As we start the new year, let’s look at the bad, the good and the insights that have come to realization. What was once a year full of promise, a step towards the decade known as the second roaring twenty-twenties where technology is being envisioned as a catalyst in shaping business, society, lifestyles and the environment; the world was caught unaware and unprepared against the unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Cities were locked up, lifestyle was relegated to quarantine protocols, businesses slowed down and the intricacies of economics saw a contraction. 2020 was a year of disruption, but the silver-lining goes that the pandemic was a catalyst to propel innovation as a response to the given world state. Despite the business world taking a step-back, technology application as a response made great strides forward. We have seen the growth of digital workgroups managing to keep up productivity and business continuity, we have seen the future state of health in the form of today’s telemetry. We’ve seen business processes adapt to technology that enabled processes that were once heavily-dependent on humans as actors and custodians, move towards the merits of verification and self-processing to complete a transaction cycle.
Fintech: The Future of Finance
Technology was a key mover in business and its transformative effect have fundamentally reshaped the financial world over the years, and even more so in the times of the global pandemic. With physical restrictions lessening the market circulation of finance as traditional fiat-based commerce weakened, there emerged the digital circulation of money and finance to bypass the barriers of physical, distance, consumer transactions, supply & demand and commercial banking. In Asia alone, fintech acceleration allowed the economy to avoid a complete shutdown as the normalization of digital banking, cross platform payments and finance transformation prevailed despite the economic crunch. Fintech was the enabler of commerce and transactions to continue, which was instrumental in helping local economies be buoyed despite the recession and regression.
Fintech in summary of 2020 was a shaper of the things to come in the future with regards to finance, banking, consumer spending and enterprise cash cycles:
- Acceleration of online payments, digital wallets and cross payments between platforms to keep commerce going despite physical restrictions on travel and commercial areas.
- Massive growth of online banking to credit salaries, pay utilities, payment on gig economies and money remittances.
- Cross payment to power online commerce, mobile commerce, food delivery services and the procurement of supplies
- Digital wallets to further broaden the Asian digital diet when it comes to multimedia, gaming, video on demand services and digital economy participation
- The use of electronic trusted signatures in executing financial and monetary deals that bypass traditional desk-based approval
- The use of Blokchain in the issuance of bonds and financial trading
- Making digital wallets accessible that were used to issue government subsidies to the public and micro-loans.
In the years to come, fintech will further evolve to enable better participation on stock trading, crypto-based assets, agricultural loans and economic cooperative models. We’re just at the tip of the ice berg with fintech as a response to the pandemic.
Blockchain: The Future of Business
Despite the setbacks on projects and events about Blockchain and its transformative effect in business policies and processes, Blockchain had another banner year during the pandemic as businesses and conglomerates have come to the realization that the most important parts of decision-making, policy-setting and finance allocation were heavily-dependent on the availability of the on-premise roles within the enterprise or corporate structure. As health concerns and work from home setups were adopted, business continuity must also evolve to accommodate the new environment of distance working-groups.
When disruption happens to slow or expose the vulnerabilities of business on its value chain; that is when enterprise planners and business analysts turns to rapidly-acceleration technology such as Blockchain to reinvigorate or reinvent the business process itself. Enter Blockchain, which over the years, have transitioned from nascent to a core business technology that serves as a backbone to the business process, information processing and policy-making.
In this year’s 2020 Enteprise Blockchain Awards, we have seen the application of enterprise Blockchain on a large-scale, one that cross industries, transforming the ecosystem of business processes and how it future-proofs the limitations of today’s cloud connected applications and systems. We have seen proof of concepts evolve into commercially viable proof of work where it opens up new ways to inter-connect the free-flow of information and verification points to give autonomy on decentralized systems where all participants are custodians of ledger transactions and have a stake on policy-making through inputs.
Blockchain is also transforming how we build relationships and inter-dependencies of systems in a decentralized economy; where it is possible to enter into a permissioned partnership without the need of the merit of trust that was acquired through years of working relationships. Instead, Blockchain allows entities of permissioned participation to process data without the need to give up business intelligence assets. Instead, Blockchain’s permissioned information processing leverages permissioned states on proprietary information without the need to stake ownership while divulging only the most relevant transaction information without compromising user-identities.
As Blockchain steams towards its market and commercial maturity, it will be the foundational technology of information processing to enable unprecedented business optimal processes to give way to more productive value creation, that benefits supply chain, consumers, logistics and markets.
Humanisation of Innovation
The pandemic not only rethink how we can apply technological innovation to adapt to the new normalization of things, but it also gave us time to rethink, reflect and re-evaluate our stance, our participation and possible contributions to society. During the pandemic, the most affected where the most vulnerable members of society: the economically displaced, day to day income owners, the indigenous living in remote communities and the communities depending on subsidy and micro-finance.
As technology becomes a catalyst for business progress, it can also be catalyst for sustainability, inclusion and a progressive society. The World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Summit, greatly explored this theme: “The Great Reset” which paints a world state in the post-pandemic world. It is a state of the world where we realize how vulnerable society is and who are the most vulnerable towards economic depression, climate change, the ones who are excluded from economic participation and those who are without identities.
Through the application of technology toward humanitarian and social efforts, we are creating solutions that genuinely make the world a better place:
- Digital Identities – To grant irrevocable and undeniable legal identities to economically and geographically displaced people in society. This includes clusters from the population that are under the category of generational poverty, indigenous living in remote areas and the refugees displaced by civil unrest.
- Fintech for Financial Inclusion – Fintech has revolutionized how we transact and remit credit. It is also a technology with the utmost potential to leverage financial inclusion of those who were traditionally unbanked and those without the means to acquire finances to start their micro livelihood. The embedded tracking technology and parameters of KYC in digital wallets brought by fintech can accelerate the economic participation of communities with their rural banks, get responsible grants that can be tracked through micro-loans remitted digitally and setup an equitable fund from grants that will be used to mobilize community building and livelihood programs.
- Blockchain for Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain – The mobilization of humanitarian aid in times of crisis had its fair share of challenges despite the resources pledged by the UN and its key members. From logistics to accountability and distribution, these things were costly to account and audit with the real-time movement and resource consumption required to enable this endeavor. As Blockchain is being used to track efficiently the logistics and supply chain of industries ranging from food to medicine; time-stamping its key dates from sourcing, manufacturing, distribution and consumer acquisition, the same technology can be fitted into the humanitarian supply chain done by the UN and other international programs. This presents an opportunity to promote transparency inside the cabinet, its partners and the government agencies that are handling grants, aid, supplies and finance that aim to benefit communities. Blockchain promotes efficiency, transparency and accountability – that reflects the noble aspiration of humanitarian purposes.
- Telemetry for Health – Access to specialized diagnosis has been a problem for people and communities living in remote areas. As telemetry grew during the pandemic, the same technology can be ported and applied to rural and distance medical programs to assess the health of these communities. With telemetry, people can have access to basic, advance and specialized diagnosis that were otherwise unavailable locally and to be able to bypass physical barriers such as distance.
2020 was a year of unprecedented disruption but it was a catalyst for innovation as technology progressed to alleviate society from crises. As technology matures, businesses and corporations are joining the global movement of social responsibility; no longer limiting themselves to business solutions – but also creating life-changing solution frameworks to help shape a progressive, inclusive and sustainable world for all.
A Happy New Year to all.
This article is published on BitPinas: 2020: A Year of Disruption and Innovation