We hear a lot these days about bitcoin and blockchain, but how and how soon we are all using digital currencies is not well understood. Brian Forde, Digital Currency Director at MIT’s Media Lab boils down the promise of bitcoin and crypto currencies for consumers this way:
“What public blockchain-based applications like bitcoin can do is cheaply and easily allow transactions to happen digitally, almost instantaneously.”
We’ve heard and written about the transfer of value over the internet, and how it can occur in much the same way e-mail is sent. At the Global Financial Leadership Conference Tuesday Forde focused on this point by highlighting the open protocol for e-mail that allows two people to send messages regardless of host or device. For example, one end of the message could have a gmail account and a Samsung phone, and a second user could have a yahoo account and an iPhone, and none of it matters in the communicating of information because of the open protocol. Forde says we don’t have that now for finance, giving the example that payment systems like PayPal or Venmo don’t work across platforms.
The number of blockchain wallet users in the past year has nearly doubled, signaling that some type of distributed ledger is getting closer to wide acceptance.
Artificial Intelligence and Financial Decisions
On the same panel, James Staten, Chief Strategist at Microsoft, touched on some ways artificial intelligence could infiltrate personal finance. AI is credited with all sorts of advancements, perhaps most notably, driverless cars. However, there are some solutions in personal finance and financial marketplaces where AI can have an impact.
Aneesh Chopra, former Chief Technology Officer for the Obama administration and moderator of the panel, cited the prevalence of poor financial decisions consumers make. Staten said AI can play a role in improving this.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if the compute system could understand their financial circumstance, what they’re doing it for, and be able to come back and be able to say ‘look, the way you’re thinking about doing this, that’s not really the safe way to do it.”
Watch the discussion in the video above.