New and emerging technologies are “not disrupters but enablers”, according to FinTech consultant to the Financial Services Commission of Mauritius and global adviser on responsible adoption of financial technology Loretta Joseph, who has spent more than 25 years working in financial markets.
“Bitcoin was supposedly going to disrupt the banks; the Internet was going to take banks away,” said Ms Joseph. “But it just changes the business models.
“If a lot of people stopped looking at the disruption in a negative way, and instead called it ‘enabling technology’ we’d all be better off – this technology enables existing systems to move and keep up with the times.”
Technology, specifically the Internet, has also democratised knowledge and is potentially disrupting universities, according to lecturer at the Research School of Finance, Actuarial Studies and Statistics at the Australian National University, Dr Priya Dev.
“Universities are at risk of not keeping up and supporting education services that interact with and use the knowledge that you can harvest very quickly from the Internet,” said Dr Dev.
However, it’s essential that with the democratisation of knowledge, information has reputable citations, noted Dr Dev. “I do encourage people to access all this amazing information online, but fact check,” she said.
Dr Priya Dev and Loretta Joseph spoke with InnovationAus Publisher, Corrie McLeod, as part of See What You Can Be, a series of interactive webinars championing Australia’s extraordinary female changemakers who are blazing new pathways across the STEM sector. This episode focuses on the fast-moving sector of cryptocurrencies and whether Bitcoin will ever replace dollars and cents.
Ms Joseph advises global organisations across policy makers, governments and industry on responsible adoption of financial technology, specifically blockchain. She has worked for major investment banks, advised international banks and global hedge and pension funds.
Pointing to developing countries that don’t have the same legacy systems as Western countries, Ms Joseph said they have no choice but to embrace new technology – such as blockchain and cryptocurrencies – “without the fear and constraints in other parts of the world”. This allows them access to systems such as finance and banking they might otherwise be excluded from.
“In the Western world, everyone has a bank account. But you can flip that on its head in most of the emerging markets, which are not included in traditional financial systems. And, when you’re not financially included, you can’t borrow money, you can’t buy land, there are so many things you can’t do,” she said.
Ms Joseph is advising countries that don’t really understand the regulatory outlook on how to start to regulate these technologies like bitcoin. However, in countries with large, youthful populations, they have a very different approach to emerging technology and a large base of people who have already embraced and are using things like cryptocurrencies.
“In the Western world, we look at these places and think they don’t matter, but you look at technology and the effect it is having on these youthful populations; and it’s totally out of the paradigm from what we see in places like Australia, the US, Europe and the UK,” she said.
The development of emerging technology will also benefit from diversity, according to Dr Dev, who noted that it is not just about diversity of the backgrounds but diversity of thinking. “Diversity is actually our ability to think in diverse ways,” she said.
“To have diversity of thought, it’s important to have people from different ethnicities and gender backgrounds who participate in developing technology, and it’s equally as important to have people from different and diverse range of academic backgrounds or creative backgrounds who are involved in developing technology. It’s about diversity at its core,” she added.
Find out more about See What You Can Be, where insightful women share what they have learned on their STEM journey – including success stories, opportunities and barriers to entry – while encouraging viewers to challenge outdated stereotypes.
InnovationAus.com has partnered with Cool Australia to make the video recordings and assets available to teachers all over Australia as resources, should they fit elements of their teaching focus.
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