Latest Commentary

Mobile payments await the future

With a couple taps and a wave of the cellphone at checkout, your items are purchased, receipts are electronically received and stored and expense tracking applications are adjusted to incorporate the latest purchases into the monthly budget. That is the future that banks, wireless carriers, retailers and online powerhouses like Google and PayPal are jockeying to define.

Senate 'conflicts of interest' hearings draws conflicts of opinion

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations is holding a hearing today on the topic of "Conflicts of Interest, Investor Loss of Confidence, and High Speed Trading in U.S. Stock Markets." The six panelists scheduled to testify will probably put forth a variety of opinions. On blogs, media sites and newspaper columns, others are already weighing in.

Will Apple disintermediate banks from mobile payment?

For a while now, parties interested in mobile payment have been eyeing the space to see what will be the catalyst to take mobile payment to the next level. Apple, because of the iPhone's dominance in the mobile phone market and the loyalty of its user base, is viewed as having the potential to be that game changer.

Data analytics and a lopsided 80-20 rule

In making the case for why data analytics is essential, Accenture's global managing director for financial services analytics says many banks reap benefit from an even smaller percentage of their customer base than popular conception suggests.


Andreessen sees bitcoin as the 'big breakthrough'

Is Bitcoin a currency of thieves or a potentially game-changing foundation for future ecommerce? Marc Andreessen, the tech entrepreneur who rose to fame as one of the founders of Netscape, takes the latter view, going as far as to say that in 20 years we will be talking about bitcoin the way now talk about the Internet.


Are there too many regulators in the kitchen?

Beginning even before a certain best-selling book hit stores, the issue of high-frequency trading seemed to interest a broad spectrum of prosecutors and regulators. N.Y. Attorney General Eric Schniederman made it a pet cause and the U.S. Attorney for New York has filed charges. Meanwhile, there are financial regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission and, in the futures and options market, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, to name a few.

How much should alpha cost?

If a trader spends large amounts of money to get a proportionally small amount of alpha, is that successful or inefficient? Brian Mannix, a George Washington University professor referred to on page 174 of "Flash Boys," recently wrote an article on TabbFORUM about the inefficiency of high-frequency trading that drew a fair amount of comments both for and against his argument. Whenever an article sparks a healthy back and forth of debate, it's worth looking at in more detail.

Will the HFT debate put regulators at odds?

While speaking at the Options Industry Council last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission's Gregg Berman defended the regulatory agency from critics and "maybe an attorney general" who might think "regulators are very behind the times and can't keep up with market participants," according to Bloomberg.


Morgan Stanley's change to financial advisor compensation

Last week a Reuters exclusive reported that Morgan Stanley has sharply adjusted compensation for financial advisers who make money "riding the calendar" of new stock and bond issuances. In other words, the firm is apparently cutting compensation for brokers when more than 70 percent of a client's business comes from sales of new issues.

Data analytics, the user experience and the traditional pillars of finance

A paper released earlier this month makes some interesting predictions about the future of financial services. The same technology eroding some of the traditional ways financial firms provide services and profit from risk might also be a key differentiator in a reconfigured market.