Technology is reshaping our world, or rather “disrupting” the traditional ways of going about business. This exciting process of creative destruction is also changing the financial services landscape: from the rise of crowdfunding as a non-traditional way of raising capital, to blockchain technology that allows for secure and distributed record keeping, to mobile phone based wallets like Bkash in Bangladesh that helps a day-laborer in Dhaka to send money home in seconds without a bank account.
On October 13, 2017, I attended the Yale Fintech Transformation Conference where industry leaders in finance and tech gathered to discuss these movements. The key theme that emerged from the conference: if you can’t beat them join them! Participants at the conference acknowledged that current business models will soon be upended by new players in tech, and encouraged current leaders in financial services to think of themselves as technology companies, otherwise risk being left out. Surely enough, the “dinosaurs” in finance are seen to be funding today’s innovations, as one participant put it.
However these exciting movements are not only contained within the coasts of the United States. In conjunction, another disruption is underway in the emerging economies of Kenya, Bangladesh and India, where mobile phone wallets are allowing frictionless money transfers, innovative financial products are bringing solar energy to homes that are off the grid, and insurance products backed by satellite data are giving rural farmers peace of mind from droughts. This summer as part of the accelerator DFS Lab, I was able to witness first hand some of these very exciting developments. As part of DFS Lab, I focused on providing grant funding to tech startups around the world, to solve specific pain points around biometric identification in emerging markets and also leverage chatbots that would allow low-income households to navigate and understand financial services better.
Currently with these experiences in the bag, I will be focusing the next leg of my learning endeavors at Yale towards data analysis, impact investing and venture capital funding.