Keynote Speaker Inma Martinez - blog featured picture

Fintech could be the key to solving the World’s biggest problems


Inma Martinez: Fintech may be the key to solving the world’s biggest problems, and it starts with turning our global economic model on its head.

Over two billion people do not have bank accounts, with many having no choice but to turn to predatory lenders to get by. Keynote Speaker Inma Martinez, Considered by FORTUNE and TIME as one of the world’s leading digital media strategists, argues that this is where fintech companies can emerge as the “champion of the unbankable and under-banked, bridging the gap between finance and philanthropy”.

It is thought that the fintech sector has the power to lift low-income communities out of poverty and give them access to finance.

Chandran Nair, founder of the Hong Kong-based think tank, The Global Institute for Tomorrow, stated that the relationship between finance and technology has huge potential impact socially, and bringing financial literacy and accessibility to the unbanked is just the beginning.

“We need to move beyond banking the unbankable,” he says.

”How can we have finance and technology pretend to sit comfortably with each other when they are fundamentally at war with the planet? We have an economic model that is increasingly at war with people.”

Speaking at the Innovate Finance Global Summit, Nair explains that our current economic model is counterproductive to success.

“We need to ask how finance and technology can challenge our economic model. Having the pizza you ordered delivered in two minutes and via drone is yesterday’s news. We need to think beyond that and see how policy, finance and technology can merge to serve the world at large,” he argues.

It starts with how we value and price consumption, he adds. “This is not a Greenpeace rant. It’s a genuine economic discussion. The alternative mode starts with us looking at how we price CO2. Our economic mode is based on excessive consumption and underpricing resources.

We need a different way of thinking about how consumption is priced and can be restrained, without adversely affecting quality of life. How would that look like? Finance and technology can be used to fingerprint consumption and in identifying those who over consume so that they pay for it. ”

He goes on to explain that the world’s majority’s best interest is actually not in line with the current push for automation and robotics.

“Why would you need robots replacing people in markets with large populations? These first world discussions don’t apply to the rest of the world. It only affects 15 per cent of the global population.”

Inma Martinez agrees stating: “When you develop AI as I do, you inevitably get asked two questions: are the robots going to kill us? Or are they going to take our jobs? And of course there are two camps in the artificial intelligence community.

One is Google’s position, where you build technology and see how it develops, without a purpose or a goal in mind. The other camp, backed by Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, and others including myself, is one that puts humanity first, and AI after. It’s going to be all about human capital in the coming years. We need to look at how people need to be working, how we can maintain them, incentivise them and most importantly, retrain them with new skills they’ll need as technology evolves,” she says.

“I was in a panel with B. Geldof, where he said that it is through our work that we find purpose and an identity for ourselves. And that’s a very important point we need to remember as we develop intelligent technologies. Human beings are meant to create. If you take that away from us, we may not find other things that will bring us pleasure to do, and that could destroy us,” she explains.

She envisions a future where humans can lead in peace and prosperity alongside a society where machines are incredibly smart. But that can only be realised if humans are trained for their creativity and intuition.

To read more about Inma Martinez, click here.

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