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Financial services’ ‘Uber’ moment still five years off, says ex-Barclays CEO

Banking is headed for an "Uber moment", Barclays' former chief executive once said in late 2015. But 14 months on, the financial services industry still remains a long way off, Antony Jenkins told CNBC.

Jenkins, who was ousted from the bank in July 2015, said that banks have so far undergone "incremental change" but they are yet to transform the financial services industry in the way Uber has done so notably within the transportation space.

Blockchain, the digital ledger-based data transfer system, is facilitating this transition – put it could be as much as five years before the shift picks up apace.

"I think we're in the pre-Uber moment phase. What I mean by an Uber moment is that point at which technology can create an experience which is transformational. We've seen that with the way Uber has basically revolutionised transformation. We're at what I regard as the end of the beginning of that process and I think in the next five years we'll start to see some real progress there.


Jenkins, who is founder of financial services data firm 10x, recently joined the board of software platform Blockchain as he seeks to be part of that "transformation."

Jenkins said he applauds the innovation currently coming from the industry – from start-ups to established players – but added that addressing the industry culture would be most important to enacting change.

"When you've got a dominant position you've got a lot to lose and so it's very, very hard to innovate. The more innovative places in the world are the places where there is no banking system, or a very limited banking system, because there's nothing to cling onto."

He pointed to Kenya and parts of Asia where the use of digital and mobile-only banks are commonplace.

Jenkins reiterated comments made in November 2015 that these innovations would lead to inevitable job losses and bank closures.

Previously he had suggested these losses could be anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent. However he admitted Monday that he had been overly cautious – "it's happening more quickly than I thought," he said.

Jenkins, alongside Blockchain's chief executive Peter Smith, appealed to the U.K. government to counter these expected losses by concentrating on attracting and retaining talent within the technology sector as it considers its Brexit negotiations.

Smith said people had focused too much on the immediate aftermath of the vote, and its impact on the economy, but government should focus on longer-term aims of maintaining a strong technology sector.

Currently privately held, Smith told CNBC he expects Blockchain to seek an initial public offering in the next five to six years.