Sunday, March 30, 2008

Capital markets evolution

A confluence of factors is impacting capital markets: first, the repeated failure of traditional financial markets (“Fed puts lipstick on Bear Stearns’ pig”) to provide capital and accurately-represented non-fraudulent investment products and their subsequent bail-out by taxpayers, second, the great shift in cultural attitude towards sustainable and socially responsible capital use (“Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations” and “Beyond the Green Corporation”) and third, the inexorable expansion of technological capability and the entrepreneurial ideas that exploit it.

Business Model Spectrum
The expansion of technological capability is allowing business models to evolve and expand and is the topic of long-tail meme-founder Chris Anderson’s new book, Free. Digital business costs such as bandwidth and storage have become so inexpensive that it is essentially free to provide an increasing number of web-based services. Some of the new business models include:

  1. Alternative monetization - competitive pressures suggest offering services for free and monetizing other aspects such as attention (traffic) and reputation (links).
  2. Freemium - a combination of free plus premium services. It may be in the open source software model (free software, fee-based up-sell for implementation, customization and support services) or the flickr model where the small group of paying customers (1%) subsidizes the free offering for the others (99%).
  3. Indirect model – a wider application of third-party supported offerings (formerly TV and radio, now search engines, website content and sponsor and gambling-supported free Ryanair flights).
Consumer Financial Services 2.0
Context, culture and appropriateness are important properties of social networks. FaceBook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Pownce, Jaiku and Twitter are not the place to talk about money but financial social networks are.
It is quite possible in the future that social networks will be the accompanying community feature to any website or topic area.
Finance 2.0 websites offer financial services and a venue to create and interact with the user community around them. For example, Wesabe, Expensr, Mint and Geezeo provide expense aggregation and management. NetworthIQ, Boulevard R, and Zecco provide investment and financial planning services. Several of these Financial Services 2.0 companies are being featured at conferences such as O'Reilly Media's Money:Tech, BarCampBanks and Finovate. As with many technologies, age-tiering is apparent as under 30s enjoy the benefits of aggregated financial services while those over 30 await a higher level of security. Yodlee and BITS are working to establish industry standards for financial information access via tokens and credentials, similar mechanisms will be needed for digital health information.


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