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The View from Amsterdam
417 Years after the invention of the multi-national corporation, what are the themes that matter?
Money 20/20 Europe takes place this year in Amsterdam on 3-5 June. Given the city’s contributions to global economic and financial history over the centuries – including the formation of the world’s first modern multi-national corporation, the Dutch East India Company, in 1602 – it is appropriate that this edition of Financial IT is devoted mainly to the conduct and funding of cross-border trade. As one of our contributors points out, some 56% of consumers shop beyond their geographical boundaries in 2019.
As was the case in the early 17th century, a lot of trade and economic activity that is taking place is completely unregulated by governments. What our Publisher Chris Principe describes as System D – the Gray Economy – is growing steadily. This is mainly due to innovative technology – including virtually zero cost telecommunications and new payments systems. The opportunities are huge, even if the main beneficiaries are not necessarily going to be established financial institutions. As Chris notes, the unbanked do not need banks.
The complete lack of government involvement in trade, commerce and finance is not necessarily a good thing. Many of the contributors discuss the prevalence of financial crime – which is one of the central themes in this edition of Financial IT. Financial crime involves money laundering, which appears to be more of a problem for some institutions than others. As one of our contributors observes, the fines for money laundering that have been levied by US regulators on European-based banks are over five times as large as the fines imposed on US-based banks.
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