Back in January, I made 10 predictions for 2017. Let’s see how near or off the mark they were:
The FinTech buzz continues, but not in the USA (look East)
According to KPMG’s Pulse of FinTech report, Q3 2017, I’m wrong. Asia was doing ok but nowhere near as strong as 2016, whilst America had the strongest year, recovering from the dip of 2016.
Ant Financial gets global applause (these guys aren’t staying in China)
Maybe it’s just me, but I think this holds true, especially as I’ve blogged about them so much this year:
- The first global platform play from Ant Financial, July, 2017
- The truth about Ant Financial …, October, 2017
- The compelling case of Alipay and Christmas, November, 2017
A FinTech unicorn stumbles (this market is still nascent)
Well, I didn’t expect it to be this one: SoFi. Having met Mike Cagney and been impressed with their $1 billion funding round of 2015 – we only asked for $200 million, Mike told me – I was amazed to see an Uber-style culture shock hit the firm, with Mike being forced to resign over claims of sexually harassing employees. Ah well, I guess 2017 has been that year of telling abusive men like it is, as in you’re all predatory misogynistic assholes.
RegTech moves deeper into bank infrastructure (and demands real-time access)
Artificial intelligence (AI), robo advisory and regtech remained hot in more mature fintech markets, according to KPMG, and it is noteworthy that a report was just released by Greenwich Associates stating that in fixed-income markets alone, traders are spending over $20 billion a year on RegTech.
Regulators compete to innovate more (2016 bubbled, 2017 steams)
I could claim this is half-right as major financial centres are definitely in a race for innovation focus, but 2017 saw more co-operation between regulators rather than competition. Hong Kong signed a number of FinTech co-operation deals with Singapore, the UK and Dubai; Australia has teamed up with Switzerland; and everywhere from Malta to Mauritius has a FinTech start-up focus, so it’s been a pretty immense year for FinTech and travel (as I well know).
A major global bank gets broken into pieces (systemically important with systemic issues)
This was a cheat as I knew that Deutsche Bank was going to reorganise and reorganise they are. The investment bank was shaken up in July, separating sales and trading. This followed a major announcement in March stating that the “bank plans to combine Postbank and Deutsche Bank’s Private & Commercial clients business, float a minority stake of Deutsche Asset Management and create an integrated corporate and investment bank”. All this from the hugely motivational John Cryan, CEO, who said at a conference I attended in September: “If you take an accountant in our bank, they’re basically an abacus”, following it up by announcing half of the bank’s staff would be laid off in the next few years. Boo, hoo, hoo!
SWIFT gets hacked again (how many times can this happen?)
Yep. In October, hackers managed to pinch $60 million from the Far Eastern International Bank in Taiwan by placing malware on its PCs and servers in order to gain access to its SWIFT terminal. So OK, this was not SWIFT being hacked, but a bank attached to SWIFT. Similarly in November, a Nepalese bank – NIC Asia Bank based in Kathmandu – was hacked and $4.4 million lost through fraudulent SWIFT messages. For these reasons, I’m going to claim this as true.
A blockchain proof of concept goes mainstream (how long can we test the technology?)
This one finally came true in December, just last week, as the Australian Stock Exchange announced that it was going mainstream with Digital Asset for clearing and settlement. Woo-hoo!
Banks get chatty (chatbots are all the rage)
I suppose this was a bit of dodge, as it was pretty obvious this would come true. What I didn’t expect was that a chatbot could be used to overcome scammers, so the next time a fake prince emails you asking for money to access his trust fund, you can recruit a chatbot to mess with the scammer. Netsafe created a program called Re:scam that will engage digital conmen in an interminable conversation.
The way it works is when you get a scam email, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org. After verifying that the email is indeed duplicitous, the service employs a proxy email address to begin conversing with the fraudster. The bot, which uses AI to imitate the email habits of an actual person, pretends to fall for the swindle in the most annoying way possible.
I LOVE THIS!!!
Machine learning and artificial intelligence are all the rage (related to above, but data wars begin)
Certainly this has been up there for me most of the year, as I talk about JP Morgan laying off the lawyers and UBS automating their wealthy customers’ requests. But just watch out, as hackers are going to start doubling down on AI for criminal intent in 2018.
OK, so I’m giving myself 8 1/2 out of 10 for my 2017 predictions. 2018 perspective will be released early next year. See you then.