By @SimonCocking. Great interview with Brett King Author of AugmentedBook, Founder of Moven, Speaker | @AmerBanker Innovator of the Year | WVNJ Radio Show Host | . See part 1 of our interview with Brett here.

How well are conventional banks responding to the changing Fintech developments? What should they be doing better?

There are a handful of banks like BBVA, DBS, Santander, CapitalOne, USAA, Westpac in NZ and Barclays who are trying a variety of things ranging from investments in and acquisitions of FinTechs, through to hackathons and developing APIs. But keep in mind there are tens of thousands of banks across the world that have done absolutely nothing short of maybe deploying an app and maybe signing up for Apple Pay.

We now see the major retail banks of the world quickly realizing they have to dramatically scale back branch activity, and yet they’ve still not solved the fundamental issue of how they’ll replace all that lost branch revenue. Revenue that is retreating because customers just aren’t using the branch.

Banks must understand we are seeing a generational shift in consumer experience around banking and that the branch will be relegated to a minor supporting role over the next few years. If you have any product in your mix today that you still need a paper application form or a signature for, then that revenue is at immediate risk because you can’t deploy it across mobile. Cross-sell and up-sell is going to all be tied to engagement via desktop, mobile and wearables within a few years.

I just don’t see any scenario where we don’t lose the vast majority of banks globally under $1 Billion in assets unless they’re a pure-play digital bank. Certainly we’ll see massive consolidation in community banking in the US. All because of digital disruption.

Do you think Bitcoin (or something similar) will achieve wide adoption, if so how soon, or why not?

Bitcoin already has got adoption in the range of 10+ million wallets, and don’t forget digital currencies like QQ-coins in China or the newly minted Etherium, which is already the strongest alt-coin besides Bitcoin. There are, of course, Canada, Ecuador, Hull City, Iceland and others who are trying (or have tried) government-backed crypto-currencies.

I wrote on why I believe on the longer-term a series of crypto-currencies would succeed on a blog post in 2014 and I still stand by that basic theorem. Physical currency limited by geography is poorly designed for a world run on digital commerce in real-time, especially once AIs and machine-to-machine commerce ramp up.

We have a lot of fintech innovation happening in Ireland and in Europe in general –  how does the US banking sector compare?

I’ve been very impressed by the UK’s commitment to FinTech in particular, and now secondary FinTech markets are emerging in Ireland, Berlin, Stockholm, and now even Switzerland is jumping into the mix. At this stage the advantage the US has is investment dollars. More Venture Capital investment happens in the US in FinTech than the entire European landscape, but I think Europe is a friendlier environment for start-ups from a regulation perspective, and with more supporting government and city programs. Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley have produced more Unicorns than elsewhere, but the Europe employs more people in FinTech on a whole.

While many like to frame this as a competition between NY and London, for example, I just think it is fantastic for FinTech to see the year-on-year growth we have since 2010.

Your plans for the future?

Well, if Trump becomes President of the US, I’m going to move to Mars with Elon Musk…

Seriously though. My new book Augmented: Life in the Smart Lane comes out on May the 4th (be with you) and it is my most ambitious project yet. It is an attempt to describe the world and how it will be impacted by a whole range of technologies over the next 20-30 years. I will be working hard on the launch of the book over the next few months, and beyond that it really depends on how well the book does, and how the deals we’re working on at Moven materialize over the coming weeks and months.

I’m also looking at launching another Radio Show called “Life in the Smart Lane” based on the theme of the new book, and I’m working on that with Ken Ruktowski, Robert Scoble and a few others.

How did you come to be a member of the FinTech mafia? Have they all ever met up in one place yet, and how much influence do you think they/you are having over the future of banking?

I wrote a bit about the FinTech Mafia recently here, but really the #FTM have been around in various guises since 2008/2009. I guess you could call me the “Don” of the #FTM, but only because I sort of embodied that antagonist voice that was working on digital impact to the sector. We meet up in small groups regularly, and there’s some talk of meeting up in NYC this year around Finovate, but the diversity and breadth of the #FTM make a physical meetup difficult. I guess that’s also the point – we’ve demonstrated as a collective that we can work together despite not being geo-located together.


Thought leaders who do you follow / like to read?

In the FinTech space I really get to work with the best guys in the world whether it be the guys at Anthemis and APIS, the team at Moven, on the Radio Show, or with other thought leaders like Chris Skinner, Jim Marous, the Finovate guys, etc. With your head in that space thinking about all the leading edge theories and possible outcomes all the time, it’s more the collaboration that I enjoy.

When I want to learn something new I’m looking to people like Ramez Naam, Kurzweil, Robert Scoble on VR, and content streams around AI, Robotics, HealthTech and so forth for inspiration these days. I’m finding more and more I’m looking to Sci-Fi for inspiration in respect to what is possible.

I guess I feel like I’ve achieved most of what I needed to achieve in FinTech and I’m looking further afield for the next challenge.

How do you manage life / work, and online / offline balance?

As I’m sure my family and my co-workers will tell you … badly.

I’m trying to take a little more time for my writing and flying this year, and I’m focusing a little more energy on the book launch than I normally do and leveraging the support of my team on the Radio Show co-hosting, my co-founder Alex Sion at Moven, etc to enable me to do that.

Anything else to add / we should have asked you?

I simply have one favor to ask of all your readers. If you could please go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and seriously consider ordering a copy of Augmented I’d be very grateful. If you bring me a book to sign anywhere in the world you find me, not only will I happily sign it, but I’ll buy you a coffee and give you as much time as my schedule allows to talk the future.

Other than that you probably should have asked me if you are still going to have a job in 10 years and I could have answered that.

Will we, or more importantly (!) I still have a job in 10 years then?

Curation or breaking news won’t be enough for press as the “feed” will be AI/Bot driven. It will have to be original stories and human analysis – investigative journalism will have a come back. Interviews will still work. Serial Podcast is a good example of the storifying of news. QZ is more of what I think newspapers will need to become. I think revenue will be a mix of sponsorship and subscription.
Long story short – I am bearish print (obviously), but bullish platforms that give differentiated news + analysis + story format. You need to think platform and not news.
The big question is what VR does to breaking news. Imagine a 360° drone at a protest streaming in VR!

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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