Will state involvement in bank ownership stifle innovation at those groups that have taken bail-out money? As banks step back from serving the low end of the economy, which is perceived as too risky, will governments have to step in and offer basic financial
products to this sector of the economy?
I had an interesting discussion over breakfast at a roundtable organised by Logica yesterday, and these were some of the questions and themes that came up.
On the first point, the consensus was that business strategies at "kite marked" banks will be affected, but there could still be innovation within the new constraints. Even still, a divide is likely to emerge between newly government backed and independent
banks in Europe.
On the latter point, it's a possibility - but one that will be determined by political considerations.
Some other predictions for 2009:
- Global transaction banking businesses will continue to be strong. It's a scale/volume business and payments traffic is up (particularly driven by volatile markets). But business will continue to concentrate to the large global players.
- To better serve corporate customers there will be more focus on traditional trade finance products and services linked to the real economy - letters of credit, invoice factoring, bank guarantees etc.
- New entrants in the consumer financial services area will find themselves increasingly regulated in a similarly strict manner to which banks have become accustomed. But there will be more regulation for everyone.
- Any remaining well capitalised banks (and potentially non-bank financial service providers) will find good opportunities for insourcing or acquiring businesses - particularly ones that don't fit the back to basics approach that will be instilled by new
government stakeholders of bailed-out institutions.
Thanks to Jerry Norton, Simon Bailey, Peter Guldentops and the rest of the Logica team, TowerGroup's Bob McDowall, outgoing EPC chair Stewart Mackinnon and my fellow journos for a lively discussion.