For the last 50 years the United States has been a global leader in technology, Internet commerce, Social networking, and Retail. Yet in banking we frequently see innovation happening first in Asia and Africa. Get any group of US payment leaders together and you will hear these common themes as to why it is such a struggle.
- Banks are risk adverse.
- Regulations are complex and cost of compliance is increasing.
- Settlement infrastructure (built in 60’s and 70’s) makes some things very hard (like faster payments).
- Venture Capital is tough to get. There are only a select few VC’s that will invest in payments and financial services.
- Large financial actors can work against new entrants if their innovation threatens traditional business models.
It is no wonder that so many people are excited about Bitcoin. The promise of Bitcoin is a global community focused intensely on innovation from the “outside”. Of course they will need to come to some agreement with regulators to operate in the US – which I optimistically predict will happen. But for Bitcoin, venture is keen and large financial actors are not working against them (since they are not taking them seriously yet). Also the Bitcoin community is building a whole new infrastructure which isn’t necessarily bogged down by the way things work today.
I am excited by Bitcoin but I still look forward to a day when the US evolves and makes dollar based financial services innovation easier.