Archive for April, 2007

Your bank or mine? – Consolidation on one side, disruption on the other?

While takeover on ABN Amro is far from over, there is a growing consensus in the community that this is the first movement of a consolidation in the banking market in the euro area. It should be noted that this trend is just starting almost 8 years after the introduction of the euro in 1999. Probably, the fact that financial movements between different countries within euro-land is still very low has been a good reason for not doing this consolidation sooner. The initiative of establishing a SEPA (single euro-payment area) has probably been on the other hand a clear signal, that could prove strong enough to initiate the aforementioned continent-wide herd effect. All in all, we are witnessing the impact of a political decision in an heavily regulated industry.

What strikes me in comparison is that there has been very few “cross-currency” mergers in the banking industry so far. In the same time, candidate-behemoths like PayPal have been able to snap cross-currency payments from traditional players. My point is that even though cross-border payments are still very low compared to domestic transfers, I won’t shock anyone by anticipating that they should continue to grow in the future thanks to the Internet. Since financial institutions seem to be very slow at moving from their domestic operations to seize synergies on wider scales, I think there is plenty of room for new companies to take the currently small and underserved market of cross-currency financial movements. Every signs of a market ready for disruption, don’t you think?

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VentureCamp in Rome

VentureCamp logo

I just discovered this initiative: a BarCamp on Venture Capital in Rome. Quite a pleasant prospect!!!

I hope all the success for this first VentureCamp. Depending on the date (late May / early June at this time), I may join the event to enjoy Rome and I’m sure lively discussions on the subject of venturing. I would also use the opportunity to promote some of the projects we’re having at the BarCampBank and in particular the P2PVenture project.

Would you rather be paid through PayPal or Visa?

It could be funny to ask the same question at significant intervals in time.

 I first asked myself the question above for online payments a while ago, when PayPal appeared on the radars (at least when it reached mine). At the time, I definitely answered Visa. What, who is this PayPal? OK, this looks great but can I trust them to deliver flawlessly any payments (something that does not seem to be the case even as of today)? Then, should I open an account since when Visa decides to move on, who will use PayPal anylonger? So I decided to ask people to send credit card details and entered the information on my credit card processing machine.

 Then, I asked myself a second time later on, when the need for regular online payments became more pressing. OK, I really need something that would look like what PayPal is doing. What? Visa still does not offer anything similar and ask for cumbersome procedures to get online payments. Grrr, I do not really like it, but seems that I should go with PayPal; I could always switch later on when Visa offers the same level of service. I’ll have to bite the bullet and any associated sunk costs, but I can not wait for ever.

Lately, I asked myself the same question again (intellectually). Would I rather be paid through PayPal or Visa? OK, what am I talking about? What Visa’s got to do with online payments???

Free Digital Money

Did you ever wish you had absolute powers? And among these the ultimate regal power: the power to mint your own currency? Thanks to Free Digital Money, this is now something within your reach. FDM lets your create your own currency and do things like mint coins, withdraw, deposit and revoke them.

This is currently an experimental project and I hope this will create a lot of brainstorming and cross-pollination. I see close connections with P2PMoney, our open-project at BarCampBank for a payment pooling and revenue sharing platform.

While the notion of private digital currency is not new (cf. Linden dollars), it is interesting to see the outcome such a tool could make by easing implementation in a multitude of novel situations. I was just thinking this morning that it could be fun to see a company use its own internal currency for its internal bargaining processes: I come to your meeting if you pay me 100 Acme dollars. Of course, in that case, internal monetary mass would have to be thoroughly controlled to avoid devastating inflation: invite me to your meeting this week, while you can still afford me.