“Surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach us.”
This old adage jumped off the page, grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me hard. Indeed, mighty waters are rising. Economists, news reporters, YouTubers and podcasts all ask the same questions: How bad is it? How bad will it get? When will the worst be over? The question gnawing at our minds is this: “Will it reach me?”
Every aspect of our lives is increasingly impacted by this technology take over. Life without cell phones and computers is unimaginable to most of us. To call our obsession with gadgets an addiction is a bit of an understatement. Every beep, buzz, ring or pop-up diverts our attention immediately. Every click exposes new levels of information, and we can get lost in the maze.
The impact crosses all aspects of our lives. Doctors’ appointments and prescriptions are processed through online portals. Restaurant reservations and food orders are taken on an app. Uber and Lift rides are processed and tracked on the cell phone. A live human voice on a phone line is a rare occurrence. The list of industries that have been disrupted by technology is enormous.
Money and Technology
Technology and money have come together in a manner never before experienced. The swirl of innovation is creating gale force winds that are whipping up mighty waters. Money conversations in this digital age are frequently more about technology than finance. The excitement of growing money and increasing the value of assets gets lost in the technology tangle of simply moving money in a digital space. The progression has been staggering.
The money system started with gold and silver, then moved to paper notes, then checks, then debit cards. These changes were rather gradual. But in my lifetime, the internet introduced money expressed as digits and clicks. Now on the blockchain an asset is identified by a “hash ID” which was mined in a specific “numbered block”. Most people get totally lost in this terminology. No wonder anxiety levels about money are on the increase.
While I’d like to be discussing products, profits, potential and strategies, I find myself mostly explaining apps, chats and exchanges—how they work with iPhone vs. Android. One small overnight system update could potentially make previous knowledge outdated. We scramble the next morning to figuring out how to get back to square one! This is the world of financial technology.
And in addition to the impact of technology we, of course, have to consider the potential for regulatory or governmental agencies to throw yet another monkey wrench into the system. Every time a crypto tax law update is discussed in the media, we are left wondering when we will know for sure how our crypto assets will be taxed. Then a crypto exchange is sued by the federal government. Uh oh! Is another one about to fall?
Most recently, the Federal Reserve launched an instant payment system called FedNow. This will allow individuals and businesses to send and receive funds in real time. This is a huge development that could potentially modify all commerce as we have known it for years. According to a Yahoo Finance article of July 20, 2023, “FedNow isn’t offered directly to individuals and business, but it will serve as the basis of infrastructure for instant payments by linking banks. Transactions occur between bank accounts and enable funds to be transferred from a sender’s bank account to a receiver’s bank account immediately.”
Most believe that FedNow will be an app that will bring speed and convenience to the process of transferring funds from one person or business to another. Again, quoting from the Yahoo Finance article: “Over time, as more banks choose to use this new tool, the benefits to individuals and businesses will include enabling a person to immediately receive a paycheck or a company to instantly access funds when an invoice is paid.”
Wow! Of course, many believe that the greatest use of FedNow will be to facilitate the development and use of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBCD). This is a digital (crypto) currency backed and issued by the Federal Reserve Bank. The United States is just one of several countries who are developing CBCD’s, including China, Russia, India, and Brazil.
My point is that the average citizen today feels pressure to build acumen in technology, finance and government—both national and global government—in order to plan and make personal money decisions. How do we avoid overloading our circuits in the churning turbulence of our world? Sifting through the rubble, I often feel like a miner back in the days of the gold rush of the 1800’s. I place the information in a wide, tin pan and swish it around, skimming off the sediment and finding the gold in the bottom.
Once internet technology linked up with money it became like a tugboat, towing the larger vessel. But now with the blockchain comes Web 3.0, and financial processes are permanently in tow, and we cannot ever return to the prior systems.
Everyone Needs a Boat
In waters like these, everyone needs a boat. The right boat is a place where companies are connected with communities to provide optimal profit opportunities, education and research. They also help us narrow down information quickly and with clarity so we can make good decisions. Mighty waters rising will drown an individual but will raise a good community to higher levels. It becomes the boat which rises with the waters.
Technology always advances, it never retreats. Fintech (financial technology) is here to stay. Our challenge is to find the right boat. Then we can move ahead, get in the boat and rest assured that the mighty waters will not reach us.