Fewer unicorns, more zebras
In the wake of Libra, social entrepreneur David Hoghton-Carter believes it’s up to responsible fintechs to define a new era of progressive economics The fintech landscape is evolving fast. Many of us are developing, or looking at, new businesses and approaches, from apps that make small but worthwhile improvements to the customer experience to potentially game changing, big-picture ideas. If you want the potential for disruption, though, you can’t get much more dramatic than Libra, Facebook’s recently announced, blockchain-based finance platform. The trillion-dollar question is, ‘what will this tech mean for our shared world?’. One of the masters of the crypto landscape, Daniel Jeffries, has presented a detailed and cogent analysis of Libra’s strengths, how it will work, its canny approach, and why it poses such grave risks to all of us. He writes: “Panopticon money. Lack of control. Identities linked to
everything we do so that companies know where we live, where we shop, who we’re sleeping with, who we’re friends with and more. They can track our digital and real life right down to the nanosecond. And they can see through your wallet like Superman seeing through walls and into your past, present, and even into your future with predictive analytics. They will control the flow of money and make or break businesses, communities and geographies. And that is a disaster for the world.” And Libra will undoubtedly be joined by more like it, as Facebook’s competitors look for their slice of the pie. These platforms
look set to extra-territorialise and centralise money beyond democratic scrutiny. There’s a clear risk that accountability can be reduced to a mirage of personal choice. This would be the realisation of a shared nightmare: a dystopian approach to centralising power and control over the international flow of wealth under the guise of convenience and efficiency. The future of finance could be precision-engineered for pure profiteering and data control, enabling the wealthiest to sidestep any kind of responsibility to our shared society and deepening the inequalities of wealth and power, which are a defining crisis of our time.
Reality check: Unicorns might bring individual wealth, but ‘zebras' balance profit with their impact on society
TheFintechMagazine | Issue 13
Fintech Finance presents: The Fintech Magazine Issue 13