Exponential Finance celebrates human, fintech evolutionS
ingularity University’s fourth annual Exponential Finance Summit, held June 7 through 9, 2017, in New York City, drew a diverse crowd of executives from a range of industries to explore how emerging technologies can solve global problems at scale. Speakers and panelists challenged attendees to “be exponential” and “unlearn” linear forms of thinking by tapping into the vast computational power and digital transformation of innovative change-makers and organizations.
The three-day summit was organized into separate tracks to enable stakeholders in banking, financial advisory and wealth management, and insurance industries to examine how emerging technologies are impacting each vertical. First-time attendee orientation and advanced alumni presentations explored how blockchain technologies; quantum computing; artificial intelligence; and open source, cloud-based solutions are creating a financially inclusive, abundant future.
Peter Diamandis, co-founder and Executive Chairman of SU, said it’s hard to recognize how amazing things are today because we tend to romanticize the past. Citing the SARs and bird flu health epidemics as recent examples, he said war, pestilence and hunger could once wipe out millions at a time. “We don’t have the scale of those disasters anywhere on the planet today,” he said. “Entrepreneurship is creating orders of magnitude and uplifting the world. If you want to make a billion, help a billion.”
Financial services wake-up call
Keynote presentations in the banking track underscored the need for innovative approaches in financial services. Following are some highlights:
- Take learning out of the classroom: Author John Hagel, Co-Chair at Deloitte’s Center for the Edge, called for organizations to redefine strategy, reframe innovation and refocus on transformation. Large enterprises can facilitate scalable learning by taking employees out of the training room and into the world where they are free to experiment and fail, he noted.
- Zoom-in, zoom-out planning: Hagel called five-year business plans irrelevant in the fast-moving finance industry. Focus instead on what your industry will look like in 10 to 20 years and what kind of company you will have to create to add value, he said. Then zoom back in with a few initiatives that will have the greatest impact in the near-term, six-month horizon. “This is a very different model and approach to how other companies operate,” he said.
- Embrace disruptive innovation: Catherine Wood, founder and Chief Executive Officer at ARK Investment sees growth potential in five technology platforms: genomic, robotics and AI, energy storage, next-generation Internet, and blockchain. “We focus exclusively on disruptive industries and invest in leaders, enablers and beneficiaries,” she said, adding that the team combines traditional research methods with social media. “All our blockchain contacts and leads come from Twitter, where blockchain lives. We push our research into LinkedIn, where it is broadcast by blog aggregators.”
- Partner, acquire or copy fintechs: Brett King, founder of Moven and banking industry author, has seen banks evolve from reliance on mainframe computers to self-service models to distributed mobile apps that have become the banking world’s biggest branch. “Ant Financial will be the largest financial institution in the world by 2025,” King said. “Financial institutions need to build banking experientially into their technology platforms. Their three options are to partner, acquire or copy fintech companies.”
- Think consumer experience, not payments: When Mike Sigal, Partner at 500 Start-ups, quizzed the audience on hot and cold investment opportunities, “payments” landed squarely on ice. Why? Because as a baseline requirement for an array of contextual technologies, payments and even digital currencies are being eclipsed by embedded forms of experiential commerce that leverage blockchain and mobile technologies.
A promising, inclusive future
Will Weisman, Executive Director, Summits at SU, thanked attendees and speakers for their insights. “Together, we experienced a wide range of subjects, presented by some of the world's foremost innovators in technology and finance,” he stated.
“There's no doubt we live in an extraordinary time. The changes we're seeing will not only impact your career and organization, but the very fabric of society.”
Weisman acknowledged the global community faces near-term hurdles and opportunities. “It's our hope at Singularity University that you'll use your talent, knowledge, resources, and newfound perspective to work toward a more just and prosperous world for all,” he said.
The university hosts a variety of events throughout the year designed to bring together leaders and thinkers from an array of disciplines, including healthcare, manufacturing and financial services. SU’s flagship event, The Singularity University Global Summit, will be held Aug. 15 through 17 in San Francisco.
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