Small countries have many disadvantages - small home markets, small languages, smaller skill pools and smaller resources - to mention a few.
But they also have advantages - better opportunities for networking, smaller vested interest groups, better public-private co-operation, better agility - that they can benefit from - subject of course to having leadership that creates enthusiasm, co-operation
and open standards. We have seen good examples of this - Singapore, Taiwan, Estonia - and when it comes to the digitalizing banking, payments and financial administration - Finland.
Bigger countries should use these as laboratories - see what works and how standards and services evolve - to form stepping stone after stepping stone (layers) towards a fully
automated real time financial administration. All with natural links to the other side of the coin - e-commerce and e-government services.
Looking back it all started somewhere in the 60s -
1st Layer: a centralised but centerless strongly standardized payment service that created
standards for giro payments, payment references, file transfers, account statements replacing separate receipts, salary payments to bank accounts, bank cards, ATM-operations - to mention a few early ones.
This strong tradition continued later with standards for Edifact, e-invoicing, e-salary, e-commerce-payments, e-id services and many ISO20022 initiatives.
2nd Layer: The above enabled fast development of e-banking- as payments were the first services. E-banking for large corporates was launched in 1979, SME and home-banking in 1982. Foreign payments and in practise all transaction services
were available in PC-banking well before Internet.
3rd Layer: If the above created the base for cutting the cost of transaction banking in half the 3rd layer (using e-banking) started to build the base for
cutting SME-administration cost in half. Here services like e-commerce payments, e-id services, e-invoicing, e-salary created entirely new and hugely useful ecosystems.
4th Layer: e-invoicing and e-id ecosystems (but also e-salary and e-payments) created the base for the next target: Ecosystem for fully automated and towards real time accounting, cash flow estimates and public sector reporting (VAT, anti-grey-economy etc
etc). This holds enormous productivity, service improvement and stuctured big-data potential - especially as row specific EAN code card payment transactions can be obtained directlly from POS in e-invoice format!
5th Layer: building on real time accounting, real time cash flow estimates, real time ownership information from CDS-services and the national income register
finance processes will be automated both for the SME-sector on and off balance sheet financing, housing loans and other consumer finance. This will of course also support risk evaluation for investments, partner evaluation etc.
Layers 4 and 5 are now in focus and much is happening every week. Interesting? Say No More.... Keep watching this space..and feel free to copy.