March 02, 2004

A Banking Ace?

Ace Hardware is an interesting entity in business. You see them everywhere but they're not a corporate monolith like Home Depot or Loewes. In fact, they're a dealer owned cooperative enterprise. Ace comes to mind when I hear about David and Goliath stories like this one about the advantages that big banks have over small banks in their online operations.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing stopping these small banks from building their own Ace. They could pool their resources and create a internet banking services infrastructure that was modular and could easily fit whatever IT the banks were already running internally. They would get more services for less money and have a legitimate shot at beating the big boys online as well as at their brick and mortar locations where locally owned and operated banks already excel.

It's quite likely that they would also be able to leverage a great deal of unpaid programming talent. Bankers all over the world would likely be willing to make contributions to such an effort if it were open source and code verification costs would be lowered as large customers sent their own programming talent through the files, auditing and verifying for free the robustness of code.

Right now, all these banks are reinventing the online banking wheel. They have a built-in advantage in the physical world with their superior local knowledge and connections but that doesn't count for much in terms of online services. With a pooled effort, such banks would be able to increase the quality of their online offerings at a fraction of their current spending.

Posted by TMLutas at March 2, 2004 10:03 PM