The year was 1977 and I was 10 years old. Riding in the car with my (much cooler than me) 16 year old cousin – we were listening to the Doobie Brothers on 8-track tape. Since my parents were technology late adopters we didn’t have an 8-track player and I thought that was the coolest thing – being able to listen to the songs you wanted, rather than just the radio. By the time my parents considered getting an 8-track, the cassette was on it’s way in for it’s very brief appearance, soon to be upstaged by compact discs.
The pace of change in the music delivery system reminds me of what’s happening in the payments and banking world. Ironically Africa is way ahead of the U.S. in terms of mobile payments simply because their banking infrastructure was never robust, so they skipped right over it and on to the next.
Bill Streeter wrote an excellent article in the ABA Banking Journal about how when it comes to banking innovation, bankers are caught between “the inexorable march of technology and the ever-tightening hand of regulation.” He maintains that the banking industry must reach out to non-banking and non-traditional partners. It’s already happening with Google, Isis and PayPal. The banking industry cannot put it’s head in the sand, it must continue to innovate or companies, the likes of Google, Apple and Verizon, will be the new banks. Will financial institutions as we know it, be the 8-tracks of the future? I hope not. Continue to innovate and engage Generation Y and Z before it’s too late.