A personal finance columnist for the NZ Herald

Inside Money: How to share and enjoy finance again

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

'Enjoy banking again' is just about one of the weirdest marketing slogans I've ever seen: I don't ever recall enjoying filling out deposit slips or waiting in queues or arguing with a person behind a plexiglass panel about cheque clearance times.

In the digital era, of course, I don't have to do any of the above activities but banking still isn't enjoyable.

And even Westpac's proposed "Host Card Emulation mobile payment system", part of the move to a so-called 'digital wallet', won't inject any joy into the process - for me, anyway.

Westpac isn't digitising for fun, though. As Westpac's chief product officer, Shane Howell, told the NZ Herald, banking is facing "massive digital disruption", which threatens the status quo.

Indeed, the major Aussie banks expressed their fears about being undermined by digital rivals in submissions to the recent Australian Financial System, according to this report on IT News Australia.

"The big four banks all highlighted concerns that new, unregulated competitors - such as mobile wallet providers like PayPal and Google and alternate currencies like Bitcoin - risk upsetting consumer confidence in the stability of Australia's financial system," the IT News story says.

"Westpac told the inquiry that while it supported the entrance of new players in the market, all financial services needed to be subject to the same prudential regulation in order to avoid risks associated with disruption of service."

And the digital disrupters do dream big, with Bitcoin's plan for world domination the most well-publicised example. But there are other, even more ambitious techie plots being hatched to hijack the financial establishment.

Bitshares, for instance, promises to, amongst other items, to : "Eliminate the middle men, overhead and bloated profits of traditional banks."

"The project isn't completed though, and honestly, it will be interesting to see how this whole thing pans out," Bitshares cheerfully admits.

But the company, or 'community' as it prefers to be known as, reckons it could pan out that we all become mini-financial institutions, using the 'Bitshares ME' protocol.

"BitShares ME is going to represent a way for a people to issue personal shares in themselves, similar to how a company might use startup funds from an IPO to kickstart themselves, this technology will make it possible for a person who is able to convince others that they would be a good investment to kickstart whatever it is they're plotting," Bitshares says. "Such a person may not even need to monetize their plans to make their stock go up, it could be about how the investing public perceives that person's worth to the world."

Share and enjoy.

- NZ Herald

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A personal finance columnist for the NZ Herald

David is a freelance journalist who has covered the financial services business on both sides of the Tasman for over 15 years. He is the editor of industry website Investment News. David has edited magazines and websites for the financial advice, investment and superannuation industries.

Read more by David Chaplin

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