It is the end of a great, exciting year of fintech. So much of what we saw was an obvious realignment in people's minds of what their future will look like, or more importantly, what will sit inside their wallets. Two stand out topics - The Crypto-world and fintech innovation/revolution/evolution.
Perhaps if I say it often enough, it'll start to catch on. With the exception of Bitcoin, which from the very beginning had an intent of being a currency alternative to FIAT currencies, all other tokens were meant to stand as a yardstick for the value and potential of their underlying "asset". Talk to a banker about it, 'cause they find it completely unfathomable that anything not backed by a government or a bank could ever replace the Dollar, Yen, or Euro.
I personally, find it hard to believe myself. I do think crypto-currencies are around the corner - real, government-backed crypto-currencies that is. So what will that mean for Bitcoin and others? Will they survive? Will they be battered down to a fraction of their current values? Or will some in our society make a conscious move away from government-backed-anything, and commit that a nameless, faceless global marketplace is more trustworthy and reliable. I make no predictions, as most of us, including the inventors and proponents of these new investment vehicles have no clue themselves.
One thing is for certain though, something like Bitcoin, will never be a currency that is reliable and truly bankable until the fluctuations cease completely. And when comparing it to the value of Art, well, could it ever be as pretty as a Monet on your wall?
Innovation/revolution/evolution in fintech
The fintech world is seeing a tectonic shift in focus. Startups are recognising the importance of regulators in helping them, as opposed to hindering them, in their success story. Building trust is fundamental to the DNA of a good fintech startup, and many over the years have either skirted regulations or pointedly tried to trample over them. Those companies do not survive. The misconception that regulators = banks has rapidly melted away. Great examples of that are companies like TransferWise. Challenging the banking industry head on, while being fully engaged with regulators in all markets that they operate out of. I even quoted founder Taavet Hinrikus in a previous blog saying, "Compliance is key to being successful".
The statement of the year for me, that wrapped up the world of fintech in a nice little bow for us all, was Michael Wiegand, from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, when he said, "Everyone benefits from an economy that includes everyone". The truth in that statement stretches deep into my own personal belief of just how significant fintech is for the future of our society at large. There are still so many in the world who are excluded. Who don't have the privilege of attending conferences around the world to learn what everyone is doing to magnify their wealth. Focusing on magnifying the wellbeing and livelihood of the less fortunate should, and must factor into the thinking of fintech innovators and founders. There is simply no downside to that kind of thinking. Helping the less fortunate to live active financial lives and be better represented within the digital economy is an explosion of growth that will recession-proof the next decade to come. Exciting times.