Exponential Finance 2016: How Tech Is Transforming Finance as We Know It

Exponential Finance celebrates the incredible opportunity at the intersection of technology and finance. Watch live as hundreds of the world’s leading investors, entrepreneurs and innovators gather in New York to define the future of the way we do business.

Just after the US financial crisis in the late 2000s, the finance industry began spotting some unlikely new tools and platforms making their début. In 2009, Bitcoin was released and crowdfunding pioneer Kickstarter was launched.

These former outliers are now only a few of the many forces that are reshaping the finance industry. As they handle growing sums of capital, they’re also gaining significant attention from banking and venture capital investors.

In 2010, $1.8 billion was invested in fintech. In 2015, the total was $22.3 billion.

Startups are using the internet and devices to circumvent traditional practices with peer-to-peer payments, banking, investment, and loans. Smart software is beginning to offer financial advice, while blockchain promises to automatically secure and authenticate transactions involving cash, assets, even legal documents.

Some of these platforms and applications are in their infancy; others have been around a little longer but continue to grow fast. What’s next? We’re covering Singularity University and CNBC’s Exponential Finance Summit this week to find out. Speakers at Exponential Finance will dive into questions like:

  • How will blockchain transform banking and financial services?
  • What cybersecurity threats do digital currencies face?
  • Can machine learning revolutionize how finance does business?
  • How much will growth in robotics impact the global economy?

Marcos Lopez de Prado, senior managing director of Guggenheim Partners will discuss how quantum computing may enter financial services. Brian Forde, director of digital currency at MIT Media Lab, will outline current applications of digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, and their economic implications.

Catheryne Nicholson, CEO and co-founder of BlockCypher, will join a panel to cut through the Bitcoin and blockchain hype. Matthew Bishop, senior editor of The Economist, will explore the question, “Can we rethink capitalism?”

At Exponential Finance 2015, Ric Edelman, founder of Edelman Financial Services and a top financial advisor in the US, said, “I firmly believe that in the next ten years, half of all the financial advisors in this country will be gone.”

One year later, let’s see if this prediction is on course.

Unsure what’s happening on the frontiers of finance?

Below are a few Singularity Hub articles exploring applications of emerging technologies in finance. Join the conversation in real-time on Twitter with @SingularityHub and @XFinance and watch the Exponential Finance live stream here.

Can Tracking Our Hormones Make Us Smarter With Money?
“According to cognitive scientists, when we consciously uncouple from physical money, we lose track of how much we’ve spent. This effect, aptly named “decoupling,” is a recipe ripe for impulse spending. With the recent explosion in mobile and peer-to-peer purchasing, the situation is only going to escalate…This got London design company Method thinking: since the root of the problem lies in our emotions, why not make them central to an entirely new class of bank—the ‘Bank of Physiology’? Method’s radical idea marries two unlikely fields: banking and the quantified self.”

Are High Stress Decisions Best Made by Bots?
“High frequency trading, a form of algorithmic buying and selling of assets, accounts for a big portion of daily trades in some financial markets. Based on instructions coded in software, computers can complete large trades in fractions of a second. Like traders, ICU workers make fast decisions under pressure—only the stakes are even higher. Human decision-making slows down the process and raises the risk of error. The hope is to introduce automation where it makes sense.”

Machine Learning’s Next Trick Will Transform How Research Is Done
“As AIs take on more responsibility in managing the discovery process, the science community may free up significant portions of the time they currently devote to scanning for trends. One Canadian AI company, Meta, can already scan for emerging technology trends and predict those technologies’ future significance. In parallel, as AIs learn to better navigate the subtleties of language, they may be better equipped to draw meaning from science literature.”

Beyond Bitcoin—the Real Power Is In the Blockchain
“So, what’s a good way to understand blockchain? Technically, blockchain is a database of mathematically encrypted transactions. These may be transactions in Bitcoin, but they don’t have to be. They could be in another cryptocurrency or even another kind of asset. A distributed network of computers running specialized software, and often paid in cryptocurrency, automatically verifies these transactions. But there’s another, less technical way to think about blockchain. Blythe Masters, CEO of Digital Asset Holdings and former JP Morgan senior executive, called her firm’s blockchain technology a distributed ledger. It isn’t a new way to describe blockchain technology, but it is a very powerful one.”

Image credit: Shutterstock

Alison E. Berman
Alison E. Bermanhttp://www.anchorandleap.com/
Alison tells the stories of purpose-driven leaders and is fascinated by various intersections of technology and society. When not keeping a finger on the pulse of all things Singularity University, you'll likely find Alison in the woods sipping coffee and reading philosophy (new book recommendations are welcome).
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