The digital economy is a global network of social and economic activities enabled by advanced technology and platforms such as the internet and mobile. As this new technology emerges it has begun to have a significant impact on society. Described as the “21st century’s new raw material” by the UK Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, Francis Maude, and proclaimed in the Wall Street Journal by US journalist and blogger Doc Searls as the “revolution in personal empowerment”, it is apparent that data is fast becoming the next big industry as the digital economy becomes increasingly intertwined with the physical world.
Technology has become progressively embedded in our lifestyles, causing society to further shape the technologies of the future. The expectations of the new generation have dramatically increased our digital lifestyle, bringing about the boom in social networking, online shopping and mobile banking (m-banking). We now live a fast-paced lifestyle in a hi-tech economy that is dependent on the internet and technology. In this age, where nearly everyone and everything are connected in real time, the opportunity for value creation from personal data is inevitable.
As we go through life we increasingly leave a digital trace behind us. The data available for an individual can range from bank accounts and employment to leisure activities such as internet browsing, setting up an eBay account or vouching for your credentials in order to get a good deal on a new car, or to access online banking or treasury systems. The amount of data that is available has resulted in a number of firms collecting and using it to offer enhanced services to businesses. As a result, access to this volume of information is causing business boundaries to be redrawn.
Enhanced further by the boom in social media, businesses are able to use data via a number of communication channels to provide services specifically tailored to the individual user. Now the opportunity is there for banks and other businesses to position themselves as data platforms for value creation by a formidable ecosystem of third parties, so that every customer appreciates their bank as their own private wealth manager.
The digital economy paves the way for future business models that could benefit the end consumer. By typing a few keywords into an app, consumers could get the best quotes from dealers, insurers and even banks for a possible loan. Corporations can offer the same services or access them themselves, while the corporation’s treasurers’ could also use the interconnected digital world to increase straight-through processing (STP) rates and efficiency. After using the app to make your finance choice – what it may be – consumers can then direct the bank or treasury, which is the custodian of your digital assets, to give temporary permission to a dealer to access data to process the sale. The bank or treasury would only provide the data needed to complete the transaction.
While the increase in the digital economy presents vast opportunities for economic benefit, it also raises concerns about privacy and security. It is important that the commercialisation of data doesn’t undermine the confidence of the end user. The individual is an integral part of the foundations of the digital economy, and therefore it is important to develop trust in the value of sharing data in conjunction with the development of enhanced services.
SWIFT recognises the value of transparency, communication, efficiency and security and through the Innotribe stream at Sibos, and elsewhere, is trialling a research project as part of the Innotribe Incubator programme in Osaka, Japan from 29 October to 1 November. This ‘incubation’ seeks to help the development of bleeding edge technology at Sibos 2012. The Innotribe Incubator facilitates the exploration of new concepts, and is proposing a new scalable global network that operates parallel to SWIFT’s existing financial infrastructure that supports digital data banking. Through this research project Swift is exploring an infrastructure for the secure, efficient use, and sharing and trading of digital data, in which banks play the same key role as in today’s global banking network. If the project becomes a reality – and it’s a big if – the STP efficiency benefits available to treasurers and other end users would be considerable.
Join the Innotribe at Sibos
Other things being ‘incubated’ during the Innotribe innovation forum at Sibos 2012 in Osaka, Japan include sessions dedicated to the ‘Future of Money’ and ‘Hyper-Economies’. A full list of the Innotribe highlights can be seen here.
Two particular highlights of the Innotribe stream will be the social finance platform and start-up challenged, as detailed below:
- Social Finance Innovation Platform: This is an initiative aimed at connecting innovative social entrepreneurship projects and mainstream banks during Sibos 2012. It has been organised via a partnership between Ashoka (the global entrepreneurs’ association) and the organising SWIFT Innotribe members. The platform will feature five Ashoka fellows, who will present concrete scalable solutions to address the issues of financial inclusion, financial literacy, and how new banking products and services can be brought to market. It will be part of the ‘Future of Doing Good’ (Banks for a Better World) session at Sibos 2012.
- The Innotribe Start-up Challenge: The final session of this stream will occur on Thursday afternoon on 1 November. The Start-up Challenge introduces the world’s most promising financial technology and financial services start-ups to the global community of financial institutions, venture capitalists, angels and influencers to actively explore investments in innovation. Sibos will host the grand finale of the 2012 challenge, following regional showcases that have already been held this year in the Americas, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and Asia-Pacific regions. From a total of more than 400 entry candidates, the 15 best start-up candidates will compete in front of a live audience and professional judging panel for a cash price of USD$50,000.
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