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Fintech Fridays EP38: Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online Environment

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NCFA Canada | March 25, 2020

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FF EP38 KABN Systems North America - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online Environment


Mar 25:  Why identity matters in an evolving online environment

HOST: Tristram Waye, Fintech Friday's podcast episode

GUEST: DAVID LUCATCH, President & Director – KABN Systems North America Inc. (Linkedin)

KABN Links:  kabnsystemsna.comliquidavatar.com

About this episode:

David Lucatch of KABN Networks North America joins Tristram Waye for this episode of Fintech Friday. David discusses why identity is a foundational element of the evolving online and data environment, and why KABN Networks North America has developed a business around it. During this episode he will also discuss:

  • How KABN ID works and why it’s a foundational technology
  • The suite of products KABN Networks North America has developed around identity and why
  • Their vision of the future including the release of Liquid Avatar

KABN Systems NorthAmerica logo - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online Environment

BIO: David Lucatch has spent more almost 35 years in the international marketing arena and over 25 years of that developing technologies and taking them to market.  David has held senior management posts and directorships at both private and public technology and media firms. David is an active supporter of numerous non-profit organizations and has been recognized and awarded internationally for his service and community support activities. In 1997, David developed the concept and led the initial eCommerce payment gateway team for the Canadian banking industry with support from VISA and MasterCard, Scotiabank and Citibank Canada.

In 2005, David created one of Canada’s first incubators, financing, creating and supporting projects globally in online AI / ML / NLP language technology, VoIP telephony, online mapping, music and entertainment, live performance, mobile marketing and eCommerce.

After leaving his posts at 2 public companies, in early 2017, David founded Pegasus Fintech. Pegasus is positioned to support founders, innovative technology developers and emerging companies in their efforts to preserve long-term ownership and promote growth opportunities through compliant business solutions.

In late 2017, David became a co-founder KABN to focus on the compliance and liquidity issues surrounding digital currencies.  By mid-2018, the Pegasus team also developed KABN’s identity platform KABN ID allowing users and commercial clients to verify, manage and monetize identity on a continuous, Always On global scale reducing the need to do identity verification for multiple transactions with a user.    In May 2019, David and 2 partners filed a US Patent for the invention of a process to use the Blockchain for Identity Attestations.

David’s focus today is set squarely on KABN and its mission to put ownership, control and profitability of identity back into the hands of individuals.  KABN’s products and programs covers over 180 countries worldwide and is expanding its regional leadership teams in 2019 and 2020.

David is a graduate from the University of Toronto and continues to serve as mentor to a variety of student programs and leadership initiatives globally. In 2010 David was a recipient of an Arbor Award from the University of Toronto, recognizing his continued activities and contributions to his alma mater and served a term as a member of the University’s Electoral College.  David served as an inaugural member of the Ontario Securities Commission SME Committee and is a member of the NCFA Advisory Board.

Some additional “fun facts”:

In addition to his technology accomplishments, David is also active in the media industry:

David and his team were instrumental in achieving a Guinness World Record in 2011 for the Most Nationalities in an Online Chat together with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS;

In 2013, David and his team worked with Disney Animation to create a global, multi-language “flash event”’ for the worldwide online video premiere for the Academy Award and Grammy Award song Let It Go from the movie Frozen;

In 2017, David and his partners at created and produced Stars and Pinstripes, a New York Yankees television series featured on the YES Network and Direct TV and were nominated in 2017 for a NY Emmy Award in the Entertainment Program / Special category.

 

Subscribe and tune in each Friday to check out the latest movers and shakers in fintech.

Listen to more podcasts here: Season 1 | Season 2

 


Transcription of Interview

Intro: Welcome fintech Friday's a weekly podcast brought to you by the National Crowdfunding and Fintech Association of Canada and partners.Covering all things fintech block chain be AI and alternative finance.

Tristram: We have David Lucatch, co founder, director and president of KABN Network, North America as a special guest today. David, thanks for being here.

David: Thank you very much Tristram.

Tristram:  Let's start with a little bit about your background. Tell us tell us about your path, your current project.

David: Well, you know, I've been in the space since the early days of the internet and that several companies with new technology, one was the original - I like to think it was the original purveyor or designer of the commerce gateways for Canadian banking. So we, we were one of the first companies at that time to allow people to use credit cards online. So I did that. I've run incubators. I've run AI and machine learning and natural language processing, technology companies for language translation. So I've been around a few years but our new and latest one, it's not really new anymore - I would say it's a couple years old -  called cabin is focused in online identity. And we're in the business of verifying, managing and monetizing online identity.

Tristram: Okay, so can you tell me a bit more about about KABN? And I noticed you have a full suite of products. How does that fit together?

David: Oh, well, thank you. It's fairly simple. I mean, the first part of identity especially online identity, is verifying that you are who you say you are. It's really easy in the real world to verify yourself. If you walk through an airport, you'd have probably have two or three times where you'd have to show a passport or some kind of identification to get to the next stage. In the real world, that happens every day and or we see each other in most cases, face to face or we know each other. And that verification is done, one to one or one to few. But in the online world, anybody can say they're anybody in most cases. So what we've done is we've made it very simple for commercial companies to verify their constituents or their customers. And we've made it very easy for consumers to have a verified identity called a KABN ID that they can take with them when they go places online. And they can prove who they are. That's the first part of their business, KABN ID, that's the verification suite. We then take that private ID which is owned by you - we don't own it - and we help you manage on a on a pooled or aggregated basis, your data that makes you you what makes you a consumer, what do you like? What do you dislike? That, those pools of data can then be used to create customized offers that you want to see, and that people want to bring to you because you are part of a known identity pool. So at that point in time, we can help you verify, we can help you manage that data, and we help and we will manage it with you. And then we can help you create value from that data. So and in the value side or the monetization side, we have a number of products, including KABN KASH, which is our loyalty and engagement program. And we have our KABN financial services products, including the Pegasus Flyte debit card. In Canada, we have the ability to issue both a debit card and a mobile banking platform. And that kind of covers the suite of services we offer. And just to add to that, for a moment, we've introduced a new consumer product called Liquid Avatar, which I think we'll get into a little bit deeper as we go.

Tristram: Cool. Well, I'd like to take the opportunity to unpack each one of these services, which look really interesting to me. So on the ID side, as this is the foundation of your offering, is that correct?

David: That is correct.

Tristram: Now, what is the vision behind having ID as the core product are the foundation of your suite of products?

David: Well, that's a really good question. When you think about identification, in most cases, it's a single point in time. And, and there have traditionally been a number of companies, there's competitors in this space for identity verification, but each one of those competitors we call a pass or fail. They're they're not interested in supporting the consumer, in the long term. They're, they're really interested in supporting the commercial company, and telling you whether you pass or fail than identity verification. And they get paid, in most cases, either way. Our motivation was to look at the mousetrap and reinvent it. And we said, really, it's all about the consumer owning their identity. Because owning identity should be a basic human right. You should have control over that identity. So to do that, we created a service that once you're - it's called one and done or always on - where once we've identified or verified you, unless your documents change or there's a something that needs to be updated. We can verify you to a third party saying: Yes, I am who I say I am. I am David Lucatch. And I can prove that and KABN's going to verify that for me. So I don't have to hand third parties, unknown parties, any of my documentation that would water down the value of my identity.

Tristram: Okay, and so in terms of - this is based on on a blockchain is that correct?

David: Sorry?

Tristram: It's - the product is based on a blockchain as well. Is that correct?

David: Well, the product uses the blockchain you - it is, in fact not legal to put identity on the blockchain. So anybody who says or putting data on the blockchain is actually likely breaking privacy rules because the European privacy rules the Canadian privacy rules. Now the California rules. The rules basically say that consumer must have the ability to remove their data from a system and beyond removing any trace of that data has to be forgotten. If you put it on the blockchain because the blockchain is immutable, that's an impossibility. So what we've done is we've developed a system that uses the blockchain, only to hold what we would call a marker. And a marker to us is binary, you know, it's one or zero, on off true false, yes, no pass fail. We can put that marker on a blockchain registry. So when a registry that is connected to a database, a blockchain database, and we can say: You're not only verified, but that verification is connected to an online wallet, an online piece of data. It might be a field record for a hospital. Or it could be a educational record, that you are verified, you have passed verification. If anything ever changes, we can update or send a new marker that says you have failed. So when you think about it, for financial transactions, somebody who might be good today and passes everything in that moment in time, which is traditionally identity verification is done. And that's through a process called know your customer, or KYC, and anti money laundering check. We can keep that in compliance, or continuous. And make sure that, that you're not only good today, but you're good tomorrow and the day after, the day after that and so on. So it's a big change. We've really reinvented the process, in our opinion, of identity verification for digital use.

Tristram: So in other words, you really streamline the process for a basic, almost fundamental thing for everything we do in life.

David: Exactly. But the key here is, it's yours. It doesn't belong to a corporation, it doesn't belong to KABN, it's yours. And  that was a fundamental issue that we all know with Facebook and Cambridge Analytical was that people were using data. Well, you know, if large corporations in which they're going to have to down the road, adopt policies that keep the consumer protected and allow the consumer to have control over their data - which is where all the major legislation around the world is headed or been approved - then we're right in that sweet spot of compliance. So we've really created something that is getting. - we're getting a lot of attention on this because it's not only new and innovative, it doesn't reinvent the wheel in that respect. It's a process that people are used to. But behind the scenes, it has reinvented the wheel, because we changed all the control mechanisms to be consumer focused.

Tristram: That's great. Now, the one thing I notice - your site says something about using biometric ID. Can you elaborate on that a little bit?

David: Sure. And without getting too long winded or complex, but you know, if you think about it, I don't know how many passwords you have to remember. And I get on the phone with people they go: Oh my gosh, I have to remember all these passwords. But the the really overarching situation, we'll use a phone today. inherent in our mobile phone is usually fingerprint identity or retina or face recognition. That is built into the phone, that's for that device. And I won't go into the security of the complexity of that device, but it's not good enough for the whole world. So, what we've done is we've said, you know, what, if I'm proving you, are you, why shouldn't I add biometrics to that? Why shouldn't I add, you know, right now we use facial recognition. We could use voiceprint, or fingerprint or other tools, that it's not part of your phone, but part of our ecosystem, that when someone wants to authenticate you, you don't have to use a password long term, all you do is answer with your face. Or answer with your voiceprint. And we're seeing this a little bit more in the banking sector than other sectors. But at the end of the day, you know, there's enough confidence in the software that does this, to say that you are you, we've proven that on an ID basis using government ID and supporting documentation. Why shouldn't we use your face to make sure  you can verify that as well. We go forward.

Tristram: That's great. Well, it's a modern - it seems like a really modern take on the whole thing. Making it much simpler for the consumer.

David: We believe so.

Tristram: Now I noticed in your literature, you're talking- your product talks about the concept of Whitelist Membership. Can you get into that a little bit and explain what that means?

David: Sure. Simply put that when you start with KABN or you're brought into KABN let's say, to a commercial application, because someone's needed to verify you - then you're on you're on a particular whitelist. You can think of it as the point of entry of membership. And so, commercial client, again, not to get confusing, but so David comes in, I joined you know, Tris' organization Tris has to verify me, so I'm done. Okay, now, David has his KABN ID and he goes to Bob's site who needs to verify me that uses KABN. I just have to sign in with, with my KABN ID, I don't have to re verify. But I'm now on Tris's whitelist, his corporate whitelist, and I'm on Bob's corporate whitelist. But my origination point was Tris. It's a way of keeping things straight for us, that if there is certain requirements or documentation flow, we know where the origin point is. So but you can be on many different whitelist you can be all over the place. There's no restriction at this point in time of where you can join, unless you don't meet the restriction of that particular whitelist. Like we're only allowing people on this particular whitelist from Canada. Or from Canada, United States. Or we're only allowing people based on certain other attributes to join a particular whitelist that  might, that might be inherent to that list, but your KABN ID is global.

Tristram: Okay, that's interesting. Now let's move on to the Pegasus Flyte Visa. What does the card offer? And how is it different from other cards on the market?

David: So, when we look at the new emerging space, we thought that there's, I mean, we all know there's multiple types of currency. And, you know, when we say digital currency, people have a tendency to get a little bit nervous. But when you think about digital currency that's been going on for years. If you use a credit card from any of the major banks, you're using somebody else's currency, you're not using your own and it's generally digitally generated. So digital currency has many different forms. Fiat is considered traditional dollars, but our program works with both. Our program is one of the first programs in North America that allows the use of both digital currency, in certain respects you have to transfer that digital currency out to Fiat, but digital currency activations and, fiat currency activation. So, it makes it very different. We also have our own loyalty programs that are connected to the card - and it isn't it is a debit card is not a credit card.

Tristram: Okay.

David: And we have our ability to add a number of feature sets on our mobile banking platform. So it allows companies who issue points, companies who issue other types of digital currencies, to engage with their consumers in a way, that's going to make it easier to spend those digital currencies in, the real world. Or online.

Tristram: Okay, so it's...

David: Sorry, go ahead.

Tristram: No, sorry. Finish what you're going to say.

David: So it's just a new way of thinking. Again, we're all about the innovation cycle. What's been done traditionally, and how can we make it sort of better, faster, cheaper.

Tristram: Okay, now, the question I had was, so when you're describing it, are people able to use this card, not just to convert from digital currencies to Fiat, but are they are they able to pay with a digital currency with the card at this point?

David: Well, I candidly, that's not within the purview yet of the network's being Visa or MasterCard. I truly believe it will be. But it's not necessarily a complete straight line yet there is a little bit of curves in there.

Tristram: Right.

David: But I believe that if you get in early enough as we are, you'll find the straight lines first. So for us, it was dipping our toes in the water getting this started. Knowing that there would be curves or bumps in the road. But allowing early adopters to get in and do something that they will be excited to have been part of at the early stage. I think if you think back to e-commerce that the early days, you know, or even using the internet, you know, it was a dial up modem. And I think we can all remember those, tones. But you know, today now what we take for granted we had to go through a little bit of pain to get here.

Tristram: And I certainly remember when Visa specifically came out and said they would guarantee every transaction that you did with the card on the internet - probably early somewhere in 2000. What a difference that made for consumers using the cards for actual purchases

David: Yes, that comes with a price because ultimately all those bad transactions are in our interest rates that we pay on our credit cards.

Tristram: Right...

David: So by using KABN's verification system for large purchases, we can negate some of those potential bad transactions down the road. But that's that's another facet of our business that we're not we're not quite there yet.

Tristram: Okay. And just for my information are you are stablecoins going to be part of the mix on the card associated with the card?

David: It will depend on the stablecoin and the approval by our banking partners. The answer is, it will depend on the individual composition of the coin. So the answer is I'd like to have as many different coins and tokens available through the system and through our partner system because they have to be converted before they come over to us. I'd like as many as possible, but, again, it'll be on a case by case basis outside of the top several.

Tristram: Okay. And so you have a partnership with Visa with the card. How did that come about?

David: Well, it's actually - we don't really say it's a partnership with Visa. It's a Visa branded product.

Tristram: Okay.

David: We actually, we have a partnership with a private Canadian bank, that is licensed issue Visa cards and we work with them. They - but we did have to be approved by Visa before this program moved forward. So and we're in the KABN Network, there are other regions around the world that do have that approval as well. KABN Networks Group in in the UK and Europe both have that approval as well.

Tristram: Go ahead.

David: And we're looking to do that in the US as well.

Tristram: Okay, so you're currently available in Canada, is that what you're saying?

David: Well, the Canadian- the Canadian company KABN Systems North America Inc, which is our North American Division, offers the card in Canada and will offer it in the US. As well are the other partners in the KABN Network in Europe and the UK are separate and apart.

Tristram: Okay, and for people that want some more information on how to get access to the Pegasus Flyte card in North America, where would they go to find out about that?

David: They go to KABN Systems, that's plural, kabnsystemsna.com  North America. So kabn systems na.com

Tristram: Okay, perfect. And so and you're also approved for a Europe in the UK as you were saying right?

David: Again, through other partners in our network,

Tristram: Okay, terrific. And moving on to the loyalty program that you have that's KABN KASH is it not?

David: Yes. And KABN KASH is a rebate program - a consumer rebate or cashback program that we're launching, probably early summer that will allow people in our network to be able to get great deals and receive cash back on some of those deals. You've seen other programs in the marketplace that have done that, and we're quite excited about that opportunity. And you -  we expect to see some significant name brands in there, where the consumer can buy something online and have money put on their card directly or their their Pegasus Flyte Visa card.

Tristram: Okay, and can you elaborate on the kinds of businesses that might be interested in using this platform?

David: I think we'll recognize the names but we can't disclose that yet. We haven't done...

Tristram: Okay. (Laughter) Now, so your target market it's millennials and Gen X is that right?

David: Millennial and Gen Zed, or for American friends, Gen Z. So it's the younger demographic. Late X, late boomers and Xs and then really primarily millennials and Gen Z(eds).

Tristram: Okay, and how important is, these type of loyalty programs to this target market?

David: Well, I I'd like to comment on something which might make sense to everybody is that we've actually introduced a consumer program called the Liquid Avatar. And that Liquid Avatar is a - we think the genesis of where everything will go. From a consumer standpoint, we all know what an emoji is. We use them every day, you know, send them constantly. But imagine if you will, that you can have your own avatar and that avatar is actually a passport. That image that you send everyone is passport. You can  actually transport a URL or public data when you send that image by text or email, or through other methodologies - sharing social media. You can - that has a URL or other information built into it, that holds public data - my links to my Facebook page, Tic Toc. Whatever I want to have on there is within that Avatar and it's referred URL. And then on the other side, and we call that a public hearing, and the avatar also has a private key. So it has the ability to, through authentication, be able to move private data that you have and hold, not held by KABN, but you have through access points. So we believe that  the Liquid Avatar, and its liquidavatar.com - we expect our graphic, a full graphic site to be up within two weeks. But that is a new introduction from KABN. And that will also allow you to participate in all kinds of loyalty and engagement programs. We're talking to groups that handle 1200 campus operations, or campus opportunities in North America. We're talking to one of the large music brands. We're talking to a lot of people who are very interested in connecting to consumers through this gateway of people having avatars. And I think that's the long term approach to that. And then we connect into a loyalty program that allows merchants and vendors to reach you on a permission basis. They don't get to reach you directly. They reach you through KABN, and you can build loyalty and value with the things that you like. And we think that is an ideal way to engage within an ecosystem, allowing people to receive what they want, when they want, and how they want. And share what they want, when they want, how they want, and to whom they want.

Tristram: That's cool. Now, would you say that this is kind of a community approach in terms of the avatars the way that you're setting it up?

David: The answer is, it is and isn't. I mean, it can be a, I like to - I'm a little bit older, so I like to think of Tinker toy or Meccano or even, you know, Lego that you - that you can connect groups of like and unlike individuals based on certain attributes. And I think it's all going to be data driven. I think we're all kind of getting a bit weary from some of the social networks that all they do is make money off everything that we have. I mean, rules have changed, of course, but there was a day when companies like Facebook can take any picture that you had on your Facebook page, and they could sell it commercially. People were showing up and seeing ads with their family vacation photos..

Tristram: Ya, ya.

David: ...not knowing how they got there. Well, we think, again, you know, data is the new, you know, is the new gold, the new titanium. And if you own it, and you can manage it, and you can keep it safe, and you only dispense it as you need that would be really cool. I want to add one other point to the Liquid Avatar. For young people, parents can actually control it, so you can add trustees. So there is control over the Liquid Avatar. Or unfortunately, you know, you might want to add a trustee to your Liquid Avatar because if something happens to you, they have the ability to control information. And we're also talking with liquid avatar about things like, you know, break the glass emergency component in there. If something tragically goes wrong with you, how does someone get that information that may be contained in in a quasi private manner - with emergency medical records? I mean, you think about it everywhere we go, our information doesn't necessarily follow us. It just doesn't. And I think it's time that we empower ourselves with our own data, to make it ours and transportable and to use that data to a - going to be a little bit overzealous here, but to almost force vendors to give us the deals that are best for us because we deserve them. And I think, and based on our data. So I think what we're doing is we're starting to empower individuals to have more control over their own activities, and their own use of data when they're online.

Tristram: Okay, and so to help me conceptualize how this product can be used by an individual, can you give me like an example, of, you know, a day in the life type of a thing where I can see all the ways that I can use this?

David: Sure. I'm going to stretch out a little bit into the future because not everything will be available day one. You get up in the morning and, you know, you go to a site and instead of login with a password, you flip your digital avatar and they send you back - excuse me, pardon me - they send you back an authentication. And that authentication allows you to answer with your face and get into a very private site. Watch your morning news, but It's all customized for you, because your morning news - this company believes there's a benefit to giving you news that is only particular to you, and you've authenticated. You know, you get on a street car or a bus or a subway, and you show your Liquid Avatar and it pays for you. It debits an account, whether it's a PRESTO Card or some other kind of card, and or debit your bank account. Because you've authenticated. It pings you and you answer with your face and you're done. You go to buy something at a sandwich shop, it does the same thing. You want to send a business contact or a new friend, you want to send them information about yourself, you can send them your Liquid Avatar and they can visit your public page to ensure that they've got your links to all your Facebook pages and all your social media and anything else that you're doing online. So there's many different ways - you sign into a game or you want to play a game, or you're a gamer for argument's sake, and all your game ranks are in your public profile. There's - it's boundless of what you can do. There is no, there's no - everywhere that you think that you have to authenticate, sign in,or give data or share data, a Liquid Avatar can provide that interface for you. And in a way that you want to control. So, you know, today I want to talk about a new achievement that I did, you know, my personal life and I can do that. I only want to share certain information at certain times. I will be able to control that as well.

Tristram: That's amazing. That is clearly a, you know, a futuristic view of how data and identity is going to be used.

David: Absolutely. And you know there's been a lot of great papers written about this kind of thought process for years. And I you know, if I had to give credit to one individual that was an absolute, sort of an enlightened individual in the in the space, it would have been a gentleman - it is a gentleman named David Birch, who wrote a great article called: Psychic ID, I think it was around 2009. And after we built our product, we actually looked at this article and - someone sent it to us, and it was amazing. David had predicted at the time that there would be some way of electronically verifying yourself without having to give your ID Because we've already verified you, why do you need to do it again, and again, and again? It only waters down the value of your documentation. And why should - why should somebody at the liquor store need to see your ID, they're only going to look at it. Now we can actually verify that you're over the age of majority of purchasers.

Tristram: Right and of course, all these different businesses all have snippets of information that are not necessarily the same between one business or another business.

David: Agreed or think about it - I'll give you a really interesting example. We know that unfortunately, people are now going to jail for this, you know, parents who thought they'd empower their children by getting them augmented SAT scores or entrance opportunities, or whatever the case may be. And the parents are going to go to jail. And, or you take an exam online, and unfortunately, given the current situation, you know, a lot of children will be learning online - how do you know someone who's taking a test online is actually that person?

Tristram: Right.

David: Right. Or that taking that entrance exam or that professional exam, or attending a conference or doing this or that. And then when you think about the opportunities to build loyalty points, I mean, how many different touch points do you have for loyalty? So if I had one Liquid Avatar that could collect all my loyalty points in one location, you know, kind of hallelujah!

Tristram: Simplifies everything.

David: Absolutely. And the thing is, this Liquid Avatar, so now someone's probably thinking: well, how do I secure that? It's going to be secured by an ER 721 or non other non fungible token on the blockchain. So only you can change it. And say: OK, well then maybe I have to store my pr... We're looking at a situation now, and it's certainly not done yet, where the private keys will go into cold storage and you'll be able to get them out of cold storage based on your biometrics. Again, it's about solving little problems and adding them all together to solve a big problem.

Tristram: Right. Okay, now and the paper that you mentioned, is that relatively easy to find online? Because what I'll do is I'll attach the link to...

David: I would hope so - i don't - it was a couple years ago, but it's - David Birch is around, he's a very learned fellow, and it's called Psychic ID. And it was a UK publication, and it's probably worth the read for anybody who's really interested.

Tristram: Okay, that's terrific. Now let's, move to the business side. I understand you guys have a have a listing coming up on the Canadian Securities Exchange, is that correct?

David: We have a proposed reverse merger or business combination. Yes, we're working on that subject to all necessary approvals as we all shall say.

Tristram: Okay, and you don't have a symbol at this time do you?

David: Ah, we have one reserved and it- we'd like to say it's four letters and it's probably very synonymous, very synonymous with their name. But we certainly can't give that out until it's publicized by the exchange.

Tristram: Okay, and do you have an  ETA on when that might be available for people?

David: Sorry, I apologize.

Tristram: Do you have a timeline when you think this is going to be ready to go?

David: Well, where we are right now is, you know, we filed our documentation with the exchange and, they're doing an excellent job of reviewing it. And our business combination partner has a an event on March 31 to approve the transaction. KABN shareholders have already approved it. So based on those two things, we're working diligently to try and get conditional approval as soon as possible.

Tristram: Perfect. Now, let's talk about the future. What is your vision of the future? And how are you positioning KABN for that future?

David: Before I do that, I should mention just by one, just for one second, I should mention the symbol of the company we're doing the business combination with, in case anyone's interested in finding out the information. We're, we're doing a combination on the CSE with a company called Torino Power Solutions, or T isn't Tom p as in Peter, ss, and Samuel. So if anybody wants to look Torino Power Solutions up on the exchange listings, or they want to look sedar.com they can find out more information about that.

Tristram: Okay, perfect. I'll make sure that there's appropriate links for all of that in the in the transcript.

David: Thank you.

Tristram: So vision of the future?

David: Well, you know, I think an introduction of the Liquid Avatar is a big piece of our future. And again, we've just introduced it this past week. So when I think about identity, my hope and goal is that we're empowering consumers to have more control over their own data. And that will come with a huge number of opportunities as we move forward. I'm already looking at the day, you know, if we've ever any of us have seen the movie Ready Player One, we you know, there is a lot of value in the development of a virtual world. I mean, years ago, there was second life. And so I think more and more people will spend more and more time interacting online and, congregating online. Given the current state of affairs in the world today, more and more people will spend time online - just this week, I think, was yesterdayish. where Amazon announced that they want to hire 100,000 people because more and more people will be doing things online. So, at the end of the day, our vision is to empower people to take control of their data, own their data and profit from the data. So I think we're on a great trajectory to meet the objectives of where the world is coming.

Tristram: Okay, and liquid is - Liquid Avatar is it's in the process of rolling out right now?

David: It'll roll out May June but we're doing two things just if anybody's interested. One, you can sign up for a waitlist at liquidavatar.com and you can be among the first to get the Liquid Avatar. And the second thing is we'll be launching in the next, probably two weeks, and affiliate program or those that have friends and followers can sign up to be a referral agent from us and actually earn rewards for helping us build the network.

Tristram: Cool. Well, I'll make sure those are in the notes as well. We'll have...

David: Thank you.

Tristram Waye: So before we go, David, if people want to connect with you and get more information on KABN's suite of products, where can they do that?

David: Well, I'm available on on LinkedIn, that's that's a great place to get to me. They can also reach me at david.lucatch@kabn.network  And I'm sure you can post that link if you'd like.

Tristram: Yeah, I'll make sure all of that stuff is up so it's easy for people to get to you.

David: And we welcome the conversations. We welcome, you know, opportunities for partnership. If anyone is in interested in the investment  in our proposed RTO. If anyone's got thoughts or interesting ideas, you know, we do our best to get back to everyone as quickly as possible.

Tristram: That's terrific. Is there anything else that we didn't talk about that you'd like to you'd like to add in?

David: I think we've covered everything, including the kitchen sink.

Tristram: (Laughter) Thanks. Thanks for your time today, David, great to chat. And if you just hold on I'll press stop and we'll chat.

David: Thank you Tristram.

Outro : you've been listening to fintech Fridays brought to you by NCFA and partners. Tune in weekly for the latest fintech Friday podcast by subscribing to this channel. The National crowdfunding and FinTech Association of Canada is a non-profit actively engaged with social and investment fintech sectors around the globe and provide education research industry stewardship services and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers. For more information please visit and see if a Canada dot org. Oh yea.

 

End of Podcast

 

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Podcast hosted by Tristram Waye: Special guest, Richard Turrin, Author of Innovation Lab Excellence

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NCFA | Tristram Waye | March 11, 2020

Rich Turrin and Tris Waye podcast  - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online Environment

Tristram Waye (Podcast host)

Fintech Content Strategist | Entrepreneur | Connector | Author

 

Richard Turrin (Special guest)

Author of Innovation Lab Excellence | Consultant

Rich Turrin website  |  Get the book on Amazon

 

Length 1 hr 2 mins

 

Podcast Transcript

Introduction:  I’m Tristram Waye and this podcast is produced in conjunction with the NCFA Canada. That’s the National Crowdfunding and Fintech Association based in Toronto.  Today our special guest is Rich Turrin coming to us from Taipei.  Rich is an American expat who has been working and living in Singapore and China for many years.  He is a fintech and AI consultant and an innovation lab expert.  He has decades of direct experience in finance and fintech spanning from trading floors to IBM’s Cognitive Studios.

Rich is the author of: Innovation Lab Excellence: Digital Transformation from Within.  The book is an inside look into innovation labs and what it takes to make them successful and why they fail.  There are numerous insights in the book for fintech innovators from startups to large financial firms.  I consider this book must reading for innovators, corporate executives and sales professionals that are selling technology into large financial corporations.  This is a wide ranging discussion, and I hope you can find a few gems that can be applied to your fintech innovation efforts.

 

Tristram: Okay, so we're recording. Great to have you here, Rich. Can you tell us a bit your about your background?

Rich:  Sure. Tristram, thank you for having me today. First, my specialty is innovation in banking. For most of my career, I worked on a trading floor and I designed and innovated new products for banks. I then eventually, after the financial crisis, left for Shanghai, China, where I was both an MBA school professor for a while. And also worked for IBM, where I worked in financial technology and using the latest AI, blockchain and other technologies to try to revolutionize the very financial industry, that I had worked in for the major part of my career.

 

Tristram:  Right now after you left there, you've gone on to are you doing consulting?

Rich: Sure. Post IBM basically, I wrote a book called Innovation Lab Excellence, Digital Transformation from Within, and I consult. So my life has changed radically. I'm no longer working for a big corporate, which gives me the ability to speak very freely, which is amusing from time to time. Overly candid. But the real point is, what I've done is I'm trying to take a lifetime of working in financial technology, and when I worked in banking -  I've always worked... I'm a former mathematician. And what I do is, I work with math, computer programmers, and technology to enhance or somehow do something new in finance. That's what I've worked in for the entirety of my career. It's always had math and coding behind it. And that's essentially the roots of what's happening as we look at the FinTech revolution today.

In fact, I think If you look at the FinTech revolution today, it is a retail personal revolution. That is that the financial technology is directly impacting the retail clients and both brokers and banks. And if you look at the start of the revolution, revolution 1.0, if you will, it started in the 90s when we started using desktop desktop computers to revolutionize and destruct and disrupt the commercial or business to business side of trading and banking. So, it's a real -  if you look at it, it's really a progression out of b2b or wholesale business deeply into the retail business with the advent of better net services.

 

Tristram: And what were the type of products you were developing for financial services firms when you were there?

Rich: Sure, when I worked in financial services I did...here's the disclaimer: I never touched a subprime product. So don't blame me for the meltdown. In fact, what's interesting is I worked in specifically in structured products. And I worked in exotic structured products like weather derivatives, earthquake bonds, tax optimization, which has some pretty negative connotations to it - because,  we can all say, I can say this with great clarity. Big companies don't pay the same taxes as you do. Because they had people like me and still have people like me, at large investment banks, optimizing their tax payouts. So sure. I worked in those areas, but never touched subprime, which is, you know, sort of

 

Tristram: A badge of honor. Right? 

Rich: Yeah. A badge of honor considering how how bad it got and, no, most of the products that I worked in never tanked, like the products like subprime did,

 

Tristram: Right. Okay, now I'm interested in the thinking behind your book about innovation labs, which by the way, I thought was excellent. And there's a lot of material in there that a wide swath of people could benefit from. From selling to financial firms to financial firms themselves, fintechs and technology companies generally.  What was the idea behind the book originally, how did you come to this particular topic?

Rich: Sure. It was really interesting. The inspiration for the book came to me when I was heading IBM's financial technology operations in Singapore. It was on their laboratory. So if you will, IBM has a very large AI laboratory and my clients were other laboratories. So, groups of young people predominantly in and around banks who were part of bank innovation labs. They would come to IBM lab and say: look, we need AI. IBM, what can Watson do for me? Watson being IBM’s big AI offering.

So, what was fascinating to me, is that I saw that the young people who were staffing these labs, looked at their problems and bringing innovation to their respective banks as new and unique. And they were, in fact, the same problems that I had worked in for my career for 18 plus years, and then again at IBM. So, the inspiration was really, to help a younger generation of innovators, who are working in labs, to understand the problems and what the best practices for innovations are in their organization.

Because basically, a young person will come up to you and will say, look, we are shocked. We are hired to be innovators within a bank, and the people in the bank don't want to talk to us. Or the people in the bank don't like our innovations. We're the people in the bank and the list goes on and on. And to me, those are the very same issues that I had been dealing with for the entirety of my career as an innovator. So to them, it was new, to me it was pretty normal.

 

Tristram: And as an old trader myself, but more on the equity side, I understand the the resistance and making adjustments; even though the technology changed throughout the entirety of my career. So I can understand that response.

Rich: Absolutely. And you know, and this is a really important part of the book in the sense that younger innovators, or innovators in general think that innovation will be welcomed into the institution that they're trying to bring it to. And in fact, what they meet with is tremendous amounts of resistance. Because innovation scares people.

So what the book tries to do is to lay out a series of best practices. Now, I don't say rules. No, I say best practices that you can pick and choose from. With the end goal of the best practices, trying to change the culture of the institution that you work in. So, let me take a step back.

One of the issues why young people or innovators overall have so many problems with innovation, or bringing innovation to their companies, is that the culture of the company has not been sufficiently altered to accept innovation. So you can pay a management consultant, and many companies do. And the consultant comes in and he says, well, you need to have a culture of innovation. And the next contract, of course, with the consultant is what to do to get it.

So in my book, what I try to lay out the best, or a dozen best practices, and if you apply some portion of these best practices, you'll be closer to getting this culture of innovation you need internally - to be able to adopt the suggestions and work comfortably with the innovators or the innovation labs that your company may have created. So that's that's sort of behind it all.

 

Tristram: There's a couple of these best practices that I'd like to get into more deeply. But before we do that, for anybody that doesn't have an idea of what an innovation lab is, they have different names and financial services, correct?

Rich: Absolutely. There in fact - there is no set term for innovation lab is the most, is one of the more common, but really many, many companies have small groups. It could be as small as two or three people, and they're telling them to do something different or something innovative. And what, whether they're called Strategy Team.

 

Tristram: Center for Excellence is one right?

Rich: Oh, I love it. Yeah.

Tristram: I think that one is at JP Morgan.

Rich: There are so many different names for the various groups of people who are being asked to do something different and to change the status quo within their institution.  If you're in that group, or if you know of a group of people in your company that fits roughly that description, they're an innovation lab or innovation team - regardless of what they happen to be called internally. So it's anybody who's trying to break the status quo and to introduce something new, something different within their company.

 

Tristram: Now, in terms of the lab itself, it has a job, but there's also things that it's not supposed to be doing. What are the things that an innovation lab probably shouldn't be focused on?

Rich: Yeah, that's really interesting. That probably comes out of a chapter that I called: Buy, don't build. So one of the issues that innovation labs have, is that people who set them up, believe that they should be building technology. And if you're an innovation team that's been paid to build technology, that's fine. But many are set up with the idea that they should bring innovation in. And then as an afterthought, they say, well, why don't you build this code? Why don't you construct this solution for us?

And what I always say is that innovation teams should be the best implementer of technology. They should be able to implement technology, set it up quickly on whatever systems the company may have. Try it out, see if it works, and then decide whether to buy or use or use this solution somehow. What they shouldn't be is the coders of production code, because that takes a lot of time, and a lot of effort, and it's something that an innovation team should not be, generally speaking, should not be set up to do.

Of course, there's broad interpretation of what an innovation team is. And if you if you buy 50 coders, okay, that's a different type of innovation team. But in most cases, innovation teams should be the implementers of technology. They shouldn't be tasked with building production code, because it's not very efficient for them to do it.

And the team won’t bring much innovation to your company, if they are sitting there doing the detailed part of coding, which is a lot of work. And that's not to say that they shouldn't do some coding to understand, if it helps them understand how a solution works. But production coding is generally not what they should be doing.

 

Tristram: Okay, now one of the distinctions that you made, which I thought was interesting was the distinction between somebody that's working in an innovation lab an innovator versus somebody that is working in a typical IT department. They have very different roles. And so the expectations for each should be should be carefully considered. Can you talk a little bit about that? 

Rich: Oh, sure. You know, there's a tremendous amount of overlap between innovation teams and IT teams. And some companies have handed over innovation to the IT team. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does raise some issues.

You have to remember the IT team in most organizations is designed to promote the status quo. To keep systems stable. To make your computers systems work as smoothly and securely as possible. They are not by nature, the innovators. Now there's another issue here in that the IT team is usually not connected to the business.

So, yes, there's a different distinction between the innovation team and the IT team, and they should work together comfortably. But the innovation team is a separate standalone role designed to transform and bring innovation into your company. Whereas the IT team should be the people who examine the innovation team solutions very very carefully. And if necessary, call out issues of security or stability that might in fact, impact your business. But in general, they should not be the people who are leading and responsible for innovation in your company.

 

Tristram: Okay, of the 12 best practices that you list, the one that resonated the most was the focus on people and not the technology. Could you go into that a little deeper for people- because I thought that was a fundamentally important thing. And there's another rule here about the difference between transformation versus disruption. Again that concept of communication, which is really really valuable.

Rich: Sure. There is a problem in the industry in that people believe or C-level leaders suddenly believe they are innovative if they buy a new technology.

Okay. Ready. We want to be innovative. We're a bank. So we're going to go buy the latest chatbot technology, bolt it onto our existing systems. Well, it's a good start, I'm not knocking it. But that is not the same as changing the culture within your institution to promote innovation. So what many do is to focus on the technology: We bought an AI system. We bought some blockchain technology that we're testing.

Now, the real issue is not to focus on the technology, but to focus on making your staff and the culture of the company that you work in - make that culture a positive one so that innovation can flourish.

Now, what does this mean?

Not surprisingly, many of the innovative solutions that companies, who are supposedly innovative put up, are not technically very difficult. So the real issue for Innovation is not necessarily saying: Oh, this is such complicated AI, it's going to take us a long time to put this together. No! It's very  simple technology oftentimes. But the suggestions have to come from the business units that need it and use it.

So, let me take an example.

You can decide that you're going to use an AI technology, and you're going to say, okay, we're going to put this AI technology to work, and we're going to put it on answering people's questions on the internet. And that's a great use! Nothing wrong with that  - if that's decided by a high level manager, that's great.

But the same solution would be much better placed, if it came from within the business units who know what the problem is - who know who the clients are who have questions to answer and who know what the answer to the questions are. If you have a culture of innovation internally, and you can have the business unit leaders actually suggest the use of this technologies, it's much faster to set up. It's much more effective.  And promotes others within the company to make suggestions for innovations that can in the end, save your money or increase or expand your business. So that's the culture of innovation.

You also made a second point about what not to say.

So one of the other problems that younger innovative or innovators have in particular, is they want to disrupt stuff. They go into legacy industries that have existing practice, and they see that what the company needs, in their view, is not gentle transformation. What they see they want to disrupt, use digital technology and disrupt.

Now, their heart is in the right place, they want to help people and they want to help the company to do well. Unfortunately, if you're an innovator and you go into business units within a company and you start talking to them about disruption, you're not going to win a lot of friends.

And many other people working in labs said: gee, you know, I went to talk to this group and they didn't really like my idea and we wanted to disrupt them. So, you know, you have to be very careful in the digital transformation business and the language you use around your clients. And clients are the people in the business units that are in your company.

 

So, I'm talking about disruption may be necessary in certain cases, but in other cases, or most, it's a actually going to inhibit people's desire to actually work with your innovation team. And may actually scare people.

So, no doubt some places need disruption. But disruption is a buzzword that people get scared of. Because many times when people hear disrupt, they think: what have I done wrong? I've been running this department for five years, now I need to be disrupted? Why? What did what did I do that was so bad, that it needs disrupting?

 

Tristram: Yeah, it's like the personas when you talked about the different reactions that you're likely to get from people when you approach them with the solution and how that solution comes out. It reminded me a lot of Geoffrey Moore's book, Crossing the Chasm, where he's exploring all the different parts of the innovation curve and all the different personas of the different customers and so on. If you're using the same language for the hardcore tech guys at the beginning with the conservative big companies where you want to be, that's not a great message, and it's not going to work very well.

Rich: Absolutely not. You know, it was really funny. The tough part about being an innovator, as you so accurately point out, is that you're always speaking to different audiences. And if you're going to be an innovator and you're going to successfully - forgive the expression, but sell,  because that's what you're really doing internally with a new innovation. You really have to pick your words very carefully, and meter the message, or monitor the message, to meet the audience who's hearing it. So you may have one message for the IT department. Another for C-level management. Another for the business unit that's most closely impacted by your innovation.

You have to be very, very careful. And you have to be a really good salesman or sales person to sell innovation internally. It's a really, really tough job.

 

Tristram: How would you recommend that young innovators go about doing this type of thing? Because this doesn't apply to just young innovators inside of a company in an innovation lab. It's also people selling services to large companies where they may be approaching different business units. So some of these things may apply.

Rich: Yeah, that's a really interesting question. So how can we take - how do we take innovation as a general concept and sell it? And let's look at the scenario you set up, as you're selling innovation to someone on the outside. In other words, you've got an innovative product and you have a client you want to sell it to. And that's exactly what I did when I was at IBM, selling AI blockchain and other technologies.

You know, the real trick is to understand the audience. And understand what part of the chain your client sits. So, if you're, and this is the same if you're just an internal innovator, if you're going to the C-level meeting, these people might be focused solely on the revenue potential of the solution. So you have to sort of see who you're talking to, understand what their key areas of focus are, and tailor your message accordingly. The C-level is revenue and or technology in service of a better future for the company in some form or something future looking.

If you're working with a business unit that is looking at technology, you have to sell them on either a revenue component or a savings component, one of the other.  Because a business unit manager is being monitored by his or her numbers on a daily basis. Or on a on a quarterly basis.

And if you're talking to IT department, you have to go in and speak as to them as to the technical parts of the solution that will serve their interests in running both secure and stable systems. So it's a tough one. And if you're trying to sell something, you have to guess best as to the sensitivities of the clients you're going to be dealing with.

 

Tristram: I noticed one comment that you made in relation Financial Services in particular which is: if you're selling to that group, and whether you're at the Innovation Lab level or not, and you're not including compliance, at a bare minimum, you're going to have a problem. Because you can't do anything in a financial firm without the buy in from compliance.

Rich: Absolutely. And that was a consistent error that I saw. What is it in baseball, unforced errors? I think it is. I’m sorry, I’m pretty bad at sports. But the point is, one of the issues that I saw with labs is that they were promoting technical solutions and had considered the compliance as a secondary consideration. In other words, the technology comes first. This technology it’s blockchain, for example. It’s blockchain. It’s revolutionary, we really need to use this and their second or third conversation was with a compliance department.

Well, you know, that's what I call an unforced error because the compliance department has to be early in the discussion of the technology, not a second thought. So, compliance department in any financial institution now is a - is an absolutely critical component of getting anything approved. They're a stakeholder and everything you do. And yes, if you want to check out technology first, please be my guest. But your second stop is to compliance.

 

Tristram: What could a small startup type company learn from the experience of a larger Innovation Lab inside of a big company like that? What are there some things that they could take away from that experience that might be useful to them?

Rich:  Absolutely. Okay, so let's just let's just look at that scenario where you're a startup and you're selling into a big company. I look at - when I wrote the book, I say very clearly the three stakeholders in the are lab managers, C-level executives, and business unit leaders. Those are the three stakeholders in innovation in the company, and in certain circumstances IT. But if you've already got an institution with an Innovation Lab, they've already made that separation between IT and innovation that I spoke about.

So if you're a smaller startup and you want to sell into a larger institution, one, seek out the innovation team. Alright. Because the innovation team is set up in most cases to understand how to work with a smaller organization, a smaller startup. Alright.

So if you go to the IT department, they oftentimes say, look, give me the last 10 years of your history, your financial statements...they're not set up to purchase from a small startup, whereas the innovation team is. So recommendation one,  if you're a small company selling into a larger organization, seek out the innovation team because they will be better situated to actually buy your services.

Number two. The other two stakeholders that you'll have to deal with are going to be business unit leaders and potentially C-level, but less so. But the other person you have to convince is the business unit leader. That means somebody who has the actual business problem that you're trying to solve.

So first stop innovation team. Second stop, convincing the innovation team to actually connect you with internal leader of the business unit within the institution. And getting both of these people on board is absolutely is absolutely critical.

So if you're going to talk to a business unit specialist, that means that you have to be an expert in your solution. And have the street street cred, as I would call it, to be able to to talk to somebody who does this in their business every day. And have your picture solution and have it seem - have it appear necessary for that person's business.

So those are the those are the two major sales avenues that you're going to have. Into the innovation team and then to the business unit, and and my advice would be just start with the innovation teams because at least they'll know what to do with you. They'll know how to acquire and or manage your services.

 

Tristram: Now, in terms of a FinTech startup, for example, are there are there some things that they can learn from these labs as well those inside of a financial institution? Are they operating, essentially, in a similar way, where they might be using a lean startup type of approach to get started? 

Rich: Most of the startups are (   ) What we've seen the with FinTech startups now, in particular, is that as the FinTech business has gotten more people in it, even the startups are more sophisticated - the real trick seems to be, people who have some innate connection with banking or finance. And they were working in a business unit. Knew what specific problem needed to be solved, and then started of FinTech that solves a very real problem that they saw in their prior institution, and want to sell that to other institutions knowing full well that it's a problem. Does that make sense?

 

Tristram. Yup. Yes it does. 

Rich: And those are the fintechs, or the smaller fintechs,  that seem to have a higher degree of traction. Because when they go to either a business unit or the innovation lab to sell or to pitch, they can find somebody within who says, I know we've got this problem. It is clear.

They've seen the problem. They've lived the problem. And when they tell it to other people in a different institution, about the problem, those people are also well aware of it. So, that seems to be the one road to success. Although, my goodness, there are so many roads that I have not traveled upon, or have not experienced. I - there is no -  I don't think there's a...

 

Tristram No Holy Grail...

Rich: secret weapon to getting acceptance in a larger institution from a fintech startup. I don't know what the magic potion is.

 

Tristram:  So you worked with with innovation labs in Singapore and in China, Is that correct?

Rich: Yes. Mostly in Singapore. China's sort of an interesting study. I lived in China for 10 years. And China is interesting because whereas in the West, we have innovation labs, and yes, China also has innovation labs, the culture of innovation within large companies in China is much deeper. So a lot of innovation doesn't really need a lab. You can find the business unit manager who is both innovative and empowered to be innovative and set up innovative solutions within the remit of his business unit. Whereas in the West, much of this business must be funneled through the innovation team and business unit leaders would be hard pressed to want - they are there - but in general, it's harder to find business unit leaders who would be welcoming and able to set up an innovative solution on their own. But in China, they're really miles ahead of us on this.

 

Tristram: And what would you say is the explanation for the differences? Is it because the West typically has a more well established banking and and financial system versus what's what's in China, which is relatively new?

Rich: The the banking system was very well established in China as well. The problem is that the banking establishment focused predominantly on the more wealthy segment of the Chinese population. So in 2014, when the Chinese government allowed digital banking license to go to Alibaba and to Tencent, which produces the WeChat platform, it was the equivalent of giving banking licenses to Google and Amazon. For lack of a better example. And in doing so they completely disrupted the incumbent banks.

Now, in the West, the concept of giving Amazon and Google a banking license is not even a thought because banking is so heavily regulated. But they actually did it in China, and the results were that it disrupted every incumbent bank, within a year. They had large losses. Older credit card business was gone. Payments business completely gone. It was a revolution.

So they had their revolution all the way back in 2015. So you're looking at institutions that are five years plus ahead in disruption relative to the Canadian and US or European example. Does that make sense?

 

Tristram: Yeah, and it made me wonder, about the discussion of open banking in Canada, which is kind of a - it’s not really - doesn’t seem like a discussion. It doesn't seem to be really going anywhere. Other than HSBC Canada coming out and saying, we really need to have this conversation, recently. What I was thinking is, even if we did have open banking, it probably would not move as quickly as as it did in China. Would you agree with that?

Rich: Absolutely. Look, when the Chinese government licensed Alibaba and Tencent’s We Chat as banks, they burst the dam. And they allowed the tech business to absolutely infiltrate banking. And it was truly a revolution.

Now, it was a revolution from a data collection standpoint. It was a revolution from the mobile payment perspective.

China, a country of 1.4 billion has gone virtually cash free. And it did it at a record breaking two and a half, three years. You know, amazing! When you started If you asked me, and I'm in the FinTech business, how long will it take me to go cashless? I thought, you know, what, five years, six years? No, you know, five to 10 would be that would have been my guess when this all started. So, mobile payment was so successful through WeChat and Ali pay, that in roughly three years, the country went cashless. It's mind blowing.

So, yeah, while the Canadian banks are discussing open banking, open banking has been thrust upon the Chinese incumbent banks, and they don't have the luxury of time. They have to do it. So what does this result in? This results in a bank, like the - one of the largest banks ICBC, running an online internet commerce platform. Let's call it you know, an eBay. They run an Amazon for lack of a better example. Where you actually can go on ICBCs site and buy whatever it is you need to at their internet commerce site.  And they have it both for retail and they have it for commercial use.

Now you say, well, why would a bank do something like this? Ah, they do it because they can offer credit to people. And once they offer credit, and once they get credit, they extend credit and get repayment history, they can now start to understand who you are, as a client. Understand your repayment history,and offer you new, better, more credit, different products. Use their information on you through your buying to impact your banking experience. So open banking is a real thing in China, and it was forced upon the incumbent banks. And the incumbent banks were forced to react. It's it's very real to them and very necessary

It is still In the US and Canada, it's real, but the reactions are are much more moderate, because nobody is facing a real challenge from big tech, which is disrupting - thoroughly disrupting their business.

 

Tristram: Okay, are there any banks or institutions in North America that you would say are doing a great job on the innovation front and sort of leading the pack?

Rich: Oh, boy. That's a loaded question.

You know, look, the answer is you can point to greatness at many banks. There is no question that JP Morgan has now has internal blockchain system with a JP Morgan code, a coin that they're going to use. To in the wholesale transfer of funds to foreign locations. So look, this is a great technology.

So the answer is yes, there are certainly banks that have good innovative services. Generally the western banking system, one thing that they've all caught on to is that their mobile platforms have to be better. So every bank out there has spent a tremendous amount making their mobile interface better to combat the Neo banks or the challenger banks, the new generation of digital banks. And that's a good thing that incumbent banks have done. But in general, let me put it to you this way, the most used or the most important function as rated by mobile banking app. users in the US, is the check scanning feature. When you scan a check.

So, my comment to that is, if you're still worried about scanning a check, you're all failing.

 

Tristram: Right.

Rich: Because you really should have promoted an electronic payment system that does away with checks by now. There still is no such thing in the US or Canada, and that's a failure of both banks, regulators, and the entire system - who are now, in my view, a decade behind places like China, that are very, very advanced and have something like 92% infiltration of FinTech solutions  into people's lives.

So I think it's an EY study where they did penetration of FinTech into, into users, and it was basically 92% of China or more. I don't remember if we're just 92 or 94%. And, you know, the same number for the US and I believe Canada, was somewhere down in the 50s, or the 40s. It was much, much lower. The top European country the 60s if memory serves. And that’s just to show you how different the use of FinTech is between the US, Canada, Europe and China.

So, banks, yes, great. I'm very proud of you for making your mobile interfaces better. Yes, there's some good technology out there. But by and large, it's yet another problem that the US, Canada and the West has to - where we have to play catch up with places like China that are technologically very advanced. And we build a lot of great technology, but we're slow on the actual implementation of that technology.

 

Tristram: Now, we were talking about Paul Schulte earlier. When he was out here in late 2018, he was talking about how Amazon was developing a whole financial system as a test, I believe it was in India. And he was talking about how a number of banks not only had no idea that they were doing that, but didn't seem to be all that concerned about it.

Rich. Ya

 

Tristram: Have things changed in the last two years, would you say, based on the ongoing developments? 

Rich: No. It's really fascinating. Most people would be very surprised to hear that Facebook, Amazon, and I believe Google...Facebook, Amazon and Google all have direct instant payment systems available in India. So it's something that we don't have in the Western markets, and they're alive and well. And my argument is that they're being rolled out and tested in India first now. Why?

The Indian government had put together a instant payment API system that runs through the central bank. It's called the UPI system. Okay. So basically, if you are a Google, Facebook or Amazon, you can interface directly with the government's system, which allows for instantaneous payment from me to you or from business to business.

Now, for the United States, that is just now being developed. Okay, there's a sort of a history for what the American banking with the Fed did. The Fed put fast payment into the hands of the major incumbent banks who came up with the Zell system. OK. Now because it was sponsored by the large incumbent banks, the smaller banks in the United States said: we want no part of this because it only supports your monopoly on the marketplace. So smaller, mid-tier banks wanted nothing to do with it- and Zell - I don't remember how many years it's been around now, four or five years, it has had very poor penetration into the marketplace.

So now the Fed has stated that it's going to build its own fast payment system, which will be rolled out, I think it was 2023. It's coming, but it's late. And that will be when the US at least, will get some form of fast payment system. But the point is that the major tech players are already running these systems in India. And when that system turns on in the US, they will be more than ready to launch fast payment systems, through their platforms. And that's when - when that happens something very interesting is going to happen.

And it's the same thing that happened in China, which is your relationship with your money will change. Now, that's a big statement. You now are forced to use a bank to keep your money in. And you were forced to go to the bank's app to spend your money. And you are forced to go to the bank's app to do stuff with your money. And what will happen is what already happened in China where I can use WeChat or Ali pay, access my bank. I can pay outside of my banking app. I can use my money as I want to use my money, and it's now mine. And it's free to use as I wish, depending on which of the systems I use.

So if you could imagine an Amazon using this. You will be free to spend through Amazon on Amazon, using Amazon's payment system. It's going to be a revolution. So, what I use is WeChat, for example, I can invest on the WeChat platform with the investment company of my choice. There are WeChat based services, but there's certainly many, many thousands of other investment platforms that are using the WeChat payment interface. So you, me and everybody else will have greater freedom with their money. And it will fundamentally change the relationship you have with your money. And that's going to be a great day when it comes.

 

Tristram:  That's interesting. I was reading some articles about how the Europeans are trying to set up something called PEPSI, the Pan European Payment System or something like that. And Canada's got Jasper but at the same time, they're all developing these digital coins. How do how do the central bank digital currencies? How do all these things kind of work together? What what where do you see the end game between, you know, these three competing or the more than three competing forces?

Rich: Yeah. Okay, so let's go make a quick distinction for our listeners that about central bank digital currency and instant payment. Instant payment does not meant - central bank digital currencies will give you instant payment, but to get instant payment you do not necessarily have to do the step of having a central bank digital currency. So, central bank digital currencies are the digitization of actual dollar bills into a digital product.

So, let me make the distinction. You already have digital currency in the sense that if you look at your bank app on your phone, it tells you you got $1,000 in the bank and those are a digital thousand dollars. That is a digital representation of money. But somewhere there is $1,000 in a ledger in a bank, that is, shows up there. With central bank digital currency, you'll have digital currency and you could have $1,000 showing in your wallet on your phone. And that $1000 is actually an actual digital thousand dollars that sits on your phone. It does not sit on a bank ledger entry anywhere.

So theoretically, and I'm sure it will be ways around this, but if you lose your phone, you lose the thousand dollars, right? This is what you'll hear about in the crypto world where “I lost the keys to my Bitcoin account, I had to $2 million in there and it's gone because I don't have the keys anymore.” So in Bitcoin, it's a digital representation of actual money on your computer or on your phone, and that's what a central bank digital currency is going to be.

And there are advantages to using them in that you can pass money from country to country very quickly. You can have instant payments, just without routing through a bank.  I want to pay you $100, I put my cell phone next to your cell phone and the hundred dollars transfers and you now have $100 on your cell phone. So, instant payment guaranteed through Central Bank Digital Currencies. It will be a revolution in how we use money and how money is transported electronically. And it will free us from much of the banking system that mandates that we use the banks to pass around money, from one place to another from one person to another.

You'll be able to send it directly and those digital dollars can be sent directly from me to you. It's big. And it's so big that larger economies like the US, like Canada, are looking at and examining this, but they are certainly not running into it because it has such, so many profound impacts on how we use money.

 

Tristram: It seems a little bit like the the conversation between the person in the innovation lab and the person in the business unit, doesn't it?

Rich: That's very much the truth on a very large macro scale. innovators to say, hey, digital currencies are great. We need them yesterday, why are you doing them? And many governments are saying okay, we'll take a look, but we're not we're not really convinced yet.

But let's just make it clear, China this year is going to roll out its Central Bank Digital Currency. It will be available for to people on a retail basis, probably in the first half. It was hoped in the first half of the year now that look, let's face it, we've got a coronavirus scare. And the government's priorities are shifting to saving people from a terrible virus and I credit the Chinese government for doing a lot in that area. You know, we've got millions of people who are quarantined. So, how fast the China will be able to roll out its central bank digital currency is sort of an unknown right now.

 

Tristram: In the current situation with with the virus, and this may seem like an unusual question, but, has all this FinTech innovation been a benefit in an unusual situation like this one?

Rich: Absolutely. It's really interesting to see. Let's just look at two two cases. The first case is Ant Financial rolled out a an app that is being used in over 100 cities now. Including the biggest Beijing, Shanghai, all the big cities are using this. And the app is to help you understand your likelihood of transmitting the virus. It basically gives everyone a red, green or yellow, traffic light system. Green meaning you can travel freely within the city, yellow meaning that there are some travel restrictions and red of course, meaning you have to stay home and quarantine. And there's an algorithm built inside the app that looks at who has the infection in your neighborhood.  Whether you've come in contact. It's using big data to understand whether you've come in recent contact with people who have the virus and basically what it does is it allows China to end. forcible quarantining of, you know, City of Wuhan, 11 million.

Yes, Wuhan is still under quarantine. But it basically allows them to use a scalpel to quarantine those people who are likely to have the ability to transmit the virus versus those who have very low - low likelihood. So that's a great example of technology in the service of society, and it's huge.

And the other thing now, as far as payment and FinTech stuff, the big thing in China now is that they're actually cleaning the bank notes. They're actually washing them. Putting them under UV and then holding the aside  for two weeks before they re-circulate them. So sure digital payments are wonderful because they allow you to pay person to person without the chance of infection through a bank note, no question about it. It's huge.

And digital payments, of course allow for supermarket delivery to your home and digital payment. So, you know, during the quarantines people still need to eat, and they've been getting all of their groceries digitally. They've been paying their rent and other things through pushing buttons for digital payment. And it has helped tremendously to keep things moving, even though there are very difficult quarantines under - underway. So yeah, digital has been huge in this difficult time for China.

 

Tristram: That's, really interesting. And speaking of China, I did read the first part of your book. You've got a book on China coming out, what is the title of that?

Rich: The ah...

 

Tristram: Or do you have a title yet? 

Rich: Ya I have a title and it's called: China's Digital Currency Revolution. It's all about digital currency and FinTech in China. And it's pitched so that people can better understand what's happening in China, because they are living our future today. So if you look at China, what's happening in China now, that will be the future we will live into. And if you better understand how FinTech and digital currencies work in China today, you'll see where you will be and you can or we will all be, and you can better position your company or yourself to profit.

 

Tristram: Terrific. Well, I hope I can get you back on again to talk more about that before it's released.

Rich: I look forward to it. It should be out - I confess,  I've been away from home for almost a month now, so writing has slowed considerably. I'm looking for a June launch date for that, hopefully.

 

Tristram: Okay. Rich, where can people find you if they want to get in touch and learn more about you and what you're working on?

Rich: Absolutely. The best way to connect with me is through LinkedIn. And my last name has two r’s. So that's T u rr i n (Turrin). LinkedIn is always is always the best. I have a website, richturrin.com, and if you go to richturrin.com you can download the first two chapters of my book Innovation Lab Excellence. You sign up and it will allow you to download the PDF for the first two chapters.

And of course, the book is available globally on Amazon. So go to Amazon.ca in Canada and you'll see the book available. So its Innovation Lab Excellence. It's available in all formats. And I'm not sure the price was, the digital version is a is a good value, this is the marketing hat, I think it’s $6 or $7 US.

 

Tristram: Well, I highly recommend it. I thought the book was excellent. And I think anybody in the FinTech, financial and tech industry generally,  that's working with financial firms could benefit from a lot of the insights that you have in there.

 

Rich: Well, thank you very much, Tristram. I appreciate the plug for the book. It's fun and I hope I hope people like it. What I've seen is I get wonderful, wonderful emails from readers of the book, who write me and say: “chapter four, that's the exact same problem we have with our lab.” Or “chapter six. I was shocked because you know what you wrote, I live every day.” So I love getting notes from the readers who've enjoyed it.

 

Tristram: Yeah. And it's written, it's written in, I'd say is plain spoken language. So it's really easy to read. And it's very straightforward. It's not like you say you're a mathematician, it's not in the language of a mathematician.

 

Rich: Absolutely not. It was designed to be easy for people to digest and read, and above all, practical. Practical to use.

 

Tristram:  That's great. Well, Rich, thanks very much. And if you stay on for a second, I'm just going to hit stop on the recording and we'll finish up.

 

Rich: Thank you very much. It's been a pleasure, and I look forward to hearing from everybody out there. Thank you so much.

 


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online Environment 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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LatAm in Focus – Podcast: The Future of Fintech in Argentina

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AS/COA | Luisa Horwitz | February 19, 2020

Fintech in argentina - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online EnvironmentIn a region where a large portion of the population is underbanked, fintech offers an innovative solution for Latin America, paving the way for wider financial development, competition, and inclusion in the region.

In the case of Argentina, fintech startups are sprouting and spreading fast. Pierpaolo Barbieri, founder of the startup Ualá, talked with AS/COA Online’s Luisa Horwitz about what motivated him to make the financial system more accessible in Argentina, a country where more than half of people have never had access to a non-cash payment method. “What we try to do is democratize access to financial services,” says Barbieri, who in this episode also covers the generational divide when it comes to fintech, as well as what the sector looks like across Latin America.

 

We don’t want to change the system from within; what we want is a new system. 

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online Environment 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

Latest news - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online EnvironmentFF Logo 400 v3 - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online Environmentcommunity social impact - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online Environment
Coronavirus resources 800 1 - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online Environment

NCFA Newsletter subscribe600 - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online Environment

FFCON20 Homepage Banner v3 updated - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online Environment

 

share save 171 16 - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online Environment

FATF Travel Rule interview with iComply: Cryptocurrency is Meant to be Trustless, Not Anonymous

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Blockchain News | By Lucas Cacioli | Jan 27, 2020

In JunFAFT travel rule interview - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online Environmente of 2019, one of the most authoritative regulatory organizations worldwide, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF ), issued new guidelines on how digital assets should be regulated.

A point that caused great concern and confusion for exchanges was the “travel rule,”: which refers to section 7(b) in the Interpretative Note to Recommendation 15 in the FATF Guideline, which requires Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) to collect and transfer customer information during transactions. While FATF recommendations are not legally binding, the G-20 stated that it uses them to regulate cryptocurrencies for Anti-Money Laundering.

So what do these recommendations really mean, and how should exchanges or VASPs observe them? We decided to gather some of the questions being posed by those in the exchange and cryptocurrency sector and put them to an expert, Matthew Unger, CEO, iComply.

See: New money-laundering rules change everything for cryptocurrency exchanges

Matthew Unger is the CEO and co-founder of iComply Investor Services. At 22, he became one of the youngest executive financial advisors in Investors Group Financial Services’ history, building a $42-Million business in under five years. He has a decade of technology management consulting experience, driving innovation for companies ranging from high-growth startups seeking to scale into enterprise markets to major multinationals, including Virgin Group, Investors Group Financial Services, BDC, Bank of Canada, and has held Secret-Level clearance with CSIS (a.k.a. Canada’s CIA).

His previous FinTech experience includes leading the systems architecture on an end-to-end digital workflow solution for a wealth management firm in Canada. Unger led a proof of concept at MIT to use Ethereum to automate the matching and fulfillment of interest rate swaps over LIBOR.

iComply Investor Services (iComply) is a regulatory technology (Regtech) company focused on making financial markets more robust, secure, and efficient. Its mission is to improve the user experience of compliance for all counterparties in every transaction.

Does the travel rule spell the end of cryptocurrency anonymity?

No, it does not. The travel rule only applies to people who are trading or facilitating trades for others; it doesn’t impact peer-to-peer transactions.

The subset of digital assets dubbed privacy coins, which have long delighted libertarians and frustrated law enforcement, are feeling the pinch of a step up in regulation—what would you tell advocates of the technology who believe in the autonomy of personal finance and operating free of state surveillance?

A few points here:

The top two privacy coins are Monero and Zcash. Both are able to fully comply with the travel rule, depending on privacy settings that the user has enabled in their wallet. One of these is set to be private by default; the other is transparent by default. These coins will allow the user to give audit access (say, to a regulator) to view transaction details…and software can be created to enable these coins to be compliant at scale, without giving away transaction history to surveillance firms such as ChainAnalysis.

See: Davos 2020: Financial inclusion and fintech is key to meeting the UN SDGs

There is a larger conversation embedded in this question regarding state surveillance. While we want to be free, money has a direct impact on people’s lives. The reality is that crypto is often used in the child sex trade, to launder massive amounts of money, and to undermine the free democratic process in favor of corruption and foreign influence, such as was the case in the 2016 U.S. election (re: the Mueller report). We’ve seen even more extreme values on privacy in the last few years. While some people say privacy is more important, these people limit the current and potential uses of crypto in the financial system.

The original objective of this technology is not to be anonymous—it’s to be trustless.

You don’t need to know anything about an individual to know that you can trade with them and that their money is real. What the tech can’t do is tell you if the crypto is stolen, was used to harm someone, or was used to facilitate acts of terrorism, crime, or other illicit or harmful activities. In order to use crypto in good conscience, it’s prudent that users deal with people that they have vetted...although it’s not possible to know all their details (that eliminates the whole concept of trustlessness). You need policies to be managed at large institutions, so you know that you can actually use cryptocurrency properly.

The reality of the FATF travel rule is that it’s just a method of data standardization. Once you standardize that data format (i.e.: FIX for stock exchanges and SWIFT for banks and bank wires), and if you are an advocate of crypto adoption, having an open-source global data standard is the gateway to mainstream adoption.

Would a technology like Zero-Knowledge Proof be an acceptable way around the declaration of personal data required by FATF?

Again, the people who are required to report and use the FATF travel rule are already legally compelled to do KYC. There is no additional requirement. All this does is make sure that, for example, if someone takes all the money out of Quadriga and starts washing that money, at least people will know where the money went. This is not about the user of crypto making declarations; it’s about VASPs being held accountable for transparency and protection both of their users and the integrity of their platforms.

See:  Fintrac releases key updates to AML obligations, including virtual currency exchange MSB registration

Zero-Knowledge Proof is a very broad term that could be implemented in many ways, but it’s not really a useful tool for this application. This is because you are not asking for authentication of info (such as, is this person’s name, date of birth, address, etc.). Instead, you’re required to actually pass that data forward from the sending VASP to the receiving VASP.

A much better framework than Zero-Knowledge Proof would be to use blockchain to ensure that users consent to their info being shared, which can be done off-chain using standard encryption and APIs, or other means.

Ryan Taylor, CEO of Dash Core Group said: “Exchanges are struggling to understand the specific requirements because the FATF regulation must be implemented in local jurisdictions, which will undoubtedly act on the guidance differently. For now, it is a guessing game.” —Will this mean that the travel rule is likely to be implemented unequally?

There is already a global standard emerging for adhering to the FATF travel rule. iComply, among other reputable companies from all around the world, have worked together to establish a best practice for how the travel rule data can be shared through a common standard (similar to FIX or SWIFT) while using blockchain to protect identities, privacy, and decentralization. This new standard will be a key discussion point at the FATF plenary in May 2020.

Again, we are merely talking about a standardized way to share data between VASPs. If a VASP wants to adopt its own standard for data, such as the format of the date of birth, it will be on them to maintain their data and the “translation” of that data with other VASPs. Adopting a public and open standard saves everyone time and money.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online Environment 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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Davos 2020: Financial inclusion and fintech is key to meeting the UN SDGs

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Finextra | Jan 22, 2020

global global - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online EnvironmentWhile technology has yet again been a central topic of discussion at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, there has also been a determined focus on fintech and how financial inclusion is key to meeting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

In conversation with Finextra, Haus of Fintech founder Misha Rao highlights that the recent formation of the Digital Financing Task Force by the UN Secretary General, as well as the need to ensure the financing of the SDGs - which has a $2.5 trillion annual financing gap -

"it is time to actively question how we catalyse the fintech ecosystem globally and build coalitions and strategic partnerships that come up with practical solutions and ensure prosperity is widely shared on a local and an international level."

See:  Task Force Analyzes Role of Fintech in Accelerating SDGs

Rao continues: "We know that digital finance initiatives could add $3.7 trillion to the GDP of emerging economies and organisations including the United Nations, the World Bank, and the World Economic Forum have invested in fintech, believing that it has the potential to create a better world.

"We believe that core areas like the need for resilient financial market infrastructures, enhanced distribution of foreign aid, eradicating poverty, economic and individual rights, and remittances are areas where fintech can contribute most meaningfully."

40 leading banks from across five continents and representing $16 trillion in assets, are collectively redefining the role played by banks in order to align the sector with the UN SDGs, which have set ambitious targets to deliver a sustainable future for all. As two thirds of worldwide finance is provided by banks, the global banking system will be instrumental in achieving these goals, Rao explains.

"Fintech companies are innovating through new value propositions, including flexible products and better ways to address the financial challenges faced by low-income customers. They are also building the groundwork—including easier digital identity verification, alternative lending platforms, data sharing, and new payment systems— that has resulted to a set of new financial services," she adds.

With Haus of Fintech, Rao's mission is "to bridge the gap between the worlds of fintech and organisations that are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of the most vulnerable and underserved communities. By harnessing the resources of the private sector, the reach of the public sector, the expertise of academia and the disruption and innovation of fintech, we are able to work together to bring financial services and products to those who need it most, which drive greater economic opportunity, access to new capital, the creation of new jobs and most importantly give them the opportunity to live a life of dignity and access to economic opportunity."

See: 

Dr. Jemilah Mahmood, under secretary general partnerships at the International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies, a Haus of Fintech partner, tells Finextra that fintech “has helped evolve financial inclusion beyond the simplistic idea of having a bank account.

“It has placed financial services literally in the palms of those who were previously marginalised and underserved. But questions remain on the ethics of experimentation and shared value collaboration between humanitarian actors and private partners.”

In 2020, the fintech industry will need to engage an entire system of approaches and reduce the number of siloed innovations that are emerging. “Fintech will also drive the significance of having sovereign digital identities for undocumented populations,” – providing a legal identity for all was promised as part of Goal 16 of the UN SDGs.

Focusing on Dr. Mahmood’s point on “the ethics of experimentation”, while data is increasingly prevalent in the digital world of today, the threat of data breaches, identity theft and fake news is resulting in consumer distrust.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online Environment 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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Davos 2020: How to Survive the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

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World Economic Forum | Yuval Harari | Jan 24, 2020

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  • 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.

See:  Executive Perspectives on Top Risks 2020

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?

See:  Three Big Things: The Most Important Forces Shaping the World

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.

See:  Singapore Fintech Week: Data, technology and policy coordination – BIS Speech

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.

See:  Fully automated decision making AI systems: the right to human intervention and other safeguards

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.

See:  How Big Data and Blockchain are enhancing FinTech

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.

See:  How Small Businesses Can Compete By Leveraging Data Insights

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 - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online Environment 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?

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FT Partners | Jan 2020

FTP rise of challenger banks research - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online EnvironmentExecutive 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 - Fintech Fridays EP38:  Why Identity Matters in an Evolving Online Environment 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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