Bitcoin’s value - which has doubled in 2021 - continues to generate headlines but, behind the scenes, something even more significant for banking, as we know it, is happening. Central bank digital currencies are now emerging from experimental trials, disrupting the norm, to take a leading role on the global payments stage.
As for banks and credit unions, we recommend researching and rehearsing your crypto lines (of business) for showtime.
Central Bank Digital Currencies,
My colleague, Patrick Goodwin, recently wrote about the challenges of budgeting amid the uncertainty of a pandemic. Given the circumstances, it’s understandable some might be seeking a “hall pass,” to excuse themselves from long-range planning. Unfortunately, the hyper-competitive financial services marketplace doesn’t allow for such luxury.
Strategic planning is laced with uncertainty. Much of its value is derived from the team-based exercise of thinking through contingencies and gaming out some of the inevitable course corrections. In that sense, the effort may be more important than ever for the 2021-23 horizon.
Vendor Contract Negotiation,
Bank Vendor Management,
Credit Union Vendor Management
I recently had the privilege of speaking on a Minnesota Credit Union Network’s panel with some of the region’s local leaders about what they’re facing as a consequence of the pandemic. Although the venue was tailored to credit unions, I believe the perspectives apply to all financial institutions.
Four key points that stood out are noted below - some completely novel; some we can’t say often enough.
By now, Americans across the country have seen makeshift signs at cash registers requiring exact change or “offering” to change coins for bills, free of charge.
A few Chick-Fil-A locations have even begun offering a free sandwich to customers who bring in $10 of coins, to replenish their cash drawers. There have also been reports of some institutions offering an extra $5 for every $100 of rolled coins.
The “national coin shortage” has become so severe, the Fed has convened a task force to identify solutions and limit the economic impact.
Being prepared for any potential downside is something bank and credit union executives take quite seriously and, since the early 2000s, have been required by regulators to maintain a pandemic crisis plan. Now all of these plans are being put to the test, especially after the announcement by the WHO that the coronavirus is officially a pandemic.
Even as the business world improves at predicting and defending against risks, Black Swans will always be a possibility. As is characterized by such an event, it’s easy in hindsight to say, “We should have seen this coming,” but the fact remains that we don’t know what we don’t know; e.g., the impacts on the stock market and disruptions to daily life brought on by COVID-19.
Card Not Present,
January’s release of the 2019 Payments Study from the Federal Reserve reveals that American purchasing behavior is evolving at full force, especially in debit and credit card use. Every three years, the Fed releases a comprehensive study on usage trends for noncash payment instruments. This most recent data shows the persistence of several longstanding trends – and some are gaining speed.
Debit and Credit,
One year ago, almost to the day, Fiserv surprised the payments world by announcing its acquisition of First Data, setting off a wave of payments consolidation that by midyear had narrowed a list of six leading processors and bank service providers down to three. Following this flurry of activity, it was widely assumed that FIS, Global Payments and Fiserv would be occupied with integration tasks for the foreseeable future, potentially leaving payments M&A destined for a short breather. But wait – there’s more.
My SRM colleagues in Europe (see parts 1, 2 and 3) and Atlanta have already written about what it would be like to live in a cashless world, but recently, some municipalities in the United States have bucked the conventional wisdom by pushing back against the notion of cashless stores in the name of financial inclusion. A rash of new research also indicates that the long touted “death of cash” is not the imminent event often implied by industry pundits and reporters.
Here’s a quick overview of recent data and developments.
Despite all the forecasts concerning a downdraft in the economic climate, the payments pie continues to grow. With GDP on the rise both in the United States and globally, the overall value of retail purchases is also trending upward. However, research from the Federal Reserve reveals a less obvious pattern: growing even faster than average ticket price is the sheer number of payment transactions.