Disruptive Technology: Money

DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY: MONEY

Welcome to the seventh instalment of the Disruptive Tech series, where we showcase technology and innovations that are revolutionising the world!

In this special video edition of Disruptive Tech, we spoke to Parrish Pryce-Williams — a banking and fintech expert. He’s also the Founder of PryceWilliams; a delivery-led consultancy specialising in strategy implementation, regulatory compliance and technology automation.

We spoke with Parrish about the impact of technology on the fintech space, the changing face of banking and how digital currencies, like Bitcoin, will transform our everyday transactions. Also: NFTs, how blockchain works like Lego and so much more.

Watch the interview in full here:

And read it below!

 

Hello Parrish! Can you tell us about your experience in the fintech space and what you do at PryceWilliams?

I’m the founder and lead Partner at PryceWilliams — a specialist consultancy focusing on project delivery for our clients, mainly in the asset management and private banking space. We’re experts in strategy implementation, regulatory compliance and technology automation.

My previous experience includes co-founding a technology start-up and working in PriceWaterhouseCooper’s Banking and Capital Markets Practice. I’m also a Chartered Management Accountant (CIMA) and take a keen interest in fintech and digital currencies.

Fintech is not a new trend — financial services organisations have been investing and developing their technology capability for decades. Payment cards, for example, were first offered in the US during the 1950s by Diners Club and Amex; this allowed users to pay without cash or cheque.

Of course, since the advent of the internet, smartphone and mobile networks progress in this space has sped up; more technology is being put into the hands of the user to make their lives easier.

I’d be interested in learning more about digital currencies. What are they and how many are out there?

Digital currencies are a way of exchanging value online without an intermediary such as a bank or credit card provider to verify transactions. The most popular and well-known of digital currencies is bitcoin; it’s the digital currency that’s really gaining transactions with inventors and fund managers, alongside Ethereum. There are, however, over 10,000 different digital currencies in existence currently.

The underlying technology of digital currencies is called blockchain which is an open ledger where all transactions are recorded. No individual or entity controls Bitcoin or the blockchain ledger and anyone can join the network to transact or ‘mine’. The key point of difference between digital currencies and regular currency is that it removes the third party function; we can transact peer-to-peer without the involvement of a bank, for example.

Coinbase — a marketplace where you can trade in digital currencies — lists over 150 different digital currencies in its asset directory. This is a great place to learn about digital currencies, as well as the news sites Coin Telegraph and Coin Desk. If you want to ‘nerd out’ on the underlying technology that powers a particular digital currency, then read the relevant white papers for the respective digital currency. These can be found on the Coinbase website or on the relevant digital currency’s website.

How are digital currencies revolutionising the way we work, live and spend?

Digital currencies themselves aren’t necessarily revolutionising the way we work just yet, but the technology underlying decentralised ledger technology is certainly proving useful for certain applications — especially when it comes to trade finance.

Trade finance is all about getting goods from one part of the world to another. There’s a high number of transactions involved in trade finance, which involves a long supply chain with lots of different 3rd parties tracking and moving goods internationally. Blockchain adds blocks of data along that journey to make this process faster; saving time and reducing paperwork. Companies like IBM, Barclays and HSBC have been building and offering blockchain solutions in this space.

Another interesting application that’s getting a lot of attention in the media is NFTs. NFTs (or non-fungible tokens) use blockchain technology to verify the owner of a digital asset like a tweet, a picture, digital artwork and more. Jack Doresey, the founder of Twitter, actually sold his first tweet via an NFT for $2.9 million!

Places like Sotheby’s are starting to offer NFts, so it is gaining traction.

How are NFTs changing the way that creators monetise or commodify their content?

NFTs will potentially make it a bit easier for a creator to sell their content — artwork or music — to whoever wants to purchase it. At the moment, you generally have to go through an intermediary. Creators can sell their work through a digital auction and it’s immediately verified. It just makes the whole process quicker — and might put more money in the creator’s pocket at the end of the day.

Finance and banking in 2050 — what does it look like?

There will be a raft of innovations, but users will decide through adoption what sticks. When it comes to banking for everyday users, it’s likely that the current branch model for ordinary retail customers will be superseded by AI. Where human interaction is required, this will come from a centralised call centre-type operation using video capability. I think that over the next decade or so the brick and mortar branch network will shrink. We’re already seeing that happening.

Individuals will also need to change their approach to cybersecurity as this is a fast-growing area for criminal activity. People will need to become more security-conscious and have increased awareness around their data and how it’s shared.

When it comes to finance, it’s likely that developed economies such as the UK, US and China will offer digital currency versions of the physical currency. Cash notes and coins will disappear completely as they’re expensive to run and manage. If the digital versions of major currencies are made readily available to less developed economies in the same way as Bitcoin and Ether have to users, then this could become an interesting tool for global politics. Much in the same way that energy, food, water and other commodities & key resources are used to gain influence globally.

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