Fintech Panel Debate:

Modern Customer and Modern Business

 

16

February, 2018

Moderator Charlotte Dukes from the University of Warwick began our final panel debate of the conference weekend on the subject ‘Fintech: Modern Customer and Modern Business’, by introducing our three speakers: Jack Collier, Director of European Marketing at Circle, Simon Hiscox, Growth Marketing Director of Seedrs, and Anirudh Pai, Researcher at General Crypto.

“Innovation seeks to compete with traditional methods in the delivery of financial services”

The importance of fintech as the theme for the debate was emphasised as “innovation seeks to compete with traditional methods in the delivery of financial services”. Many of us in countries across the globe are using fintech in one way or another, and this is changing and laying new basis for the financial sector.

Jack Collier looked at the social payment app Circle as a disruptive business that is redefining the way money works. People are not using cash anymore, and so fintechs like Circle are aiming to transform money into “the way the internet works” – globally, digitally, instantly and securely. More generally, Mr. Collier highlighted that “a revolution is underway” when it comes to financial technology. Consumers are losing trust in the traditional banking industry and are expecting fast, free and instant transactions, so the overall expectations of the industry are changing rapidly. This continuing development is what fintechs like Circle are responding to. By employing technological developments like the blockchain in order to make payments global, instant and secure, as well as AI to remove human intervention, we are experiencing the dissolution of traditional banking.

Simon Hiscox expanded on the current state of the industry by stating the “financial services have always been the last to be the leaders of innovation, however those days are over.” This fintech revolution is happening now due to the effects of the financial crisis storm which initiated a great shift in customer expectations. The public “simply think they deserve better from the finance industry”, with lack of credit and depression of interest rates. “People innovate in times of necessity”, he explained. Mr. Hiscox touched on the contrary of this revolution by asking us to evaluate how fintechs will continue to sustain themselves. In his opinion, “fintechs will continue to thrive, provided they innovate in response to ever changing customer needs”.

Our final speaker Anirudh Pai built upon the debate by adding that cryptocurrency is metaphorically a way to rescue people, and will deeply transform our future as we only invest in things than can impact the world in a real sense. In a broader sense, Facebook and Google are examples of how we are being dominated, with these companies knowing every detail about us. However, instead of fearing the growth of these companies, technology should be embraced as exciting “as it is the only thing that has progressed us from apes”. Ultimately, as Mr. Pai said, “it’s not finance that makes things happen, it’s technology”.

The three speakers responded to questions from the audience on topics such as how to educate the public on cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and the role of fintech companies in helping to avoid fraud. In response to the question of how fintechs can tackle protectionism, Mr. Collier and Mr. Hiscox seemed united in the view that it is crucial for fintech companies to work alongside regulators, collaborating with the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority). Mr. Pai was of the opinion that the most important thing is human capital, and inevitably people will be attracted to work in countries that have the least regulation. Overall, the general consensus of the panel can be summarised by a quote from Mr. Collier during the debate: “Dare to dream, because we cannot go back to the way things were previously.”

 

Written by Mia Daoudi. Edited by Amy Preston.

 

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