The smartest investment for your innovative insurance play just might be in cultural awareness

It’s not just the tech concept…

TLDR Having the correct idea for underwriting, distributing, selling, adjusting, or scaling insurance may not be the right idea if the scheme is introduced or sold where the customer understands the plan but simply doesn’t accept it in cultural context.  How and where one sells an idea in the connected global insurance industry might just be more important that what is being sold.

I had a great discussion with a very clever InsurTech company this week, Uncharted, a digital insurance sales facilitation and distribution entrant focused on health benefits and business SME markets (check out their website in the link- I won’t do their concept the justice they can).  They are Singapore-based, building toward a global reach.  The firm’s Chief Commercial Officer, Mark Painter, held my attention regarding how the firm was building its sales and distribution tools with the intention of giving carriers and brokers options and efficiencies from point of sale right through home office underwriting, binding and admin of data.  Taking the teeth out of the unstructured data beast, so to say.  Mark (who’s a pretty savvy finance and insurance guy now working alongside Uncharted’s founder, Nick Macey) recounted a recent experience in introducing the Uncharted system into a southeast Asia market carrier’s system, excitedly advising that significant sales admin improvement for the thousands of field agents will or had been gained for the carrier.  That’s very cool.

But my follow-up question was: If the carrier’s products are traditionally sold by agents say, working off of scooters, meeting with small shopkeepers over tea, or noodles, and with the bound policy traditionally taking a few weeks to present to the insured, will an ‘instant’ policy innovation resonate with the known culture of doing business in the neighborhood?  Will an app-based policy hold the same ‘worth’ to that analog customer? It might if the businessperson is comfortable with the growing use of digital ecosystems, it might not if the owner is not. 

How the customer expects to transact business is the key- are you practicing innovation from the customer backwards?

Well this prompted a comparison discussion of what the firm is working with in Zimbabwe, where most residents/customers transact business through smart devices using EcoCash, a mobile payment platform hosted by local telco, Econet.  In this instance EcoCash has an approximate 80% market use penetration, and as such adding services to the ecosystem is an accepted practice.  A company looking to make inroads into the market would be wise to joint venture with or leverage the Econet ecosystem rather than try to make inroads through traditional agencies.  However- once established in the market the firm would be better able to bridge to traditional insurance channels for more complex covers, riding the market awareness built through use of local, accepted practices.  Know what and how the customer expects to transact business and go with that flow.  It ofttimes does not matter how wonderful your product or service is if the customers simply are not accustomed to how you market.  The correct answer is not always the best answer.

There are plenty of examples of companies ‘growing’ their insurance products organically through other business relationships built through understanding local needs.  Take for example the relationship of ride sharing platform Go-Jek and one of its investor firms, Allianz X.  The ride sharing startup was a target of Allianz’s investment, but Allianz also recognized with Go-Jek that the drivers needed insurance, and the two firms collaborated within the bounds of the business model and driver culture to make insurance available within the local reach of drivers.  Don’t be surprised if a similar insurance partnership approach isn’t carried into east Africa’s burgeoning ride sharing environment as the pair of firms extends its reach with their investment into Uganda-based ride hailing entrant, SafeBoda  (a timely share by you, Robert Collins ).  Innovation and marketing developed from business and local culture needs.

There are many examples of firms developing insurance innovations, many successful and many not so much.  The takeaway for the reader from this posting- the firms noted above are working to apply clever innovation based on good ideas, but also on integrating the ideas into what fits a respective market’s expectations, and what businesses and customers are accustomed to.  Ground-breaking innovation might succeed by circumventing that of which a market is accustomed, but in most cases a firm’s best investment is understanding what the locals want and how they want it, and simply following their lead.  Is your approach just a correct answer, or the right answer?

Image source

Patrick Kelahan is a CX, engineering & insurance professional, working with Insurers, Attorneys & Owners. He also serves the insurance and Fintech world as the ‘Insurance Elephant’.

I have no positions or commercial relationships with the companies or people mentioned. I am not receiving compensation for this post.

Subscribe by email to join the 25,000 other Fintech leaders who read our research daily to stay ahead of the curve. Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research).

Breeding Dolphin organisations instead of Sharks & Piranhas

Entrepreneurship, innovation, and disruption are terms that we think we understand and agree on what we mean when using them. Not so. Several thought leaders and influencers have highlighted this issue when arguing about technologies and or business models and whether they qualify as `disruptive` or `innovative`. Clayton Christensen`s 25yr old theory Disruptive innovation, Guenther Dobrauz-Saldapenna`s Apetite for Disruption interviews are just two sources that focus on these distinctions.

Distinctions work

After the WEF this past January, serendipity connected my insights around Sharks & Piranhas in financial services with Dolphin-like organisations. Dr. Mihaela Ulieru, scientist, advisor, president of the IMPACT Institute for the Digital Economy attended my CryptomountainRocks talk at the piano bar of Hotel Europe.

Sharks Dolphins

My metaphors of incumbents and fintech startups as Sharks and Piranhas, while discussing tokenization of real assets; fired up a connection with Miguel Reynolds Brandão through Mihaela Ulieru.


Miguel R. Brandao is an entrepreneur, author of `The Sustainable Organisation` book already in its second edition and co-creator of the #SORG index and much more.


  • The SORG Index, is a sustainability algorithm. It is simple and can even be used by startups.
  • The Dolphin Ranking is a global list of Sustainable Organisations that the group of these Sustainability Devotees including Miguel R. Brandao, call ‘Dolphins’. This list promotes organisations that are truly sustainable to inspire hope, change and best practice. Much like dolphins these organizations take care of their resources and are less focused on promoting themselves.

Sustainability is a philosophy not a marketing tool; it is a purpose not a KPI!

Miguel Brandao, articulates all this better. Enjoy our podcast.


Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer. 

I have no positions or commercial relationships with the companies or people mentioned. I am not receiving compensation for this post. 

Subscribe by email to join the 25,000 other Fintech leaders who read our research daily to stay ahead of the curve. Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research).

Ready for a dynamic, digital, and unstable world, like in nature?

Last week Christine Lagarde moderated a panel with two Central bankers (European Central Bank and CB of Kenya), an incumbent (JPMorgan) and a disruptor (crypto fintech company Circle). The topic was “Money and Payments in the Digital Age.”

CCN covered the panel discussion with a narrative of `In crypto we trust`. Coindesk covered it with a rhetorical question narrative of `In Math we Trust?`.

It is already six months since I covered Blockchain from a policy angle in `In the EU Blockchain Resolution we Trust`. Building Trust through disintermediation is the line of thinking behind the Blockchain Resolution which is still a work in progress. Europe continues to be the thought leader at the policy level with this initiative which has immense potential. During the same period, I had the privilege of attending the talk of Dr. Zhang on the topic “In Math we Trust” and moderating a session with him at the LCX Blockchain Series, in Vaduz, Liechtenstein. Dr. Zhang, was a renowned Chinese American scientist, a physics professor at Stanford and I remain inspired by his narrative.[1]


The powerful origin of the narrative `In Math we could Trust`

Let’s go back to the Greeks where thought leadership of all theoretical and foundational concepts started. Dr. Zhang spoke about Archimedes, his Eureka moment which permitted gold to become a medium of exchange. He spoke about the 2nd law of thermodynamics which states that the natural world is mostly in disorder and rarely in order (consensus state). In nature, order and consensus can only exist in subsystems. And when this happens it happens at a cost. In physics parlance, in order to reach order and consensus in nature, there needs to be some entropy (disorder) produced and dumped outside the subsystem for it to reach consensus.

Let’s tie this to the computing world. In distributed computing, the Fischer-Lynch-Patterson theorem is the analog of the 2nd law of thermodynamics and proves that there is No deterministic algorithm that can be a master algorithm for the system to reach consensus. So, once again science like in nature, proves that to reach consensus we need to pay a cost. This is where the Proof of Work, an old cryptographic concept, comes into play.

One way we can reach consensus regarding transactions is by using Proof of work. This is a way, to reach consensus on the Temporal Order of transactional data. The cost we pay is the amount of electricity we burn to solve the puzzle (which is on the other hand easily verifiable). Consensus on time-stamped verification of transactional data, can be reached through this process that dumps entropy (electricity in the case Bitcoin Blockchain) outside the system.

Our world historically has been oscillating between centralization and decentralization.

big bangLooking back in history for more evidence: The circuit switch technology created the then seemingly indestructible monopoly of ATT. This monopoly was only destroyed form the decentralized TCP/IP protocol that gave birth to the internet and to the gradual adoption of VOIP. As the internet became the dominant technology, several other monopolies grew out of the content generated on it; e.g. Google and Facebook. And now, we are in the beginnings of what Paul Nunes coins as the next Big Bang disruptionBlockchain is threatening the powerful giants built on the first open source protocol, the internet, with a wave of data decentralization.

The internet has evidently increased connectedness. However, its design is not a collaborative one. The world that is built on top of this open protocol, the internet, is not a world that is more fair and that builds trust. The “trading” or any exchange of information on the web, is not collaborative. The central entities, the Googles and Facebooks, are the ones that are organizing the information and the data on the web. The first, step in the process of decentralizing the web, is to break these data monopolies.

Blockchain is a decentralized mechanism in which trust is built-in with mathematical formulas. As Plato preached, mathematics is the ONLY internally consistent language. As Nick Szabo preached, in his God protocols, mathematics is the language of God. God in this context is the entity that acts in the interest of everybody.

Blockchain protocols are presenting us with an opportunity to build on protocols with built-in consensus mechanism governed by math. Mathematics governance guarantees fairness and trust.

Dr. Zhang argued in this speech that we humans have developed languages and law in our attempts to organize and collaborate in societies and reach consensus on various issues. He now believes that we are stepping into the most advanced era in which Mathematics will be trusted in order to reach consensus. Admittedly from all the sciences (social, political, physics etc.) mathematics is the branch of knowledge with the highest level of consensus and in which we trust.

Dr. Zhang emphasized that we live in a world that is based on theoretical mathematics that were developed with no real-world application in mind and are now being used in all sorts of experimentations as we are in the early stages of the blockchain development. From hash functions to more such `abstract first` math concepts.

  • Public/private key based on elliptic curve
  • Cryptographic hash function
  • Zero-knowledge proof. Zk-snark and Zk-stark
  • Secure multi-party computation, differential privacy
  • Formal verification
  • Homomorphic encryption
  • Dag, directed acyclic graph: money grows on trees!

Source: from Dr. Zhang`s talk; see full video here.

The choice we have is to `Trust in Math`

 Look at the 2nd law of thermodynamics, nature, and the lessons from the earlier tech disruption waves. Once we embrace the dynamic, digital, and unstable world we live in; we will realize that we have a great opportunity to embrace theoretical mathematics in designing governance and the Internet of value.

It will be a trustworthy design with inherent instabilities as in nature and as outlined in the 2nd law of thermodynamics. We have to move away from the belief that forced consensus mechanisms like regulations can provide stability.

[1] I delayed this post because of the unfortunate and sudden passing away of Dr. Zhang late last year.

Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer.

I have no positions or commercial relationships with the companies or people mentioned. I am not receiving compensation for this post.

Subscribe by email to join the 25,000 other Fintech leaders who read our research daily to stay ahead of the curve. Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research).

The Self-fulfilling Prophecy; reporting from the WEF in Davos2019

It makes sense to gather high up in the Alps, above the clouds where the sun shines on anyone strolling around while temperatures are -10C or more, to discuss about `Globalization 4.0 `. For those who disagree, just think of it as a tradition.

This year there was no Eureka moment (except if I missed it) but there was a loud and clear support for the Gorilla in the room narrative

A self-fluffing prophecy:

Transhumanism – technology solves our large scale problems!

 So let’s all get to work on experimenting, applying, pivoting technologies, to make the dream come true. It was clear from the themes of talks and panels that we are already spending time and resources on discussing how `Tech` will become reality and what will be the consequences and side effects. Artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, Robots, the future of Work, Blockchain, are the trending tags.


Given my physical limitations, I attended some events from which I am sharing `color` as we used to say on the trading floor (that is any information that paints a picture of over the counter OTC markets).


The Global Business Blockchain Council – GBBC, led by Sandro Ro who was appointed in March 2018 covered diverse topics. I arrived to go directly to the Procivis[1], Vetri[2] event because the issue of self-sovereign identity is a building block towards a more decentralized globalization 4.0. The support from the regulator of the canton of Zurich and the presence of the prime minister of Bermuda were one of the highlights.

Watch this space. Later during the week, Joseph Lubin and Tom Lyons had a fireside chat at the infamous piano bar of Hotel Europe, organized by CryptomountainRocks special event during the WEF, and J. Lubin spoke extensively about uport.

Self-Sovereign Identity is the concept that people, businesses, and entities, can store their own identity data on their own devices, and provide it efficiently to those who need to validate it, without relying on a central repository of identity data and without leaving hackable copies all over the web.

This is really the core of the next generation Web. In a nutshell, it means that Blockchain IDs are the way for individuals and any legal entity. These are universally discoverable through zero-trust datastores.

Self-sovereign identity is the chip for Democracy and Web 4.0

 Having said this, I must point out that the anti-blockchain tribe (N. Roubini and more) continue to highlight that we have actually not seen any real use case of the hundreds of Dapps being developed. I also heard that in the crowd that attentively gathered to hear J. Lubin speak. Consensys has not managed yet to make one of its Dapps a solid business case. The Ethereum protocol on the other hand, in an exemplary decentralized fashion, got used for the next generation of crowdfunding. From a 35,000 feet point of view, this does qualify for the next iteration of a decentralized autonomous initiative, launching a business process that created value but also `polluted` capital markets. I can imagine, reviewing this decentralized autonomous collaboration, to see what worked and what didn’t.

I also attended the Women in Blockchain Switzerland panel, which won my heart as the most diverse panel. I walked away hugely inspired by Viola Llewellyn, the African co-Founder & President of the smallbiz Fintech Ovamba and Diana Grigoras. I am only highlighting these two amazing women, only because I know closely the work that Monique Morrow[3] is involved in, Bill Tai (VC, athlete, educator), and Robin Errico Chief Risk Officer and Diversity & Inclusion Leader at Ernst & Young Ltd, Switzerland (EY), who also participated in the panel.

Viola is another woman that is successfully making an impact in the lives of the small businesses in Africa that don’t have a credit history and won’t be served by banks. She has combined Fintech with her local cultural knowledge to offer short-term capital to micro, small and medium-sized businesses. The capital is provided by international investors from the US, U.K. and Japan. Ovamba covers Africa, emerging markets and the Middle east for trade, inventory purchases and growth. Already a 5yrs old Fintech, mobile only and first launched in Cameroon, it now links capital from overseas to businesses in the aforementioned markets. GLI Finance, the UK based alternative lending provider, and Crowdcredit, a Japanese cross border marketplace lending platform are amongst the international partners.


Communities are still being built with the vision and persistence of a strong leader.

Women excel in building communities, which is excatly what we need for Globalization 4.0.

I visited the Ethereal Lounge and bumped into Don Tapscott who was excited to share more details about the large scale upcoming event in Toronto, Blockchain Revolution Global. A collaboration of the Blockchain Research Institute (BRI) and the MCI world; with a focus on enterprise level applications with a cross-industry selection. I also met for the first time Joe Lubin and chatted about a dear topic to me `liquidity` for digital assets (so many still confuse digitization with liquidity). He mentioned, a new Consensys baby, in beta mode which the next generation for designing an open platform for vc investing.

Consensys did layoff people but the venture production continues. Kaleido, a ConsenSys business was launched in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS) this past summer. I heard about it from J. Lubin. It is a marketplace for enterprises to plug-and-play.

Blockchain powered IT services are being built at an accelerated speed. I can’t keep up with innovations.

I spoke at Cryptomountain Rocks, after Daniel Diemers and Barbara Lang, on `A Wall Street take on Crypto`. I shared my strong point of view on how Wall Street will take advantage of the change in the narrative in the blockchain space from a pure `Disruption` rock band style to a `Co-creating sustainable innovation` one.

What parts of the pie from the new digital assets, will Wall Street aim at and what will be left untouched for the cyberpunks[4].

Exclusion is where value is hidden and can be unlocked

 CryptomountainsRock Battles

One of the most effective ways to open up the conversation on topics like decentralization, transparency, rethinking money, unlocking value, digitization of assets and processes, etc, (beyond writing our insights tirelessly here at Daily Finte ch along with others sharing knowledge and expertise on other platforms – text or audio) is the live Cryptomountains Talk Battles that Reto Gradient has designed and is the trademark of the unconference every Spring in Davos. This year was the inaugural event during the WEF of Cryptomountains with lots of talks and panels.

Talk Battle topics during the WEF

  • Forget about Bitcoins
  • Decentralization is an Illusion

The two participants, have 3min each to share their arguments. One has to be pro and the other against. After this the audience votes which speaker needs more support (i.e. arguments are relatively weak). Then, people from the audience line up to support their choice of weakness and have 1min to `help` on stage with their argument. The battles end by….

If you want to participate on stage or from the audience in this kind of battle, come this March to the original annual event in Davos – the unconference with skiing in the morning and talks +.

[1] Procivis and Valid, the early pioneers in Self-Sovereign Digital ID for governments, by Efi Pylarinou

[2] Monique Morrow has been recently appointed President of Vetri. She is the founder of the Humanized Internet and a unique personality that guarantes execution in full alignment with the mission.

[3] Listen to the podcast with Monique Morrow, co hosted with Arun Krishnakumar, on Humanized tech with built-in values.

[4] To book me for a talk – conference event, private event, conference – on this topic or more, click here.

Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer.

Get fresh daily insights from an amazing team of Fintech thought leaders around the world. Ride the Fintech wave by reading us daily in your email.

Is RBS being influenced by the FMCG greats in its fintech strategy?

Yesterday RBS announced it had upped its investment into one of its portfolio fintech companies, adding an additional  £2m pounds into financial management app Loot, to take its stake to 25%.

The investment adds weight to a burgeoning collection of fintech ventures invested in or scheduled to be launched by the bank. This includes digital SME bank Mettle (which we covered back in November), digital retail bank Bo, rumoured to be launching in 2019, SME lending platform Esme and the acquisition of SME cloud accounting software FreeAgent for £53 million last year.

Unless you were a fintech insider, you’d be hard pressed to connect RBS to any of these new brands. To date, each brand seems to operate in a stand-alone manner, at least from a web domain, visual and content perspective.

The bones of this unbundling strategy at RBS feels reminiscent of the big FMCG ‘house of brands’ strategy global giants like Johnson & Johnson and Nestle have pursued for decades. Eager for shelf space, each of these companies puts multiple brands into the market that consumers can love or hate on an individual basis, without affecting the parent, which maintains a healthy, non helicopter hovering distance.

Could this be RBS’s strategy here? It’s hard to tell for sure, but it certainly seems to have hallmarks of it. One thing is obvious – there is less sure footing today in maintaining a ‘sole brand’ approach, which is the current status quo. This territory is being cleaned up by newcomers Starling, Monzo and Tandem.

Why compete with fresh branding blood like this on their terms? Instead, as RBS is potentially realising, it makes far greater tactical sense to reinvent themselves through a multi-brand strategy. The new shelf space after all is the internet and the mobile home screen. If I have an Esme, Mettle, Loot and Bo app, that’s far more real estate than one Starling app. Food for branding thought indeed.

Daily Fintech Advisers provides strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zuper, a new superannuation startup in Australia.

Zooming out on Capital Markets and Wealth management


A New Year doesn’t always necessarily mean a new mindset but it does allow us to reflect and zoom out.

Capital markets and wealth management, are being disrupted but we are still early in the journey.

In financial products, Price wars continue and zero-fee products keep growing.

In business models, ‘Go Big’ through volume and marketplace offerings continues to dominate; but beware.

The dream of decentralized Community building through blockchain Tech, has failed miserably for now.

The dream of unlocking value through accounting on DLT and automating liquidity through P2P networks, is gaining traction at the country level too.

Robo-advisors and neobanks, have been pushing prices down. Whether it is ETFs themselves, single stock trading, constructing or rebalancing portfolios, buying insurance, Currency exchange, remittances. Customer is king not only getting better UX but also pushing the Fidelities and the Blackrocks of the world to increase their zero-fee offerings. From zero-fee index funds, to zero-fee trading of single stocks. Robinhood and Vanguard have a huge effect on keeping the pricing war very much alive.

The oxymoron is that the dominant business model remains platforms and marketplaces that cross-sell and aim to keep the customer hoping to sell more and more. But as long as the focus is on the product, as the margins will keep diminishing, it will be a Catch22 game. Margins are not uniform but the tech-enabled price war will eventually squeeze them all down to zero.

Think of Robinhood who started off from freemium stock trading. Their growth has been hugely ‘subsidised’ by VCs – $539million over 5yrs – and now they went out offering checking and savings accounts (albeit screwing up on the pricing)[1].  Sofi who started in student loan refinancing, and went into mortgages, thereafter moved into wealth Management. Goldman Sachs, an incumbent investment bank, who went in and out of banking, then targeted retail customers through Marcus, a consumer loan fixed fee service; and is now moving Marcus to their investment unit.

Will a new business model emerge in 2019 that circumvents this investable Catch22 of going after ‘Growth’ only to sell financial products whose margins are going to zero, one after another? This is what will be on my radar screen for this year.

The other oxymoron that is evident both from 2017 and 2018, is that the current designs and implementations of blockchain technology (predominantly, cryptocurrencies) have failed in building communities natively. During the bull phase, this was masked as “the crypto community” had a growing number of cross-over[2] members. But the common thread was only FOMO and herding. During the bear phase, the “carrots” put out to design communities were IMHO “a disgrace”. Incentives like retail bounties, airdrops of all sorts, are no innovation. Using Telegram and 24/7 digital community managers, has been ineffective in building trust with the potential retail investors and being transparent post ICO with governance and financial reporting.

The good news is that DLT experimentation grew substantially during the crypto winter and even countries are stepping in. The motives are either to boost the local economy by creating a tech ecosystem – in a decentralized design there can be several players included instead of “a winner takes all” operation – or to transform the government in several areas like land registries, self-sovereign IDs, voting, health, education, capital markets ect.

Happy New Year for those that were still on vacation last week. Lots of exciting insights to share this year too.

[1] I’ll ignore their failure in executing. What fintech can learn from Robinhood’s ‘epic fail’ of launching checking accounts

[2] Cross-Over Buyers is a Wall Street term that refers to investors that buy into an asset class only to capture high returns in the short term; whereas typically they invest in another asset class in the long term.

Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer.

Get fresh daily insights from an amazing team of Fintech thought leaders around the world. Ride the Fintech wave by reading us daily in your email.


2018 Year-end review through 3 distinctions


In my first Daily Fintech post[1] of 2018, I wrote about Vitalik who “sounded the alarm on Twitter as he has become deeply concerned about all crypto communities getting lost in a pile of monetary gains instead of being ambassadors of a radical, positive and purposeful societal change.” (BTC/USD around 14k).

12 months later there is no FOMO left in the crypto markets. Decentralization has taken a regulatory hit in more than one ways. From exchanges being forced to shut down or find an accommodating jurisdiction (Binance) or become more centralized (Lykke, Shapeshift).

The blockchain ecosystem is more focused on solving scalability issues and has had to put aside some of its “decentralization” ammunition.

The bottom-up blockchain movement has been embraced by corporates/institutions who experiment more and more. 2018 has seen more supply chain and logistics blockchain projects go live (IBM & Maersk, Wall Mart).

As the New Year starts, let’s all reflect on three main distinctions that I have identified as essential in this tech wave:

Traders versus investors.

Corporations versus communities.

Private success versus social impact.

Blockchain Traders & Investors. In 2018, the crowd got slaughtered because it fell into the Crypto Currency Trading trap. Investors with all sorts of exposures in Blockchain ventures, where tortured with regulatory guillotine threats.

Sadly, retail investors got cut out of the next generation of crowdfunding promised by ICOs.

Corporations versus communities. 2018 was not the year that the corporate structure lost grounds to a bottom up community structure of governance. In traditional Fintech, we saw more unicorns globally – Ant Financial, Stripe, Lu, One97, Robinhood, Coinbase, Sofi,. [2]  “Go Big” remained the way to go in Capital markets.

Fintech acquisitions were strong with an increase in total dollars due to mega deals. Notable acquisitions from incumbents include iZettle, Kensho, Seedinvest, Quandl, Cashcare, Lumo, Poloniex, Bittrade, Chain, ….

And incumbents like Blackrock, Vanguard, State Street, and Fidelity, continue to grow their assets managing close to $17trillion and Vanguard brought $1billion a day of new money last year[1]. I call this the mushrooming of the Buy-side[3].

Even in the Venture Capital sector saw the rise of mega-funds and a shift of focus towards later-stage and large dollar investments. Early-stage entrepreneurs are left with less services from VCs as they favor opening their networks and sharing their wisdom for those with the network effects already visible. I call this another new financial exclusion trend.

Divestitures of Fintechs from incumbents were also notable, showing that Fintech/Finance partnerships are as challenging as marriages. BPCE’s purchase of mobile bank Fidor in 2016 seemed like a 21st-century fintech love story. In November 2018, the Fintech romance ends with a cultural clash. Chris Skinner, wrote Clash of clans … or new bank versus old bank (Fidor, BPCE). 

The only disruptor of the corporate structure and its strategies was the appearance and use of Utility tokens that promised to build large, decentralized communities with network effects. In 2018, the narrative of the Utility token potentially revolutionary use, got crushed[4]. Lots of peculiarities exist and we can only say that we are in the experimentation phase still.

Utility tokens are not dead by no means IMHO. I foresee that they will re-emerge in some combination once the markets take a breather.

Private success & social impact. In 2018 Sustainability gained a tad more ground in our consciousness. In spending choices and even in investing[5]. There is more awareness of the silos that persist in our current setup which has finance and tech on a throne and Sustainability and Social impact as an add-on.

#DeleteFacebook proved not to be enough, for the Self-Sovereign identity movement to attain mass adoption. From my personal anecdotal evidence, not even 10% of people know that there is an alternative to being captive through our data. The Internet is broken but the narrative is not strong enough by any metrics. We remain trapped in an ever-connected world in which loneliness is increasing simply because it lacks purpose. As soon as we use technology to turn purpose into a competitive advantage, then social impact a private success won’t be competing and we will be living in a better world. Easier said than done, but the tools are there.

Looking forward to 2019

Daily Fintech has been and continues to be a unique insight-driven content platform. We are committed to this work of love. You can tap into our knowledge and expertise with the Book an Expert for an hour service and benefit in a private and customized setup.

Efi Pylarinou is the founder of Efi Pylarinou Advisory and a Fintech/Blockchain influencer.

Get fresh daily insights from an amazing team of Fintech thought leaders around the world. Ride the Fintech wave by reading us daily in your email.






[1] Vitalik’s concern hit the nail on the head: The seasaw problematic


[2] One97 – From selling Astrology services over the phone to a Global Fintech Unicorn


[3] What has changed a decade after the financial crisis?


[4]Like blind men groping around an elephant, we all see Utility Tokens from our own perspective. This Chapter aims to offer a wide-angle view so that we can actually see the elephant.” In Investing in Utility Tokens.

[5] Stop Borrowing from the future

Crumbling Behemoths: why banking size is a liability not an asset in the Blockchain Economy.

Crumbling Behemoths.jpg

In January 2008 I started writing a book called Crumbling Behemoths. I should have finished it. In October of that year, after the Lehman collapse, it could have been a bestseller. My experience in the Fintech engine room of core banking helped me see the fragility in what looked like an invulnerable system of giant global banks.  Here is the TLDR version that book, just after the 10 year anniversary of the Lehman collapse and just before the 10 year anniversary of Satoshi Nakamoto’s White Paper (January 3rd).

Banks are vertically integrated, tightly coupled, politically dependent entities. Most have been in business for hundreds of years. Their decline is inconceivable; like the decline of car manufacturing in Detroit, Blockbuster, bookshops, Kodak, etc, etc. Size gives some Banks great power today and size looks like an obvious asset on their balance sheet. However in the network age, their size is actually a liability.  This post explains why, with a focus on:

  • Legacy IT meltdowns and the liability of “technical debt”


  • Wells Fargo and the Creative Destruction 7 Act Play


  • Why Blockchain is the realisation of Coase’s post-Corporate vision


  • Satoshi’s vision of 7 billion banks is the long term threat


  • The networked small bank is the imminent threat


  • Regulators typically arrive about the time that technology is doing the job for them


  • Why Bailouts will not be possible next time


  • How Analog  Scale is fundamentally different from Network Scale


  • Trading Takeaway – how to profit from this insight


Legacy IT meltdowns and the liability of “technical debt”

Hello, my name is Bernard and I am a core banking system salesman. Yes that sounds like the intro to an AA meeting. i should say “was”, but in honour to AA I use the present tense.  My days in the engine room of Fintech, selling core banking systems to the biggest global banks for companies such as Misys, meant I was not surprised to witness the Legacy IT meltdowns and the gradual crumbling of the Bank Behemoths.. Those of us selling replacements for paper-based systems decades ago never imagined that those systems would still be operational in the 21st century. They are and now they have moved from the asset to the liability side of the Bank’s ledger.

Bankers often talk about the millions invested into IT as an asset. Anybody who writes code knows that software degrades over time and at a certain point that “technical debt” becomes a liability and not an asset. It is now cheaper to build the IT infrastructure for a startup bank, using open source and APIs, than it is to adapt Legacy IT for a modern world. The $ millions invested in IT now have a negative ROI.

I use terms such as assets, liabilities, technical debt and negative ROI is to make this accessible to non-technical bankers and investors. There is one technical concept that is critical but also easy for non-technical bankers and investors to understand, which is tight vs loose coupling.

Any programmer will tell you that a loosely coupled architecture via APIs accessible via networks is better than tightly coupled systems (aka “spaghetti code”).

The programming cost is not the issue. The big issue for the Behemoths, the reason they are crumbling is:

  • The banks cannot change their business model fast enough. Bank CXO teams are perfectly away of the threat of disruptive technology and that they must change their business model at a fundamental level. They know what they should do. The problem is that they send instructions to the engine room of their ship to go faster and to change direction to due West and the person in charge of the engine room tells them that if they shovel in a lot more coal they can increase speed by 10% and will take two hours to change direction to due West, but warn them that this means they will run out of coal before they arrive at the next port. Meanwhile the Bank CXO team in the captain’s tower sees a flotilla of small boats going due West at 10x their speed.
  • Loss of consumer trust. Consumers might be enraged by bailouts, but they still assume that banks are at least reliable and the only game in town. Some consumers read about Cyprus where the government unilaterally took money from their bank; this is “bailout in your face” (strangely described as a “bail-in”), but at least one can think “that is in some tiny far away island”.  Closer to home, a series of IT Meltdowns, such as at TSB and RBS, mean that consumers have days when they cannot get cash from an ATM or use their credit cards; banks are no longer “reliable”. Finally they hear from a friend who is raving about one these startup banks; the big old banks are no longer the only game in town.
  • Aggressive action that only makes it worse. This is what we saw in the Wells Fargo scandal.

Wells Fargo and the Creative Destruction 7 Act Play

The Wells Fargo fake accounts scandal was a more subtle version of the Cyprus bail-in. Money was taken out of your account, not by the government, but by your bank via a fee that you never actually authorised. This is Act 3 in the Creative Destruction 7 Act Play (described in Part 2, Chapter 1 of The Blockchain Economy book):

“Act 3. Denial. The changes are now real and the old guard management can see it, but they don’t know how to react so they reach for high pressure management to make the numbers work. In some cases, management also reach for creative accounting tricks to smooth out earnings and make it look as if nothing has changed (known as fraud in most circles). This Act can go on a long time as most investors work on surface numbers. A famous example of the Denial Act 3 was subprime mortgages that blew up in the Global Financial Crisis in 2008. For a long time the surface numbers looked good until a few nonconformists looked below the surface (watch The Big Short movie for an entertaining take on that story). A more recent example in Finance was the Wells Fargo fake accounts scandal (which was going on for a long time before it was uncovered). “

To understand why big Banks like Wells Fargo are under such pressure, one has to dig back to an obscure academic paper written in 1937.

Why Blockchain is the realisation of Coase’s post Corporate vision

Part 1, Chapter 14 of The Blockchain Economy book describes why Blockchain is the realisation of Coase’s post Corporate vision. Coase’s 1937 essay The Nature Of The Firm asked why hire employees instead of contracting tasks? His answer – a company exists because it is cheaper to do transactions within a company than outside. Blockchain has resurfaced this theory by dramatically reducing transaction costs.

The Internet seemed to be the  realisation of Coase’s post Corporate vision. However, although Dot Com and Social Media changed our world, that change was limited to exchanging content online.  The Internet was the perfect free copy copy machine. Blockchain enables us to exchange value online – where copying is not allowed (if I send you that asset I no longer have it).

This enables literally everybody on the planet to be their own bank. Satoshi’s vision of  7 billion banks (one for each person on the planet) is outrageous but not impossible.

Satoshi’s vision of 7 billion banks is the long term threat

Anybody can be their own bank. All you need is a wallet that can hold cryptocurrencies.

The Central Bank is encoded in the math (whether Deflationary for Bitcoin or mildly inflationary for Ethereum). You no longer need to trust a Central Bank and whoever guides their actions. You trust the math and the code, both of which you can verify.

Although most people won’t choose to be their own bank, it is the fact that it is possible that is such a wake-up call for big banks. This is the Napster moment. Napster proved that digital audio/video was possible. It was free and illegal. After that came cheap and legal in services such as iTunes and Spotify. Those services were only possible because the alternative of free illegal services such Napster and Kazaa was possible.    

This is why a network of small banks is the imminent threat

The networked small bank is the imminent threat

SIBOS is the big annual gathering of bankers organized by SWFT. At SIBOS 2016 in Geneva I attended a session on Blockchain and correspondent banking – The way to go? This was standing room only. My observation at the time (recorded on Fintech Genome) was that:

“The problem of the current dialogue about a Blockchain replacement of today’s correspondent banking network is very simple – correspondent banks are being written out of the script. Look at the panelists and you see a) technologists and b) global banks. Both agree that the future is bright.

Elsewhere in the conference there was a lot of talk about reducing the number of Correspondent Banks in your network. The driver was Compliance. You cannot have a Correspondent Bank in your network who does not comply with the latest regulations from governments related to tax, money laundering, terrorist financing and all the other bad actors who use money alongside the good actors – and these regulations get more onerous every day.

It is fashionable to say that Correspondent Banking is dead. This conflates the current incarnation of Correspondent Banking which is batch based with the concept of Correspondent Banking itself. I am convinced that Correspondent Banking will survive the transition to real time and that SIBOS will always be key to Correspondent Banking.

The Correspondent Banking is dead meme suits the global banks. It is inconvenient for them to deal with regional banks and much simpler to have a global network that is totally under their control. The technologists will deliver that for them. Voila – a handful of global banks control global trade.

Technically this is simple – really simple. Blockchain will be like Internet – we will use it invisibly every day. TCP/IP is not rocket science (but might have been perceived that way in 1996).

If you step outside the innovation echo chamber and talk to the regional banks you can sense the discomfort. They are being forced to consider a future without themselves in that future. Yet in the real world, these regional banks are prized by their customers.

Correspondent Banking will go real time. The 9,000+ member banks of SWIFT will keep the human relationships and just switch over to a new system.

One thing preventing small banks from competing is lack of equity capital. It is much easier today to buy one mega global bank that grew by “rolling up” lots of smaller banks. That is really the only option today for investors.  The gamechanger is new equity, whether from Security Tokens or traditional Equity Exchanges. That is why an unknown Community Bank filing for an IPO – Silvergate Bank – is so exciting.

Silvergate is traditional regulated bank offering services to the Blockchain Economy. It presages the future and its S-1 is data treasure trove for those seeking to understand that future.

I wrote at the start that “Banks are vertically integrated, tightly coupled, politically dependent entities”

I now want to focus on that last part about “politically dependent entities”. Banks are licensed by sovereign governments and Blockchain is inherently a stateless global network. We shall soon witness the loud bang that happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object. Which brings us to the R word – Regulation.

Regulators typically arrive about the time that technology is doing the job for them

When 2008 happened, the regulators in America threw a complex rule book called Dodd Frank at the banks. For 10 years, the lawyers and regulators have worked through the details and now some elements seem to be up for negotiation. It has become a political football, just when technology may be making it irrelevant.

This has happened before. Regulators typically arrive about the time that technology is doing the job for them. Look at what happened in two earlier waves of technological disruption:

  • IBM was being regulated just when the world was moving from mainframes to PCs.
  • Microsoft was being regulated just when the world was moving from PCs to Internet.
  • Today Google and Facebook are being regulated just when the world was moving against all our data being used as a tool to control us. Note: this is happening right now, which makes it a bit harder to see than the two previous waves.

The problem is that in 2008, the technological disruption was still in the mind(s) of Satoshi Nakamoto. So the regulators resorted to the only thing they knew – a complex legal document.

When the next financial crisis hits, the discussion around bailouts and regulation will be quite different.

Why Bailouts will not be possible next time.

  • Populism has a political voice. The rise of extremism of both right and left is all over the globe will make it harder to bail out banks again.
  • Governments are running out of firepower to pump in more liquidity. For every loan there has to be a lender and at some point lenders worry about inflation from money printing. Lack of funds will make it harder to bail out banks again.
  • The disruptive alternative (Bitcoin) is now more mature and tested. People now have the tools take control over their own financial resources, regardless of what politicians say.

How Analog Scale is fundamentally different from Network Scale

Analog Scale, what most Big Banks have, is all about vertical integration, management hierarchy, secrecy and control.  In short, hierarchy.

Network Scale is all about networked partnerships through APIs, online networking, knowledge networks and verifiable transparency. In short, wirearchy.

The thesis of this post is that wirearchy beats hierarchy.

Cryptoeconomics takes this wirearchy to a new level.

In October 2014, I was privileged to be at an Ethereum MeetUp in London to hear Vitalik Buterin talk about:

“Cryptoeconomic Protocols In the Context of Wider Society”

That is right. This was about as interesting to 99.999% of the population as the discussions at the Homebrew Computer Club in the 1970s when the PC revolution was starting. At the time I was more conscious of witnessing history in the making (as I recorded here) than really understanding  cryptoeconomics. Today I see cryptoeconomics as an updated version of what one the greatest investor of the 20th century (Charles Munger) talked about, which is the power of aligning incentives. I knew this to be true from my years leading enterprise sales teams. What is different about cryptoeconomics is that it takes these incentives out of the closed world of the enterprise and makes them available to 7 billion people in a permissionless network.

We can already see Network Scale in the big winners in the Centralised Internet. What Vitalik Buterin was talking about in 2014 and is now making happen is Network Scale in the big winners in the decentralised Internet. As Trace Mayer puts it, this will be a once in a species level transfer of wealth.

Trading Takeaway – how to profit from this insight

Investors will start to sell/short banks & buy Bitcoin, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency. The banks will resist change and have a lot of clout, so shorting at first will only be for those banks who face traditional balance sheet problems (such as Deutsche Bank). Problems with consumer trust and regulators at banks such as Wells Fargo don’t seem to translate into stock price weakness.

That is because there is a difference between inevitable and imminent. The changes I am writing about maybe  inevitable but it is really tough to figure out timing. That is why the simpler strategy is to go long Bitcoin, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency; you can hold for as long as it takes for this to play out. The Bitcoin, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency tsunami is likely to follow the usual rule of disruptive change which is is that a) it takes longer than people think and b) the change when it happens is bigger than people think.

Image Source.

Bernard Lunn is a Fintech deal-maker, investor, entrepreneur and advisor. He is the author of The Blockchain Economy and CEO of Daily Fintech.

Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research).

To schedule an hour of Bernard’s time for CHF380 please click here to send an email.

7 mega waves in the Blockchain Economy and the dams holding them back

RCC DAMS LONGTAN Dam Completion.jpg

This post is aimed at “buidlers”, to those in the Blockchain community who use a Bear Market to build solutions and to those who invest in those solution builders.

You can take these mega waves to the bank. More specifically you can take them to investors. These are trends that that are inevitable and we show why. This post also shows the dams that are holding back these waves today. Entrepreneurs look at these dams as their problems to solve by creating the sluice gates that let the water flow in a useful, controlled and profitable way. We also show the picks and shovels that are being used to build these sluice gates.

In each of these waves there are ventures who are building solutions. The sluice gates are under construction. This list is based on observations in the real world, not theory. Which ventures will win will depend on their execution capability, but we are confident that each wave will produce at least one big winner.

Wave 1:  Decentralized Exchanges

  • What:  A Centralised Exchange is an artefact of Legacy Finance and the Centralised Internet. If we went in that direction we would end with a duopoly like NYSE/NASDAQ. There are already hundreds of Decentralized Exchanges.The logic of decentralisation is that every wallet can exchange with another wallet or to put it another way that P2P Exchange is feasible. Although some Legacy Finance markets (such as Public Equities) work through Centralised Exchanges, many Finance markets today operate through decentralized OTC (Over The Counter) traders, so this is easy enough for Institutional Investors to buy into.
  • Why: Centralised Exchanges are a honeypot for thieves (even if the Exchange operator is honest). The only way to protect money when money is data is radical decentralization so that a thief only ever gets one person’s money (and if that is fairly hard to do, they won’t bother).
  • Dam = liquidity. If exchanges are decentralised how do we get best price when we want to buy or sell? How do we get the price transparency of a Centralised Exchange in a Decentralized world?
  • Picks & shovels: liquidity is fundamentally a broadcast messaging data problem and there are computer science solutions to this. There is likely to be a mix of offchain matching and onchain settlement. Hubs will  perform a critical aggregation function and not every wallet is equal – some buy and sell in huge quantities.  Data aggregation based on P2P broadcast messaging is a solved problem in computer science and does not require a scientific breakthrough.

Wave 2:  Decentralized Investing/Trading

  • What: The Legacy Fund Management fee model of AUM (Assets Under Management) plus Carry (aka profit share on exit) will move to a model of signals, decentralised exchanges, networks & syndicates. The big change is that the Legacy Fund Management fee model is based on first gathering assets from LPs then investing.  The Blockchain Economy Fund Management fee model reverses this. You start investing whatever you can afford, then you publish signals of your trades and people pay to follow those signals. The passive investor’s capital is kept under their control, there is no equivalent of AUM.
  • Why: Blockchain changes the rules of the game and the game has not been going on long enough for Legacy Fund Managers to show their track record. We need new compensation models for a new generation of Blockchain native active investors/traders.
  • Dam: How do you a) identify the new and emerging investors/traders b) how do you compensate them properly? How does a a new generation of Blockchain native active investors build trust with passive investors (fka LPs).
  • Picks & shovels: The Decentralized Investing/Trading world is being built using four tools – signals, decentralised exchanges, networks & syndicates. Signals are what an active Investor/Trader provides for a fee to passive Followers. Decentralised exchanges are critical so that we know what a signal provider actually bought and sold (avoiding the scammy promoters who say buy when they are selling etc). Networks are how Followers find Signal Providers. Syndicates are  how enough capital is raised quickly through these networks by aggregating Followers just in time; lets not forget that the purpose of Capital Markets is to fund innovation and new productive capacity.

Wave 3: Stablecoins and other hard asset Tokens

  • What: You can buy/sell them like any Token, on Exchanges, but their value is tied to hard assets in the Legacy Finance world (such as Fiat currencies, gold, diamonds, real estate etc).
  • Why: If you are trader/speculator, volatility is your friend. If you are using Tokenomics to fund a venture, volatility is also your friend; you sell Tokens into a rising market in order to fund the business. In most other situations (such as payments and investing), volatility is your enemy and stability is your friend.
  • Dam: Stablecoins and other hard asset Tokens exist at the intersection of Legacy Finance and the Blockchain Economy. It is not simply a matter of clever code. Interfacing to that Legacy Finance world is not easy.
  • Picks & shovels: a new generation of Stablecoins are entering the market to meet these needs. These exist at the intersection of  Legacy Finance and the Blockchain Economy and the winning formula seems to be “audit heavy/tech lite” (in the words Balaji Srinavasan, the ex Andreessen Horowitz Partner and now Coinbase CTO which he says around 37.40 to 42.3 during  this panel on YouTube with Vitalik Buterin).

Wave 4: Safe & Easy custody/storage

  • What: As easy as putting money in a bank, but as safe and unconfiscatable as your own private keys in your own vault.


  • Why: Safe must mean decentralised to avoid the centralised honeypot problem and to avoid the danger of confiscation. That is job number one. To cross the chasm from early adopters with their hardware wallets, brain wallets and other nerd friendly stuff, it must be easy to use for the mainstream.


  • Dam:  Insured banks don’t store crypto assets today, so the problem has to be solved technologically so that a trustless/uninsured ecosystem of custodians emerge.


  • Picks & shovels: we need digital version of the old bank vaults, hardened against both physical and cyber attack and an easy way for them to interface into the world of investing/trading.

Wave 5: Whitelisted Wallets = your ID

  • What: A self sovereign Digital ID wallet that stores all our assets including our personal data and our reputation assets. Part of our reputation defines what type of assets we can buy and sell.
  • Why: if every wallet can trade with every other wallet through Decentralized Exchanges, it is critical that some form of Whitelisting emerges where  we trust that the wallet we are transacting with is doing things legally and is owned by a person “of good standing”. Even if you are of the libertarian school and believe that the solution must be free markets not regulators, you want some quick and easy way to spot the good guys from the bad guys.
  • Dam: self sovereign Digital ID wallets exist today but are only used by a small number of very early adopters
  • Picks & shovels: Self sovereign Digital ID technology already exists, there is no scientific breakthrough needed.

Wave 6: Security Tokens particularly Early Stage Equity Tokens

  • What: Legacy Finance has Debt + Equity. The core building blocks of The Blockchain Economy are Utility Tokens + Equity. We already have Utility Tokens (albeit often controversially, with many that are scummy and illegal). What is coming are Security Tokens that enable Early Stage Equity to be traded like Tokens.
  • Why: Just ask a) any entrepreneur fed up with the current process of early stage fund raising or b) any early stage investor who wants liquidity and price discovery.
  • Dam: Security Tokens are regulated by Securities Law and this is complex and changes slowly.
  • Picks & shovels: Tokenisation is the easy part and Security Tokens will be able to use all the tools and techniques of the Blockchain Economy. The tricky bit, as with Stablecoins, is the interface with the Legacy Finance world which currently controls Securities.

Wave 7: Credit Card dominance era is coming to an end

Note: this maybe the most controversial mega wave. I am saying that the Peak Credit Card dominance era is coming, not that Credit Cards will soon cease to exist. It is like saying we may start using a lot less oil, but we will still be using some oil for a long time (ie oil will be less dominant but will remain part of the economy).

  • What:  Credit Cards are replaced by Blockchain based payment networks (on chain and offchain).
  • Why: Credit Card payments are expensive for both buyer and seller (which is why Credit Card Networks are so profitable)
  • Dam: integrating credit at the point of sale is hard and the reason why Credit Card Networks are still so dominant today). But it is a solvable problem.
  • Picks & shovels: the dam may first break in niches that are a) cross border (where fees are highest b) for digital products (where there is no return dispute resolution issue) c) where the buyer does not need credit.

There are two ways the water gets past the dam. One way is the regulated way – via the sluice gates in the dam. The other way is the unregulated way – there are no sluice gates and the water goes over the dam, eventually breaking the dam. Regulators and lawyers and technologists, conscious of the threat of a dam breaking are working overtime to build those sluice gates.

Image Source.

Bernard Lunn is a Fintech deal-maker, investor, entrepreneur and advisor. He is the author of The Blockchain Economy and CEO of Daily Fintech.

Check out our advisory services (how we pay for this free original research).

Get fresh daily insights from an amazing team of Fintech thought leaders around the world. Ride the Fintech wave by reading us daily in your email.

Fintech Postcard from Athens – Philosophising on Mental Money Models

Visiting the Oracle at Delphi

It may be one of the few western countries where cash still rules, however things are slowly changing in Greece, the birthplace of western civilisation.

This week I’m writing to you from Athens, having flown 15,317 km from Sydney, Australia to run a gruelling 42.195 km in The Authentic Athens Marathon, this Sunday past. Bizarre, I know, but lots of fun.

It only seemed right then to learn a little about the changes and digital transformation happening in Greece, and try and capture a fleeting snapshot of how the local community is attempting to rouse its innovative spirit, and drive out the economic demons of its recent past. It won’t be easy – the socialised cost of the global financial crisis is still very evident in Greece – from anarchy in Exarcheia to a melting pot of cultures, communities and refugees across the city. In many ways, these are all the ingredients you need for a hotbed of innovation. So what is the firestarter?

In September Efi Pylarinou looked at the necessity for policy reform on the regulatory front to foster the emergence of more fintech activity. In a similar vein, a 2017 report, The Impact Of Digital Transformation In The Financial Services Industry: Insights From An Open Innovation Initiative In Fintech In Greece, from researchers at two Greek universities confirmed this, bluntly stating that ‘the Greek regulation and taxation system prevents the rapid growth of fintech in our country.’

It should be noted however that the government has had some success with regulatory reform to date on the payments front, successfully mandating the implementation of card machines on around 400,000 businesses across the country. The law came into force in full in July 2018, and a consequent rise in VAT revenues was reported. I must selfishly admit its now far easier spending money as a tourist than it was ten years ago, so that has to be somewhat of a good thing.

While a move to cards is a step in the right direction, given fintech is so new in Greece it does seem like a golden opportunity to bypass the plastic money revolution of decades gone and leapfrog to the new world of digital money, as China and emerging economies in Africa and South East Asia have proven to be so successful at, putting the rest of us in the west to shame.

Or maybe there is a chance to leapfrog them again?

Today marks the kick off of Decentralised, a blockchain conference run by the University of Nicosia – the first academic institution in the world to offer a postgraduate degree in digital currency. Efi from Daily Fintech will be speaking on Friday in the morning fintech stream, and she has some fabulous insights and ideas on how blockchain can be unlocked at an infrastructure level to achieve exactly that sort of leapfrog moment.

And as I spend time wandering the Acropolis, the streets of Plaka and the ruins of the magical Delphi, I can’t help but wonder how the innovative philosophical inquiry baked into the bones of this magical country can be reawakened and applied to our creaking monetary systems. So much of fintech today is a boring but slightly better way of doing what our banks already do. We are on the cusp of revolutionising what money really is, and blockchain has in many ways given us the tools to start that revolution. But we still lack coherent mental money models to use the tools wisely.

You never know, maybe out of the ashes of economic despair can come the intellectual seeds of a new money philosophy, from a new breed of Greek philosophers. Maybe in 1000 years we’ll call Greece not just the birth of western civilisation, but the birth of the new money. If anyone can change the way the world thinks, my bet is on the Greeks.

Daily Fintech Advisers provides strategic consulting to organizations with business and investment interests in Fintech. Jessica Ellerm is a thought leader specializing in Small Business and the Gig Economy and is the CEO and Co-Founder of Zuper, a new superannuation startup in Australia.