A cell phone showing the facebook app UI, in which the term Project Libra is searched for

Opinion: Libra – Facebook’s Attempt to Establish a World Currency

Introduction

Photo of Mark Caruso, Senior Project Manager at trimplement
Mark Caruso, Senior Project Manager at trimplement, gives and outlook on  Facebook’s Libra currency.

Since project Libra was revealed by Facebook two weeks ago, it sparked controversial discussions around its potential as an international currency, its presumed economic impact, and its technical implementation. In this article I will try to shed some light on the technical and the economic sides of the project, to see whether Libra has the required momentum to become Facebook ́s next-generation revenue booster and a meaningful (and powerful) currency for the masses. 

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A computer screen displaying the word cybersecurity

Cybersecurity – A Big Deal for Fintech

We do a lot of things online.

We shop at online marketplaces. We rent movies at online video libraries. We manage our finances in online banking apps – all from the comfort of our homes. On the downside, criminals don’t have to stand up from their couch either, to rob your bank or steal your private data. Internet crime and assaults on cybersecurity occur in increasing numbers. Banking institutions are a popular target, as are their little, nonconformist peers: Fintech companies.

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Picture of an ATM which is out of service, a symbol how Google Pay threatens banks and fintechs

Google Pay: Nuisance for Banks, Nightmare for Fintechs

When pondering on digital transformation in the financial industry, one quote by Bill Gates comes to mind. Admit it, you know which one. It just fits perfectly, as we see tech giants leave their mark with emoney payment solutions like Google Pay and Apple Pay. Bill Gates said: 

We need banking, but we don’t need banks anymore

He said this in 1994. The millennial generation probably did not listen to his words back then – living the kid life requires full attention. But today, millennials resonate very much with Gates’ words. According to research by Global Banking Insights, at least one-third of all US millennials believe that they will soon live a life without banks. 

And they might have a point. The number of customers inclined to use online banking services has doubled over the last 10 years. As a result, the demand for digital finance applications increases — and quite a few banks struggle to deliver on that front. The internet is not their native environment. Fintech companies try to capitalize on this, using their technological expertise to disrupt the tried and true ways of banking.

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Smartphone using Apple Pay at a mobile payment station. The text next to it numbers four problems Apple Pay faces.

4 Obstacles Apple Pay Has To Overcome on the German Market

Mobile payment is convenient.

Just ask your chosen fintech aficionado.

They will point to frictionless paying. To fast access to monetary assets, wherever you are. To tech-savvy China, where almost one-third of the population pays via a mobile device.

And to Apple Pay . The Californian tech giant strives to ban the buck from our pockets and purses. The replacement: A slick mobile payment service.

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A stylized picture of a magnifying glass looking at ID documents for KYC purposes.

Keep Your Compliance: The Fintech’s Guide to KYC

Knowing Your Customer – It’s the key success factor for any business. 

But not only sales managers and marketing agents need a good idea about who sits on the other side of the online shopping cart or B2B contact form.

KYC, meaning Know Your Customer, is as much a regulatory requirement for fintech companies and financial institutions. After all, laws oblige them to verify the identities of their clients. The goal: Prevent fraud and constrain the service access of users, who don’t fulfill certain standards of credibility.

But Know Your Customer policies are not just boundaries. They also act as competitive factors. KYC yields insightful data on one’s own services and customers.

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A lamp shining on an open book and revealing the writing '8 Must-Read Books for Fintech Founders'

8 Must-Read Books for Fintech Founders

Fintech books? Are they really a thing?

Modern financial technology is inextricably linked with the Digital Era. Mobile payment, personal finance management, and cryptocurrency trading are major application fields of fintech startups.

Thus it’s only fitting that the fintech community relies on the internet for exchanging views on the topic, too. There are fintech news platforms like Finextra or Financial News. Networking communities like Holland Fintech and meetups like Finfinity invite people to share their insights. Blogs centered around experts like Chris Skinner react on developments on short notice. It’s obvious: In-depth knowledge of financial technology is readily available and easily found online.

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A drawing of a wallet which is digitally connected to internet of things devices like smart cars or fridges

All the Smart Things — Fintech, Blockchain and the Internet of Things

If the rooms had ears and the furniture had mouths … oh, how would they slander about our habits behind our backs?

Well, they can already talk to us for once: Voice-controlled assistant devices like Alexa and Siri inhabit our private spaces just now. And we can easily picture them having a conversation with each other, too (even though it would be a funny one for sure). But what if our clock radio told our food processor to get that smoothie ready, for we are about to leave for work? Or our watch told our bathtub to run us a remedial bath because we’re leaving our workplace with the first stirrings of a common cold? And think of a fridge, buying food articles once it runs out of them, using its own ewallet…

That’s where we enter the domain of the Internet of Things – a domain ripe with opportunities for fintech companies. 

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An electric brain in a jar, symbolizing artificial intelligence and robo-advisory, from which currencies and financial assets branch off

Robo-Advisory, Fintech and AI

Looking around the world, we can see a growing interest in the application of artificial intelligence, especially in financial services. Major fintech events like the Money20/20 US and the Hong Kong Fintech Week gave it the pole position, inviting machine learning experts and futurists to debate it before giant audiences. That said, the practical application of AI in fintech is not a dream of the future, but a present reality.

Robo-advisors, using artificial intelligence to analyze data and manage a user’s portfolio accordingly, have been around for a while in the financial industry. They promise easy accessibility and less need for human interaction, thus providing services at reduced costs. One step further and we enter the domain of trading bots. Such bots make actual business decisions based on previously accessed market data and gainings while circumventing human errors.

But how far have we come already? Let’s take a look.

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