In this cryptocoinspy.com article IBM’s Jesse Lunge argues that banks ignoring digital currencies will face their “uber moment” in the next decade:
“Jesse Lund, IBM’s Head of Blockchain and Digital Currencies, says that the next decade will see the “ever-resilient banking industry” face its “Uber moment.” A sector which has so far managed to stay “immune to disruption” will be permanently changed by the financial development occurring in the cryptocurrencies.” “”
But in reality banks have little wiggle room regarding adoption of crypto since the US government currently recognizes current cryptocurrencies as investment vehicles and not as a currency. This is why USAA and Fidelity can offer apps an tools for investment but not for payments.
Lund goes on to ask:
“If money can be made truly digital, then why store it in a bank? If Bitcoin can do it using electricity, then why not have digital money “on my mobile phone, or in my LinkedIn or Facebook account?”
Though banks could decide to use a common distributed database, all of their incentives are in the other direction. By resisting the new technology they can protect their fees, estimated by McKinsey to account for 40% of all bank revenue.”
Let me provide a possible answer. The vast majority of criminal activity and crypto theft has been focused on the exchanges. Exchanges rarely dispense the actual crypto private key to the consumer, they give the consumer a token that represents their holdings which remain in the exchange. The exchanges are not recognized by the US government nor are the holdings within the exchanges insured by the government and crypto is not legal tender. So while banks live within a regulatory hell which is controlled by the US Government crypto exchanges are free to innovate and all of the risk is with the consumer. Roughly $15 billion worth of crypto currencies have been stolen since 2013 and I don’t think any of the consumers that lost their crypto would argue that banks have no place in crypto, but until the government changes its position (an unlikely scenario in the short term) I would argue that banks have their hands tied behind their back.
Overview by Tim Sloane, VP, Payments Innovation at Mercator Advisory Group