Anthemis, a fintech VC and strategic advisory firm with offices in London and New York, recently held its fifth annual “Hacking Finance Retreat,” a get together of fintech founders, big institutions, regulators, academics, and more. The retreat is an opportunity for all parties to get together, chew the fat, and try to work out the future of finance.
Anthemis shared a video it produced a the retreat in the French Alps with BI of its attendees discussing the big issues in finance and fintech today, including Brexit, regulation, and LendingClub’s recent crisis.
Here are the highlights:
The views are mixed on Brexit.
Leanne Kemp, founder and CEO of London-based blockchain startup Everledger, says: “Those that focus too much on the effect of politics inside of their company are not busy enough doing work.”
Daniel Egan, directors of behavioural finance and investing at US online wealth manager Betterment, says: “Uncertainty is not just a downside, it’s also an opportunity to show your value and actually step up to the plate.”
But Mike Laven, CEO of London-based Currency Cloud, does not mince words, saying: “This is massively disruptive and anyone who tells you this is an opportunity isn’t telling you the truth.”
Another question asked by Anthemis is whether the blockchain hype has peaked.
Banks and financial institutions around the world are investing huge amounts of time and energy into blockchain technology, spending thousands on proof of concepts, issuing countless white papers, and joining industry-wide bodies to figure out how to use the protocol.
Blockchain is a type of database technology first developed to underpin digital currency bitcoin. Instead of one central database of who owns what, blockchain allows for a network of identical, linked databases that talk to each other and are updated simultaneously.
The general consensus at the “Hacking Finance Retreat” is that yes, the blockchain hype is slowly starting to cool off. Casey Kuhlman, CEO of blockchain company Eris Industries, says: “I think we’re slowly getting over the peak of blockchain hype.”
Mike Laven, Currency Cloud CEO.
LendingClub rocked the worlds of finance and fintech earlier this year with a scandal that claimed the head of its CEO and led to a collapse in share price and a full internal review.
Currency Cloud’s Laven believes this crisis will hurt the whole fintech ecosystem, saying: “What’s happened with LendingClub is a lack of trust. Anything that threatens credibility is a threat to the concept of trust in our segment.”
Future of fintech
As you might expect from a conference of fintech enthusiasts, they are bullish on fintech’s future prospects.
Betterment’s Egan says: “People thought that things evolve at a constant rate. Actually, evolution happens in punctuated equilibrium. Stuff remains the same for a long time and then some dam breaks through.
“We know that there will be a lot of evolution in a relatively short period of time.”
Sean Park, Anthemis’ cofounder, says: “Our thesis is that [financial business models] are changing. We are starting to see the tremors from those fundamental changes.”
Watch the full video at the top of the page or on YouTube here.