Lagavulin and ice hockey

As the Copenhagen Climate Change summit kicks off, the US Environmental Protection Agency declared carbon dioxide to be a pollutant dangerous to human health, thus giving itself power to regulate CO2 emissions. President Obama pre-poned his trip to the summit, his previous arrival date being the last day of the summit. A glimmer of hope that something might actually happen? A big change since the APEC conference, where the backpedaling from various APAC leaders was already starting on what could - or more appropriately - could not be accomplished in Copenhagen.

This month's travels took me to Edinburgh Scotland, where I spoke at RBS's International Risk Congress on "Innovation in Mobile Financial Services". Speaking to the audience on Mobile Payments, NFC payments, non-traditional players in payments such as Telcos, PayPal, Apple etc. made for an interesting talk. Using an example of location based services often given by my colleague Carl Morath - a movie poster over which you would wave your iPhone, which would pop up a list of theaters within a mile of your current location, allowing you to buy tickets using your phone, storing the tickets on your phone, and offering you coupons for restaurants around the theater where you use your tickets - made everyone realize the power of mobile payments.

I then headed over to London, and repeated the talk at one of RBS's many locations. I had an interesting debate with someone from the audience about the core competence of established banks, and whether transactional banking was moving into an area where banks did not have much value-add. We also had a conversation about Web2.0 properties and virtual monies - why would Facebook need anyone to go to a bank to send e-flowers to a facebook user? For those of you who are not following statistics, Facebook now as 350M registered users. That by the way, is the population of the United States.

The best part of this trip - the two excellent bottles of Distiller's Edition of Lagavulin gifted to me, yummy!

Monday and tuesday of this week were spent in Toronto, meeting with some key partners and customers. Fidelity Information Services is a great partner, we work on lots of initiatives together including their core banking and wealth management platforms. I had a very interesting and thought provoking conversation with Interac - the Canadian equivalent of NYCE and PLUS - a non-profit organization connecting the Canadian financial institutions together. We spoke about all the non-traditional players in payments like Telcos, Paypal, Apple and NFC payments and location based services etc. etc. I ended the day with ITG, another great customer that supplies solutions to Capital Markets companies for Trading, Wealth Management, Risk etc. We spoke at length about Solaris on x86 (HP or Sun), their market data infrastructure that runs entirely on Solaris, and other new projects that they are planning.

The Canadian banks just keep chugging along. They are seriously revamping their capital markets operations, spending lot of time and money on all trading desks - Derivatives in particular.

Oh, and I did get to see a hockey game - Canadians as as nuts about this game as us Indians are about cricket. The local team won, which I am sure was why I could make it back to my hotel by 10:00pm!

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