VIDEO: Bankers Spill On How They Can Defend Against Apple

canstockphoto15593220On the surface, Apple Pay should make bankers quake. Apple is not required to be a bank in order to offer banking services — which, let’s be honest, includes payments.

So why aren’t bankers panicking?

The video below, which features Mark Curran, payment technology services director at Lloyds Banking Group, and Christophe Uzureau, a vice president at Gartner, is arguably one of the most enlightened explanations of the bank defense against Apple, despite in all its suit-and-tie dullness. Curran astutely explains how Apple has gone into banking — without “having to crack the international boundaries of banking or become a global payments provider.”

“They will simply use whichever bank is in that location … whoever pays them the most to be their chosen provider,” he said yesterday from the SIBOS conference in Boston. “It is a really strong place to be.”

While Curran acknowledges that “the capability of [the iPhone] is game-changing for them,” he pinpoints to the crucial fact that will likely leave Apple and other “consumer” ventures without the vast, vast majority of banking revenue: “There are an awful lot of consumer use cases beyond paying for my Starbucks in the morning.”

And what will restrict Apple and others from those “use cases”? Regulations. If you listen carefully to Curran, what he is effectively saying is that mainstream banks — and we are talking about the global mega-banks here, such as Lloyds — will eventually appeal for protective relief from regulators, if they haven’t done so already. Which is nothing short of ironic, when you consider all the bitching and moaning from banks over regulator compliance since the credit crisis.

The solution for banks is likely what Uzureau proposes: that banks operate as “independent payment advisers.” What he means here is that banks remain agnostic to the various consumer payments vendors and deal with (and take fees from), well, everyone. It is easy to suppose that banks are oblivious to all these payments parries from Apple, Google, Vodafone and others. The truth is they are not.


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JJ is the Executive Editor & Publisher of Bank Innovation and CEO of Royal Media, its parent company. He can be reached at or 212-564-8972.

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