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Business Potential of Social Networks in Finance Services

I have been thinking a lot recently about networks and the sheer frustration and costs that abound in financial markets because the current market structures simply don’t work on any satisfactory level and are fraught with legacy technology, thinking and protective, vested interests. I have raised the question of why SWIFT is never challenged. In fact although many experts in the financial markets talk sense most of the time, some seem to have a mental block when it comes to SWIFT.

SWIFT is not sacrosanct and should not be put on a pedestal, aloof from the problems and solutions that afflict the market today. SWIFT should be challenged like any other entity in the market and I know many people within SWIFT would welcome a more dynamic debate about its future. It’s the sort of debate that goes on in all successful businesses, with a continual reassessment of products, services and values to keep the business progressing. For most businesses over the last 30 years a plodding protective approach would have got the death bell tolling. Unfortunately SWIFT is suffering because it is almost unquestioned and therefore unchallenged.  This leads to a false supposition of what it is. It’s like a self-indoctrination, leading to an almost zealot like protection of the organisation and this is very unhealthy.

Having opened up the challenge to SWIFT, what might be an imagined future?

What if social networking sites were to enter the financial services industry, providing direct connectivity between market structure organisations, financial institutions and the consumers?

Equally Google could enter the market network business and provide a standardised data model. It has already created the Google checkout facility and numerous other aps, which are utilised by many businesses. The important thing to consider is all these social networks and search engines have an almost limitless capacity of membership and connectivity, between all areas of society and market.

How difficult would it be for payment messages to be input through a Facebook account and arrive as a receivable within the relevant bank? In fact the banks would hardly have to be involved in the issuance of instructions, just process the payment into the account. The account could be run by the consumer via their mobile, (aps for this already exist). For securities transactions the settlement process would be equally curtailed to process the result rather than handle the instruction. The instruction would become an operation of point to point by users. All be it with an agent probably involved.

What this would do is open up financial services to the world and the consumer, leading to consumers/investors taking more control of their financial transactions. However, I’m sure a healthy majority will still prefer to pay someone to do it, but the point is that this could create a globally connected network inclusive of all participants.

I know this is pretty simplistic, but why not explore the potential and think about how financial markets can take advantage of the facilities currently available and those being developed and do something really imaginative and highly rewarding to the pocket.      


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