How Wall Street Can Rescue Its Image in the US and Abroad

Back in April, Simon asked an important question:

As the American government struggles with what to do with its new ownership stake in storied corporate brands like AIG, Chrysler, Citigroup and General Motors, one of the fundamental questions that must be asked now is, can these brands - after months of stories about their insolvency - be saved?

Simon wasn't so sure, and neither am I. But if I were an executive at one of these banks, I would be doing everything I could to repair my brand. One of the worst problems these banks have caused is the global impression that America caused an international financial meltdown, which has been, to say the least, bad for both these banks and America’s interests abroad.

So what can they do? Here at NDN, and in particular Sam duPont's Global Mobile blog, we have been covering the role of mobile technology in what the State Department is calling 21st Century Statecraft. One of the most exciting innovations in this space is mobile banking, which Sam has been discussing quite a bit, and I blogged about a year and a half ago. (Sam recently posted a video of Alec Ross, the Senior Advisor on Innovation to Secretary Clinton, discussing this.)  MBanking has the potential to revolutionize standards of living globally by connecting some of the world’s poorest economies to modern financial services without needing to create the physical infrastructure of a bank. 

So here’s my modest proposal to American bankers, a group of people who’ve been particularly good at innovating over the last two decades: Call up State, say you want to build - for free - a modern, mobile communication device based banking system for less developed nations and that you want to put your best people on it. 

Imagine if every time a sizeable percentage of the world’s population did a financial transaction, they knew it was because of the American government and the American financial sector. There’s plenty of profit motive in it for banks, as the additional customers alone would be a boon. Not only would this be great for America’s standing in the world and help these banks repair their image, it would have that nice added benefit of dramatically improving people’s lives.