Category Archives: Fintech AI/ML, Data-driven

Davos 2020: How to Survive the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

World Economic Forum | Yuval Harari | Jan 24, 2020

how to survive the 21st century - Davos 2020:  How to Survive the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

  • Humanity faces three existential threats this century, warned historian Yuval Harari at Davos 2020.
  • Technology risks dividing the world into wealthy elites and exploited "data colonies," he explained.
  • "If you like the World Cup - you are already a globalist," he said, making the case for better cooperation to tackle the challenges.

As we enter the third decade of the twenty-first Century, humanity faces so many issues and questions, that it is really hard to know what to focus on. So I would like to use the next twenty minutes to help us focus of all the different issues we face. Three problems pose existential challenges to our species.

These three existential challenges are nuclear war, ecological collapse and technological disruption. We should focus on them.

Now nuclear war and ecological collapse are already familiar threats, so let me spend some time explaining the less familiar threat posed by technological disruption.

In Davos we hear so much about the enormous promises of technology – and these promises are certainly real. But technology might also disrupt human society and the very meaning of human life in numerous ways, ranging from the creation of a global useless class to the rise of data colonialism and of digital dictatorships.

First, we might face upheavals on the social and economic level.

Automation will soon eliminate millions upon millions of jobs, and while new jobs will certainly be created, it is unclear whether people will be able to learn the necessary new skills fast enough. Suppose you are a fifty-years-old truck driver, and you just lost your job to a self-driving vehicle. Now there are new jobs in designing software or in teaching yoga to engineers – but how does a fifty-years-old truck driver reinvent himself or herself as a software engineer or as a yoga teacher? And people will have to do it not just once but again and again throughout their lives, because the automation revolution will not be a single watershed event following which the job market will settle down, into a new equilibrium. Rather, it will be a cascade of ever bigger disruptions, because AI is nowhere near its full potential.

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Old jobs will disappear, new jobs will emerge, but then the new jobs will rapidly change and vanish. Whereas in the past human had to struggle against exploitation, in the twenty-first century the really big struggle will be against irrelevance. And it is much worse to be irrelevant than exploited.

Those who fail in the struggle against irrelevance would constitute a new “useless class” – people who are useless not from the viewpoint of their friends and family, but useless from the viewpoint of the economic and political system. And this useless class will be separated by an ever-growing gap from the ever more powerful elite.

The AI revolution might create unprecedented inequality not just between classes but also between countries.

In the nineteenth Century, a few countries like Britain and Japan industrialized first, and they went on to conquer and exploit most of the world. If we aren’t careful, the same thing will happen in the twenty-first century with AI.

We are already in the midst of an AI arms-race, with China and the USA leading the race, and most countries being left far far behind. Unless we take action to distribute the benefit and power of AI between all humans, AI will likely create immense wealth in a few high-tech hubs, while other countries will either go bankrupt or become exploited data-colonies.

Now we aren’t talking here about a science fiction scenario of robots rebelling against humans. We are talking about far more primitive AI, which is nevertheless enough to disrupt the global balance.

Just think what will happen to developing economies once it is cheaper to produce textiles or cars in California than in Mexico? And what will happen to politics in your country in twenty years, when somebody in San Francisco or Beijing knows the entire medical and personal history of every politician, every judge and every journalist in your country, including all their sexual escapades, all their mental weaknesses and all their corrupt dealings? Will it still be an independent country or will it become a data-colony?

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When you have enough data you don't need to send soldiers, in order to control a country.

Alongside inequality, the other major danger we face is the rise of digital dictatorships, that will monitor everyone all the time.

This danger can be stated in the form of a simple equation, which I think might be the defining equation of life in the twenty-first century:

B x C x D = AHH!

Which means? Biological knowledge multiplied by computing power multiplied by data equals the ability to hack humans, ahh.

If you know enough biology and have enough computing power and data, you can hack my body and my brain and my life, and you can understand me better than I understand myself. You can know my personality type, my political views, my sexual preferences, my mental weaknesses, my deepest fears and hopes. You know more about me than I know about myself. And you can do that not just to me, but to everyone.

A system that understands us better than we understand ourselves can predict our feelings and decisions, can manipulate our feelings and decisions, and can ultimately make decisions for us.

Now in the past, many governments and tyrants wanted to do it, but nobody understood biology well enough and nobody had enough computing power and data to hack millions of people. Neither the Gestapo nor the KGB could do it. But soon at least some corporations and governments will be able to systematically hack all the people. We humans should get used to the idea that we are no longer mysterious souls – we are now hackable animals. That's what we are.

The power to hack humans can be used for good purposes – like providing much better healthcare. But if this power falls into the hands of a twenty-first-century Stalin, the result will be the worst totalitarian regime in human history. And we already have a number of applicants for the job of twenty-first-century century Stalin.

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Just imagine North Korea in twenty years, when everybody has to wear a biometric bracelet which constantly monitors your blood pressure, your heart rate, your brain activity twenty-four hours a day. You listen to a speech on the radio by the great leader and they know what you actually feel. You can clap your hands and smile, but if you're angry, they know, you'll be in the gulag tomorrow.

And if we allow the emergence of such total surveillance regimes, don’t think that the rich and powerful in places like Davos will be safe, just ask Jeff Bezos. In Stalin’s USSR, the state monitored members of the communist elite more than anyone else. The same will be true of future total surveillance regimes. The higher you are in the hierarchy – the more closely you’ll be watched.

Do you want your CEO or your president to know what you really think about them?

So it is in the interest of all humans, including the elites, to prevent the rise of such digital dictatorships. And in the meantime, if you get a suspicious WhatsApp message, from some Prince, don't open it.

Now if we indeed prevent the establishment of digital dictatorships, the ability to hack humans might still undermine the very meaning of human freedom. Because as humans will rely on AI to make more and more decisions for us, authority will shift from humans to algorithms and this is already happening.

Already today billions of people trust the Facebook algorithm to tell us what is new, the Google algorithm tells us what is true, Netflix tells us what to watch, and the Amazon and Alibaba algorithms tell us what to buy.

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In the not-so-distant future, similar algorithms might tell us where to work and who to marry, and also decide whether to hire us for a job, whether to give us a loan, and whether the central bank should raise the interest rate.

And if you ask why you were not given a loan, and why you the bank didn't raise the interest rate the answer will always be the same – because the computer says no. And since the limited human brain lacks sufficient biological knowledge, computing power and data – humans will simply not be able to understand the computer’s decisions.

So even in supposedly free countries, humans are likely to lose control over our own lives and also lose the ability to understand public policy.

Already now how many humans understand the financial system? Maybe one percent to be very generous. In a couple of decades, the number of humans capable of understanding the financial system will be exactly zero.

Now we humans are used to thinking about life as a drama of decision-making. What will be the meaning of human life, when most decisions are taken by algorithms? We don’t even have philosophical models to understand such an existence.

The usual bargain between philosophers and politicians is that philosophers have a lot of fanciful ideas, and politicians basically explain that they lack the means to implement these ideas. Now we are in an opposite situation. We are facing philosophical bankruptcy.

The twin revolutions of infotech and biotech are now giving politicians the means to create heaven or hell, but the philosophers are having trouble conceptualizing what the new heaven and the new hell will look like. And that’s a very dangerous situation.

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If we fail to conceptualize the new heaven quickly enough, we might be easily misled by naïve utopias. And if we fail to conceptualize the new hell quickly enough, we might find ourselves entrapped there with no way out.

Finally, technology might disrupt not just our economy, politics and philosophy – but also our biology.

In the coming decades, AI and biotechnology will give us godlike abilities to reengineer life, and even to create completely new life-forms. After four billion years of organic life shaped by natural selection, we are about to enter a new era of inorganic life shaped by intelligent design.

Our intelligent design is going to be the new driving force of the evolution of life and in using our new divine powers of creation we might make mistakes on a cosmic scale. In particular, governments, corporations and armies are likely to use technology to enhance human skills that they need – like intelligence and discipline – while neglecting other humans skills – like compassion, artistic sensitivity and spirituality.

The result might be a race of humans who are very intelligent and very disciplined but lack compassion, lack artistic sensitivity and lack spiritual depth. Of course, this is not a prophecy. These are just possibilities. Technology is never deterministic.

In the twentieth century, people used the same industrial technology to build very different kinds of societies: fascist dictatorships, communist regimes, liberal democracies. The same thing will happen in the twenty-first Century.

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AI and biotech will certainly transform the world, but we can use them to create very different kinds of societies. And if you're afraid of some of the possibilities I’ve mentioned, you can still do something about it. But to do something effective, we need global cooperation.

All the three existential challenges we face are global problems that demand global solutions.

Whenever a leader says something like “My Country First!” we should remind that leader that no nation can prevent nuclear war or stop ecological collapse by itself, and no nation can regulate AI and bioengineering by itself.

Almost every country will say: “Hey, we don’t want to develop killer robots or to genetically engineer human babies. We are the good guys. But we can't trust our rivals not to do it. So we must do it first”.

If we allow such an arms race to develop in fields like AI and bioengineering, it doesn’t really matter who wins the arms race – the loser will be humanity.

Unfortunately, just when global cooperation is more needed than ever before, some of the most powerful leaders and countries in the world are now deliberately undermining global cooperation. Leaders like the US president tell us that there is an inherent contradiction between nationalism and globalism, and that we should choose nationalism and reject globalism.

But this is a dangerous mistake. There is no contradiction between nationalism and globalism. Because nationalism isn’t about hating foreigners. Nationalism is about loving your compatriots. And in the twenty-first century, in order to protect the safety and the future of your compatriots, you must cooperate with foreigners.

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So in the twenty-first century, good nationalists must be also globalists. Now globalism doesn’t mean establishing a global government, abandoning all national traditions, or opening the border to unlimited immigration. Rather, globalism means a commitment to some global rules.

Rules that don’t deny the uniqueness of each nation, but only regulate the relations between nations.

And a good model is the Football World Cup.

The World Cup is a competition between nations, and people often show fierce loyalty to their national team. But at the same time the World Cup is also an amazing display of global harmony. France can't play football against Croatia unless the French and the Croatians agree on the same rules for the game. And that’s globalism in action.

If you like the World Cup – you are already a globalist.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Davos 2020:  How to Survive the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Manager and machine: The new leadership equation

McKinsey & Company | By Martin Dewhurst and Paul Willmott | Sep 2014

Man vs machine - Davos 2020:  How to Survive the 21st Century by Yuval Noah HarariAs artificial intelligence takes hold, what will it take to be an effective executive?

What would it take for algorithms to take over the C-suite? And what will be senior leaders’ most important contributions if they do? Our answers to these admittedly speculative questions rest on our work with senior leaders in a range of industries, particularly those on the vanguard of the big data and advanced-analytics revolution. We have also worked extensively alongside executives who have been experimenting most actively with opening up their companies and decision-making processes through crowdsourcing and social platforms within and across organizational boundaries.

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Our argument is simple: the advances of brilliant machines will astound us, but they will transform the lives of senior executives only if managerial advances enable them to. There’s still a great deal of work to be done to create data sets worthy of the most intelligent machines and their burgeoning decision-making potential. On top of that, there’s a need for senior leaders to “let go” in ways that run counter to a century of organizational development.

The contrast with the command-and-control era—when holding information close was a source of power, and information moved in one direction only, up the corporate hierarchy—could not be starker. Uncomfortable as this new world may be, the costs of the status quo are large and growing: information hoarders will slow the pace of their organizations and forsake the power of artificial intelligence while competitors exploit it.

The Human Edge

If senior leaders successfully fuel the insights of increasingly brilliant machines and devolve decision-making authority up and down the line, what will be left for top management to do?

Asking questions:  Asking the right questions of the right people at the right times is a skill set computers lack and may never acquire. Algorithms and artificial intelligence may broaden this kind of analytical complexity beyond the financial world, to a whole new set of decision areas—again placing a premium on the tough questions senior leaders can ask. Penetrating this new world of analytical complexity is likely to be difficult, and an increasingly important role for senior executives may be establishing a set of small, often improvisatory, experiments to get a better handle on the implications of emerging insights and decision rules, as well as their own managerial styles.

Attacking Exceptions:  Senior leaders will have to draw on a mixture of insight—examining exceptions to see if they require interventions, such as new credit limits for a big customer or an opportunity to start bundling a new service with an existing product—and inspiration, as leaders galvanize the organization to respond quickly and work in new ways. Exceptions may pave the way for innovation too, something we already see as leading-edge retailers and financial-services firms mine large sets of customer data.

Tolerating ambiguity:  While algorithms and supercomputers are designed to seek answers, they are likely to be most definitive on relatively small questions. The bigger and broader the inquiry, the more likely that human synthesis will be central to problem solving, because machines, though they learn rapidly, provide many pieces without assembling the puzzle. That process of assembly and synthesis can be messy and slow, placing a fresh premium on the senior leaders’ ability to tolerate ambiguity.

See: 

Employing ‘soft’ skills:  Humans have and will continue to have a strong comparative advantage when it comes to inspiring the troops, empathizing with customers, developing talent, and the like. Sometimes, machines will provide invaluable input, as Laszlo Bock at Google has famously shown in a wide range of human-resource data-analytics efforts. But translating this insight into messages that resonate with organizations will require a human touch. No computer will ever manage by walking around. And no effective executive will try to galvanize action by saying, “we’re doing this because an algorithm told us to.”

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Davos 2020:  How to Survive the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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FT Partners Report (Jan 2020): The Rise of Challenger Banks: Are the Apps Taking Over?

FT Partners | Jan 2020

FTP rise of challenger banks research - Davos 2020:  How to Survive the 21st Century by Yuval Noah HarariExecutive Summary:

The banking sector is experiencing a major shift globally, as Challenger Banks are becoming increasingly formidable competitors to traditional banks and have begun to capture significant market share. Furthermore, the lines between banks and other consumer financial services providers are blurring, with several alternative lenders and robo-advisors beginning to offer banking products to their customers. E-commerce / internet giants are also jumping into the fray with Google and Amazon, among others, beginning to offer banking products. In response to the emergence of Challenger Banks, a number of incumbent banks have launched their own FinTech brands, and traditional financial institutions will likely turn to FinTech solution providers in order to defend their turfs.

 

Download this Jan 2020 FT Partners Fintech research (216 page PDF) -> Now

 


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Davos 2020:  How to Survive the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Open Banking In Canada: Navigating The Future Of Money

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP | Stephen J. Redican, Robert Dawkins, Ross McGowan and Alexandra Nicol | Jan 9, 2020
Open Banking in Canada - Davos 2020:  How to Survive the 21st Century by Yuval Noah HarariThe Canadian financial services industry is at the threshold of change. Regulatory overhaul, the ubiquity of online services, and technological innovation and disruption will affect all players—from banks to FinTech start-ups.

Open banking will introduce new opportunities and business models for the financial services industry and new services from FinTech entrants to the market—but these opportunities come with unprecedented risks and operational requirements for a banking system that prides itself on stability. Given Canada's unique financial system and constitutional structure, the implementation of open banking won't look the same as it has in the U.K., the EU or Australia, where its introduction is already underway.

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We spoke with a diverse group of leaders from across the Canadian financial services industry to understand open banking's current and emerging issues: What do you see changing? How will your organizations fit into the new landscape? What might a made-in-Canada model of open banking look like for consumers and industry?

Roundtable Participants

Anne Butler
Chief Legal Officer and Head of Policy and Research, Payments Canada
"If there isn't trust in the security and integrity of the system, especially among consumers, open banking will not succeed."

Lisa Ford
Senior Counsel, RBC Law Group, Enterprise Payments and Open Banking
"Open banking has existed in some form since the turn of the century and now technology and other changes are fuelling a more public debate."

Andrew Boyajian
Head of Banking, North America, Transferwise
"A concept like, "We're a known bank, we've been around for hundreds of years and therefore we're better equipped," doesn't necessarily make sense. Instead, it comes down to the contents and adherence to risk policies, and the importance that institutions give to cybersecurity."

Oscar Roque
AVP, Innovation, Research & Emerging Solutions, Interac Corp.
"...it's not just about the security of the technology, but also governance structure, accreditation, and making sure that the proper controls are in place so that it's not just anybody accessing that system."

Tanya Postlewaite
VP Compliance and Governance, Corporate Secretary, Chief Compliance Officer and CAMLO, Concentra
"We hope open banking will bring FinTechs into the same realm of regulation as other financial institutions, to ensure everyone is operating on the same playing field and that the integrity of the entire system is protected."

Andrew Boyajian, TransferWise

Andrew Boyajian is the Head of Banking, North America, for TransferWise, an international money transfer service headquartered in the U.K.

For a FinTech like TransferWise to grow in the Canadian market, we needed to address both operational and regulatory issues. From our experience in other markets, we find Canadian payments infrastructure can be a bit guarded. And this is a challenge not only to us, but to the entire FinTech ecosystem. As an example, in Canada only a select group of financial institutions can participate in payment systems. But Canada also goes one step further. To be a direct clearer, the current rules require financial institutions to handle a specified percentage of the gross payment volume in Canada. While this is slated to change, it can limit the system to a few big banks and financial institutions. For a company whose primary role is to provide payment services to customers, this is a challenge. First, we need to find a bank that's willing to actually onboard us as a customer. And second, we're going to rely on that banking relationship as part of our business continuity.

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Fortunately, we've seen some progress overseas with central banks becoming more open to including non-traditional financial institutions in payment systems. TransferWise was one of the first non-banks in the U.K. to hold a settlement account with the Bank of England, which supported our direct participation in the Faster Payments Service. And more recently we learned that the Bank of England is considering even broader access rights for non-banks, in terms of holding deposits. We're seeing some progress in Canada, too, where Payments Canada is considering roles like associate memberships in the payment schemes, including the proposed real time rail. All of this movement is good, but until it's a reality there is an over-reliance on financial institutions to properly support FinTechs and their customers.

On the regulatory side, some laws and regulations are antiquated. In general, frameworks are written with the idea that businesses are physically present, with face-to-face settings for their customers. Unfortunately, we don't always see policymakers thinking about how to modernize these regimes for digital companies. But when they do look to modernize frameworks, it's important that they do so in a way that is technology agnostic. So, instead of references to specific file types, ".pdfs" as an example, we encourage policymakers and regulators to think about principles that transcend today's technology to future-proof them as much as possible.

One example of regulation that is already changing for the better is the move to safeguard customer funds held by payment service providers. It's a protection that doesn't currently exist for Canadian consumers. If you hold a balance with a FinTech, there isn't a live regulatory framework to ensure that the balance is protected, set aside, and guaranteed for the consumer. It's in a similar vein to CDIC or provincial schemes to protect deposits at financial institutions. Fortunately, the Department of Finance, as part of their overhaul of the retail payment system, saw this gap and is taking steps to put in place safeguarding methodology for Canadian consumers. It will mean protection and transparency for consumers, so they can know they're getting the same level of service from FinTech providers as they are with banks.

Often banks or regulators may feel that money transmitters, payment service providers, or FinTechs pose a higher risk for money laundering. But if we think about the topics of money laundering or financing of terrorism, those can occur through any channels — whether it's a FinTech or a bank. So, we don't think the argument of higher AML risks is a reason to exclude FinTechs from direct access to payment systems. The challenges in addressing AML are the same for FinTechs as for banks — laws do not really differentiate between the type of provider.

See: Inflection point:Seven transformative shifts in US retail banking

We can see more validity in the argument that keeping a smaller number of entities with that clearing access could promote stability. Generally, a regulator should be thinking about sound capitalization or business models and then the operational risk policies that entities have. Those concepts are broad and universally applicable. If one institution or entity is capable of meeting them in the same fashion that a defined depository financial institution is, we really don't see the difference and need to create a division in access rights between the two.

In the U.K., while TransferWise has been in a position where we have advised policy makers relating to the implementation of open banking deriving from PSD2, we have instead focused more on transparency in fees. That said, we can certainly see areas where there are benefits. For example, with any payment method other than payment cards — like direct debit — there is quite a bit of information that could be obtained about a customer to help inform a merchant whether or not those funds are actually going to settle, as well as the overall risk profile of the individual with whom they're engaged in business. One of the benefits that I can see in open banking is the ability for consumers to share that information in a standardized way.

Some technology already exists through a screen-scraping service, where a consumer might choose to enter an online bank ID and password in a third-party application. That application essentially logs in to that customer's online bank account and scrapes the screen to obtain this data and then provides that data back to a platform. But that's brittle. If a bank decides to change its interface or implement two-factor authentication, for example, that could easily break the service. Also, depending on the bank, that could be a violation of the terms of use for the account because the account owner has granted access or authorization to a third party. Open banking can be a way to simplify these protocols and allow that same data set to be universally applied. And, more importantly, it gives consumers an active role in deciding with whom and how to share that information.

In today's world, where digital information is increasingly being passed through digital channels, cybersecurity is an area that we need to deal with. And the payments industry saw that with payment cards — as things began to move from point-of-sale to card-not-present, the idea of security and how these payment instruments are being authenticated and validated became important. It's a matter of the market adapting to understand how data is being stored and transmitted, identifying where the vulnerabilities are, and knowing that responsibility is not housed within any particular provider or role in the payment chain. Instead, it's universal.

See: How Jack Ma’s $290b SME credit engine is changing Chinese banking

Whether the industry is using cloud services or their own infrastructure, they're all susceptible to possible attacks by any type of bad actor. That's not something that's exclusive to a FinTech. So, all entities need to have robust plans for fraud, cybersecurity, and data protection. Meanwhile, regulators should understand that these aren't always challenges defined by entity type, but rather by entity preparedness. A concept like, "We're a known bank, we've been around for hundreds of years and therefore we're better equipped," doesn't necessarily make sense. Instead, it comes down to the contents and adherence to risk policies, and the importance that institutions give to cybersecurity.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Davos 2020:  How to Survive the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Facebook is banning deepfake videos

Vox Recode |

deepfake Zuckerberg - Davos 2020:  How to Survive the 21st Century by Yuval Noah HarariFacebook’s new rules will still allow controversial fake videos like the one of Nancy Pelosi that made her appear to be drunk.

Facebook announced late Monday that it would ban “deepfakes,” which are AI-manipulated videos that distort reality, often simulating real people in fake situations.

The social media giant announced the changes in a company executive blog post, saying it will remove deepfakes and other types of heavily manipulated media from its platform.

Specifically, the company laid out two main criteria for removing content under the new rules.

The first is that the company will remove content posted on Facebook if has been edited in ways that would “likely mislead someone into thinking a subject of the video said words that they did not actually say,” according to the post written by Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of global policy management. Secondly, the platform will ban media if it’s the product of AI or machine learning that “merges, replaces, or superimposes content onto a video, making it appear to be authentic.”

Facebook came under fire last year for allowing a manipulated video of Speaker Nancy Pelosi that made it appear as though she was drunk by altering her speech to slur her words. At the time, Facebook said the video went through its fact-checking process, which does not require content to be true to be allowed on the platform. The company said it displayed a note with additional context about the video, telling users that it was false.

See:  Even Facebook’s Libra can’t escape the fintech establishment

Under its new rules, Facebook told Recode it still would not take down the Pelosi video, saying that it does not meet the standards of the new policy.

“Only videos generated by artificial intelligence to depict people saying fictional things will be taken down. Edited or clipped videos will continue to be subject to our fact-checking program. In the case of the Pelosi video, once it was rated false, we reduced its distribution,” the spokesperson told Recode.

Whether videos are deepfakes or not, they’re all subject to Facebook’s fact-checking system. If content is proven to be false, it can be flagged with a note labeling the content as such, and Facebook will deprioritize it in its News Feed.

In an email, Omer Ben-Ami, the co-founder of Canny AI (the Israeli advertising startup that last year helped artists produce a viral deepfake of Zuckerberg on Instagram, which Facebook opted to keep up) said Facebook’s new policy seemed “reasonable.” However, he cautioned that his company and others, “use this technology for legitimate reasons, mainly for personalization and localization of content.”

He said it was unclear why the policy only applies to content manipulated by artificial intelligence.

Overall, there are some exceptions to Facebook’s new rules: They don’t apply to videos that are parody or satire, nor do they ban videos edited “solely to omit or change the order of words” someone is saying.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Davos 2020:  How to Survive the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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With Plaid Acquisition, Visa Makes a Big Play for the ‘Plumbing’ That Connects the Fintech World

Fortune | Rey Mashayekhi | Jan 14, 2020

Visa acquires plaid - Davos 2020:  How to Survive the 21st Century by Yuval Noah HarariIn late 2018, payments giants Visa and Mastercard both invested in fintech startup Plaid through a $250 million funding round that valued San Francisco-based firm at an impressive $2.65 billion.

Described as “strategic investments,” the two financial services heavyweights sought not only to provide Plaid with financial backing, but also to leverage the fintech firm’s sprawling technological capabilities to improve their own services.

See: Visa R&D Arm Develops a Blockchain System That Could Replace Financial Data Aggregators

“We’re really excited about working with [Plaid] to enhance payment experiences globally,”

Bill Sheedy, executive vice president of Visa’s strategy group, told Fortune at the time.

With Plaid’s APIs (application programming interfaces), Visa could potentially improve the customer experience via everything from fraud detection to real-time account balance verification—services that “reduce the friction around financial transactions,” as Sheedy put it.

A little over a year later, Visa has decided to come back for the whole thing.

Whether it beat its great rival Mastercard to the punch, or saw a deal that its East Coast rival did not see, is as yet unclear. But on Monday, Visa announced that it has agreed to acquire a 100% stake in Plaid in a deal valued at a whopping $5.3 billion (twice the firm’s late-2018 private valuation).

The transaction sees Visa snap up one of the more impressive growth stories in the ever-expanding realm of financial technology. Since launching in 2013, Plaid has made itself an indispensable piece of the fintech ecosystem—a company with the technological capabilities to connect one in four people with a U.S. bank account to thousands of apps and services, from Venmo to Robinhood, from Chime to Acorns.

Plaid likes to describe itself as the “plumbing” that makes the increasingly tech-enabled financial services world go round, a claim justified by the company’s already sizable reach. Given the eye-watering sum that Visa is prepared to fork over—not to mention the bullish noises coming out of the company’s C-suite on Monday afternoon—

it’s clear that the payments behemoth believes it is picking up an asset that will help it “capitalize on the fintech-driven evolution,” as Visa CEO Al Kelly put it.

“Fintechs are clearly reshaping financial services, and Plaid is unquestionably the leader in this space,” Visa president Ryan McInerney told Fortune on Monday.

The deal is about expanding Visa’s services beyond its bread-and-butter, debit and credit card solutions and into a “broader set of money-movement services,” as McInerney described it.

See:  Visa Makes Its Second Investment Into a Crypto Startup

While Visa may have 3.4 billion debit card holders globally, the acquisition of Plaid—a company that holds the keys to countless fintech services that promise to increasingly shift online the way that people move and spend their money—provides the credit card giant with access to “new products and services in a higher-growth market than we are in today,” McInerney said.

According to EY, 75% of the global consumers accessed a fintech application for money transfers and payments last year, compared to only 18% in 2015. “It’s something that positions Visa for the next decade and beyond,” McInerney added.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Davos 2020:  How to Survive the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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Fintech: The Fourth Platform

Forbes | Matthew Harris | Nov 22, 2019

digital money 1 - Davos 2020:  How to Survive the 21st Century by Yuval Noah HarariThis is part two of a two-part essay diving into the future of fintech. Read part one.

In part one of this essay, I discussed how fintech was moving from being a business model unto itself, to being an ingredient used in other technology businesses. This is what we refer to as the “fourth platform,” joining internet, cloud and mobile in the modern technology stack. In this essay, we will discuss why this is happening and offer some early examples.

Benefits of embedded financial services

When you look at the benefits of this embedded financial services model, the first point is obvious: as a technology founder, you’re already going through the hard work of acquiring customers, and as a result you have created the opportunity for a zero customer acquisition cost cross-sell. But the opportunity goes well beyond that basic business logic.

See:  Fintech’s next decade will look radically different

Having these financial functions integrated with software enables new functionality, leveraging the persistent connection to move beyond transactions to relationships. We’ve already been trained to conduct financial transactions inside of software applications (think payments inside of Uber), so if you’re utilizing software to run your business, using that same software to get paid and make payments is logical and more natural than going to your financial institution to do so. These relationships are data-rich, which leads to smarter cross-sell, prequalification and massive risk reduction. The monetization opportunities are not only large, but actually meaningfully larger than the original software opportunity.

Integrated payments

As with most financial innovation, the first subsector to evolve is payments. When you look at payment card volume in the United States, for example, eight percent of it has migrated to what we call integrated payments, that is, merchant payments that are sold and managed through software companies as opposed to traditional payments companies. That portion is growing at two times the rate of the overall market, and analysts estimate it will hit 40 percent in the medium term. Why?

Take Shopify, a $36 billion software company that helps small businesses get online and setup e-commerce sites. You could think of it as shopping cart software. But at this point in time, the majority of its revenue comes from payments and that proportion is increasing. If you look at its website, you can see our thesis in action: zero CAC natural cross-sell, instant set up (most payments companies have to underwrite their merchants for risk, which takes time and hassle), novel functionality integrating settlement process and data into existing workflow, and then obviously additional revenue/enhanced monetization.

There are similar stories at many of our own portfolio companies. When we invested in AvidXchange four years ago, it was a majority software company, but by next year it will be 80 percent payments. Zelis Healthcare, which recently combined with RedCard Payments to form the next-generation leader in healthcare payments optimization, will similarly scale from almost entirely software to nearly a majority payments revenue in the next few years. We recently invested in Finix, the leading company enabling software companies to become payments companies.

See:  Where top VCs are investing in fintech?

In certain segments, the innovation has come in waves. For example, take the rental payment market, which started with old school payments companies like FirstData, then progressed with Fintech 1.0 player, ClickPay, and now to the fully-embedded model, Cozy. However, our bet is that companies like SmartRent represent the next generation, with an even deeper integration.

SmartRent sells and installs home automation hardware into rental buildings, and uses that as a methodology for getting widespread and persistent connectivity to tenants in the form of its app. This year, it will incorporate rent payment into the app, and as soon as next year will sell renters insurance. SmartRent is the logical evolution of insurtech companies like Lemonade — zero CAC, integrated into its own smart lock and leak detection system for a persistent data-rich connection and novel functionality, and with excellent incremental monetization.

Integrated lending

Within lending, we’re starting to see some early examples of embedded fintech. For example, we've seen the rapid rise of the payroll advance lenders. This type of loan recognizes that workers are paid in arrears, and have a balance of worked hours that can represent, in effect, collateral for a loan. This began with the 1.0 versions, like Dave, which finds borrowers through marketing channels and attempts to underwrite their hours worked algorithmically. This has quickly evolved to where modern software-driven payroll companies like Gusto can offer this functionality through their employer’s customers, reducing CAC to zero, increasing data-richness and validity through their ownership of the payroll system, and adding another leg of monetization.

See:  What to expect from social fundraising world in 2020

Our portfolio company Wisetack provides an API-driven infrastructure for software companies to add point of sale lending to their offerings without becoming lenders themselves. Lambda School, ostensibly an edtech company, has leveraged an innovative financing product called an ISA, creating unprecedented alignment between the school and its students. If SoFi is a classic Fintech 1.0 company (digital student lending!), Lambda is an early example of a technology company leveraging fintech as a platform.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Davos 2020:  How to Survive the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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