Remember when we had banks

High Street Banks signs west london UK HOMER SYKESOh no, I have got a cheque. I’ll have to traipse down to the bank and put it into my account but there hasn’t been a branch of my bank in Morpeth for years. The nearest must be ten kilometers away. I’ll leave it until I go into town next. Even though the branch on Grey Street has an ATM which takes cheques it is still a faff and will take me out of my way.

It makes me realise that my relationship with banks and even money has changed significantly over the years. It is likely to be the same for you. Physical cash played a much greater role in our lives back in the day than it does now. Our pockets were stuffed with change, our wallets crammed with notes and the first time we wrote the date each new year was on the top of a cheque.

Now we live in the age of electronic money and cryptocurrencies. Money has become intangible, ephemeral and, for many, incomprehensible.

We pay by phone, swipe our cards or transfer online. Every morning I put my change in my pocket and for days I empty the same amount out at night. I don’t like cash because it has become inconvenient. Just like going to the bank.

So what is the role of a bank in future? In a world of decreasing physical need to keep money safe, how are they going to compete with peer to peer lenders or stateless cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin? All they have to offer is trust and that has worn thin since the financial crisis of 2008.

The future of all money will be based upon trust. The time where money was underwritten with gold has long past. Those organisations which can demonstrate trust will be those that people are more likely to invest in and, in future, borrow from. Apple, Vodafone, Amazon, Tesco?

Trust is the new currency. Are banks about to be Ubered?

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