As the tradition goes across industries, every year starts and ends with predictions. The year 2018 is not an exclusion, and one of the recent roundups brings together very interesting points on how certain events, companies, technologies, and developments will impact the year ahead. AI, as always, finds its place, as well as permanently important technology companies.
Pick #1. 18 Exponential Changes We Can Expect in the Year Ahead
While Silicon Valley leads, both innovation and scaling increasingly occur across the globe.
Europe and Central America lead the way in decarbonizing their energy chains. China is making huge strides in the large-scale electrification of its urban transport systems. Its focus on AI, supported by the state and its homegrown tech giants, will show up as novel methods and large-scale implementations. And not just in personal surveillance.
The US, with its declining health and social outcomes and turn inward, will become less appealing to some entrepreneurs. And its business culture, focusing solely on corporate profits, will lack the motives to innovate in areas that affect the social fabric (for the collective good). Curiously, the European Union will provide room for innovation because of its ability to bring broader groups of stakeholders together than competition alone can foster. In particular, watch the innovation around open banking and privacy in Europe this year.
Leapfrogging in other innovation hubs will continue as well. We may not see an African firm to rival America’s tech giants anytime soon, but we will see meaningful innovation in fields like ag-tech and distributed power generation.
However, the largest firms in the world will hail predominantly from Silicon Valley, and one, most likely Apple, will exceed $1 trillion in market cap this year.
Pick #2. Stripe wants to modernize commerce for the internet age
Summing up Stripe’s position, Alvarado [Stripe’s Chief Business Officer – Billy Alvarado] said, “Stripe’s mission is to fix this incomplete part of the internet’s tooling, to build the economic infrastructure for the internet. We’re building the tools, APIs, and the platform to help businesses accept payments, and for new kinds of companies to build previously impossible products and services at internet scale – the kinds of things that you couldn’t do 10 years ago.”
While he didn’t disagree with those who describe Stripe as a payment processing service, Alvarado stressed that there’s much more to the company, including a suite of software and tools to help start and operate an online business.
We’re told that Stripe only dedicates 10% of its documentation to payments. The majority of the company’s focus is on things businesses will have to deal with when “operating at scale,” including security, managing compliance, identity verification, anti-money laundering tools, and more.
In fact, Stripe would rather be considered the Amazon Web Services (AWS) of the financial tech space than a traditional payment processor. Just as AWS has become the technological source for everything companies need to get up and running, Stripe wants to be a major player in the commerce space.
Pick #3. The Quiet Singaporean’s Loud Revolution
Monetary czars are like parents. A good many outlaw parties because there would be drink and drugs – or their central-banking equivalent, cryptocurrencies. Enlightened new-age guardians like Menon, however, are creating safe spaces for experimentation in “regulatory sandboxes.” Do they worry about abuse? “I weigh up more disaster scenarios than you can think of,” Menon [Ravi Menon, Managing Director of MAS since 2011] told Neue Zuercher Zeitung. Yet, he’s fine not regulating Bitcoin so long as intermediaries dealing in it follow anti-money-laundering rules.
Whether it’s disrupting heavily paper-based trade finance with blockchain, or slashing know-your-customer costs by opening bank accounts with a shared utility, Menon gives FinTech initiatives a stamp of respectability.