Thursday, November 16, 2017

Truth about BlockChain, BitCoins - impact on banking, insurance - BlockC...

I have advised hundreds of the world’s largest corporations on digital trends, and one of the biggest that CEOs and boards are now talking about is Blockchain.  What is Blockchain and what does it mean for us?  Could Blockchain wipe out our business, or will Blockchain help us grow? 
Here is a comment after my recent keynote for the global team of Generali Insurance, on Blockchain.

So what is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a very clever method for making permanent global records, with copies held in many different places, totally safe from corruption, deletion, alteration or cyberattack. 
Blockchain uses the same technology as BitCoin and other so-called cyptocurrencies. 
BitCoin technology was developed to allow a new “virtual” currency to be created, coin by coin, in a way that is permanent, protected, cannot be duplicated or destroyed.  It costs a lot of money, mainly electric power to run computers, to create each BitCoin, so they are rare and have real value.  BitCoins are traded against many other currencies. 

Blockchain developed from BitCoins

BitCoins are also completely anonymous, and impossible to track when used for online payments, as well as completely secure.  
BitCoins are controversial because the system is so strong, that they are now the payment of choice used by many criminal gangs, for drugs, ransom payments, arms deals and so on.
The system works because each payment is registered in an ultra-secure database which cannot ever be altered.  This means that each BitCoin can only be transferred once.  
If you spend a BitCoin, you cannot spend your same BitCoin again.  Once spent, it’s value is registered at the speed of light to another person permanently, using a system that we call BlockChain.  Each “block” is an individual cluster of records, and each “Chain” is a time-stamped sequence of blocks.
But we can use the same registration system for another purpose: to register documents rather than ownership of BitCoins.

Why Blockchain really matters to most industries

Blockchain means that anyone in the world with online access can prove a particular document exists, when it was sent, who it was sent to and so on.  We can also prove that an event has taken place, in a way which is fully transparent to everyone who needs to know this around the world.
The implications of this are going to be huge.  And it will be many years before we work it all out.  We are at a similar stage with Blockchain that we were with the web in 1997. 
A lot of excitement and speculation, and also a lot of uncertainty about how it will affect us all in practice.

Blockchain Boom

There is no doubt that Blockchain has the power to completely transform every financial transaction or legal process, every trade agreement, every insurance claim and every supply chain ordering system.
That is why we are seeing huge investment in Blockchain innovation, inside large companies, and a huge number of new Blockchain startups, especially in FinTech.

Blockchain impact on real estate sales

Consider the complex processes to buy a house.  Legal agreements are exchanged and signed.  Deposits are made, and then final payments.  After this, land ownership records are altered in government archives. 
Each of these processes has to be checked and verified to prevent fraud and protect both buyer and seller.  Each of these steps can be revolutionized using Blockchain.  
And as that happens, we will find we have new ways to validate these steps – no longer the exclusive roles of banks and law firms.
A real estate agent could safely handle the whole thing, backed by Blockchain technology.  Indeed, buyers and sellers could do far more themselves, cutting costs and speeding up transactions by many days or weeks.

Blockchain impact on insurance industry

Fraud is a major challenge in the insurance industry, and means that in many nations people are paying at least 5% more than they should be, just to pay for these losses. 
Blockchain could change all that, as well as cut many other costs.  Take the auto industry and car insurance.  Imagine that every vehicle in the world has its own Blockchain record. 
A global register of your car that contains date of sale, past and current owners, details of every repair, accident or insurance claim. 
We could also create a global register of individuals and their current or past insurance policies, or a global register of all insured businesses and claims.

Automated travel insurance claims driven by Blockchain

Blockchain could mean completely automated insurance: from payment to policy issuing, to triggering a claim, to payout, to confirmation of receipt of payment and closure of the case. 
A traveller could take out insurance against flight cancellation.  The flight record is made automatically, and shows that a cancellation did indeed happen.  
Within seconds, a payment is triggered into the policy holder’s bank account, before the traveller is even aware that the insurance company has been notified.

Blockchain impact on banking and international payments

Blockchain will protect international money transfers.  
I spoke at a global payments conference recently and was shocked to discover how many global payments are still relying on last century tech for tracking – which is why cross-border payments are still so slow and so prone to errors.

Blockchain impact on supply chains and manufacturing

Blockchain could revolutionise supply chains and manufacturing, allowing buyers and sellers to be 100% confident about receipt of legally binding orders and payments, issuing of shipping documents, registration for customs and excise, proof of payment of import taxes.

Blockchain in legal firms and accounting

Legal processes depend fundamentally on proving that certain events have taken place, and in certifying the legal consequencies of those events.
Blockchain means that legal firms can prove that documents have been issued and in what form.  Signed and dated documents can be authenticated in a global secure register. 

Blockchain in digital forensics, compliance and regulatory processes

How do you prove that your digital records are correct?  That the date of an email authorizing action on a health and safety matter is the real date and has not been deliberately altered to avoid a prosecution?  
Blockchain can be used to permanently authenticate the fact of every email sent and received.
Blockchain can be used to validate all investor information, reports, and other important information.

So what happens next with Blockchain?

Expect to see a huge number of experiments with multiple failures along the way. As with all areas of FinTech, we will see common platforms and systems develop, for different industries, using common standards. 
And there will be quite a fight amongst different companies to get scale and dominance of their own industry.
The most successful Blockchain companies will become the industrial or legal or financial “Google’s” of tomorrow, with immense influence and power, and systems which are used in many different parts of society.
The financial rewards will be spectacular for the largest winners in the new Blockchain economy.  At the same time, we will see some spectacular failures and scandals. 

Expect Blockchain and cryptocurrency frauds and scandals

Blockchain is highly complex, depends on sophisticated mathematics and is poorly understood by most small investors or non-technical board members of multinationals. 
BlockChain and cyptocurrencies are both areas open to fraud, misrepresentation and deception on a gigantic scale, and expert advice is needed at every stage before engagement. 

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Future of Telcos - why business models broken. Telecom mobile customer t...

Future of telecom companies and smartphones, mobile devices and why the telecom business model is broken.  Patrick Dixon conference keynote speaker on telco issues and customer experience. Where will future telecom revenues come from and risks to future strategy.  Future customers will be even more impatient about waiting for -- web pages to load, calls to be answered, software to update, mobile devices to reset.  Future of customer services and customer relationship management. Technology convergence or divergence and why all innovation is divergent.  Ethical issues when companies sell hardware or software that they know contains significant bugs eg failure to reliably synchronise PC and phone data.  Why risky to believe results of market research as guide to future trends -- because customers change rapidly.  Converging on features, quality and price results in spiral to bottom on profits and return on equity.  Cloud-based computing and impact of cloud software on enterprise system design.  New revenue models for telecom companies -- enterprise solutions, cloud-based data management, mobile payments and financial services.  90% of all Microsoft R&D is cloud-related in some way. Radical opportunities to provide free mobile devices, handsets, ipads etc, bandwidth, calls, SMS and online content, free storage of photos and movies in the cloud, in return for agreement to use mobile device almost exclusively for card transactions.  Paid for by commissions on mobile transactions charged to retailers, and also by charges for credit, loans, insurance and related financial products. Biometric mobile payments -- using screen detection of fingerprints.  Most debates about future are about timing of predictable events -- eg date by which costs of mobile devices falls so low that they can be provided for free by a financial institution.  Impact of regulation and compliance.  Why bandwidth use will be dominated by video -- which already consumes more than 70% of all bandwidth in some European nations. Impact of YouTube and BBC iplayer in the UK.  Why telcos are being overtaken by video streaming as primary use of mobile and landline data. Dwarfing all voice calls, SMS, emails etc.  Geopositioning and multichannel marketing, impact of Big Data on smart direct marketing campaigns.  RFID tags in the internet of things.  Concerns about privacy from data harvesting of consumer information to produce accurate insights about future purchasing decisions.  Impact on mass market, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG).  Future of Google and other search engines and impact of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter on future search listings, and what appears on Google Pay per Click adverts.  How social network recommendations are winning trust over corporate websites, and why sites like TripAdvisor are dominating consumer decisions.  Winning trust, or restoring trust, is the most important challenge facing many corporations.  The only product or service a bank sells is trust and without trust you have no bank.  Without trust, it may be that you have no government either.  Why opinions of complete strangers are more influential over most consumers in some industries than official marketing information.  Why traditional marketing is dead in the third millennial, multi-dimensional online world.  Video recorded in 2012 for global leaders of enterprise technology and innovation for one of the world's largest telecom companies.

Friday, November 11, 2011

How mobile payments will impact future of banks, banking, back end payment processing, credit card transactions and retail customer spending. Smartphones using encryption and biometrics will enable telecom companies to compete with banks and credit card companies for retail payment transactions. Expect wireless payments using smartphones to grow rapidly. Despite this, some customers will continue to prefer cash because it allows anonymous purchases and is convenient for smaller purchases. Mobile payments could generate commissions of up to EU2 billion a year in countries like France, Germany, Italy and the UK. What would happen if -- say -- Vodafone formed a partnership with Google, Nokia and American Express? Implications for financial services, small loans, large ticket purchases of white goods, cars and other big items. Conference keynote speaker and Futurist Patrick Dixon speaking at retail trends conference for Hermes clients. Future of banking and financial services.

Innovation means doing things differently to serve customers better. How to innovate and why all innovation is about divergence not convergence. Innovation that simply imitates competitors, product features, design or brand elements, just means that all products and services look identical in every way, which means you can only differentiate yourself from competition based on price. Long term sustainable competitive advantage will always come from finding new ways to excell, exceed customer expectations. Technigues for innovation including open innovation and crowdsourcing using wikipedia type models to solve complex innovation challenges. How to encourage innovative teams and processes. Conference keynote speaker and Futurist Patrick Dixon - lecture at Hermes client event for UK retailers on retail industry trends.

Retail impact of online price comparison using mobile devices, smartphones, aggregator sites. Shopping patterns and customer behaviour. Online sales growth from retail sites, where customers compare prices in stores or shopping malls and then buy online or from a competitor store nearby. Aggregator sites will grow rapidly, creating strong price competition, eroding viability of physical retail outlets, especially in electronic consumer goods, white label products, computers, textiles / fashion and in any other area where customers like to try before they buy.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

10 billion App downloads - future growth of smartphones - Patrick Dixon

Future of mobile phones, smartphone downloads, mobile apps development. Comment by Futurist conference keynote speaker Patrick Dixon. Nokia v Apple, iphone, ipads, symbian, mobile windows, android and other operating systems. Consumer choices and communication lifestyle trends. How apps will be used in future and why manufacturers like mobile phone apps.

Friday, May 07, 2010

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Environment, innovation, agility, business. Video of Patrick Dixon at Globe Forum 2009. Sustainable business and how green technology will help sustainability, climate change, global warming, water shortages, food shortages, transport, energy, fuel, cities. Future aviation, travel, rail, cars, tourism, corporate travel, heating, lighting, heat pumps. Solar cells, wind power, biofuels, alternatiive energy generation. Future of coil, oil, gas and nuclear power. Electric vehicles. Green living. Protecting rainforests. Why climate change and other sustainability issues can be solved.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Better and different -- convergence and divergence Divergence or convergence? Consumer focus, IT systems, software and mobile phones. Multiple devices and systems. Multiple capabilities and features. Innovation, divergence, new products and services. Conference keynote speaker and Futurist Dr Patrick Dixon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Banks will become phone companies and telecom companies will become banks. Mobile payment systems, micropayments, mobile phone credit card transactions and loans. Economic impact of remittances from foreign workers using SMS credit to avoid foreign exchange transaction costs. How biometrics fingerprint technology will allow large mobile phone payments. Commissions and interest charges on loans. Impact of revenues from American Express, Visa, Delta, Access, Mastercard moving to mobile phone transactions. Conference keynote speaker and Futurist Dr Patrick Dixon.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Many telecom companies are going to have to rethink their oursourcing and offshoring strategies in countries like India because of rapid wage inflation which is eroding cost differences, and making outsourcing less econonimically viable. Video comment by Dr Patrick Dixon

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Bottom of pyramid and how most mobile phone sales in future will be to people on low incomes. Impact of SMS on personal and business life. Changes in consumer behaviour. Lecture for Dimension Data by Dr Patrick Dixon, Futurist, author Futurewise (more)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Disney has partnered with O2 now owned by Telefonica in Spain, to offer phones aimed at limiting what children can watch, for how long, and what they can spend.  They will be able to access content with all Disney’s best-loved characters.

66% of 10-15 year olds already have a mobile in the UK and there are already concerns about the potential longer term health risks of heavy use by children.  These have been added to by UK government health warnings about possible dangers to younger children from exposure to electromagnetic radiation.

At the same time the UK government recently announced a ban on new housing being built within a certain distance of overhead high voltage power cables after yet more studies suggesting a low-level cancer risk.

You can be sure that if more definite links emerge between mobile phone use and health damage such as cancer, that companies like Disney may come under a lot of pressure.

I wonder who is carrying their re-insurance risk?

The fact is that the known health risks are absolutely minimal and it is unlikely that new reports will change that dramatically.  But as we have seen the future is not about science nor technology:  it is about emotion.  There have already been a whole series of reports suggesting that high dose exposure to mobile phone radiation can affect living tissue, and it would not take many more to trigger parental concerns and even perhaps a class action suit (even if unlikely to succeed).

For more see:


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Well don't say I didn't tell you.... FON is going to take over a lot of other people's worlds.

Accton and FON to set up WiFi joint venture in Taiwan: "Accton and FON to set up WiFi joint venture in Taiwan
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Irene Chen, Taipei; Steve Shen, [Thursday 8 June 2006]

Taiwan-based network-equipment maker Accton Technology yesterday announced that it will form a joint venture with Europe-based WISP (wireless Internet service provider) FON, to promote FON's WiFi services in Taiwan, with the new company to commence operations before the end of August.
FON's CEO Martin Varsavsky expects the joint venture will initially be able to attract 20,000 users in the Taiwan market.
Varsavsky also expected the number of users of FON's network and WiFi services to top one million worldwide by the end of 2007, up from the current level of 40,000.
FON plans to launch its exclusively designed wireless router, the La Fonera, in September of this year, with Accton being a major supplier of the device for FON, according to sources at Accton."

Sunday, June 11, 2006

At Google Zeitgeist event in the UK a couple of weeks back I chaired a session on the future of telecom.  One of the participants was the founder of the new global free Wifi service called Fon, Martin Versavsky.  It works by allowing anyone who is part of Fon to use your own wireless router.  In return, you can use anyone else’s.


In just a few weeks Fon has more Wifi public access points than some of the largest telecom companies.


Non-Fon users can also sign on for a very low fee, part of which is kept by the person who provides the Wifi access, and the rest pays for the whole thing to go on running.


FON is a Global Community of people who share WiFi. Share your WiFi broadband access at home/work and enjoy WiFi all over the world! FON: small cost, great benefit!

To become a Fonero, all you need to do is register with us on our website, have broadband connection, and download the FON Software onto your WiFi router. It’s that simple. Just share your connection and the rest of the Community shares back with you. Join FON and enjoy connecting from anywhere within the WiFi World.

To start sharing, set up your access point where you can receive the most coverage, generally close to the window or outside your home. The rest of the Community will be thankful.

The Team

The FON Team is lead by Martin Varsavsky. Varsavsky has gathered a team of expert Internet and wireless technical professionals.”