This part of Washington remains open

Happy hour comes earlier to the District these days...
Happy hour comes earlier to the District these days…

Nothing political on About That Ratio today.  Business as usual here in our D.C. office.  Sure, the streets might be emptier, but as you can tell from this picture of the Dubliner (outside our offices), 5:00 just comes a little earlier these days.

(1) I wrote about payments, and Bitcoin, a few weeks ago.  On Wednesday, Bloomberg ran a piece called “If This Doesn’t Kill Bitcoin, What Will?” In case you missed it, the alleged operator of the Bitcoin-based online marketplace Silk Road was arrested in San Francisco on Tuesday on money-laundering and narcotics-trafficking charges.  While the Bloomberg piece lays out some pretty crazy things (e.g. a murder-for-hire plot), it does invite a broader discussion on the viability of Bitcoin or other virtual currencies.  As the author shares, this week’s event “highlights how using an ostensibly untraceable currency makes for a lovely invitation to blackmailers.”  Lovely indeed, and certainly not the end of the debate about Bitcoin’s future.

(2) As I pondered the future of payment networks like this, I found myself reading a blog authored by Jim Marous: “It’s Time for Banks & Credit Unions to Embrace Change.” Jim’s a good follow on twitter (@JimMarous) and I really like the KPMG report he cites in his post (Reshaping Banking in a Dynamic Business and Regulatory Climate). Jim opens with a disheartening truth: while “technology and distribution channels have changed, banks and credit unions are still faced with many of the same strategic challenges we talked about 20 years ago.”  A good primer for anyone preparing their 2014 strategic plans.

(3) Finally, a tip of the cap to American Banker for their article on Georgia Commerce’s agreement to buy Brookhaven Bank in Atlanta.  As they write, this is a sign that in some parts of the country, “it is becoming more financially advantageous to sell out instead of raising capital.”  When Selling a Bank Becomes Preferable to Raising Capital requires a subscription to AB; however, its clear to me that industry and economic headwinds challenge banks both large and small. In a sense, the boards’ decision to merge shouldn’t surprise but may inspire other community bank CEOs and their directors to consider staging an exit rather than gearing up for a capital raise.

Before wishing everyone a great Friday, let me single out our Associate Publisher, Kelsey Weaver, and wish her the best of luck as she moves home to Nashville next Monday. Fortunately she will remain with our team; our happy little D.C. office, however, will not be the same.  ##WWGS

Aloha Friday!

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