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🔮 What technologies will we see in the future?

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This week in fintech

January 17 · Issue #88 · View online

A weekly summary of the latest news in our world of finance, design, and technology.


Also:
  • 📑 Blockchains to automate bureaucracy
  • 🤥 Not decentralized as advertised
  • 🇳🇴 Norwegian tech funding landscape
  • 🤵‍♀️ Banks as waiters
  • 💡 Your best ideas are still to come

🔮 What technologies will we see in the future?
Last week it was 15 years since the world met the iPhone for the first time. This enabled an enormous evolvement of the web and technological change. 
It’s hard to predict what the future is going to hold. An example is this article in the New York Herald from 1922 imagining how 2022 will be. It is rather spot-on at times, but it’s challenging to predict enormous changes like the rise of smartphones.
One thing is for sure: For the world going forward, some people need to tinker and find opportunities with new technology. On the way, they will be criticized by people trying to find problems with the same technology. Both will achieve this, but time will tell if this new technology has contributed something valuable in the decades to come.
📑 Blockchains to automate bureaucracy
Last week we wrote about Jon Ramvi, CEO of Symfoni AS, explaining how blockchain technology can automate registers and bureaucracy and deliver products at a new level of abstraction. This week Jon Grov, associate professor II at the University of Oslo, replied that blockchains are not needed and that we can do this with existing technology. He also signs off by saying that blockchain technology is resource-intensive, carries a high risk of misuse, and has a very unclear future value. 
Jon Ramvi follows up by answering that it is possible to do much with existing technology, but that does not mean we do not need new technology. The question is whether the new technology is either more efficient or enables something new. Jon Grov answers by stating that blockchains have fundamental shortcomings, privacy, and legal security being one of them.
A parallel discussion is going on internationally, but where both sides of the debate have deep technology knowledge:
🤥 Not decentralized as advertised
Moxie Marlinspike, a famous cryptographer and the inventor of Signal app, wrote a blog post on his first impressions of web3. This is a great read because it’s not just some analysis from an outsider, but an experienced developer who has actually created things using web3 technologies.
One of his key points is that people don’t want to run their own servers and never will. This threatens the decentralized nature of web3 when all the solutions are currently interacting with two API’s that again interact with the blockchain: Infuraand Alchemy
Another critique is that NFT Metadata is often not useful for what the user expects it to be useful for. As an example, Moxie made an NFT that changes based on who is looking at it, since the webserver that serves the image can choose to serve different images based on the IP or User Agent of the requester:
Many of the highest priced NFTs could turn into 💩 emoji at any time; I just made it explicit.
After a couple of days, his NFT was removed from OpenSea, the largest NFT marketplace, for violation of their Terms of Service. The interesting part of this takedown was that the NFT also seemed removed from his wallet, although this is not possible considering the nature of blockchains. Why? His wallets used OpenSeas APIs to show the NFT, highlighting that web3 is not on a trajectory to deliver us from centralized platforms. 
This blog post has gotten a lot of answers from the web3 community:
  • Vitalik Buterin, the creator of Etherum, replied: “I think the status quo comes from a present-day "missing middle” where we have centralized-but-easy things and decentralized-but-hard things, but new tech (w lots of cryptography!) actually is on the cusp of giving us the best of both worlds" Reddit
  • Brian Armstrong, the CEO of Coinbase, replied: “If a platform is merely a proxy to data it doesn’t own, and it turns evil, people will switch. Not owning the data counts for a lot.”. Twitter
  • “This highlights a crucial infrastructural vulnerability in the way that current dApps are constructed. I urge web3/crypto people to heed this part of the criticism.” Mirror.xyz
  • “Blockchain technologies have somehow managed to land in the worst of both worlds—decentralized but not really, immutable but not really”. Mollywhite.net
Qiao Wang
All the criticisms of Web3 I saw today reminds me of the criticisms of mobile vs PC a decade ago, in that they focus on the dimensions where the new tech is worse than the old tech, while completing ignoring the dimensions in which the new tech is better than old tech.
🇳🇴 Norwegian tech funding landscape
Kjetil Holmefjord has published his yearly recap of the Norwegian tech funding landscape in 2021. Unsurprisingly the most frequently funded companies over the last year were fintech companies, closely followed by Proptech, Climate, and Mobility.
🤵‍♀️ Banks as waiters
Right before we wrote 2022 in the calendar, Torvald Kvamme, CEO of Bulder Bank wrote about why banks should be more like great waiters and less like bad landlords. The idea is rather obvious for people working with customer-centric design, but it’s still an important reminder for everyone! 
This was possibly foreshadowing the announcement that Bulder Bank and their owner, Sparebanken Vest, came with this week: they will soon support Apple Pay. This is interesting because more or less all Norwegian banks with significant ownership interests in Vipps so far have refused to allow the use of Apple Pay. The reason is that Apple has banned any third parties to use the NFC antenna in iPhones. 
Sparebanken Vest still believes that it is very problematic that Apple stands its ground. Still, Torvald Kvamme states that “after an overall assessment, we have come to the conclusion that now is the time to launch Apple Pay anyway.” I wonder how many customers have asked for ApplePay in Bulder Banks’ roadmap to make them change their minds.
💡Your best ideas are still to come
It’s a common belief that we generate our best ideas early in a brainstorming process. Still, several studies done at Kellogg School shows that, in fact, “you’re either not seeing any drop-off in quality, or your ideas get better.” We risk leaving our best ideas on the table by giving up too soon. Kellogg Insight
That's it for this week 👋
Remember, if you’re enjoying this content, please do tell all your (fintech) friends to hit the subscribe button! If you have some feedback you can always just hit reply!
Marius Hauken, partner Stacc X
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