Banks As Commodity Utilities In A New Payment World


Editor’s Note: Christoffer O. Hernæs is executive VP of strategy, innovation and analysis at Sparebank 1 Group, Norway’s second-largest financial institution.

With the recent launch of Apple Pay and leaked screenshots of Facebook integrating payments with Facebook Messenger fintech companies, there is a lot of speculation regarding the future of banking. Backed up by the way-too-often quoted Millennial Disruption IndexAccenture’s Banking 2020 and a range of similar reports tech evangelists predict that Apple, Facebook and Google will become the banks of the future.

This is highly unlikely, not because of lack of abilities, but rather because the challengers don’t want to be banks. The cost and complexity of running a bank is not compatible with the fundamental business model of tech companies, and meeting the capital requirements, compliance and overhead associated with running a bank is perhaps best left to the banks. This creates another scenario that should be even more frightening for incumbents where traditional banks are reduced to infrastructure providers.


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The Algorithm Economy Heads To Amazon


Holidays are a time for families to come together, catch up over great food and drinks, and determine all the technical problems that need solving throughout the house. Indeed, for children growing up in the digital age, the holidays ultimately boil down to free (or more accurately, meal-subsidized) technical support for our most cherished loved ones.

Kids: Amazon has you covered.

Well, almost. This past week, Amazon publicly introduced an early release of Selling Services, which we had previously mentioned the company was working on a few months ago. Amazon is developing a marketplace that offers after-sale services such as car alarm installation, iPhone repair, and computer hardware setup to consumers buying relevant products. Today, the marketplace is available in 15 early rollout cities, including New York City and Lexington, Kentucky.

After-sale services are among the highest profit margin revenue streams for retailers, so it is little surprise that…

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Being connected is more of a good thing than it is a bad thing


As smartphones and social platforms become more and more ubiquitous, debate continues over whether being connected all the time — even in a small way — is good for us, and that debate is probably never going to be settled. But even though I wrestle with the difficulties of ubiquitous connectivity and the “always on” social web, I believe that the vast majority of us are better off than we were before the internet came along.

What got me thinking about this again was a piece that Scottish novelist Andrew O’Hagen wrote in the New York Times‘ style magazine a few weeks ago, entitled “In Defense of Technology.” In it, the author talks about trying to convince his children that things were better when he was younger, before technology came along. But he admits that his heart isn’t really in it:

[blockquote person=”” attribution=””]”One is supposed to stare into…

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Can fuel cells find a home in the data center?


A few weeks ago at a ribbon cutting in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Microsoft officially announced that biogas was flowing to fuel cells to power its experimental data center there. The data center is located by the Dry Creek water treatment plant and has direct access to biogas harvested from the facility to power the fuel cells that are in turn powering its data center. The whole system is completely renewable.

“We’re cutting the cord from the electrical grid. That doesn’t mean that we are never going to connect another data center to the electrical grid. The point is now we have another option,” says Microsoft’s Data Center Research Manager Sean James. “It’s also a very clean option.”

Fuel cells have been around for decades and in many ways have been a technology in search of an application and a market. We’ve seen them tested and deployed in transportation, and megawatt scale…

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The Star Wars Episode VII Trailer If It Were Made By George Lucas



What would that glorious The Force Awakens trailer look like if George Lucas went back and fiddled with it, as he so loves to do?

Probably something like this…

The number of references and jabs crammed in here is off the charts. I won’t spoil them all, but my favorite? The unnecessary rocks at 0:20. (If you don’t get that one, don’t worry — that’s probably a good thing. Here.)

(Joking aside, George Lucas does have a pretty big role in the development of Star Wars VII. While he’s neither directing nor writing the movie, the story concept is his and he was on set as a creative consultant.)

On a side note, I can not comprehend how someone managed to blast this out in just about 36 hours after the trailer’s release. Helluva job, Michael Shanks.

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Penguin Hatches A Cloud Reader For Pelican Books


It likely hasn’t passed you by that traditional book publishers aren’t having the best of times these days. Indeed, when it comes to reading you could say it is the best of times and the worst of times. (TC’s Jon Evans — also a published author, so in a prime position to comment on the matter — made just that Dickensian point, in fact, in a TC post earlier this year.)

Best for the consumption of the written word, given the proliferation of information online — much of it entirely free to read. Worst for traditional book publishers, with their paper-based, price-tag-carrying medium so disrupted.

Book publishers also have the voracious leviathan Amazon and its war on books to contend with. Sure, Amazon may be a huge seller of paper books but shipping dead tree costs Amazon dollar. Dollar Bezos would rather not spend if he can render the book medium back to its informational essence and fire pixels directly into customers’…

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