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What If Google Took Over Banking?

24/10/2016 1:23 PM IST | Updated 26/10/2016 8:28 AM IST
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Rupak De Chowdhuri / Reuters

Banking is rapidly undergoing a shift because of technology. There is more software, more tools, more web-based features, and artificial intelligence too is crawling into our lives slowly but surely. Plenty of movies have already shown what the future could look like, but sometimes it feels as if the future is already here. Traditional plastic cards are being gradually replaced by tools such as UPIs (universal payment interfaces) and virtual wallets. What next? ATM cards embedded in our wrists?

Today, there are hundreds of different banks with their thousands of branches out there. There's a bank on every block and because these are protected with government regulations, this is where we keep our money in order to feel safe. People go into a bank, talk to a human teller, and make a transaction. They can also visit the ATM machine on the side of the bank to make a deposit, do a withdrawal, or a balance transfer. It's relatively simple, and is semi-automated.

Imagine what it would be like if Google or another company took over all aspect of the banking/finance industry?

In the foreseeable future, there are likely going to be fewer branches or no branches at all. Why? The human element is most likely going to be removed with the DIY model being quicker and more—the DBS DigiBank initiative is the first step towards such a future. But, you may ask what about all those thousands of branches out there? Well, most of them will close down in urban areas, while others will evolve into full-fledged co-working spaces with a whole host of interesting benefits.

Today, there are more apps than we can actually download for all the services we need. For example, we have multiple apps in each of these categories:

- Deposits

- Bill payments

- Money transfers

- Loans

- Investments

This is because we have too many banks to choose from as well as too many startups seeing opportunities to disrupt every single service offered by banks today—the unbundling of the banking system is real and it's accelerating. However, it can be daunting to try and sign up for all of these individual websites and apps. If Google or maybe Apple decides to truly embrace banking for the future, you can have access to all of the services you need under a single umbrella.

Imagine what it would be like if Google or another company took over all aspect of the banking/finance industry?

Google bundles everything so that you can pick and choose what you need while everything remains independent yet interconnected. Maybe Google banking for businesses will also operate in a similar fashion. Logging into your Google online banking app (that might be built on top of a new Google Bank operating system which is highly secure and maybe also uses its own blockchain technology), will give you access to accounting and legal services, business insurance services, employee welfare and money management, startup business services, equity and commodity trading, money remittance, and many other things for seamless global business trading. Maybe small banks will be part of this Google Banking ecosystem or die a slow death.

Google Banking for individuals would work the same way, allowing users to take advantage of money remittances, personal loans, money management, a new kind of healthcare savings accounts instead of health insurance, and everything else. You won't have to sign up on countless websites any longer. Instead, you will have one app, which will keep everything interconnected. For instance, you can see how much you have qualified for on your personal loan, and then use the money wisely; in the background, the Google Bank OS will help you spend just right because it's your universal money management assistant.

Traditional banking and banks as we know them today are going to be obsolete if one interface becomes a reality.

You can simplify the way that you manage your money, whether you are saving, investing, or trying to spend in a more budget-friendly way. No matter what, everything will be connected, so you never have to worry about losing track of your funds.

I think this kind of open platform and network can lead to an array of new seamless options to businesses and individuals alike. The list can go on and on; anyone who wants to make improvements to their cash flow, obtain help with investments, or anything else can just look for the necessary add-ons in this open banking platform.

From the India standpoint, we may just see something like this happening sooner than we may think. The idea of a single banking interface for all our business and personal requirements is similar to how payment is being organized under just one interface by the National Payment Corporation Of India (NPCI), the umbrella organization for all retail payment systems in India, with a vision to enable citizens of the country to have access to e-payment services at anyplace and anytime. Can you imagine something similar for banking—the National Banking Corporation Of India (NBCI)?

The future of banking is looking exciting. Traditional banking and banks as we know them today are going to be obsolete if one interface becomes a reality.

Memento Mori by Pablo Bartholomew

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