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Moving the deckchairs at CSFI

So farewell then David Lascelles, the former banking editor of the Financial Times who co-founded respected City think tank The Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation with Andrew Hilton in 1993. After 14 years at the helm of CSFI, Lascelles is taking up a backroom position as a senior fellow.

Over the years the CSFI has forged a reputation as one of the more literate and in-touch City research houses, turning out thoughtful papers on business, regulatory and technology issues and staging useful seminars on emerging market issues.

So, which City luminary has been selected to fill Lascelle's shoes at the CSFI? Step forward Tim Jones, a former head of retail banking at NatWest and the man behind the Mondex electronic cash system, and failed mobile payments company SimPay.

The appointment is a sure sign of the singular importance of technology in the 21st century banking markets. Jones - a former punk-rocker with z-list outfit The Deckchairs - is one of the most forward-thinking figures in the modern banking industry. He championed Mondex as a chip card-based replacement for small value cash transactions long before his more conservative peers had switched on to the possibilities. Simpay was another ahead-of-its time proposal, espousing the creation of a pan-European mobile payment system run by wireless network operators. The venture failed to get off the ground after the withdrawal of founder member T-Mobile in June 2005.

With Jones now taking up the cudgels at the CSFI we can expect more blue sky thinking and adventurous output from the City's leading think tank. Watch out for his first paper, set for publication later this year, which will highlight six emerging technology threats to the traditional banking business. It should make for uncomfortable reading.



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