I have seen the light or more accurately 'retail banking' at the speed of light. Natural, easy, safe, private - the way the customer wants it. So fast it's invisible - you don't even see an internet bank.
It isn't in a new banking product, although one of the many things it does do - is replace internet and retail banking, cards, passwords, PINS and pretty well all of the other dinosaur droppings that constitute retail banking as we know it.
If it weren't that it is so deliciously easy and cosily safe and private, and fast, and equally appreciated by both young SMS'ers and older generation test subjects, then I probably wouldn't be so excited.
It's not about 'banking', it's about service and paying attention to what your customers want. That might be to remember the shopping list (of stuff which will have to be paid for at some point), or remind you to pick up Johnny from music lessons
(and pay his teacher). It could be to buy shares, transfer money between accounts, tell the hospital you are insured, or prove that you are a kid on a chat site. It has no borders.
I know, we have stuff that can do most of these things, albeit rather 'clunkily' and expensively but it is the integration of them into one simple and natural, yet secure, interface that really changes things. For a consumer it's the difference between having
to configure all your software and apps, or throwing them away and just doing it naturally. The way humans really like to do things in their 'language'.
No apps required, yet of course there will be a plethora of apps plugging into the core. It may change the way we reward musicians, even possibly pay a little for other things we now get for 'free', like online newspapers and social networking services but
perhaps paying a little to get good service everywhere may trump just paying your bank a lot to get mediocre service and poor security.
Think a fat man like the Mac ads with fat wallet, bulging briefcase and laptop, in a task race against the kid with the sneakers and iphone, or in this case any phone. Done and dusted. Before he even gets his security dongle out of his briefcase. Of course
if the iphone kid uses his bank's app, he'll still be waiting to hookup while a third kid with the his old Nokia or new Pre just toasts them both.
10 seconds to pay your electricity, give one of the kids some cash in their mobile account (which they can't spend at the liquor store or pub) and book and pay for and receive tickets to a concert with your reward points. Not a bank, cheque, credit or debit
card, internet bank, PIN or password in sight and forget talking to anyone or a voice-recognition gizmo.
One thing that really irks me is that where I live, in Australia, the cost of telecommunications network infrastructure is something like
7 times what it costs us in the US. When I called them they tried to sell me something I didn't need at all for 20 times the OS price. Makes it a tough road to innovation in Oz. That doesn't mean the banks can relax...
What are you going to do about that Kev?
I mean for business, the national broadband plan isn't the cure for this.
As to why the cost of telecommunications is ludicrous in Australia, and not far behind in Hong Kong, Israel and Argentina, I don't know, but it obviously has nothing to do with supply and demand. It's looking decidedly 'viva la France' for the lions share
at the moment, with the US and the UK trailing closely.