On 30 November of this year, the Euro Retail Payments Board (ERPB) released “Instant Payments Guidelines”, and more details are starting to emerge: banks and financial ser-vice providers will be required to implement instant payments in retail banking and oper-ate them universally from November 2017. This requirement will create major challenges for many financial institutions. The legacy of their IT infrastructure (bringing “technical debt” in its train) means this requirement can only be met with high expenditure and lengthy lead-in times.

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Debates on the challenges and opportunities facing banks, as a result of technological developments and demographic change, have become the norm. These topics were initially viewed as a threat to banks. However, partnerships between fintechs and banks are now widespread, and corresponding services have since become very much a part of the services and ongoing development of many banks.

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On September 9th, Apple presented the iPhone 6, the Apple Watch and the new payment system Apple Pay. With the introduction of the new payment service, Apple has completed its now five-year journey to setting up a payment functionality that is simultaneously integrated and user-friendly – thereby putting an end to all speculations about its possible participation in the field of payment transactions.

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The (N)Onliner-Atlas/D21-Digital-Index published last week shows the development of digitalization in German society for the years 2012 and 2013. While 75.6% of the population was online in 2012, in 2013 it is now 76.5%. While the degree of internet usage continues to rise, the increases since the beginning of data collection in 2001 have been minimal.

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Today there is consensus about the fact that the finance industry is experiencing a wave of innovation. However, there are doubts as to whether this is a temporary development or one that will change the market in the long-term. While it is not proof of the durability of this change, the permanence of the innovators does serve as a suitable indicator of it: The number of innovators that continue to exist on the market compared to how many have given up their concept and canceled their services.

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For businesses, a powerful and agile IT system is an increasingly important factor for success. This principle is especially true for IT-intensive sectors in which companies must constantly keep up with technological developments. In particular, large companies that have grown over the years face an enormous challenge regarding aging IT systems and simultaneously increasing cost pressures.

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2012 was without a doubt a challenging year for banks. A crisis of confidence, scandals and down-sizing, on the one hand, were juxtaposed with comprehensive modernizations and the first inklings of an opening up for innovations on the other hand. While finance institutes in the retail sector are more focused on their own development due to their size, subsidiary structure, technology foundation, and regulatory system, digitalization means that innovators are moving into the market with new concepts, leading to a further diversification of the market.

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