The effects of information and communication technologies on the banking sector and the payments system

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This dissertation studies the effects of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) on the banking sector and the payments system. It provides insight into how technology-induced changes occur, by exploring both the nature and scope of main technology innovations and evidencing their economic implications for banks and payment systems. Some parts in the dissertation are descriptive. They summarise the main technological developments in the field of finance and link them to economic policies. These parts are complemented with sections of the study that focus on assessing the extent of technology application to banking and payment activities. Finally, it includes also some work which borrows from the economic literature on banking. The need for an interdisciplinary approach arises from the complexity of the topic and the rapid path of change to which it is subject. The first chapter provides an overview of the influence of developments in ICT on the evolution of financial services and international capital flows. We include main indicators and discuss innovation in the financial sector, exchange rates and international capital flows. The chapter concludes with impact analysis and policy options regarding the international financial architecture, some monetary policy issues and the role of international institutions. The second chapter is a technology assessment study that focuses on the relationship between technology and money. The application of technology to payments systems is transforming the way we use money and, in some instances, is blurring the definition of what constitutes money. This chapter surveys the developments in electronic forms of payment and their relationship to the banking system. It also analyses the challenges posed by electronic money for regulators and policy makers, and in particular the opportunities created by two simultaneous processes: the Economic and Monetary Union and the increasing use of electronic payment instruments. The third chapter deals with the implications of developments in ICT on relationship banking. The financial intermediation literature explains relationship banking as a type of financial intermediation characterised by proprietary information and multiple interactions with customers. This form of banking is important for the financing of small and medium-sized enterprises. We discuss the effects of ICT on the banking sector as a whole and then apply these developments to the case of relationship banking. The fourth chapter is an empirical study of the effects of technology on the banking business, using a sample of data from the Spanish banking industry. The design of the study is based on some of the events described in the previous chapters, and also draws from the economic literature on banking. The study shows that developments in information management have differential effects on wholesale and retail banking activities. Finally, the last chapter is a technology assessment study on electronic payments systems in Spain and the European Union. It contains an analysis of existing payment systems and ongoing or planned initiatives in Spain. It forms part of a broader project comprising a series of country-specific analyses covering ten European countries. The main issues raised across the countries serve as the starting point to discuss implications of the development of electronic money for regulation and policies, and in particular, for monetary-policy making. ​
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