FinTech is Growing Up

Wharton, one of the world’s most respected business schools, has recently published an article following a recent conference at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia on the topic of “Fintech: The Impact on Consumers, Banking, and Regulatory Policy” and it presents some very interesting views on where Fintech is at right now. It’s no longer seen as a fledgling disruptor that is working against the interests of the banking community; now bankers are seeing it as a potential partner when it comes to fintech startups.

Robert Nicholls, president of the American Banking Association said: “We are actively seeking startups to partner with,” and they are busy inviting fintech firms to present to the annual ABA convention. Collaboration is the word on these bankers’ lips and they have even developed a ‘fintech playbook’ for smaller banks. The way they see it is this: banks have trusted relationships, but fintech can enhance the customer experience.

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Banks embrace Fintech startups

As a result of this willingness to embrace fintech, banks of all sizes are looking at ways to create innovations with these new partners. For example, Capital One has integrated its services with Amazon’s Alexa. Consumers can ask Alexa for their account balance, request that it track their spending or even make a payment. Bank of America is set to debut its chatbot Erica on the bank’s mobile app to help customers with personal finance decisions.

And, most importantly, numerous U.S. banks are using a fintech platform that allows customers to transfer money in minutes, rather than days. Zelle and Ripple are key players in this sector for the moment.

Another development to come out of a bank in North Carolina is cloud-based technology that streamlines the commercial lending process. And, Eastern Bank in Boston, has adopted Numerated, a startup that enables clients to apply for a small business loan in minutes and get funding within two days. The bank hired fintech entrepreneurs to work with traditional bankers and build an innovation lab that led to the launch of Numerated.

Governments look for cryptocurrency solutions

However, the banks are still quite nervous when you start talking about cryptocurrencies. It is a sector that is risk averse and the volatility in the digital coin market still makes them uneasy. Having said that, bankers at the conference believed that cryptocurrencies will become strong in economies where “people do not have confidence in their own currency or they are avoiding controls on their money,” as William Nelson at The Clearing House told the meeting. He thinks that developed economies with strong currencies will have less use for it, yet Singapore and England are looking at developing their own digital currencies, which means that world economic leaders have not written off Bitcoin and its peers; instead they are looking for solutions and want to be ready.

The blockchain must be trusted

But while there may be some doubts about cryptocurrencies, the blockchain is much more readily accepted. Gurwinder Ahluwalia  of Digital Twin Labs told Wharton attendees that he believed the flexibility and agility of the blockchain gave it more appeal than crypto coins. He said: “You could have warranty programs. You could have provenance of parts to the aircraft industry, provenance of luxury assets. You could have the tracking of transoceanic shipments. You could have the tracking of food for its various associated benefits.” He added that the last hurdle blockchain has to overcome in order to become widely accepted by the traditional financial world is “establishing trust in a decentralized platform and establishing governance.”

This is on the way as banks, governments and other businesses test blockchain technology. Ahluwahlia believes that blockchain will prove itself, because “It provides the trust. It provides the peer-to-peer. It provides the crytography. It provides the database.” It certainly looks like Fintech will show the ‘adults’ that it is grown-up enough to play a role in the world of global finance.

 

 

Economic Predictions And Trends For 2017

Trend watching, especially when it comes to what is happening in the economy is always interesting, sometimes very exciting and occasionally a bit of a let down. In 2017 we’ve been highly focused on political news, and the new trend of what is fake and what is not, and the economies have been in something of a state of flux as a result, but here are some directions that we’ve been going in that may continue into next year.

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American expansion

The soothsayers predicted that the sustainable expansion seen during the Obama era would suddenly see expansion with the election of Trump. Was that because he is a businessman rather than politician? Perhaps, but Donald’s big boom hasn’t yet happened, although there is some growth.

The Brexit Effect

Many foresaw that the UK leaving the EU would bring uncertainty to the UK economy, and guess what, it has done just that. Every time a statement is made from Downing St. about the state of the exit negotiations, the markets either have a moment of hope, or take a nosedive. Expect to see more of this.

The EU

Euro-sceptics said that the Netherlands, France and Germany would surprise everyone with a vote against membership of the EU. So far, elections in France and the Netherlands have shown strong support for the EU and it is now hard to imagine that Germany will show any inclination to leave.

Chinese stability

China’s economy is looking increasingly stable and its deflation pressures are easing. Lowered interest rates will ease the country’s high debt levels and this helps the global community as well.

Watch Trump

It has been quite a year of watching Trump and what he tweets, and then watching how stock markets and other governments respond. He was very bullish about China and imposing high tariffs on their goods during his election campaign, but so far any anti-trade action has been subdued, perhaps due to the fact he is now more preoccupied with North Korea. But Trump and China is still one to watch.

Interest rates

As predicted in 2017, the USA has hiked interest rates twice this year so far. This is a show of confidence in the U.S. economy thanks to a rise in employment levels. Will this continue? We have yet to see. The UK by contrast has been extremely cautious with its interest rates and a speech by Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England on 19th September 2017, suggested that any rises would be “limited and gradual.” This gave sterling a very slight advantage over the dollar during trading following the announcement, and the pound has been bouncing up and down all day and the FTSE 100 went into the red. What will happen with sterling and the dollar by December is the question everyone would like an answer to.

Higher stock prices

In 2017, stock prices have looked extremely solid and have followed an upward trajectory as predicted in 2016. We can expect to see this continue into 2018.

 

 

 

 

Future World Governments

Political systems go through change, as history shows us, and as technology and society advances and changes, we are certain to see some alterations in the style of government around the world. There are a few ways that our governments may look dramatically different in the future and some of them are potentially terrifying. Here are five possible scenarios.

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A Noocracy

This is a political system based on the “priority of the human mind.” The concept comes from the Jesuit mystic Teilhard de Chardin, who saw this as a possible evolution of democracy that would create “a flexible and adaptable system comprised of conscious, systematic, and institutionalized elements which will operate in decentralized autonomous subsystems.” The upshot of a system like this is the development of a hive-like civilisation brain that integrates all individual minds, both human and AI, through information networks.

A Cyberocracy

In this system, governments would rule by the effective use of information. This could take two forms: one that supplants bureaucracy and technocracy as we know it, and or one that redefines the relationship between the state and society. It will be driven by decisions based on information, which means a government will seek to obtain as much information as possible about everyone and every entity. It is likely to result in a bureaucratic system run by administrative AIs.

A democratic global government

A global liberal democracy will be one capable of “ending nuclear proliferation, ensuring global security, intervening to end genocide, defending human rights, and putting a stop to human-caused climate change,” says George Dvorsky. We are already on the way to this in terms of culture and economics, but we have yet to reach the political stage. The European Union is an example of this type of government on a small scale.

A Futarchy

This system is the creation of economist George Mason and futurist Robin Hanson. They say that under a futarchy we would “vot on values, but bet on beliefs.” How does that work? Hanson says: “Elected representatives would formally define and manage an after-the-fact numerical measure of national welfare. Market speculators would set prices that estimate national welfare conditional on adopting proposed policies. When the market estimate of welfare conditional on adopting a policy is higher than the estimate conditional on non-adoption, that proposal becomes law.”

Post Apocalypse Hunter-Gatherers

Finally, there is the possibility that we will experience a catastrophic event – natural or man made– that forces us back into a paleolithic political system in which we will return to living in small tribal groups, existing by hunting and gathering for our existence.

Which type of futuristic government would you prefer if you had a choice? I look forward to hearing your views.

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