What Are the Biggest Topics to Follow in 2020 Beside Crypto

I follow the macro trend of how access to financial products is changing and try to make sense of what that means for blockchain applications. We are not operating in a vacuum, but in a dynamic market where manufacturing, distribution and the value chain of financial services are interconnected, and further impacted by politics and society.

How people buy investments and bank accounts, outside of crypto, is starting to fundamentally change. For example, when you need to buy Aspirin for a headache, you don’t go to the Aspirin store. You go to the supermarket or the pharmacy, which has thousands of products on offer. Similarly, today’s social and ecommerce platforms offer thousands of features to their clients. Amazon Prime subscribers get next-day delivery on diapers and toys, and a catalogue of movies to watch for free. WeChat users can text, shop, move money and invest from the same phone app. In the world of attention platforms — whether powered by Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Facebook Inc., YouTube or otherwise — consumer intent is key. Financial products are mere features that live inside this panopticon.

Just like Walmart Inc. can sell you both the branded and the generic version of Aspirin, or the Charmin brand of toilet paper and the generic home brand, it should be able to sell you a generic financial product. I predict we are quickly coming to an age of financial generics. These products are not white-labeled, high-end versions of Goldman Sachs and Apple Inc. coming together to offer a credit card.

Rather, these are the equivalent of Foxconn off-brand smartphones, built using the learnings from the iPhone. As the plumbing of finance becomes exposed and transparent, in large part through data aggregation and blockchain-based infrastructure, cheap generic solutions will proliferate. The cost of manufacturing financial assets will be drastically reduced through tokenization and the barrier to access to financial assets will dissolve.