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Consortium platforms: The politics of multi-bank sites

Much as some might like to, banks can’t uninvent the internet. Nor is there any clear sign that they know what to do with it. For a variety of motives, both obvious and obscure, they have begun entering into platform consortia with rivals. That’s problem enough and costly. Worse, though, is when a platform seems to be biting the hands that feed it. Antony Currie reports

As he switches back from his other call, the banker curses. "That was a call about exactly what you're ringing up to discuss," he tells Euromoney. "Consortia platforms. They are the single biggest bloody headache of the job." He should know. As the head of e-commerce strategy at a major European investment bank, he's joined a few.

It turns out the call was from a peer at another institution, and the two had been part of an OTC derivatives consortium that never saw the light of day. "And there are several more of those that were stillborn," he says. Is it, asks Euromoney, because you just can't rely on bankers from rival institutions to trust each other enough to get the job done? Because the egos on the board are just too large to allow for effective decision-making? Because there are too many disagreements?

"That's certainly part of it" he replies. "Although often we don't even get that far. Just getting us all together in one place is tough enough." Once that happens, the negotiations start: who's in, who's out, what exactly is the aim, who sits on the board, who runs it, what sort of oversight committee is there, who talks to clients, who decides on strategy.

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