Carlos Menendez, president of enterprise growth and partnerships at MasterCard, stressed that trust is at the heart of both data and money.
But the concept of money, he said, is moving from managing a transaction to simply moving data. This data includes the customer’s ‘digital identity’, such as personal information, which must be kept private. This kind of payment will not scale without trust, Menendez said.
Douglas Shulman, head of client service delivery at BNY Mellon, discussed interconnectedness, suggesting that data and information is “the lifeblood of any financial services institution”.
“We ingest data, we manage data, we analyse data and then we distribute data. Those are the basic functions of a financial institution,” he explained.
He suggested that the lines are blurred between major financial institutions, and that those institutions that embrace the “mindset that they’re part of an interconnected network of technology and data are going to be the winners”, over institutions that just think about themselves.
Another panellist, Amber Case, a fellow of the Harvard Berkman Klein Center, noted that, currently, data is stored in remote servers and typically accessed via the cloud. However, she noted that if user store their own personal data on their own smartphones, for example, creating ‘mini servers’, then a single point of failure is eliminated. If something was to go wrong, then users would still have control of their own data.
Currently, the stakes are very high, and one hack in the right place could destroy the whole system, Case said. She argued that the industry needs to move to a more “organic” future, saying: “Products have to be developed over time with respect to those threats.”
She added that technology itself is created by people, and should be developed in small and incremental steps, following testing in small and more manageable environments.
Shulman concluded: “The future is going to be human judgement and smart, motivated, trustworthy people working together and automating as much as they can. There are certain things like math, which is a lot of financial services … that machines can do just fine, and sometimes better than humans.”
He went on to add that technology is good for development, and that, ultimately the industry will still “have agency in how technology evolves”.