If I were managing a business in financial services, I would be asking myself if I had missed the second wave of the  “net-boat” that is rapidly becoming a force in financial services.

Banks and other financial institutions have reduced their costs enormously by leveraging the capabilities of the net to receive and process payments electronically in developed countries, but even there, PayPal has carved a growing share of transactions, but more importantly, opened relationships with millions of customers who use the web for shopping. Just as the retailers missed the potential of consumers to use the web to seek the best prices, banks have allowed PayPal to build a customer base to pay for them.

In the developing world, millions are not serviced by the financial infrastructure of the developed world. predictably, alternatives are emerging, powered again by the web, and businesses that have no existing financial services infrastructure to protect, are able to move quickly  to provide a cost effective and easy to use service to customers and potential customers not serviced by banks.

It is unlikely in my view that banks will become the recording companies of the early 2000’s and ignore the competitive threat until it is almost too late, but their influence, particularly in the developing world will be substantially diminished from what it could have been.