A Revelation

I read a lot. Really a lot. I average about 100 to 150 books I read each year. Nevertheless I rarely blog about a book on this blog, since I want to keep this blog focussed on the topic.

I’ll make an exception today. For one of the best books written by a politican I ever did read.

It does not offer a vision. It is better. It is a profound, through analysis of the current state of society, the upcoming huge challenges we face, the likely consequences of these and a set of solutions that actually are logical, made sense to me and are financially feasible.

Most politicians seem to be doctoring with tiny steps on the symptoms, but in this book the author describes a clear path he would want to take forward.

The book is written by Andrew Young, running for US president in 2020. I have no idea what his chances are. And I actually do not care much about inner-American politics.

The point is: In my view this book is not (only) about America. It addresses the major questions most Western society will face in the next decade. In Europe the impact will be delayed a few years and softened by better social security systems, but many aspects are the same.
One of these challenges is the replacement of many, many jobs by algorithms (AI) or robots (did you watch ‘Humans need not Apply’?).

What does it mean for all of us if millions of job disappear in a very short time-frame?

As part of the answer he proposes Universal Basic Income (UBI). I have been very sceptical about UBI. It reminds me too much about the failed Eastern European economies of the last century. And I am still not convinced. But Yang lays out a very logical set of arguments that makes me more curious.

Rarely have I wanted so much to see the implementation of a political plan, to see if it works out and delivers the expected results. A lot would have to happen. It is one thing to lay it all out beautiful in a book and a totally different beast to win the majority to implement change.

The book gets rave reviews on Amazon.com and in my view they are well deserved. If you are looking for a really interesting book either to read yourself or as a gift, I highly recommend:

‘The war on normal people’. The book is available at Amazon.com*, Amazon.co.uk*, and Amazon.de*.

The title is the least fitting part of this book.

Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital

Book Technological RevolutionsAre we headed for the next bubble? The book ‘Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital – The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages‘ won’t answer that question. But it does a good job analysing technological changes in the past and identifying patterns. The author Carlota Perez develops a model of the repeating interplay between finance and the drivers of technological evolution. Published in 2002 the book’s content seems timeless. I recently read it and can recommend it. Available at Amazon US, Amazon UK and Amazon DE.

The Lending Club Story

The Lending Club Story‘ is the new Kindle ebook written by Peter Renton. It covers the interesting development of Lending Club from a p2p lending startup to a company that has issued 1 billion US$ p2p loans. The process is explained for new lenders and borrowers and the story of selected borrowers and lenders is shared.

Best of all: You can download it free for the next four days at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Peter Renton writes the very informative blog LendAcademy where he shares advice for Prosper and Lending Club lenders.

Banks Need to Understand Their Customer’s Needs Better – FAST

I just finished reading Bank 2.0 by Brett King. If I would work in middle-management of a bank – any bank – then I would be scared now, because the book clearly shows that banks are changing to slow. Or they simply deny that the world around them is evolving faster and faster and still try to continue business as it used to be.

Banks still spend too much time trying to solve the wrong questions like how to design branches or think about channel distribution. What they need to understand is that a customized solution fitted to the needs the customer has right now is needed.

If bank management does not foster innovations quickly they will lose contact to the customer. Banking function will continue but the interface to the customers might in future be held by p2p payment providers, p2p lending services, telcos, aggregators or other non-banking “insurgents”.

The book is filled with ample examples and observations from the authors work experience in banking. Available at Amazon US, Amazon UK and Amazon DE.

Trust, Reputation and Community Aspects of P2P Lending

One of the biggest challenges for a new internet startup to offer an innovative financial service is to gain the trust of its potential customers. Consumers approach new concepts with legitimate caution.

The book ‘P2P Kredite – Marktplätze für Privatkredite im Internet‘ examines how p2p lending services can address the uncertainties and what measures can be used to build trust. After a short introduction of how p2p lending works and a look at Cashare, Smava, Zopa and Prosper the author covers the aspects credibility, safety, reputation, guarantee, sanctions, information and communication. Fabian Blaesi also describes how community features can help.

In an empirical study the importance of several factors for the perception and acceptance of p2p lending services by lenders is quantified.

The book is available at Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de and Amazon.co.jp.

The Innovation Process at Banks and why Neglecting P2P Lending Is Rational Behaviour For Bank Managers

I finished reading “Innovation and the Future Proof Bank” (available at Amazon.com, Amazon UK and Amazon.de). The author James Gardner publishes the Bankervision blog, which I am a long time reader of.

Gardner defines categories of incremental, revolutionary and breakthrough innovations and further differentiates between disruptive and sustaining innovation. The book discusses innovation theories and models. Many examples and case studies are given. While the topic is innovation in banks, I felt that much of it applies to innovation in large companies that are incumbents in other industries, too.

An innovation team will evolve through 5 capacity stages: Inventing, Championing, Managing, Futurecasting and Venturing.

Gardner propagates Futurecasting as a method to assess trends from a strategic perspective. By building scenarios the innovator creates descriptive images of possible future impact of trends in combination with the banks approach on it.

Gardner uses p2p lending as an example in many chapters. E.g. in chapter 4.4 he creates analysis possible scenarios in a futurecast on p2p lending.
If you want to understand why so many banks currently ignore p2p lending as a trend the book offers some interesting arguments. However the other example often cited, Paypal, shows what happens, if banks wait too long without reacting.

The book contains a wealth of information, thoughts and examples. Too much to cope with in this short review. I enjoyed reading it and highly recommend this book to anyone interest in fostering innovation, the innovation process and how banks could react to an ever faster changing business environment.
Buy your copy at Amazon.com, Amazon UK or Amazon.de.