Since 2000, technological innovation within finance has been held back compared to other sectors. There is likely a number of reasons. Firstly, conflicting interests exist between the incumbent banks, central banks, regulators, lawmakers and the electorate. For example, the risk models used by financial institutions were incapable of coping with the financial crisis of 2007-2008. In the intervening period one could argue technological innovation in the traditional finance sector has been stifled or at least in low energy mode.
The Wardley map below highlights inertia in regulatory technology (RegTech) as a limiting factor in the development of challenger banks and neobanking more generally.
A solution to the puzzle could lie in one category of RegTech; identity or more specifically self-sovereign identity. A hyperconnected cashless society encompassing hyper-personalization technologies will require a resilient identity solution to be in place to address this inertia.
In 2018, 22% or 55 million US adults were unbanked or underbanked. There are many contributing factors:
- Lack of access via a nearby bank branch, ATM or mobile phone
- Minimum balance fees
- Distrust of the banking system
- No access to government-issued ID, which is required to open a bank account and comply with know your customer (KYC) regulations
A resilient identity solution may therefore help to address financial inclusion.
Is this a move toward something similar to the Social Credit System? Well, no. As government agency administered National Insurance numbers, passports, medical records, etc., are protected by rights and legislation, a universal identity provider would serve as a G2C/G2B data trust with legal data protection and access audit logs.
A universal identity provider will enable higher order systems such as an ecosystem of real time financial services stimulating innovation in areas such as chatbots, virtual assistants and intelligent agents.
Analogous to Amazon’s Seller Central, a Financial Services Central will allow third parties to offer finance kiosks or real time financial service aggregators that offer personalized finance products and services. These kiosks will eventually be viewed as banks. Imagine Office 365 Bank or G Suite Bank or My Supermarket Bank.
A universal identity provider will enable information asymmetry through opt-in middleware or intelligent agents. Like Amazon’s item-to-item collaborative filtering, service-to-service collaborative filtering will enable consumers to obtain useful actionable insights across the entire economy.