It’s good for all of us to remember that we are building FinTech on the backs of centuries upon centuries of entrepreneurship, technology, and straight work. We may be in more extraordinary times than others (being in the internet and blockchain era) but that does not diminish the fact that generations before us made everything we do today possible. What is novel, innovative, disruptive, and progressive becomes a commodity and taken for granted.
(If you talk to any FinTech entrepreneur in a developing economy, you can bet they are keenly aware of financial services infrastructure, culture, and talent disparities.) It’s precisely this process of new technology and process being tightly integrated into a system that empowers new, better, and bolder technology to come about. That’s what’s special and each generation of technology. It’s also important to remember we’re neither the first nor the last to be in the midst of it.
This week we look at stories about the integration of technology and, while noteworthy, is an important bellwether of what’s next.
The Role of AI Technologies in Humanizing Digital Banking
“Over time, experiences like chat or voice-enabled virtual assistants can provide a humanizing touch to the banking experience. Now is a good time to start experimenting with the technology and figuring out how you want to deploy it. As with all new technology, it’s best to start out slow and grow over time. Here are four considerations to keep in mind as you develop your initial pilots: Start with specific use cases and remember to set expectations up front, incorporate visual aids, Make sure your bot has a personality and soul, and integrate with leading tech platforms.”
AI? Chatbots?! Virtual Assistants!?!?! NOW WAY! I’m really going out on a limb. Joking aside, Katy Gibson’s message piece on LTP is important: AI isn’t about the tech and the tech needs thoughtful consideration when implementing it. It’s easy for anyone in banking – particularly if you aren’t a huge global bank – to think you’ve missed the boat and are far behind but it’s simply not the case. Sure, announcements have been made but nobody’s chatbot is taking over the world (yet). And no, don’t wait either. Start reading up and start with Kathy’s level advice. You will, one day, want a virtual assistant for your company.
Regulated ICOs Arrive: Overstock to Open Exchange for Legal Token Trading
“In the wake of an SEC decision to class some tokens as securities, Overstock’s Medici arm found itself with a fully formed product ready to capitalize on another market entirely – one that had been gaining momentum globally. It might be an understatement, but the market for cryptocurrency investments is booming, having eclipsed the $2 billion mark this year… And that may be a drop in the bucket compared to what’s ahead.”
The most impressive aspect of tØ, the crypto token trading platform, is its prescient origins. The platform started in 2014 – before the ICO craze – and has painstakingly navigated the right channels and regulators to jump on the opportunity to be a national, legal trading system for a completely new market. (And if it wasn’t obvious, brand new capital markets don’t just pop up every year.) With the recent news that Korea has followed China’s lead to ban ICOs, you wonder how US regulators and market will treat ICOs going forward.
The second most impressive thing is that it’s a subsidiary of an internet retail company! Huge credit to early blockchain adopter Patrick Byrne and his team! Bonus: I’ll admit, several years ago, when I saw “CEO of Overstock” on a blockchain panel, I just assumed it was a different company.
Japanese Banks Are Planning to Launch J-Coin, a Digital Currency Meant to Kill Off Cash
“At the moment, some 70 percent of all financial transactions in Japan use cash… Relying so heavily on hard currency exacts costs in the form of transaction and handling fees, as well as the expenses associated with moving all those notes and coins around. Cash transactions are also easier to hide from regulators…
“The idea for J-Coin is that it would sit alongside the Japanese yen, exchanged at a one-to-one rate, and be offered as a free service. In return, the banks that operate it would get detailed data on how people use it (as we’ve discussed before, that will indeed make people easier to track).”
I think the title and excerpt are self-explanatory. Plus, J-Coin just sounds awesome.