Canadian Business Frontiers
Guiding technology towards positive outcomes for society through cross-sector discussion
During the FinTech deep dive, Fintech leaders Martin Wildberger from RBC, Eunika Sot from Yuser, and Boris Couteaux from Impak Finance shared how their organizations were taking the lead on using fintech to create social and financial value.
One interesting takeaway from the session was around how companies balance improved user experience with individual privacy and security. As companies collect increasingly granular data about their customers, user experience can be improved to target needs at the individual level. The ability to collect this depth of information allows businesses to almost completely tailor interfaces for each user’s unique needs, transforming the way consumers interact with a product. However, the complex algorithms involved in these algorithms can be confusing to individuals and regulators. Concerns about cyber security attacks and discussions about data ownership are raising concerns from the very consumers that expect the product benefits that big data enables. This presents a dilemma to many companies who must respect and protect individual rights to security while at the same time continue to offer enhanced products and services that users have come to expect. Eunika Sot’s company, yuser, is dealing with this dilemma in an interesting way by creating a social media channel where users regain control over their privacy. The platform enables users to opt in/out marketing efforts, thereby monetizing data. While yuser is still in its early stages, it will be interesting to where this groundbreaking model goes.
A second key learning from this session was in regard to cryptocurrency and the potential that it has in growing the impact economy. Consumers want to spend responsibly but need an extra incentive to do so. One example of such an incentive is impak coin, a form of cryptocurrency rewarded to consumers each time they purchase goods from businesses with impact. Users collect impak coin for shopping responsibly and are then able to spend their impak coin at impak qualified businesses.
A third and final lesson to be taken from this session is about the importance of cross-disciplinary knowledge. Traditional financial accounting skills are not designed for digital currency. Organizations need a mix of mathematic, business, technical, and social science skills to ensure that fintech maximizes benefits for companies and people.
Overall, this session showed that the gap between business and technology is narrowing. It is more necessary than ever to unpack the assumptions, assess risks, and understand money creation mechanisms to truly leverage technology in a positive way and avoid unintended consequences.
Written by Emma Hogeterp (Ivey Business School), Nicole Plant (Ivey Business School) & Manoela Brito (Ivey Business School)