Your weekly resource for noteworthy news, fascinating features, and fintech titbits that caught our eye. Whether you live by your Twitter lists, save your Google Alerts or simply scroll through LinkedIn for insights and commentary – there is a wealth of content that weaves a global story around fintech.
Our job at Fintech Talents is to work within that global story – finding the news items, conventional wisdoms and hard data that aids us in bringing the industry the best content, community and experiences in the business. This week’s FTT Bookmark of timely resources and real time conversations that are shaping fintech is brought to you by VC Innovations Director of Strategy, Lisa Moyle.
Let’s Talk About Digital Dollars
The Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, is pushing the US forward into the Central Bank digital Currency debate with the launch of a discussion paper this summer. The US clearly needs to keep pace with the Central Bank digital currency debate as it explores the ramifications for domestic payments systems and seeks to play a leading role in formulating international standards.
Yet there is so much more to the discussion around CBDCs than just the digital manifestation of national currencies. Whilst most of Europe and the US may lack the incentives to accelerate CBDCs that move discussions along in less developed economies, the political ramifications are broad. Looking at China, for example, there are significant pollical concerns around greater tracking of how its citizens spend their money and where. There is also the potential influence that it may exert over developing economies in Africa, as one example, where China has made significant investments into mobile infrastructure and to which it exports large numbers of mobile phones. The use of the digital yuan may well follow and, ultimately, became a reserve currency to challenge the dollar.
Fascinating stuff, big picture stuff, shifting world power stuff and most definitely not simply the digital replacement of cash. Fintech really has helped to change the world.
“The true battle is between fiat and crypto,”
Said Elon Musk. Whether digital or not, his vote is with crypto, particularly given the government spending necessitated by a pandemic. In that sense it is no different than other searches for alternative assets when there is a future expectation of a rapid growth in inflation. He criticized bitcoin for its intensive energy use and vowed to send dogecoin to the ‘literal moon’ (just in case there was any mistake about his intentions). Fintech has not just helped changed the world, it may also be heading off to places beyond it.
Sometimes I really hate Elon Musk but then he says something really funny.
And then Paul Krugman made the cryto world angry with his Op Ed Technobabble, Libertarian Derp and Bitcoin. The Internet reminded him of a 1998 prediction of his that was a bit off – “By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine’s.”
Fintech takes aim at a $400B healthcare puzzle
Financial Services is a complex industry but there are people who can come to grips with the mechanics of the industry, the regulatory framework that oversees it and the sometimes overcooked complexity of the products it creates. I sincerely doubt that there is anyone who fully understands the US Healthcare system to a similar extent. I say this as an American who has attempted to navigate the system on my own behalf and that of my parents. It’s mental, it’s insane, it leaves a trail of broken finances and poor health outcomes in its wake.
Since there seems to be very little hope of tackling this madness at source, fintech innovators are now turning their focus to the fact that ‘out-of-pocket spending (for Americans) stood at more than $406 billion in 2019. That is quite a market opportunity and one that start-ups are exploring.
Providers often don’t get paid or spend a lot of money attempting to collect a portion of what they are owed and for individuals and families the results are often devastating. Healthcare debt is the leading cause of personal bankruptcies in the US (thank you NHS). New payments focussed start-ups can potentially broker better and more affordable payment plans which can help people navigate the financial shocks of a system that really is crap. There is lots of opportunity to improve aspects of the industry (eg comprehensible billing, Buy Now, Pay Later options). Fintech can change the world but it can’t alone fix US Healthcare, or at least not yet.
NFTs Take Out a Classic
Charlie Bit My Finger – a video that I have to admit I never found particularly funny (or at least not as funny as Elon Musk at times) is being removed from YouTube. The family auctioned the clip as an NFT, a non-fungible token for £500,000. The anonymous new owner now owns the clip of one brother biting the other’s finger. According to the auction page the buyer can now “recreate a hilarious modern-day rendition of the classic clip” that will feature “the original stars, Harry and Charlie”.
My brother once removed the ladder to our bunk beds and when I went to get out of bed, I came crashing down and impaled my eye on a Tonka truck. I think that would have made a far more amusing video but what do I know about comedy. I can’t lay this one at Fintech’s door.
Next week it is over to my colleague Laura Camplisson for her views on the world of Identity and Fintech.