FinTech, DeFi & the rise of the Citizen Banker

Ideas are the best kind of toys, they can appear out of thin air, are free to explore, can be combined to make new ideas and sometimes can even lead to great fortune for the idea maker, or great miss-fortune for those in its path.

“Be careful what you wish for”

Mum

As with the rise of the Citizen Journalists that started some 15 years ago and all the baggage that has brought with it, i have a current opinion worth exploring. That we are now beginning to see what i can only refer to as the rise of the Citizen Banker.

The Citizen Banker has all the superpowers of the stereotypical banker of yesteryear, only The Citizen Banker does not assume the same appearance. The Citizen Banker looks like anyone. Indeed, if you are reading this and happen to be a parent, chances are your son or daughter is already a Citizen banker. Depending on their age, they may not even realise it yet.

The idea of a Citizens Bank is not new, your local family run bank which prioritises the community over other more profitable things is somewhat analogous however, having a central hub, a bank divvying out the goods as the communities representatives sees fit is rather far removed from what I am seeing currently.

FinTech vs DeFi

In order to move the Citizen Banker idea forward, i need to clarify what i believe the two opposing factions of the future Citizen banker to be, DeFi – Decentralised Finance, and FinTech – Financial Technology.

The latter will play zero to no role in the story of the rise of Citizen Banker. Largely because a FinTech app that you use to help calculate your weekly grocery bills, in an effort to reduce costs, or easily connect to another app for convenient data transfer does not make the user a Citizen Banker.

It only enriches the owner of the service that the app provides. As with many other free apps, in this case the citizen is part of the service, typically via data harvesting in aggregate. Useful for all kinds of third party no-name institutions but not really for the citizen, not long term at least.

In the early days of Citizen Journalism, people were empowered by the new tools they had access too, faster mobile internet, somewhat ok audio/video quality from mobile devices, social media etc, you can think of FinTech in a similar way. Providing some useful new tools that others can benefit from without paying money, instead only paying with data.

Yay! shouted everyone, as they completely miss-understood what the services business model meant for them.

DeFi on the other hand is still fairly fresh and new, and over just the past year and a half i have witnessed something that (for want of a better word) i believe has initiated of a new type of citizen – The Citizen Banker.

The Citizen Banker could really only be made whole with decentralised finance – DeFi, something your parents have never heard of, and possibly you are only just hearing about now. That said, theres no shortage of information online with regards to DeFi and so, if you are an aficionado you may wish to comment below and challenge my hypothesis of the rise of the Citizen Banker, or perhaps agree? Either way, good conversation always welcome.

DeFi & The Citizen Banker

As with the Citizen Journalist, with DeFi there is a strong whiff of the democratisation of a sector traditionally owned and operated by a select few, and as with good journalism their is an assumed quantifiable amount of power and responsibility that accompanies such a role in society.

Of course now we know that acknowledgement of social responsibility was not transmitted in full to the citizen journalists. The Citizen Journalist never had the same editorial process to navigate as that of the adequately trained (hopefully responsible) journalists of yesteryear.

This is where my idea for the Citizen Banker starts to come into worrisome focus.

What happens if like every individual having the capacity to be a journalist, every individual is also able to be a banker?

The worst case scenario as with what appears to have happened with the rise of the citizen journalist, is that the power that has in the past usually been concentrated with just a few of societies apparently well trained individuals; is now power to be taken by all.

The “bad all” and the “good all”

The “bad all” of course depends on your personal perspective on capitalism as a whole, assuming you are not overly against capitalism as a whole then i would suggest the “bad all” is an increase in typical shady behaviour we all already see in the current system. I’ll leave you to define your own definition of “shady behaviour” but in DeFi and the story of the rise of the Citizen Journalist; i see it quite simply as the following:

All of the criticisms society has had about capitalism over the last 100 years or more; through DeFi are about to be compounded 100x. If previously we had a few thousand financial institutions playing roulette with their depositors money then DeFi allows for that number to grow to the hundreds of millions. Thats hundreds of millions of more potential games of roulette that will be played. With other peoples money, money that they (the customer) might not even own.

This is the true disruptive potential of DeFi that nobody in the industry talks about. Many consider capitalism to be broken, some say it’s because of too much government interference, messing up the natural order of things. Others suggest it’s corruption and political influence peddling on a grand scale. What ever you believe one thing i am quite certain of is that we are about to get a monumental increase of both.

This same disruptive potential became apparent for Blockchain back in the ICO craze of 2017 and before that the AltCoin craze of 2014, when the words DeFi or FinTech were least uttered by anyone in the industry. Words are important and when we mystify a new technological advance in acronyms or new colloquials then we alienate the very people that are probably (more likely or not) able to give a solid interpretaion of the challenges ahead.

This concept of the Citizen Banker is a character manifestation of what i believe is going to happen with the economy, both locally and globally. We all will adopt the superpowers of the bankers of yesteryear, and so we ought to start to get too grips with those new powers, or at the very least start teaching the coming generation.

What kind of Citizen Banker will you be?

Rich

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