Facebook is my bank and Apple is my broker
Besides making sure that decades-old IT and up-to-the second market data are running and flowing, CIOs are in charge of far simpler stuff like smartphones, tablets and social media. But if they ignore the impact of these real-world innovations, they not only risk putting their banks and investment firms behind the traditional competition. They also make their firms vulnerable to new entrants in the financial services space. Oh, and they might also lose their jobs.
We all know that customers expect mobile banking via smarter ATMs and their smartphones and tablets. Traders want the same set of trading tools on their iPads as they have on their Bloomberg terminals -- but without the whole spying and snooping thing. At the same time, social media has transformed the trading floor and the banks with information flowing via Twitter and customer connection via Facebook.
If you connect these dots with a ruler and then extend the line with your pencil, you can see where this is all headed. Your bank or investment firm's future competitor will be Apple, Google or Facebook.
One banker is apparently already looking at Apple in his rearview mirror.
"We consider we have got very, very good competitors in the major banks, we have got very good competitors in the next tier banks," says Commonwealth Bank chief executive, Ian Narev, at the G100 Congress in Sydney this week. But the biggest threat includes technology firms.
And why not? They already have tons of data on our spending habits, they know (roughly) what we're worth and where our money goes and in the case of Apple iTunes, they already have our credit card on file. Instead of buying the new (very listenable) Guided by Voices album, why not pay your electric or cable bill via iTunes?
Apple, Facebook and Google have a lot in common that can help them become virtual banks. They have billions in their coffers - mostly overseas - and they have a footprint all over the globe. They have the trust of people and have not sullied their reputations by taking a government bailout. It's obvious to everyone that they have the IT infrastructure and the data to get the job done. And college grads want to work for them which is not the case on Wall Street firms.
Imagine if Facebook adds a "Check your bank balance" icon to your wall? Why not your 401(k) or stock portfolio? Or if the new iPhone has a bio reader that checks your fingerprints or retina display via its built-in camera for doing some intensive banking? Imagine if real people actually used the Google Wallet.
Okay, that was rough. But if any firm could make a digital wallet work, it might be Facebook or Apple -- and even the all-knowing Google.