Now I know where all the people are … they’re in the conference!
I just opened the innotribe conference stream with Udayan Goyal, Founder and Managing Director of Anthemis Group, talking about the future of money with guest panellists:
- Yoni Assia, Founder and CEO, Etoro
- Eli Gothill, Research Technologist, Webisteme
- Mike Laven, CEO, The Currency Cloud
- Vipul Shah, MD, Product Strategy Executive T&SS, J.P.Morgan
- Paul Wilmore, Managing Director, Barclaycard US
And we had a sellout room with standing room only.
So what is the future of money?
Well, we didn’t know quite how to run this session, as a similarly themed session ran last year and we didn’t want to just repeat it, so we decided to mix it up by asking whether we really need our core infrastructures for processing money, such as SWIFT.
A radical thing to do at SIBOS and, unsurprisingly, the answer was overwhelmingly yes, we do need them … but not in the same way.
The set up for the talk was to compare the banking industry with trains.
To run trains you need tracks and the tracks of our fears are how things have changed.
For example, we are seeing new models of value exchange in the form of mobile and internet exchanges person-to-person, and we are also seeing new operators who could disrupt traditional operations, such as the China National Advanced Payments System (CNAPS) and mobile carriers like Vodafone with M-PESA.
Throughout the session we had audience dialogue about these developments alongside our panellists views of the future.
The key lessons and walkaways is that the future is very much going to need the tracks that are laid by the industry, but the trains, the train operators and the passengers will change.
In fact, they already are, and this was illustrated well by eToro, Webisteme and Currency Cloud.
All three firms made clear that you can trade, exchange and process without a bank involved, but that you need the rails to run.
Having said that, eToro’s founder Yoni wanted to see an intergalactic currency.
We couldn’t deliver that, but we could deliver an alternative to railways: roads.
When roads and the automobile (auto-mobile?) appeared, everyone thought the rails and railroads would disappear.
They didn’t, but they adapted.
Like roads, which offered individuals the ability to get point-to-point direct without having to wait for operators’ interventions, the mobile is offering individuals the ability to transact person-to-person without the financial systems intervention.
That’s what Bitcoin is doing.
But it goes way beyond this, in that the mobile does not get rid of the banking systems, just as the car does not get rid of the railways systems.
You need both but just for different reasons.
And that’s a really good way to end our analogy, as the banking system is a railroad with trains but the exchange of value could equally run on a freeway with other vehicles.
Both railroads and freeways however are highly regulated for health and safety, as that’s where there is massive risk to the economy, so whoever runs our railroads or creates our freeways in value exchange will equally fall under governmental control.
Not much changes in the future from a structural view therefore, but from an operational view we can see and are seeing radical change.
Whatever happens, it certainly had people thinking.
Watch that space.
Ah well, now off to enjoy O-Sake, sorry Osaka .. back tomorrow.