Technology is and has always been a crucial part of finance. From the first promissory notes (banknotes) in the Netherlands and China, there was a race with counterfeiters that parasitically undermined trust. As in political communication, technology is the message, rather than merely "a tool": when it comes to money, trust is not just instrumental, it is fundamental. With cashless payments being the norm and social media platforms weαving an additional layer of involvement in our social data web – Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple – Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already in our wallets, business, and financial affairs. In a non-western setting, one may refer to the Chinese "social rating" system, which allows the state to value and evaluate social behaviour patterns, creating a link to individual credit rating.
This year has brought dramatic change to financial services, as fintech leads innovation that impacts traditional workflows. The number of ATMs is decreasing due to the widespread adoption of cashless payments, while regulatory issues, starting with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, continue to be a convoluted topic of discussion. One of the greatest drivers is the global shift toward digitization and automation. From banks to insurance and wealth management platforms, competition to offer customer-friendly, scalable and detailed service is intensifying. These are eliminating the need for bank branches, with their often inconvenient locations, limited working hours and long queues.
I never think of the future. This quote, credited to Albert Einstein, aptly sums up the daunting speed at which the technology treadmill moves, disrupting existing business models in its wake. It's, however, very difficult to accurately predict which trends will mature and which will die along the way. Nevertheless, if the year gone by is any indication, 'digital' will continue to be the overarching theme of 2017 and its broad components--the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data analytics, smart cities and villages, artificial intelligence (AI), mixed reality, digital payments, blockchain, Robotics, connected cars, 3D printing, drones and cybersecurity--will mature over the next 12 months and the coming few years. Will adoption of these trends by the government, citizens and companies, however, ensure India is on the path of becoming truly digital?
The first Model Artificial Intelligence Governance Framework in Asia was released by Singapore in January this year, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum's Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. AI, an emerging frontier in technology that allows technical systems to simulate human intelligence and behaviors, has vast applications in many fields. As part of its «Smart Nation» pursuits, Singapore launched its National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy at the Singapore FinTech Festival and Singapore Week of Innovation and TeCHnology (SFF x SWITCH) conference. Within the next three years, AI-powered chatbots will become the first point of contact for residents to report issues with city services while marking systems in schools will soon be automated. Across the financial landscape, AI has also weaved itself into the workings of the industry.