Fast forward to 2011

Too much turkey? Too much eggnog? Yes, indeed, it was that time of the year again. 2010 is behind us, so what will 2011 bring us? Is it going to be the year of mobile? Is it going to be the year of the cloud?

Well, let’s fast forward to 2011 and find out thanks to these short newsflashes …

UK cheque usage drops massively. The UK Payments Council says UK cheque usage has dropped massively before the anticipated deadline of 2018 in favour of mobile payments. The previously floated idea of introducing a paper-based alternative to cheques as part of a commitment not to leave the customer “high and dry” when the cheque clearing scheme is finally abolished is dropped and a mid-term review is planned in 2014.

SEPA struggles to survive. SEPA, loathed by many bankers for creating a level playing field, struggles to survive in the midst of new entrants in the payment space. The new entrants, proposing low cost payment services closely integrated with the mainstream social networks, come to maturity and partnerships with banks start to form.

Belgium follows suit to Ireland and Portugal. Standard & Poors lowers Belgium’s credit rating from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’ after the country has been without a government for more than twelve months. The IMF is looking at bailing out the bankrupt country amidst fears of massive capital flight.

Google launches new online, location aware bank. Gbank, Google’s first foray into banking, opens in the US. Although the bank offers simple current account and payment services, it is the first bank to really know its customers. Making extensive use of the location aware capabilities of its customers’ phones, strong relationships with high street retailers and its vast behavioural database, the bank is able to offer its customers the best shopping experience, anytime, anywhere.

Lloyds returned to the private sector. The UK government, in dire need of votes after the tuition fees debacle and VAT hike, and spurred by a continued strengthening of the banking sector plans an early release of its stake in Lloyds Bank. This is about 18 months earlier than the original target date of 2014. Mr Miliband’s aides refused to comment. A Labour source said: ‘This is not going to look good for the party.’

Europol investigates virtual robbery. Europol have arrested two people believed to be part of a group accused of stealing online IDs and passwords belonging to Facebook users and using their Facebook Credits to sell merchandise via real-money trading websites. Facebook Credits have known a spectacular increase in usage over the last six months and are now considered to be on par with PayPal volumes. Regulators have been struggling to keep up with virtual currencies.

And finally, what we’ve all been waiting for …

Eurostar will have Wi-Fi in 2012. Eurostar, the operator of the passenger service linking Britain, France and Belgium announces that all its trains will finally have Wi-Fi by the end of 2012. Unfortunately, no changes are planned to the onboard food catering though.

On this note, I’d like to close this blog by wishing you all a great 2011 and hope you’ll keep reading.

Oh yes, please don’t use these insights to make financial decisions, always consult your banker first.

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