All About Bitcoin: Monday featured a BankThink Bitcoin triple-header ahead of Senate hearings on virtual currencies. (American Banker's Victoria Finkle covers them here.) John Matonis of the Bitcoin Foundation championed the virtual currency, arguing that banks had squandered their opportunity to harness the emerging technology. "Innovation in banking is dependent on embracing Bitcoin will they play or be left in the dust?" he wrote. "Therefore, it is by no means out of historical context for banks to re-establish themselves in the competitive money business." At the other end of the spectrum, Gideon Samid, chief technology officer for BitMint, which is testing digitized U.S. dollars, predicted Bitcoin would ultimately be done in by bad behavior. "As more and more Bitcoin millionaires and powerful shady and criminal figures exploit the new hard to follow currency, the incentive to play dirty against detractors will rise to mafia levels all in the name of the ideal of fair money," he wrote. One reader responded, "You should have more faith in humanity." Finally, American Banker Executive Editor Marc Hochstein listed five reasons why Washington should leave Bitcoin alone, arguing that it raises the bar for banks, offers a low-cost alternative for merchants and helps protect privacy. "The very reasons stated for leaving Bitcoin alone are the very reasons government will not leave them alone," one reader commented.
Taking Management to Task: Ingo Walter of the New York University Stern School of Business argued senior management could keep bad eggs out of banking by, among other things, requiring special clearance to do certain jobs and structuring compensation around long-term incentives. Meanwhile, Cory Gunderson of consulting firm Protiviti Inc. argued that strong risk management at a financial firm begins (and ends) with strong risk leaders. "Daily judgments are made by people that impact the ultimate application of such policies and processes," he wrote. "Having the right people in the right spots, operating under an appropriately risk-based culture will yield the strong institutions of tomorrow." Fellow BankThink contributor Noma Bruton agreed. "In addition to the leadership characteristics you described I would add the need for a good deal of emotional intelligence and good communication skills," she commented. "But, it comes downs to leadership."
Payments Innovation Hiccups: John Vance of West Monroe Partners took on new credit card consolidator Coin, arguing it was more passing fad than true disruptor, while BankThink Deputy Editor Jeanine Skowronski wrote about how an attempt to get her mother to go mobile wound up being a non-starter, thanks to a lack of frictionless, ubiquitous solutions. "Mobile adoption is confronting the classic chicken-or-egg conundrum," she wrote. "To promote widespread adoption, banks, card issuers and merchants need to know more customers will use these types of services. But for more customers to use these types of services, banks, issuers and merchants have to offer better mobile services."
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