How Bitcoin Will Meet The Scaling Challenges Needed To Go Mainstream

fintech bitcoin scaling

fintech bitcoin scaling

How Bitcoin Will Meet The Scaling Challenges Needed To Go Mainstream
By Bernard Lunn

For some time it seemed rather academic or nerdy to think about Bitcoin scaling. Who cares whether Bitcoin will scale if it is only used by a few people for nefarious activities? The scaling challenge is real but with all the tech brains and money committed to solving it, Bitcoin will meet the scaling challenge so that it can go mainstream if consumers want it. There is constant talk about Internet scaling challenges. The Internet looks like one of those systems that should not work in theory but works well in practice – meaning that the theory is wrong. Decentralized, loosely coupled systems are hard to understand but seem to work well. The Bitcoin Blockchain maybe the same.


Integrated Loyalty: How Uber and Capital One Embedded Loyalty into the Customer Experience
By JP Nicols

It’s become well-worn trope in fintech punditry to declare such and such an app or company as the “Uber of banking”, presumably meaning both that it’s a seamless customer and payment experience, and also something with massive growth potential. This on-demand seamless delivery is raising the bar for customer expectations in banking, and so is the Uber payment experience. To me the best part of the Uber payment experience is that there isn’t one. I don’t want a payment experience, I want a ride from point A to point B. It’s a great example of the “disappearance of payments”.


InsurTech CEOs Believe There Has To Be A Better Way
By FinTech Roundup

The cultural differences between decades-old brands and startups and, perhaps more than anything else, the pace at which the two operate create difficulties in these working relationships. For big companies with hundreds of staff the process of digital transformation, while more cost-effective in the long run, can be painful. One of the key forces driving these changes is the increased access to rich data sources and open access to artificial intelligent algorithm that can crunch through that data to offer more personalised services, explained to consumers. Another field of technology that will impact the future of insurance is the smart home and insurers’ ability to process and make use of the vast amount of data the devices can collect.

Goldman Sachs Drops Out of R3 Blockchain Group
By Kim S. Nash

Founding member leaves as cooperative seeks equity investors. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. has dropped out of the R3 CEV LLC blockchain group. The investment bank was one of nine original members of R3, founded in 2014 to explore the use of the distributed database technology in Wall Street infrastructure. The technology, best known for underpinning the system that trades the virtual currency bitcoin, has garnered increasing attention as a way banks can save billions of dollars and make old-fashioned processes faster and more efficient.

Brave New (Open API) World



Focus is essential. This is very FinTechs have advantage over incumbents, they don’t need to worry about canibalising their different revenue streams, pulling resources from different projects, playing politics to make sure key stakeholders don’t feel left out. Startups just need to get it done. Do it quick and dirty and then iterate to improve. Incumbents don’t have the luxury to do this. If you don’t want to fall behind, step back, prioritise and laser focus on it. This is a bigger competitive advantage than most people give it credit for.

Thanks for reading; YOU are awesome!

Have a wonderful week,


The Future Of Insurance Is Insurtech
By Matteo Carbone

The reach of this digital transformation goes way beyond the elimination of “the middle man” and interpretations from a distribution point of view. The amplitude of the digital transformation happening in the insurance industry is widespread and encompasses all of the phases of the insurance value chain, from underwriting to claims. Every insurance sector player, whether it’s a reinsurer, a carrier or an intermediary, ought to pose this question: how should the insurance value chain be reshaped by using the new technologies at hand?


Bitcoin’s Security Model: A Deep Dive
By Jameson Lopp

When discussing consensus mechanisms for different cryptocurrencies, one issue that often causes arguments is a lack of understanding (and definition) of the security model that they provide for the historical data in the ledger. Every security model has two main parts: assumptions and guarantees. If the assumptions used as inputs hold true, then so should the guarantees that are output by the model. One of the greatest assumptions made by bitcoin’s security model is that the majority of miners are honest – that they are working to secure the blockchain rather than attempting to undermine it. In practice, this has held true throughout bitcoin’s history due to miner incentives, though some question if it will continue to hold true in the future.


Banking On The API Bundle Of The Future
By Jessica Elerm

If you thought ‘fintech’ was a buzzword, get ready for ‘open’. Open data, open APIs, open access – you name it. Banks are under pressure on multiple fronts to open the doors and let in the tech punters, all of whom are hungry for a slice of customer data. Open APIs seem inevitable at this point, with governments around the world starting to push the case for banks to get comfortable with handing over customer data when requested to third parties, a move that is enabling the API movement to take off. As a consumer, I’m certainly looking forward to a future where I can identify myself once then freely pick and mix my banking services from a range of providers. It seems to me that we’ll unbundle only to re-bundle, just a little differently to how we did it before. Like changing fashions, what’s old eventually becomes new again – perhaps banking is no exception.


Root Insurance And The Unbundling Of The Insurance Stack Using Open APIs
By Daily FinTech

Although it took a long time for Fintech startups to become full stack regulated banks, it is happening now. In most markets we see banks variously described as Challenger Bank or NeoBank or Digital Bank. Some are VC funded and some are Bank funded. This is 7 years after the Cambrian  explosion phase of Bank centric Fintech c 2009 after the Global Financial Crisis. Insurtech Cambrian  explosion phase came much later around 2014, yet we already see a lot of full stack Insurtech startups.


5 things that made me smarter this week

US regulators told electric cars to make some noise. With quiet vehicles posing a danger to pedestrians, the government finalized new rules requiring that electric and hybrid models beep when moving at low speeds. Authorities expect fewer pedestrian injuries once the rules are implemented.

An airline pilot announced that everyone should shut up about Donald Trump. He asked passengers to not bring up politics because “we’re going to be in a metal tube at 35,000 feet.”

We can now fly airplanes with our minds. Neurotechnology researchers invented a system that controls aircraft through electrical activity in the brain.

Pigs can be pessimists. A study of 36 domestic pigs found that some are ambitious and optimistic, while others have a glass-half-empty disposition.

Human blood can revive old mice. Plasma from teenagers improves memory, cognition, and physical activity in one-year-old rodents (that’s 50 in rat years).

Where is your digital vision?

fintech summary - digital vision banking

fintech summary - digital vision banking

The result of US election was a shock, at least for me. However, I remember this paragraph from Fred Wilson, one of the most well known VCs:

“But more than that, going into a foxhole right now seems like the wrong idea. Some of the best companies have been created in times of great economic turmoil. And, because of that, some of the best venture capital investments have been made in times when everyone was risk averse. I am not for getting too excited when times are good and I am not for getting too conservative when times feel bad. I am all for looking for opportunity at every turn.” 

At least we have the certainty of uncertainty. Let’s embrace it.

Thanks for reading; YOU are awesome!

Have a wonderful week,


If Internet Giants Are The Competition, Are Banks Ready To Compete?
By Chris Skinner

The reason why Amazon, Facebook, Google and Alipay can leverage data so effectively is that they all began with a single data view and have added leverage to that single data view over time. When Google was founded in September 1998, it was serving 10,000 search queries a day. By the end of 2006, the same amount would be served in a single second. Platform is the model, scale is the key, and consistency is the focus. A hangover from the past, a reflection of product focus, and a lack of ability to invest in consolidation and rationalisation. However, if data is the competitive battleground, it’s just another reason why banks need to get an enterprise data structure in place sooner rather than later.


Where Is The Bank’s Digital Vision?
By Chris Skinner

You cannot create a digital vision if you don’t have leaders who understand digital. In fact, again, the reason why most bank leaders avoid changing core systems is that they don’t have vision and so can duck it. Most CIOs are not there to give vision. They are there to keep the lights on and maintain the system (especially as 80% of their budget is spent on just that). So who’s going to create a digital technology vision if there’s only bankers in the room and no one to challenge them?


Blockchain-Powered Revolution in the Insurance Industry
By Elena Mesropyan

Probably the most far-reaching implication of blockchain is disintermediation. A decentralized consortium network of insurance carriers, which manages all of its transactions online, could eliminate the need for intermediaries for less complex coverages, e.g., auto insurance and mass-market products. Disintermediation in the insurance industry means structural transformation of the industry, its curation from mediators that may have a significant impact on end pricing and reach. By providing a universal source of truth that is tamper-proof, blockchain could also lead to increased efficiency — resulting from a reduction in human error, fraud, data duplication, processing delays, transaction and administrative costs and opaqueness — ultimately benefiting the end-consumer with better service and lower premiums.


BaaS Is Becoming The Sexiest Vertical In FinTech
By Vladislav Solodkiy

BaaS (bank-as-a-service) is the new black. Essentially, it’s the heart of banking. Recently Starling Bank and Mondo, the latest two challenger banks to win their UK banking licenses, have placed open APIs at the forefront of their strategies to maximize their competitive advantage over their incumbent rivals. Application programming interfaces (APIs) are the pieces of software that allow two separate IT systems to communicate and interact with each other. Open APIs will allow both Starling Bank and Mondo to crowdsource the development of new products and services far more quickly and cheaply than they could manage on their own. This is a vital consideration for new entrants that have limited resources of their own and need to deploy a full service proposition.


5 things that made me smarter this week

The Back to the Future 2 villain was based on Donald Trump. Biff Tannen used a casino fortune to fund his quest for political power.

There’s a virus that can spread between smart light bulbs. It travels via radio waves and could theoretically shut down wifi across an entire city.

It’s possible to have emotions without feeling them. Some reactions occur outside our awareness.

Medieval peasants had more time off than modern-day Americans. Frequent holidays were key to preventing a revolt.

The legalese associated with Apple product ownership can involve more words than The Hobbit. If you own a Mac, an iPhone, an Apple TV, an Apple Watch, and an Airport router, you’ve probably agreed to at least 100,000 words of legal contracts.

What’s the Endgame for FinTech?

FinTech Summary - Banking Startup

FinTech Summary - Banking Startup

Startups are the heroes of the modern day. They see a big bully taking advantage of poor customers and they set it right. If it wasn’t for FinTech revolution, we would still be paying ridiculous amounts for international transfers, invest in stock markets via funds charging 5% for below market performance and only the privileged ones would have access to financial system. TransferWise, Property Partner, mPeza, Pockit and many others are changing it, very rapidly. We witnessed the power technology has in making our lives better. We can now demand technology to make a real improvement to our lives and not just another ‘find a place to drink app’.

Thanks for reading; YOU are awesome!

Have a wonderful week,


Designing a Better Banking Experience
By JP Nicols

Design is about a lot more than making things look pretty. It’s about making things work better. Technology has been a democratizing force across so many industries, and banking is no exception. Customers have more choices than ever, and those choices now include products, services and experiences that are often far superior than the you’ll-take-what-we-make era that prevailed for so long. I have heard a lot of bankers proclaim their desire to make their branches more like Apple stores, but for too many of them that desire begins and ends with the clean visual aesthetic. The effectiveness of the design of the Apple store that makes it so successful goes far deeper than that. A good design process involves a ‘test and learn’ approach that is well known to any fintech entrepreneurs following lean startup principles. It’s an approach that banks should be using in more of their business decisions.


What’s the Endgame for FinTech?
By Elena Mesropyan

Amidst all the excitement and sometimes overinflation of financial technology startups’ disruptive potential, entrepreneurs often can’t zoom out a bit out and see a bigger picture. While it is understandable when your startup rapidly gains traction and there are no visible barriers, yet the market is not infinitely stretchable. At some point, a strategic decision will be required and every entrepreneur will have to find an answer to the important question: what’s the endgame? The answer highly depends on the niche and the type of startup.


How Banks Are Failing to Uphold Their End of the Bargain
By Andrew Sharpe

Banks are failing to enter into a social, unwritten contract with their customers. Millennials want a return on the asset they’ve entrusted with the bank. They ultimately want better financial health in return. This might come in the form of real-time information on their accounts and finances and help at the point of sale to make the right payment decisions, through to budgeting tools and alerts when they’ve spent beyond their means. In real terms, millennials are expecting a bank to tell them when they shouldn’t make that additional non-discretionary purchase. They want tools to help make good financial decisions, and the bank to forgo the payment revenue and opportunity to charge more interest. Until banks enter into social contracts with their customers, trust in their services will continue to erode and they will remain ripe for disruption.


Why Did Allianz Invest in Berlin InsurTech Startup Simplesurance?
By Bernard Lunn

There are two kinds of corporate investments in startups; passive corporate VC arms and active strategic investments. Which prompts the question, why did Allianz, Germany’s largest insurance group, buy a minority stake in Berlin based startup Simplesurance? In other words, will this be a good experience for the founders of Simplesurance and the shareholders of Allianz? Lets read between the PR lines to find out. How Allianz figure out the cannibalization challenge with their existing agents remains to be seen. No amount of digital tech can make that problem go away. The other game play for Allianz can be to use Simplesurance as a digital only entry to new high growth markets. The PR mentions India as a country and that makes sense as it is mostly a blue ocean market for Insurance.


5 things that made me smarter this week

Venezuela’s cash is easier to weigh than count. Hyperinflation has devalued the bolivar to the point of absurdity.

The more we hear a lie, the more likely we are to believe it. An “illusion of truth” results from hearing a lie repeatedly.

War is really boring. The battle for Mosul is underway in plain, live streamed sight. The unedited continuum of war images accessible online does nothing to help an understanding of what’s happening, argues Sam Kriss, but it perfectly represents our war against ISIS: always, everywhere, yet mostly uneventful.

Tim Fernholz on the crucial role that Google’s chairman played in Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “‘I met with Eric Schmidt tonight,’ John Podesta, the longtime Hillary Clinton adviser, told campaign manager-in-waiting Robby Mook in April 2014, more than a year before Clinton announced her candidacy for president. The email, stolen by Russian hackers and published by Wikileaks, details the billionaire Alphabet chairman’s interest in backing Hillary Clinton’s nascent presidential run.”

Uber is exploring the use of flying cars. It predicts that “vertical take-off and landing” vehicles “will be an affordable form of daily transportation for the masses.”


Thanks for reading – you are awesome!

If you like it send it to a friend. If you hate it send it to an enemy.

Hey Bank, Are You Brave?

FinTech Summary - Innovation Requires Courage

It takes courage to make bold decisions; many may not understand it. Apple removed headphone jack from a product that is generating 69% of its revenue. That’s bold. It may be transformative with the rapidly growing Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem. Or this may prove to be unnecessary friction right now, one way or another most headphones will become wireless in the next five years, who really wants to have a cable? It may be just too soon. One thing for certain, Apple will not be the company who just waited, and waited, and waited until it was too late. Blackberry was that firm. Kodak was that firm. Twitter, arguably is that firm, it started changing now, but it may be too late. How many of financial service firms are just waiting now? It may be too late soon. The best time to innovate is today, just like yesterday was. The more room and scope you have for iterations, the more successful product you can develop. Just do it. (Sorry Nike)

Thanks for reading; YOU are awesome!

Have a fantastic week,


Can This 22-year-old Coder Out-Bitcoin Bitcoin?
By Robert Hackett

Vitalik Buterin, creator of the fast-growing new cryptocurrency network Ethereum, wants to use his technology to disrupt, well, everything. Since its launch last year, the total value of Ether has rocketed from nothing to nearly $1 billion. Ethereum’s boosters believe the network could someday power a host of decentralized applications—censorship-free social networks, public utility ride-hailing apps, crowd-sourced prediction markets and investment firms, even governments. If it sounds as if Ethereum is destined to be Silicon Valley’s latest billion-dollar startup, however, think again. Because Buterin isn’t your typical entrepreneur. He isn’t backed by VC money and he isn’t even based in the Valley—in fact, he’s a vagabond who more or less lives out of a backpack and crashes on couches wherever he happens to be coding. In that sense, Buterin represents a challenging archetype for the banks and investors lining up to invest in the potentially world-altering technology underlying cryptocurrencies: the unprogrammable programmer.


As Traders Leave, The Developers Arrive
By Chris Skinner

I find it a little amusing to see the noise being made by banks about FinTech.  Lots of noise, not so much action.  And where there is action, it’s not necessarily real.  There are a few exceptions, but the majority seem to be tackling FinTech as more of a marketing requirement than an active cultural change program.  That’s the mistake: are you a financial institution using technology or a technology firm offering finance?


Connected Insurance Is Here to Stay: Are You Ready for This New Insurance Paradigm?
By LTP Team

InsurTech and connected insurance are transforming insurance business lines. It is essential to create the conditions needed for insurers and other specialised players to fulfill their role as providers from e-health to antifraud and from driverless cars to electronic payments and product design. A new and more connected insurance model has to be defined in order to achieve this so that the full potential of the technology can be exploited. There are many opportunities and areas to be explored within connected insurance that would allow for a more client-centric offering to be created. The demand would be easier to aggregate, and thus, more client categories that are not insurable today would become insurable. Lastly, it reduces claims through the use of sensors with advantages for both the insurer and the insured.


Banking’s One-to-One Future is Finally Possible
By Jim Marous

Almost a quarter century ago, a book was written about how organisations would focus on share of customer as opposed to share of market, building a personalised collaboration driven by big data. The central concept of the book was that mass manufacturing, mass marketing, and mass communications would give way to one-to-one relationships. It was known 23 years ago that data, analytics and new technologies would change the balance of power for marketing. It was believed that those firms that succeeded in harnessing insight on behalf of the consumer would establish a close, lifelong relationship that would be virtually impossible to subvert. With advanced analytics, banking may finally be getting close to realising this vision.


5 things that made me smarter this week

Every British swear word has been officially ranked in order of offensiveness. The UK’s communications regulator, Ofcom, interviewed more than 200 people across the UK on how offensive they find a vast array of rude and offensive words and insults.
An overwhelming majority of internet users agree to Terms and Conditions without reading them. In one experiment 98% of users failed to notice a clause requiring them to give up their first-born as payment.
Street talk can help your brain in the same way as being bilingual. Children who speak more than one dialect score almost as well on executive function tests as bilingual kids—and much better than monolinguals.
Here’s how Snapchat’s new Spectacles will work. The company formerly known as Snapchat surprised the world last night by unveiling Spectacles, its first hardware product. The biggest  question is whether teens will think they look cool.

The galactic tick.
 A group of science fans thinks it’s a shame that we celebrate Earth orbiting the sun annually on New Year’s Day but never give the sun proper kudos for its voyage around the Milky Way. Unfortunately, it only loops round once every 220 million years or so, so they’ve created “Galactic Tick Day” to celebrate little chunks of the rotation every 1.77 years.

How Accenture Is Breaking The Blockchain

Breaking The Blockhchain - FinTech Summary

Every day we hear about new ‘blockchain’ – private, public, hybrid , mutable (Accenture just announced their intentions to edit blockchain), immutable, centralised, decentralised. Creation of every new ‘blockchain’ is followed by a heated debate about the purpose of this ‘blockchain’, it’s strengths and weaknesses and possible use case followed by some more heated debate. Blockchain is the best solution out there… hold on, what were we solving again? Databases? Identity management? Settlement? International Trade? Each of these cases will require a different approach, perhaps a different chain. Finding the right solution might be easier if we stop calling everything a blockchain and focus on developing solutions. Then, perhaps, we will soon be able to read more about blockchain’s achievements rather than its potential.

Thanks for reading; YOU are awesome!

Have a fantastic week,


Downside of Bitcoin: A Ledger That Can’t Be Corrected
By Richard Lumb

There has been much discussion about the potential of blockchain, the technology underlying virtual currencies like Bitcoin, to change the world. We have heard waves of inspired commentary on how the technology, with its ability to share information and record transactions, will be as revolutionary as the internet itself. One of the accepted virtues of blockchain is that it creates a permanent, immutable ledger of transactions. That permanence has been vital in building trust in the decentralized currencies, which are used by millions of people. But it could severely limit blockchain’s usefulness in other areas of financial services relied on by billions of people. But if blockchain is to move beyond cryptocurrency and lab experiments to real and profitable deployments, we need to challenge conventional orthodoxy and rethink the role of absolute immutability.


InsurTech: Changing The World of Risk
By Chris Skinner

The general point is this: the digital transformation has reached insurance, as one of the last big offline industries. There are big barriers to entry, but they are not insurmountable. And while insurtech startups do not have all the answers and the solutions yet, they are best positioned to find them. We have only seen the beginning of the amount of talent and money that will pour into this industry. Companies who think they can still wait a couple of years until they start to embrace digital innovation will cease to exist 10-15 years from now. And while of this sounds very dramatic, the overall picture is very bright: new markets will be discovered, new products and services created.


RegTech: Brother in Arms with FinTech
By Chris Skinner

It is clear that regulation is as much a part of the financial market operations and attractiveness as liquidity and, in order to attract liquidity, regulators are trying hard to create an open, simple and accessible environment for both incumbents and start-ups to operate. London and the UK is clearing in the front of field in that debate. Will the rest of Europe and America catch-up or will we see the errors of our pragmatic ways?


Why Hybrid Lending Will Become Mainstream
By Auke Douwe Veenstra

Marketplace lending is growing at a fast pace expected to reach $290bn by 2020. The obvious driver is the search for better yields in the current low-interest environment. Hybrid lending will become mainstream, because it can optimise banks’ balance sheets while allowing them to serve their customers and keep an entire loan portfolio. The right combination between balance sheet and off-balance-sheet lending can be created depending on the customer’s risk appetite, while optimising their solvency position. The addition of peer-to-peer finance to regular balance sheet lending will become a normal debt instrument to serve SMEs who are, at the end of the day, the backbone of almost every economy in the world.


5 things that made me smarter this week

How the Brain Decodes Sentences. New research advances neuroscientists’ understanding of the complexities of language processing
There Is No Island of Trash in the Pacific. But the cause of clean oceans needed a good story. Our warming planet could use another one.
North Korea has only 28 websites. All domains are owned by domestic bodies, including cultural committees, maritime agencies, state media, and the state-owned airline.
The first pop song ever written by artificial intelligence is pretty good. “Daddy’s Car” is a catchy, sunny tune reminiscent of the Beatles.
Roller coasters can defend against kidney stones. A rocky ride can dislodge the small mineral deposits before they become a bigger problem.

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FinTech Summary #52 – The Banking Bazaar

Digital Banking - FinTech Summary 52

Today is the 52nd issue of FinTech Summary! What a year this have been. I have learnt a lot about this fascinating industry. Met loads of like-minded people. Made friends. I hope you have too! If you haven’t (and you live in London), hit me up and let’s grab a coffee.

I wanted to thank you all for reading; YOU are awesome!

I will be cheeky and ask for a small birthday present:

If you could share this post with at least 1 friend I will be eternally grateful (or well, at least as far as my lifetime stretches) 🙂


The Banking Bazaar and the Bizarre Banker
By Chris Skinner

The marketplace is the focal point for many FinTech start-ups, as they can create ‘stalls’ here that become major technology businesses like Stripe and Square. Banks have the regulatory licence to be marketplace owners. The bank just owns the space where a stall holder offers their goods and services, charging a fee. Lots of partners sell services in their market to the banks’ customers and, equally, the bank can sell lots of services to the market stallholders and their customers. It’s a good space to be. The thing is that hardly any banks see the world this way today. They want their customers locked into an end-to-end delivery of mediocre digital services in a monolith structure. The banks who try to lock out the third parties and play by themselves will do just that eventually left and forgotten.


The Unbundling of Insurance
By Daily FinTech

Unbundling is what digitisation does to Incumbents. Insurance industry currently has a three stack layer: Brokers, Insurers and Reinsurers. Blockchain technology unbundles the link between Insurance Companies and Reinsurance Companies. Now any investor can be a Reinsurer. This could facilitate microinsurance type policies such as crop insurance. Companies using Blockchain technology, such as  Symbiont can transform insurance risk into a security, thus making it simpler for investors. The impact of the technology like this will be the unbundling of Insurance and the democratisation of Reinsurance.


Bitcoin – Its Time Has Come!
By Faisal Khan

The fundamental attribute of any technology can be traced back to the triangle of choice – price, quality, speed. You can choose any two elements, and the third one will go against you. Bitcoin (and the blockchain) are able to defeat the triangle of choice. You can have higher quality (read: global coverage, equal access to all), higher speed of transfer and a lower price per transaction with bitcoin. When something is disruptive in nature, it usually implies that all the norms have been shattered. Society needs to rethink and reevaluate in light of what has transpired. We need to rethink our money.


How [And Which] FinTech Startups Are Breaking Banking for Freelancers
By Pavel Cherkashin

The global financial system is broken, and freelancers are getting the short end of the stick. For example, a freelancer in the Philippines who makes $5 per hour and just finished a $100 project will have to pay roughly 10% cash out. Imagine your bank charging $1,000 to cash a check of $10,000. The free banking economy goes much deeper than you may think. In fact, every third working American is freelancing. There is a huge opportunity for a new cross-border, freelance-friendly banking services to become available. Then you’ll see an even higher exit from the traditional full-time employment, which will come at a cost to traditional banking leaving them with fewer and fewer customers.


5 things that made me smarter this week

Some words sound the same in every language. An analysis of two-thirds of the world’s languages found that certain basic words are associated with similar sounds.
Buzz Aldrin’s Guide to Earth Exploration. One of humankind’s first moonwalkers talks about his favorite travels on his home planet.
What is internet culture? For some of us, the internet culture is closer to our hearts than the culture of the physical place where we grew up.
A world without work is coming – it could be utopia or it could be hell. Robots will eventually do all our jobs, but we need to start planning to avert social collapse
How I Rewired My Brain to Become Fluent in Math. The building blocks of understanding are memorization and repetition.

FinTech Summary #51: Three Sexiest Words in FinTech

FinTech Summary - Three Sexiest Words in FinTech

I was working on a project for a major global bank to help them build their digital strategy/brand. They feature we discussed were impressive, but the statement was rather dull, safe, wordy. This is exactly why they are struggling to establish an industry leading brand – the unwillingness to be bold, brave and adventurous. The best branding lesson I ever got was – “If I can substitute one company for another and have the ad still make sense, it’s not a good ad.” That’s why fintechs are often ahead of financial institutions, just look at the TransferWise ad

Transferwise FYCK ad


Thanks for reading – you’re awesome!

Have a wonderful week,


This Week’s Summary

The Three Sexiest Words In FinTech
By Chris Skinner

Three big areas are emerging in FinTech, from an investors viewpoint: FinTech for the unbanked, the rise of blockchain technologies and InsTech. The “Sexy words” in FinTech for tomorrow will belong to IoT, O2O, big data and chat-bots. Notwithstanding a huge potential of all these developments, no breakthrough is likely in the short term. These services will be developing for years and, what is most important, we will have to learn them. Users will have to become comfortable with sharing their growing amounts of data and ask questions, make mistakes, correct them and teach firms how to understand us and be able to predict our needs. This teaching process will hinge on our willingness to engage and the amount of time and effort we have to spend on them. It takes not only developers.


Remember Satoshi: Blockchain Economics And Law
By Kurt Dew

Economics and law are a couple of important factors in the success of any venture. Thus the mystery. The single economic fact that resulted in the economic feasibility and ultimate significance of blockchain technology — the founder’s contribution — seems to be misunderstood. It is simply silly to ignore Satoshi’s major coup: converting potential hackers of blockchains into protectors. I hasten to add, looking at the rules governing bitcoin’s miners — the specific set of miner incentives in bitcoin — there is no doubt these rules can be bettered. I believe a skilled financial analyst could design a permissioned blockchain where protectors of the system are identified, managed, and monitored, while giving them incentives sufficient to make protecting more valuable than hacking.


Why Fintech Startups Might Not Want to Become Unicorns
By Julie Verhage

In mythology, unicorn sightings are blessed events. In the fintech world, they might be increasingly ill-fated. Striving to achieve a valuation of $1 billion or more may no longer be in a start-up’s best interest, according to recent valuation trends and the venture capitalists who invest in the space. Fintech firms, in particular, are posing a headache for investors as rising valuations create a limbo-like state in which start-ups become too pricey for larger firms to buy, but don’t have business models that are scalable enough for a debut in the public markets.


InsurTech Ventures Going After Big and Complex Health Insurance Pain Points
By Amy Radin

Innovators addressing the root of user pain points can influence how plans are selected, and health care is consumed. The levers are not easy to move. Success requires compliant ways of combining big data analytics and personalization with user-centric digital experiences. The headline of a recently published New York Times article, Cost, Not Choice, Is Top Concern of Health Insurance Customers would seem to state the obvious. People don’t see value because they don’t understand what they are buying. People are being held accountable for health decisions that they are not equipped to handle. People don’t always make rational decisions. The multiple miracles that would have to occur for a quick fix make it unlikely that we will see a simple, logical health insurance experience any time soon. We are relatively early in what is likely to be a long game.


5 things that made me smarter this week

Purple Skittles taste different in the US because of regulation. A federal ban on growing blackcurrant prevented the flavor from growing popular stateside, even as it became commonplace in Europe.

What Should You Choose: Time or Money? People who chose time were on average statistically happier and more satisfied with life than the people who chose money.

New Yorkers will pay $56 a month to shorten their commutes by a minute.

Paralympic runners in Rio ran faster than their Olympic counterparts. In the 1500-meter race for the visually impaired, the first, second, third, and fourth-placed runners each beat the timeset by gold medal winner Matthew Centrowitz in August.

Your smartphone works better in your right hand. Especially if it’s an iPhone.


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FinTech Weekly Summary | Apr 17 – 24

I have recently returned from my trip to Spain and Portugal. The food and sun were great, but what I really enjoyed was the fact that I can use euros in both countries. There was no hassle of exchanging currencies, finding the best rates or exchange points. The seamless monetary system made it easier for me to spend money (no need to find exchange), obtain the better value (no translation cost/fees) and budget better as I didn’t need to convert every price back to currency I understand to make a purchasing decision. This has a significant economic benefit. If Bitcoin, or any other digital cryptocurrency, could replicate the similar model on a global level this would have a sizeable positive impact on the global economy. For the consumers, it would be much better experience travelling abroad.

Have a fantastic week,


Why Blockchain Could Enable a True P2P Insurance Model
By Olivier Rikken

In the new business model, the focus of the insurers would shift away from asset management and instead would focus on matching supply and demand and to risk calculation research. The insurer would provide a marketplace-like platform where customers can post their insurance demand, which could be either a standardized product or even a specific demand. This business model could be very interesting, and it could bring multiple benefits, creating a true P2P, crowdfunded insurer. One can even argue that, should this model develop fully, we might no longer have a traditional insurer, but instead, an intelligent capital trading house that fulfills this essential market role.


What’s Next For Personal Financial Services?
By Erin Shipley

Technology companies are increasingly vocal about their role in the finance ecosystem. It is telling that we are seeing organizations spring up like Financial Innovation Now, a policy group composed of companies including Amazon, Apple and Google — a hint that big banks are likely to be facing increasing pressure not just from upstart companies, but large, well-recognized brands with the reach and funding to offer a comprehensive suite of financial services if (but more likely when) they choose. This is likely to be the next wave of innovation shaping the future of personal financial services.


Cash, Fear and Uncertainty: The Holy Trinity of Bitcoin and Blockchain
By Matt Reynolds

The hype around blockchain comes from the fact that it looks to disintermediate banks. Fundamentally, a non-fiat currency that behaves like cash – whether that’s Bitcoin or something else – is terrifying to a bank. If we centralise trust, it’s possible for certain types of actors to try and exploit the centralised nature of this system. Think CIA in Snowden-type examples, think the FBI in “please-give-us-a-specific-version-of-iOS-so-that-we-can-brute-force-this-iPhone”-type examples. The blockchain is our first real example of a technology that allows us to build systems with disintermediated trust. That aspect itself is beyond hype – from a societal perspective we’ll likely gravitate towards systems where trust cannot be exploited, and the blockchain is a great way of building those types of systems.


India’s Audacious Plan to Bring Digital Banking to 1.2 Billion People
By Saritha Rai

Decades ago, most people couldn’t afford to buy an entire bottle of shampoo, so Unilever, Procter & Gamble, and other companies sold them in small sachets that people could afford to buy, paving the way for marketing everything from detergent to toothpaste in rural areas. Nadhamuni is betting that the new digital payments system will be low-cost, high-volume, like a “shampoo-sachet revolution in the financial sector.”

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