I’m getting a lot of people asking questions about what I think the coronavirus will mean long-term in the financial markets, so I’ve tried to jump forward to look back. Obviously, the big thing about a pandemic is that people are being told to stop meeting each other. Conferences, events, gatherings, office work, packed trains and more are trying to be avoided and everyone is being told to work from home and self-isolate. In reality, that means that people are moving to work and live digitally. I’ve been doing this for decades but, for some, it’ll be a shock. Moving from a daily commute to an office where you sit at a desk for eight hours or more to working from home can be quite a shock, as illustrated by this twitter thread which I’m re-posting here:
I’ve worked from home for like a decade or something now so here’s my advice:
*wipes cheetos fingers on shirt*
- Make sure t
*drops phone into toilet*
*fishes phone out with a fish net from the aquarium downstairs*
- Make sure that y
Oh HELL yeah my Amazon stuff that I forgot I bought yesterday. Anyway…
why are we already out of Coke Zero? I JUST bought them yesterday.
*goes to grocery store*
Okay. I’m back.
*puts groceries away*
- Now, as I was saying. Make sure th
*text from school*
Son: Dad I forgot my lunch can you bring it to me?
*returns from school*
- Make sure that w
who is a good boy? who is a good boy?? here is some tummy rubs for my good boy!
- NOW… make s
oh you know what would be AWESOME would be some banana bread!
Then it’s 5pm
Then it’s 5pm.
— Joey Ellis (@joeyellis) March 11, 2020
I remember when I first became a home worker, it took me around two years to get the routine right. That’s going to be a big transition for many employees, but it wouldn’t surprise me if home working became the norm post-pandemic.
There will also be a big move to video conferencing and avoiding face-to-face meetings and travel. The quality of video calls these days is amazing. It’s High Definition, real-time connectivity worldwide. Why would you need to go to a meeting, fly to a conference, connect face-to-face when you can do it on a smartphone now?
Another thing that will become the norm will be paying digitally via your mobile and biometric ID. There have been many articles about how cash circulates germs during the pandemic – even though it’s not scientifically proven – but what is the alternative? Contactless payments? Fantastic, but not if you have to enter a PIN. Those PIN-pads are more viral petri dishes than any other touchpoint. No, what we need are pure mobile biometric payments, and that’s something that will move faster into everyday life. It’s already everyday life in China. Let’s see it go everywhere.
Equally, this pandemic has led to some real use cases for blockchain technologies to track and trace health, particularly in China again. Sure, it means that technology firms like Ant Financial and Tencent are working in co-ordination with government, but that’s a good thing if it means we can lockdown a health crisis before it affects everyone.
Overall therefore, a pandemic leads to everything moving digital. The one thing that worked during the pandemic is the internet. Thank goodness, as that kept us connected when the world disconnected. We could still talk and share and communicate globally via media, as well as being entertained by media. Therefore, all things digital will be spurred further as a result of the pandemic: home deliveries, online shopping, mobile payments, etc. If we can digitise it, we will.
And I guess that leads to a final point. The global financial crisis of 2008 led to a huge wave of innovation with technology in finance. Will the pandemic do the same? I think it will. It will lead to less office work and office workers; less cash and physical exchange; and less thinking about how to pay and deal with each other; and simpler and easier exchange digitally.
That means that 2020 may be awful, but here’s to 2021 through 2029 when we see more technology innovation in finance than we’ve ever seen before. Here’s to next year.
One of my favourites stories during the crisis was this one