5 min read
Digital Human: What's the next Revolution?
In this weeks’ Fintech Insider we have an interview with author, CEO, blogger, and fintech insight extraordinaire, Chris Skinner! We grabbed Chris and took him to the pub for a drink and a quick conversation on his new book Digital Human.
Listen to the interviews in full on Fintech Insider here, stream it below or read on for a few key insights.
Digitisation has been a revolution, why do you think it’s been such a momentous shift for everybody?Technology’s moved quickly from what were once clunky mainframes to cloud-based mobile computing. Now there’s low cost access to global markets. So, overnight you can launch something through digital channels that changes the world. The Collison brothers began what is now a multi-billion dollar startup when they were teenagers with Stripe. They changed the whole way we think about online checkout. Teenagers can change the banking marketplace.
Mobile phones weren’t essential. But now everyone has a mobile phone, and you know immediately if you don’t have it on you.You describe the human revolution as “A revolution that creates inclusion for seven and a half billion people in a connected planet” What positivity can this bring? Recording every birth on a digital ledger is going to transform developing countries where people weren’t necessarily registered at birth. 4.5 billion people who were underserved or ignored by traditional corporations in the industrial era are now included. That’ll raise them out of poverty, that’ll raise them out of disease, it’ll give them hope and opportunity. People who pay most to move money are those who have the least they didn’t have access to banks or electronic networks. Digitisation makes that possible and now there’s cheap digital access to banking products and monetary security across the world. People might be poor because of disasters or despots but they will not be poor because the system makes them poor.
Unlimited Digital ConnectivityWe’ve seen mobile phone usage and smartphone capabilities radically change what it means to live in the Western world in a short space of time, where are we seeing that lead? Mobile phones, when they first arrived in the late 1970s were seen as just a thing for yuppies and showoffs, they weren’t essential. But now everyone has a mobile phone, to the point where you know immediately if you don’t have it on you. It’s an extension of you, it’s part of your body, it’s part of how you live. It connects you to the digital world. That sort of thing is what’s making us like cyborgs, downstream integrating technology into our biological capabilities and internalising technology could exist. For example, inserting microchips into children to track and trace where they are. Having an identification chip inside you so you can walk through airports without passports. It sounds ridiculous but it’s a possible future. Everything is moving towards wireless and digital. The power of smartphones is obviously putting the Internet in our pockets and purses but it’s not just the Western world, mobile phones have leapfrogged developing countries like into a new world. Look at China, $5.5 trillion transacted through mobile wallets in 2016 versus the USA transacting $111 million. You can see these are countries that leapfrogging in mobile.
Every 3 or 4 years Ant Financial is throwing away their whole architecture and regenerating. It isn’t something you hear any other company doing.
Ants EverywhereYou’ve done a case study with Ant Financial, can you tell us a little bit more about that? Ant Financial is a 30,000 word case study in the book. It’s the first english language case study on the company, there are lots of books about Alibaba, but nothing on Ant Financial specifically and Alipay. What they say is mindblowing compared to what you see in the UK in banks and even fintech startups. They’re reimagining everything. I met the Head of Systems Architecture for Ant Financial who came over from Microsoft, he’s been brought in to manage the fifth generation systems architecture. This is only a 14 year old company. So every 3 or 4 years Ant Financial is throwing away their whole architecture and regenerating, which isn’t something you hear any other company doing. They currently have 540 million users doing 125,000 transactions per second, they want to build the next generation to support 2 billion users doing 1 million transactions per second. Every transaction would be using A.I. to check for fraud, risk and analytics of their exposures. So, each transaction, often microtransactions, is being analysed with no human hand involved. Visa and Mastercard are small fry compared to what Ant’s doing.
It was all based on old technologies.