 'inclusivity' fits neatly into our New Commerce theme. And, we've done significant work with developing and deploying products for use and consumption in the emerging markets. After all, we were born in an emerging market country. Our heritage provides a key advantage in becoming and remaining a top global corporation that is nimble and understands the needs of every market and geographical area.

Continue reading "Market Dominance through Inclusivity" »

May 28, 2013

Innovation is the Monetary Policy of Tomorrow

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:51 AM

Ben Bernanke to Grads: Innovation Is Our Nature [Source: Bloomberg ]

When the chairman of America's Federal Reserve - arguably one of the most powerful men on the planet - says he's not going to talk monetary policy, pay attention. That's one speech you won't want to miss. Ben Bernanke did indeed do such a thing at a commencement address recently at a small American liberal arts college. The business reporters in the audience were initially disappointed that Bernanke wouldn't be providing them clues as to where interest rates would be headed in the coming months. But those who listened to his fascinating address on the power of innovation came away with some terrific insights.

Of course, the Fed chairman aimed his remarks at a bunch of wide-eyed graduates, ready to brave the real world, get jobs, and make a difference in society. Bernanke addressed something a lot of folks have wondered about for the last few decades: Is this the end of a century-long economic boom? Are our best days of innovation and exciting, life-changing inventions behind us? If you compare your lifestyle with that of your grandparents, you might say yes. In their lifetimes, they enjoyed jet travel, nice cars, long distance telephone calls, and access to quality health care. Our lives aren't that different from what they experienced.

Continue reading "Innovation is the Monetary Policy of Tomorrow" »

May 6, 2013

Are Bitcoins the Next Major Tech Breakthrough?

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:50 AM

What is Bitcoin? [Source: weusecoins] 

Necessity is the mother of invention. Which is why I'm watching with great interest the growth in the popularity of the Bitcoin, a new digital currency.

Like much of what we deal with today - virtual friends on Facebook, virtual thank-you notes and party invitations on the Internet, and virtual construction projects via games like Sim City - the Bitcoin is a virtual currency. That is to say, these "coins" aren't stamped with a president's face and carried around in your pocket. It's an interesting concept. Long ago, it used to be that every paper dollar was backed up by a fixed amount of gold or silver in a depository like Fort Knox. So that even though the dollar was just a piece of paper with green ink on it, its value was pegged to a tangible, precious metal.

Continue reading "Are Bitcoins the Next Major Tech Breakthrough?" »

April 18, 2013

Changing Banking Methods to Stay the Same

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:33 AM

Airtel executives discuss how 'airtel money', powered by Infosys WalletEdge, pushes the limits of financial inclusion in India

The artist Willem de Kooning, a master of Abstract Expressionism, once said that he had to change in order to stay the same. He was speaking about his art, but I suppose a technology innovator could be in that same frame of mind when thinking about his inventions.
Technological innovations - the really good ones, at least - help us to live our lives to the fullest but without really noticing the technological interference. Consider for a moment the convergence of personal computers and mobile telephones. To the business world and to society in general, this development was profound. People could conduct business wherever they were because of the computational power of the communications devices in their hands. Yet as people and as businesses they were essentially the same. They communicated and computed for decades before convergence. They simply were able to do so in different ways and with little notice to the major technological changes that underscored it all.

Continue reading "Changing Banking Methods to Stay the Same" »

March 18, 2013

Balancing Compliance and Conversation

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:04 AM


Here's a mashup of findings from two separate studies on the social media behavior of banks. According to the first, which looked at the Twitter performance of over 300 U.S. retail banks, almost 22% of the accounts were either dormant or deactivated. About 50% tweeted less than once every 3 days and 1 in 10 managed fewer than 20 tweets over 12 months. The second, a study of 50 leading private banks found that one-third did not even have an active Facebook profile and only half of the remaining two-thirds responded to a test request. 

Continue reading "Balancing Compliance and Conversation" »

February 13, 2013

The Year of Big Data in Banking

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:59 AM

American retailer Target made a lot of headlines last year for figuring out that a teenager was pregnant, before her family did, simply based on her buying behavior. A poignant yet persuasive case for data analytics. 

Continue reading "The Year of Big Data in Banking" »

January 9, 2013

What's Hot. What's Not. For Banking in 2013

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 4:59 AM

Smart financial services institutions are looking closely at how to optimize what they do and how to provide stellar customer service. I can also see that in the following year, commercial banks will be thinking more about how to burnish their product lines. It's going to be an interesting 365 days ahead.

I do my banking with two regional banks. One bank gives away pocket calendars. The other gives away ballpoint pens. I, of course, see the sentiment behind both these customer-friendly gestures. And yet, I can also see that in the following year, commercial banks will be thinking less about stationery giveaways and more about how to burnish their product lines. That's because, while some banks are squeezed for revenues, all of them are facing another year in a slumping global economy.

Continue reading "What's Hot. What's Not. For Banking in 2013" »

December 28, 2012

Living Up to those Millennial Expectations

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:48 AM


Sometimes a literary or musical movement can define a generation. Bobbysoxers danced to Big Band music. The Beatniks wrote about people who came of age in the early 1950s. Then came rock and roll. By the 1990s, the author Douglas Copeland captured the concerns of the generation born in the late 1960s and '70s in a terrific book called "Generation X." Remember how corporations were suddenly referring to "Xers" in their marketing initiatives?

Continue reading "Living Up to those Millennial Expectations" »

December 21, 2012

Making Organizational Change Work

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:35 AM

The way we define business transformation can differ; but strategic enterprise-wide change programs that have a significant impact on the business typically go by that name. Such programs tend to focus on leveraging opportunities created by existing and changing markets, increasing efficiencies on a domestic or global plane; and creating fertile grounds for pro-growth strategies. Transformation can take two shapes; The first entails fundamental one-time change that generates a disruptive impact on business. These 'big bang' programs usually involve external players and majorly impact significant portions of the business across functions. Then there are those transformation programs that generate sustained but incremental improvement, creating cross functional performance improvement often including technology re-platforming.

Continue reading "Making Organizational Change Work" »

November 16, 2012

Ready to Rethink your Business Yet?

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 4:41 AM

infy blog_38 v01.jpg

The challenging business environment is clearly compelling organizations to think anew. Of course, most enterprises appreciate the need to 'rethink the business' but I am uncertain if we all pursue this agenda - down the ranks - with equal enthusiasm. With 'rethinking' perceived to be mostly synonymous with colossal structural alterations and deep-rooted changes in strategy, I suppose I won't be entirely incorrect in saying - several prefer to defer, delay or deny the inevitable not wanting to give up the comfort of the familiar or even perhaps risk business continuity. But rethinking the business need not necessarily be an agonizingly painful period before the enterprise emerges stronger in a happier future, as several of us may well imagine. It can be as simple as developing new or even just improved existing capabilities, with a holistic view of the larger business intent, through a framework for small but strategically significant multi disciplinary change.

Continue reading "Ready to Rethink your Business Yet?" »

October 29, 2012

The Magic in the Banking Process is Dying. So the Bank Can Resurrect

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:29 AM

infy_blog_28 2.jpg
The Karmic cycle of birth and death is at the heart of Hindu philosophy. And it seems to have spilled over to banking as well! The (pure) banking product has been pronounced dead by many a banker, and present day offerings are not the sole preserve of traditional banking establishments. It's the same story with services. Automation, virtualization, multi-channelization and the social Internet have made banking services highly self (service) driven.  The last to fall is the banking process. 

Continue reading "The Magic in the Banking Process is Dying. So the Bank Can Resurrect" »

October 8, 2012

Finacle Aspires to Leadership of a Higher Kind

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:41 AM

This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available here. Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

October has begun on a high. Gartner, Inc. has positioned Infosys as a Leader in the recently released 'Magic Quadrant for International Retail Core Banking 2012*' report for its Finacle™ core banking solution. The Leaders quadrant is occupied by vendors that demonstrate strong development methodologies, and all these vendors have a measurable strategy for disaggregating core banking software functionality into component-based constructs. Many vendors possess methodologies for quality assurance or are executing on a strategic road map to attain certification. Most vendors maintain a strong banking market understanding through methodical processes, and have extensive marketing delivery and sales channels. Although there are many well-balanced vendors/products in this quadrant, some are in transition and possess evolving products, process maturity or both. The report can be accessed here. While we are delighted and honored, we do realize that leadership vests us with great responsibility towards our customers, partners, other stakeholders. And also towards ourselves.

Continue reading "Finacle Aspires to Leadership of a Higher Kind" »

September 17, 2012

Bury Old Banking Service. Bring on the New.

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:48 AM


The ATM for cash withdrawal. The Internet for a checkbook request. The mobile for account balance. An app that deposits checks, transfers money and pays bills on the go. And now, the online automated investment advisory platform that promises an optimized, customized portfolio. Seems like there's no end to what self-service can do for banking.

Continue reading "Bury Old Banking Service. Bring on the New." »

August 31, 2012

Is the Banking Product Truly Dead? Or is it Born Again?

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:12 AM

With Q Coins, Linden Dollars, Sainsbury's loans and Airtel Money going around, who can bet against the decimation of traditional banking products? Or the end of banks' monopoly over them? The financial crisis added fuel to this fire by highlighting the dangers of reckless product innovation, forcing banks to trim and simplify their (sophisticated) product portfolios as well as make them more transparent. Banks continue to rationalize "regular" products to eliminate variants that aren't significantly different or don't have enough takers. So, does this mean that the fate of the banking product as we know it, is sealed? Maybe. Maybe not. But what's certain is:

Continue reading "Is the Banking Product Truly Dead? Or is it Born Again?" »

August 24, 2012

The bank is dead. Long live banking.

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 6:33 AM


Are predictions about the death of bank branches or even banks, exaggerated? Likely. But there's no denying the decimation of the bank, and especially the branch, as we know it: it is estimated that branch activity in the developed world is down by 90 percent compared to what it was around 20 years ago.  In his latest book, "Branch Today, Gone Tomorrow", bestselling (and controversial) author Brett King declares that his children might never need to enter a branch when they're older. I think he has a point.

Continue reading "The bank is dead. Long live banking." »

July 11, 2012

An open letter to the god of wealth!

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 7:53 AM

Respected one,

David Wolman, who's authored the latest Amazon-topper "The End of Money: Counterfeiters, Preachers, Techies, Dreamers--And the Coming Cashless Society", says there are no unbelievers in the religion of money.  I wonder if he realizes how literally we take his figurative pronouncement.

So, like Wolman, in advocating a move to a cashless society, I'm probably blaspheming. Do, forgive me. But, even You will agree that the avatar - of not-so-crisp-SARS-spreading currency notes and mineral depleting coins - is a little outdated. Not to mention distinctly environment-unfriendly. Permit Your devotee to suggest a cashless makeover that's a little more in keeping with the times.

Continue reading "An open letter to the god of wealth! " »

May 9, 2012

What mobile banking needs

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 8:51 AM

Abraham Maslow said that human beings must fulfill their (basic) need for air, food, water, sleep and other life-forces before they can move on to higher things. Actually, you can apply that logic to every aspect of life: fuel economy before interiors, fixed return before capital appreciation, home ownership before vacation...Must-have trumps nice-to-have every time.

Continue reading "What mobile banking needs" »

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