In the final book in the digital “BANK” series, Brett King tackles the topic of whether banks have a future at all in the emerging, technology embedded world of the 21st century. In 30-50 years when cash is gone, cards are gone and all vestiges of the traditional banking system have been re-engineered in real-time, what exactly will a bank look like? How will we reimagine a bank account, identity, value, assets, investments? Then stepping back from this vision of the future, King and his cadre of `disruptors’ and Fintech mafia chronicle the foundations of this new banking ecosystem today. From selfie-pay in China, blockchain in Africa, self-driving cars with their own bank accounts and augmented reality tech that informs the future design of banking systems, this proves once and for all that we’re not in Wall Street anymore Toto. Bank 4.0 is what banking will become.
Q. When is a book about banking, not really about banking?
A. When it is by Brett King and it is about the future.
This book does potentially conclude a series of recent books Brett has written about banking. We may not quite be at the beginning of a brave new world of banking, but the train has definitely left the station marking the end of what we have known to date. In reviewing King’s latest book it is as enjoyable, provoking and wide ranging in references as any of his recent books (Augmented for example). This ensures that it is an accessible and readable book for a much wider audience than just bankers. His opening point of reference. Elon Musk’s successful attempt to reconfigure the space industry, by returning to first principles and consequently bringing down costs by 90%, is a telling and prescient analogy. Banks, and bankers are deeply set in their ways, but just because something has been done the same way for centuries, it is no reason to continue doing so in the future. Whether traditional banks themselves are able to respond to this challenge or not is their own existential issue. However for the wider society the innovations in how we live our lives will drive adoption, and potentially leave existing banks in the dinosaurs graveyard if they can’t deliver the products and services that we, as consumers want to see.
Throughout the book you are frequently brought to the conclusion that this is not so much a book about banks and banking, but rather how we will live our lives in the future, with or without traditional banks servicing our needs. This book is titled Bank 4.0, following on in a sequence of books Brett has previously published over the last decade. On reading this book however you do wonder if there will be a need to even consider Bank 5.0, because in the very near future, seamless movement of payments for services will potentially negate the need for traditional banks. As King suggests, if we were designing a bank in 2018, would we even bother with branches when most of us want our services delivered in real time via our mobile or desktop applications. Physically travelling to a branch location, and having to do so within limited opening hours sounds more and more anachronistic the more you describe it. In this context, a similar feeling emerges when you consider many other elements of our current banking systems.
In these examples, and many more, this is an enjoyable, insightful, and thought provoking journey that King takes us on. For these reasons this is very much a book for anyone who is interested in considering how our future lives will be, rather than just C-level banking executives frantically wondering how, or if they can even future proof their own careers.