[SIGCIS-Members] Athens: Computers in banking workshop
bbl4 at btinternet.com
Tue Nov 11 00:41:21 PST 2008
Alexandros-Andreas Kyrtsis from the University of Athens has organised a very interesting workshop, thanks to the support of the National Bank of Greece. Abstracts below.
Saludos / best wishes,
see History of ATM Homepage: http://atm.sigcis.org
__________________ Contact details
Dr Bernardo Batiz-Lazo
Senior Lecturer in Business and Accounting History
School of Management
Ken Edwards Building
University of Leicester
Leicester LE1 7RH (England)
Tel +44(0) 116 252 5647 Fax +44(0) 116 252 5515
Email: b.batiz-lazo [AT] leicester.ac.uk Skype: bbatiz
********* If you want to keep updated with working papers follow this link: http://nep.repec.org
********* Personal page http://www.le.ac.uk/ulmc/academics/bbatizlazo.html
********* Copies of research papers available at http://ideas.repec.org/e/pba14.html
ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS
to be presented at the One-Day Conference on
“Global Change and Information Technology for Financial Institutions:
The turn of the seventies”
Athens, Historical Archives of the National Bank of Greece, November 29, 2008
Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo and Claudia Reese
(University of Leicester)
Is the future of the ATM past?
Just over 40 years ago the first cash dispensers became operational in the UK. From its modest beginnings this industry specific application evolved into the backbone of self service technology. In this article we consider their past and present to reflect on their future with the assistance of the so called ‘social construction of technology’ and ‘path dependence’ theories while supported by archival research and interviews with ‘actors’ in the UK. We tell how machine, functionality and shared networks will continue to interact in shaping the future of the cash dispensing market.
(Universidad Carlos III Madrid)
The 1970s Revolution in Financial Technology:
The role of regulation, deregulation and IT
Modern financial theories based on the economics of information suggest that banks arise as a response to existing frictions in the process of acquiring information and making transactions. Financial intermediaries ameliorate frictions by performing two basic functions: a) brokerage, by which they enhance the matching of borrowers and lenders by overcoming information asymmetries (adverse selection, moral hazard, costly state verification) and extracting, processing and circulating information; b) portfolio transformation, by which they act as delegated monitors and provides of liquidity insurance.
Given the information-intensive nature of financial intermediation, the wave in innovations in IT that started in the 1960s and 70s had a major impact on banking industry. At the same time, market forces began successfully to press in favor of a withdrawal of the state as financial regulator. Financial restriction (or repression), that is, “a set of policies, laws, regulation, taxes, distortions, qualitative and quantitative restrictions, which do not allow financial intermediaries to operate at their full technological potential” (Roubini and Sala-i-Martin 1995). As a consequence, the 1970s witnessed a twofold process of liberation of existing financial technology and, at one time, a rapid shift forward of the frontier of financial technology.
The understanding of the causal connections between financial deregulation, financial innovations and technological change calls for a systematic approach. We can define financial technology as a body of knowledge that specifies all activities creating economic value in financial intermediation; this includes product, process and organizational technologies. Financial innovations can occur in each of these areas and affect the efficiency with which intermediaries perform their basic functions: (a) mobilize savings; (b) facilitate the exchange of goods; (c) allow risk amelioration; (d) acquire information about investments and allocate resources; (e) monitor managers and exert corporate control (Levine 1997). In order properly to understand the causes of financial innovations in each of these functions, we need to explore the incentives to innovate that were generated both at micro- and macro level. We can finally assess to what extent changes in IT
technologies, originating mainly outside the financial sector, plaid a role in the process of financial innovation.
We explore some of these issues by focusing on possibly the most important and far-reaching change in financial technology that took place around the 1970s: the rise of liability management (aka ‘marketization’ of banking), a process innovation based on the development of wholesale interbank markets, both domestic and international. This innovation dramatically changed the concept of liquidity in banking, forced banks to implement totally new strategies of active liability marketing, and required a new interactive banking management of the structure of assets and liabilities. We will analyze how it emerged as a response to existing regulation, how it set in motion an epoch-making process of deregulation, and how these forces interacted with the ongoing process of IT change.
Data Banking in the Age of Flexibility
Both the opening of the Chicago Securities Exchange and the adoption of floating exchange rates on global currency markets are institutionally feasible expressions of a new economic era: The Age of Flexibility. Of course, the almost perfect coincidence in time of these two events should not be overestimated. There is probably no causal connection between the end of the Bretton Woods System and the institutionalized trading of futures. There is, however, a common denominator of both innovations: Since the last third of the 20th century we can observe (in nearly all fields of social practice) a shift to a more flexible allocation of resources which leads from hierarchical organization to temporary projects, from centralized control to distributed networks, from serial fabrication to lean production, from a modern agenda of homogeneity to a postmodern program of heterogeneity. Working hours and family structures, professional education and the allocation of
military forces, innovative procedures in the political system and new patterns of management in the corporate world – they all experience a programmatic change towards an increased flexibility, towards a modus operandi which counts on creative patchwork and powerful recombination. As we all know, economic changes do not occur independently from social, political, and cultural change. I will argue that the newly developed architecture of relational databank systems in the 1970s is (1) deeply rooted in the culture of flexibility and (2) served as a means for transforming both the operations and the structures of financial institutions. In order to do so, I will sketch the principal issues of competing databank concepts in the 1970s, and I will try to illustrate their importance for what I would like to call “Data Banking in the Age of Flexibility”.
(University of Athens)
Financial Deregulation and Technological Change:
The impact of the turn of the 1970s
Banks and other organisations of the financial sector have played a significant role in one of the most important chapters in the history of technological change in the 20th century. However, although the interdependence between financial and technological evolution seems to be obvious, subtler mechanisms of the emergence of this relationship, especially the ones concerning the impact of financial history on technological history, have not been thoroughly discussed. The aim of this paper is to facilitate the search for missing links which can be found in the discussion of the wider impact of technological processes in the financial sector. The question would be then whether in the case of the financial sector we can solely observe mere processes of adoption of technological innovations emerging in other sectors, or whether the financial sector has brought about its own technological innovations, induced by financial innovations, which have had an impact
on the overall development of information and communication technologies during the last quarter of the 20th century and the first decade of the 21st. In particular, the relevant questions in this context are the following: What were the main features of the co-evolution of financial organisations and markets, on the one hand, and technological patters on the other? In what sense have technologies contributed in the shaping of the financial world as the basis of business practices and the dynamics of whole economies? And more importantly: In what sense have the financial processes of the era of deregulation contributed to technological change in the field of information and communication technologies with consequences also for other fields? What are the main features of the resulting technological processes and of the technological landscapes that emerged from the process of financial deregulation? How does this interplay between the dynamics of
deregulation and the evolution of technology markets define the way managers of the financial sector decide on technologies and technology-based business practices? What does this co-evolution of the characteristics of financial operations and the characteristics of ICTs mean in terms of technological and operational risk exposure of financial organisations?
Information technology as a driver of global change
In the last 50 years, we have been witness of a technological revolution: Following Moore’s Law computational power as well as storage capacity has doubled every 18-24 months – with no limit to be reached until now. In contrast to traditional manufacturing industries, banking in general and transaction banking in particular handles with information and data instead of physical goods. Not astonishing, information technology had a significant influenced on banking business. This technological development together with deregulation allowed establishing a global financial market, asset securitization and sales of receivables. New products were established, allowing clients to invest according to their personal strategy. Despite the current crises, this global financial market is a necessary pendant of the globalization in real economy. We are now in a phase of reconstruction. In this situation, technology may help to increase transparency and therefore
stabilize the whole system.
(University of Edinburgh)
$100 for Every Human Being on Earth:
Models and the Growth of Financial Derivatives Markets
In January 1970, there was no organized financial-derivatives exchange anywhere in the world. Derivatives were often regarded (including by market regulators) as little better than bets on price movements, and indeed many of today’s derivatives contracts would have been regarded legally as wagers, and hence prohibited in the US and unenforceable in the UK.
At the end of December 2007, the total notional amount of financial derivatives outstanding worldwide was $677 trillion, the equivalent of around $100,000 for every human being on Earth. While the figure exaggerates the economic significance of financial derivatives, they have become crucial to the functioning of modern financial markets.
This talk will discuss the role of economic models in this transformation, and in particular will examine the extent to which the adoption of those models brought into being the ‘world’ (market conditions and price patterns) they posited. The focus will be on the 1970s: the emergence of the Black-Scholes-Merton option pricing model (published in 1973), the development of the Chicago Board Options Exchange (launched in 1973) and the interaction between the two.
(Global Policy Institute, London Metropolitan University)
Tensions between economic policies, technology and bankers’ professional perceptions
This paper looks at one of the ‘causal directions’ of technical change, in which technologies are created from demands from the financial sector in a particular historical context. Specific demands analysed here focus on banks’ pressing needs (in a changing industry) to cope with newly-created uncertainties from competition and asset-inflation, in waves of deregulation from the 1970s. From Keynesian controls by nation-states (with their uncertainties such as wage-inflation), banks faced re-regulation in favour of market rules. That culminated in 2004 with US Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson convincing the SEC Commissioners to exempt non-bank investment banks from maintaining reserves to cover losses on investments. A former Reagan administrator describes this ‘greatest mistake’ as one where ‘in place of time-proven standards of prudence, computer models engineered by hot shots determined acceptable risk’.
Why did market (self) regulation go so far and what were the effects of demands for computer-generated risk models? The paper outlines the new cognitive and ‘emotional’ rules that evolved to cope with market-driven uncertainties. Former personal trust between central bankers, treasury and top financiers gave way to impersonal distrust about financial products. Increased ‘internalisation’ of cognitive rules (emotional at heart), less of prudence but caveat emptor and ceteris paribus, required technical models to assay every conceivable detail of the past (assuming continuation in future). ‘Distrust’ procedures gave some comfort to investment and bank CEOs but (my studies of professional bankers show), never conclusively. The growth in impersonal distrust agencies to assess future reputations, credit-worthiness, confidence, profits, and through managing pension funds, was matched by ever more competition audits and performance benchmarks. Banks
are intermediaries but tensions between data generated from within and without; unintended results of pro-market regulations; and bankers’ professional judgments does not encourage ‘pro-active vision’ (Kyrtsis) by bankers or regulators, but anxiety.
Susan V. Scott
(London School of Economics and Political Science)
in an era of self-regulated financial services
Kyrtsis (2008) calls for us to deepen our understanding of the relationship between financial services, deregulation, and technological innovation. He proposes that the main features characterising the financial services landscape are a blend of ‘sophisticated architectural concepts’ which emerge in the form of international electronic financial networks and tactical “solution technologies”. According to Kyrtsis, solution technologies are developed to overcome relatively short-term issues rather than innovations that grow from strategic vision. In this presentation, the proposition that technical practices in banks and other financial organizations are reactive rather than proactive will be explored further. We trace what Abolafia (1996) calls “cycles of opportunism” against a backdrop of key case studies in order to consider what it means to be a techno-innovator in an era of self-regulated financial services.
George I. Stasinopoulos
(National Technical University of Athens)
Driving ICT Innovation and Growth:
Causal Relationships & Analogues
ICT (Information & Communication Technologies) offers a ubiquitous infrastructure, is one of the main factors shaping the business environment and plays the role of a catalyst for new goods and services across most domains of modern society. It influences banking and finance in a direct way as well as a common denominator as in all other economic and societal environments. On the reverse direction the growth and globalization of finance and banking drives the development and omnipresence of ICT. However this influence has to be seen in a wider setting as well as in the context of quantitative vs. qualitative requirements posed to and fulfilled by ICT. Particular needs push innovation in particular targeted scientific and technological fields. Examples can be readily drawn from the cold war, the space race, star wars and lastly the consumer society. All lead to quantum advances or significant improvements of devices, systems, integrating infrastructure
and application methodologies. Clear, causal relationships are easily visible. The situation is somewhat more abstract with banking and finance.
Telecoms are the closest analogue to banking w.r.t. ICT. On a truly global infrastructure many players assume well demarcated roles on largely common resources. At operational level millions of users interact with a giant global machine across well defined rigid interfaces. The case is not clear cut with banking and finance. A distributed ICT infrastructure coexists hand in hand with a multilayered system of staff with different roles and rights. Here ICT works in parallel, assisting operations and decision making at all levels: that of the simple user / client up to high management and consulting. Telecom providers interact with each other in strict real time for service delivery, management, billing and interadministartion accounting. Banks are also faced with strict real time constraints. However their task is not just forwarding information flows. Processing and storage are salient functions of the common, lower layer infrastructure. Horizontal
aspects like security, resilience, availability, maintainability and scalability come in the foreground not as particular isolated requirements but as a well balanced whole. Lastly higher level tools in investing and financing have become prime application areas for modeling, system identification, control and decision theory. Conceptual and theoretical advances have long been dormant in these classical domains, always in need of real life applications and everyday use. These have now, thanks to financing and the underlying ICT infrastructure, come out to the test provoking productive exposure and vivid criticism.
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