Why Fintech Will be The End of Traditional Banking

StrategyDriven Editorial Perspective Article |Fintech|Why Fintech Will be The End of Traditional BankingIt’s a brave new world out there. As always, technology is having a profound effect on the world around us and the way we navigate through life. Who would have thought 20 years ago we would be walking around with miniature computers in our pockets? That these devices would be able to connect to the other side of the world in mere seconds? That these devices would not be restricted sending across voices but would include rich video as well? And that these devices would become more than ‘just’ communication devices? That we would use them for reading news, our entertainment, to shop online, to order food, to book a cab, and to take care of more serious business, such as authentication and finances?

The latter has really found an accelerant in mobile devices and app development. The so-called Fintech industry has been made possible by the widespread ownership of smartphones and always-on connectivity. Driven by the question ‘why’ things are the way they are, Fintech is challenging the status quo, namely traditional banks, on ‘business as usual’. Why do you need a physical branch, why do you need paper statements, why do you need to deal with an organisation that is built around handling cash? These are some of the fundamental questions that Fintech businesses start with, which expose that the banking industry is woefully behind on the times. It’s nearly impossible to have multiple savings pots with a traditional bank, whereas this with app-focused Fintech companies is as easy as creating a folder on your computer.

If anything, Fintech is putting the customer central again. It tries to remove the hoops that consumers must jump through, just to be a client. A wider movement is noticeable beyond just online-only (app-based) banks, which can be seen in how people can get mortgages and loans. Take Credit Culture, for example, which helps you take out a loan as easy and responsible as it can be, fully automated and online. The human assessment element, which can be time-consuming and costly, is taken away and replaced with algorithms and machine learning, being able to offer better rates which are more customised to an individual’s situation. It’s this customer-centric approach the general audience is responding to and younger generations, millennials and Gen Z in particular, are flocking to these types of solutions, rather than going to a traditional bank. This hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Over the last few years, the traditional banks have started responding to this trend in the market and bringing their own Fintech-esque solutions. This is happening with varying degrees of success. The problem that traditional banks really have is that they still are held to the restrictions that make them a traditional bank in the first place. This means the capital expenditures they have (physical assets such as costly buildings), staff that needs to be paid, shareholders that need to be kept happy and much more.

And this is the core of Fintech and why it is transforming and disrupting how we will handle our finances today and in the future. It challenges the very heart of traditional banks, not in how the exterior looks, but in the way, it’s built, brick by brick, pixel by pixel.

How Is Tech Benefiting The Healthcare Industry?

The healthcare industry has seen a rise in the tech available to them in the last couple of years. The industry is benefiting greatly from all of the new tech that they can now use to diagnose and keep better patient records. You might be wondering how tech is doing this for the healthcare industry, and you’re not alone. In this article, we are going to be looking at some of the benefits that tech has brought to this industry in recent years.

StrategyDriven Editorial Perspective | Healthcare | Business Technology
 
Improving Efficiency

One of the biggest benefits is that efficiency has been improved, and is still improving. Items like portable ultrasound machines make it possible to move the equipment instead of the patient which can save a lot of time. You know if you have been in a hospital how busy it is, and how manic it can get. This is why improving efficiency is always a goal, and one that tech happily obliged to.

Using tablets instead of or alongside paper records has made keeping patients data safe much more manageable. Now, people can’t just come in and pick up a medical history without having the proper authority. As well as this, it is far easier to lose paper copies of patient files than it is to lose that which is on a tablet. Having all the tablets linked means that any doctor or nurse can access a patient file without having to dig through mountains of paperwork.

Faster Results

With tech evolving all the time, getting the results from a test can be a lot quicker. This means that patient care can be given faster, which in some cases could save a life. Anybody who knows about the medical profession knows that it can be a case of seconds between life and death. With improved speeds of getting medical test results, patients can be treated more quickly, and given the best chance possible.

Easier Diagnosis

The more advanced the equipment, the better the imaging. This the case with items such as a portable ultrasound machine. With crystal clear imaging, it can be easier for doctors to see, and therefore diagnose what the issue is with the patient. Previously, it had been known to happen that something that looked like an issue could have been a spot on the machine, but with new tech coming in to play, the room for error here is significantly reduced.

Growing Medical Practices

Thanks to a lot of new medical equipment being available, it is a lot easier for doctors to grow their medical practices. This means that they can see and treat more patients, as the equipment is readily available to do so. By doing this, patients no longer have to go out of their way to go to a medical practice, because the one closest to them is full.

We hope that you have found this article useful, and now know some of the ways in which tech has been benefiting the healthcare industry. These are just a few of the benefits, if you want to know more, you can find these online.

Keep On Truckin’? The Future Of The Haulage Industry

At this moment in time, many entrepreneurs are concerned about the welfare of their businesses that are, seemingly, being left in the past. The trucking industry is one of those. If you are managing a small freight, or your employees have concerns about being usurped by autonomous driverless trucks, what does the future of the trucking industry hold?

Are Drivers Being Put Out Of Jobs?

Because so many of the modern approaches to the any industry is hedging its bets on automation, and with the advent of driverless trucks on the horizon, the average truck driver is, naturally, very concerned about their earning potential. But, the overarching ideal with driverless trucks is that it’s not meant to put people out of jobs, but rather make those that already work in the industry operate far safer. Of course, it’s not all going to be automated, we’re going to need people to refuel the vehicles, react in emergency situations, and so forth.

Are The Rules And Regulations Going To Change?

As it stands, the industry looks like it’s going to operate in the same capacity as it ever did. For any startup business looking to trade in the trucking industry, the standardized documents, such as the freight broker bond and so forth, are still going to be commonplace. The rules and regulations of the modern trucking industry are looking to stay in place for the near future. But of course, as automation rears its head and becomes more commonplace, this does bring up a lot more quibbles as far as monitoring the machinery is concerned. But in the meantime, this is quite difficult to regulate because there is such a big transition period occurring, from the humanized aspect, through to the automated approach. Luckily, there are trucking permit services and similar resources to help navigate the rules and regulations.

Does It Make Your Entrepreneurial Role Easier?

There are changes on the horizon, that you may very well be concerned that it’s going to make your role far more difficult. This isn’t the intention. With automation, the trucking industry is going to be far more self-sufficient. The idea behind automating every aspect of the trucking industry, not just the trucks themselves, but the loading and unloading, is supposed to make the entire process cost-effective, but also safer. Yes, this should mean an easier life for any entrepreneur, but as we all know, machinery breaks down on occasion. So this does make many workers naturally reticent to embracing automation completely. But, the idea behind a lot of these processes is to imbue the human and the non-human aspects together perfectly. So in this respect, it should make life easier for you.

As a business opportunity, the trucking industry is very much up in the air at the moment, because it’s undergoing so many potentially drastic changes. But for the dynamic and new age entrepreneur, there has never been a better time to take advantage of all this changing technology and major developments, not just in the trucking industry, but the automation of every industry. As a business opportunity, it’s imperative that you get on board this exciting time now. And for those who are already concerned within the industry, it’s time to roll with the changes.

StrategyDriven Editorial Perspective – Good Intentions, Bad Results: Learning from the Panic of 1826

Good Intentions, Bad Results: Learning from the Panic of 1826They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. In 1825, to deal with the “Indian Problem,” the US Congress formed a region known as “Indian Country,” lands West of the Mississippi (today Oklahoma). Their intentions were good.

“The removal of the tribes from the territory which they now inhabit would not only shield them from impending ruin, but promote their welfare and happiness,” President James Monroe told Congress on January 27. He went so far as to say that without a defined Indian country “their degradation and extermination will be inevitable.”

It’s heartening to know that at least some of the President’s contemporaries could see through his good intentions. New York County District Attorney Hugh Maxwell and twelve other prominent New Yorkers wrote in a pamphlet published in1825 that “the American Indians, now living upon lands derived from their ancestors and never alienated or surrendered, have a perfect right to the continued and undisturbed possession of these lands,” and the “removal of any nation of Indians from their country by force would be an instance of gross and cruel oppression.”

History was not on Mr. Maxwell’s side, nor with his attempts to reform the financial industry a few years later. His prosecution of the Life & Fire Insurance Company, whose owners Jacob Barker, et al perpetuated a fraud that led to the Panic of 1826, resulted in a hung jury. (Eventually, Mr. Maxwell’s efforts did lead to comprehensive reform, including: financial reporting requirements, accounting standards, and defined roles & responsibilities for directors, according to Professor Eric Hilt in a paper about the Panic of 1826.)

Mr. Maxwell’s rationality was no match for his era’s good intentions. For what lead Life & Fire’s directors to commit fraud in the first place was in part driven by a desire (so they claimed) to extend credit to high-risk borrowers being ignored by traditional banks. When those borrowers started to default en masse, fraud appeared to be the only way to repay their investors, but unfortunately, even that didn’t work.

Why was an insurance company doing a bank’s work? In the 19th century, banking was the most profitably industry in America, and incumbent banks fought hard to protect their profits. To open a new one involved special-act charters and bitter legislative battles. Would-be owners required both political and financial capital, which few had in equal measure.

Enterprising merchants like Mr. Barker started circumventing these laws by forming insurance companies whose charter empowered them to lend their capital. In so doing, they created a new financial product called a post note. A typical post note transaction went as follows: a borrower approached an insurance company and requested a six-month IOU of $1000, minus a discount of say 3%. The borrower would then sell the discounted $970 post note on the money market, also paying a discount to the post note purchaser of say $30, receiving $940 in cash.

After six months, the borrower would repay the insurance company’s IOU of $1000. The insurance company would repay the money market investor’s post note of $970, yielding a $30 profit for both the insurance company and the investor.

While rates and terms varied, it was not unusual for post notes to trade at yields of 2 percent per month or more, compared to banks that were lending at yields of five percent per year, Professor Hilt’s research found. Needless to say, these products were very profitable as long as default rates were low.

But higher yield meant higher risk, since borrowers who sought out post notes did so because they did not qualify for the less expensive credit from traditional banks. Despite their dubious quality, the corporate guaranty by the insurance company created a sense that the investments were safe. This combination of high yield and seemingly low risk sparked a credit boom.

“The judge the lawyer the doctor the clergy the widow the trustee of orphans all fell into the common vortex of investing in these bonds,” Life and Fire Insurance Company director Jacob Barker wrote in a letter in 1827.

Like post notes, what made sub-prime mortgage-backed securities (MBS) so attractive to investors during the boom years was their high yield and perceived low risk. Unlike 1826, where the secondary market was created by the private sector, our government in many ways created the secondary market that gave sub-prime loans both the cash and perceived safety they needed to expand.

This was all done with good intentions. Looking to increase the homeownership rate and “foster affordable housing,” the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) department issued regulations that required 55% of all government sponsored entities (GSEs) to purchase “affordable” loans from banks, either directly or through packaged MBS.

Most of these “affordable” loans were in fact sub-prime, “for persons with blemished or limited credit histories,” and “carry a higher rate of interest than prime loans to compensate for increased credit risk,” according to HUD.gov. In 2009, forty percent of mortgages were sub-prime according to Forbes.com.

By 2007, Fannie Mae and Freddie Max held $227 billion (one in six loans) in nonprime (aka subprime) pools, and approximately $1.6 trillion in low-quality loans altogether, according to Forbes.com and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

“That was a huge, huge mistake,” said Patricia McCoy, who teaches securities law at the University of Connecticut. “That just pumped more capital into a very unregulated market that has turned out to be a disaster.”

Nonetheless, when the crisis hit in the Fall 2008, the financial world seemed to be blind-sided. “It’s a new financial world on the verge of a complete reorganization,” said Peter Kenny, managing director at Knight Equity Markets in Jersey City, New Jersey.

But was it a new financial world? In many ways, looking back to the Panic of 1826, we see ourselves looking back at us. Both were defined by financial innovations that seemed to defy the natural law of risk and reward, by promising a high yield and low risk. Both crises fooled investors into believing that transferring risk is the same thing as removing it. Both crises were made worse by the good intention that lending money to people who can’t pay it back is good for society. Both crises proved it’s not.

In our time, the implosion of the subprime lending market “has left a scar on the finances of black Americans,” the Washington Post reported in 2012, “that not only wiped out a generation of economic progress but could leave them at a financial disadvantage for decades.” (HUD.gov studies reveal that African-Americans are one-and-a-half times more likely to have a subprime loan than persons in white neighborhoods.)

Like the comprehensive financial reforms made after the 1826 panic, we can be reasonably sure that the numerous reforms issued after our own will fail to avert another crisis. This is because financial regulation cannot address the cause of financial crises that lives in our mirror. As long as there are borrowers who can’t see through good intentions, and take on more debt then they can repay, there will be financial crises.

Real financial reform means living within our means, and abiding by the natural law of risk and reward. With the rising default rate on student loans, the increasing popularity of sub-prime auto loans, I fear that we have not yet learned our lesson. I’m confident we will eventually, but like our predecessors, it may have to be the hard way.


About the Author

Cara WickCara Wick writes about American financial and political history at www.bankersnotes.com. She holds a BA from Williams College and an MBA from the University of Iowa. Cara can be reached at [email protected].

StrategyDriven Editorial Perspective – Panic of 1907 vs Great Recession of 2008

Panic of 1907 vs Great Recession of 2008This year, 2013, marks the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve System, and central bankers are taking a historical perspective. That is “good advice in general,” Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told attendees at the Fourteenth Jacques Polak Annual Research Conference, in Washington, D.C earlier this month.

“An appreciation of the parallels between recent and historical events greatly influenced how I and many of my colleagues around the world responded to the crisis,” Mr. Bernanke said.

He went on to describe the similarities between the banking crisis of 1907 – the one that inspired the formation of the Federal Reserve – and the more recent 2008 financial crisis.

Both fit the archetype of a classic financial panic, Bernanke said. Both crises started in an economy in recession and both suffered from a sudden lack of liquidity.

In 1907, money was tight in part due to the rebuilding of San Francisco. After the Bank of England raised its discount rate, causing more gold to flow out of the US, New York was left with unusually low monetary reserves just as it entered the cash-intensive harvest season, explained Ellis Tallman and Jon Moen in a 1990 article about the Panic in the Atlanta Fed’s Economic Review.

In the more recent crises, Bernanke explained, liquidity started to dry up when housing prices declined, and subprime mortgage defaults rose in 2007. As the underwriting weaknesses of subprime portfolios became known, banks stopped lending to each other, paralyzing credit markets. By 2008, losses from these portfolios were causing banks to fail.

In both crises, a tinder-dry credit environment made them vulnerable to sparks. In 1907, the fire started when F. Augustus Heinze and C.F. Morse tried and failed to corner the stock of the United Copper Company. The investigation into the scam revealed an intricate web of corrupt bankers and brokers. (Heinze was president of Mercantile National Bank, and Morse served on seven New York City bank boards.) When the president of the second largest trust in the country was implicated in the copper cornering con, depositors started a run on Knickerbocker Trust.

Without a central bank, the availability of liquidity depended on the discretion of firms and private individuals, Bernanke explained. The Lehman Brothers moment of 1907 came when New York’s financiers, led by J.P. Morgan, were unable to value the trusts, and refused to ‘bail out’ Knickerbocker. (Unregulated and a relatively new innovation, trusts were the ‘toxic assets‘ of the 1907 crises. Trusts, however, were financed by consumer deposits, while the toxic asset of 2008 were securities contracts held by investment banks.)

Their refusal prevented other institutions from offering aid, and depositors started a massive run on banks and trusts, exacerbating the liquidity crises. (In 2008 a loss of confidence in the banking system did not turn into a consumer run on banks primarily because of FDIC deposit insurance.)

Morgan et al realized that a failure of the trusts could spread to the entire financial system, and they ultimately convinced John D. Rockefeller and others to pony up enough cash to stabilize the markets.

Similarly, American lawmakers eventually agreed that failure of the nation’s largest financial institutions was not an option, and passed the $700 billion Trouble Asset Relief Program in October 2008 (reduced to $475 billion by the Dodd-Frank Act). This program was designed “to strengthen market stability, improve the strength of financial institutions, and enhance market liquidity,” according to the Federal Reserve.

A major difference between the two crises, that I can see, is the popular perception of these liquidity liberators. In 1907, Senator Nelson Aldrich called the actions of JP Morgan and crew heroic. In his arguments for centralized banking reprinted in the New York Tribune, he warned that without it “men may not be found in another emergency with the patriotism, courage and capacity of those who in this crisis rendered such inconspicuous and invaluable service to the financial interests of this country.”

But in the 2008 crisis, when taxpayers rendered this very same “invaluable service,” people stormed the streets in protest. From the tea party conservative to the Wall Street occupier, hatred of the bailouts was met with bipartisan vehemence.

So why is it that when a handful of wealthy individuals restore liquidity to a broken system they are courageous patriots, but when it’s taxpayer’s, lawmakers are voted out of office? Perhaps the vehemence comes from how the money was used. In 1907, it was to save consumer’s retail deposits, in 2008 corporate wholesale funds.

As Bernanke explains in his speech, seeking to stem the panic in wholesale funding markets, in 2008 the Fed “extended its lender-of-last-resort facilities to support nonbank institutions such as investment banks.” This had little direct impact on consumers. As Fed governor Daniel Tarullo recently said “the savings of most U.S. households are generally not directly at risk in short-term wholesale funding arrangements.”

In 1907, on the other hand, ending bank runs meant “widows on the corner” could cash their checks, shop-owners could feed their families.

Another problem with the 2008 solution, from the popular perspective, was the moral hazard it created.

Senator Aldrich worried that courageous individuals might be hard to find in a financial emergency, and it appears he was right to worry. Senior executives in 2008 were not interested in rendering an inconspicuous service to the financial interests of the country. They didn’t even want to forego their bonuses. But in trying to account for the rarity of courage, lawmakers in 1913 may have created a system that prevents it from emerging.

A July 2013 Congressional research report articulates a challenge for today’s central bankers. “Although ‘too big to fail’ (TBTF) has been a perennial policy issue, it was highlighted by the near-collapse of several large financial firms in 2008… If a TBTF firm believes that the government will protect them from losses, they have less incentive to monitor the firm’s riskiness because they are shielded from the negative consequences of those risks.”

In 1907, the wealthy elite pooled their resources to prevent the failure of banks and trusts, saving millions in consumer deposits. In so doing they bore the brunt of the consequences of their risks, and Americans considered them heroes for it.


About the Author

Cara WickCara Wick writes about American financial and political history at www.bankersnotes.com. She holds a BA from Williams College and an MBA from the University of Iowa. Cara can be reached at [email protected].