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The Future Will Be Biometric

I see financial services becoming inexpensive and inclusive. The likely synergy between finance and technology could make this happen

Oracles of the world of business have predicted that technology is causing disruptive change on such a massive scale in industry after industry that the business topography of the future is going be radically different from what we know now. 2035 is closer than we think, and technology is causing a chain reaction that will shape the future that we can’t yet see. In one instance, we learn that there may be 10 million driverless cars on the road by 2020. There are reports that predict that the introduction of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will spell an end to top businesses of the day, worldwide. Whether robotics and 3D printing technology will change the world or not is debatable, but the effect that innovation will bring in through digital technology is a far more potent and a certain reality. More potent because of the implications it will have on the financial future of millions and ultimately billions of people.

The digital payments industry in India is expected to grow to $500 billion by 2020. It is going to contribute 15 per cent of the total GDP. These are mind boggling numbers when you think of how rapid the growth has been. But if we measure the future using these metrics, we will not only fall short, but also forget to account for leaps of innovation that are already primed today. In 2035, cash will be obsolete. We won’t be using cards to make payments either. We’re looking at a future where biometrics will become the new tools of transactions. Physiological characteristics will make digital signatures. Fingerprint, face recognition, palm prints, iris and retina recognition, voice and even gait recognition some or all of these may be common place. Foreign exchange will see changes as well. New money and payment networks like Bitcoin will change how we interact financially with the world. One unified payment network and currency for the entire world isn’t unimaginable. In fact, it’s a very viable future for the world.

It could be the great equaliser that could change the way value is held and transferred. For all of that to happen, payments would have to be built on a solid foundation. That foundation is the digital signature. So, there will be considerable innovation in the area of digital signatures. It’s not unimaginable that the way a person walks, sounds or even smells could become their unique, unreplaceable secret key that could then be converted into a digital signature. So, biometric is the input and the secret key that could let people access and spend their money securely.

So many had seen the future, and it was mobile. A large part of it will remain in mobile even in this vision. I think the biggest change in decades took place some years ago, when mobile communication became inexpensive and hence inclusive. It has changed the way the world works. Similarly, I see financial services becoming inexpensive and inclusive. Imagine a future in which a farmer could whip out his mobile phone and apply for and instantly receive, a low interest loan with a flexible payment plan. It sounds optimistic, yes. But the future for financial technology and digital payments is very much optimistic. The synergy that could exist between finance and technology and therefore, between finance and mobile could provide the underpinning required for such a future.


This article was published in BW Businessworld issue dated 'Dec. 26, 2016' with cover story titled '35 Years Anniversary Special'

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.



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