The consensus for blockchain technology and artificial intelligence is clear — the two emerging technologies are not ready for primetime yet. Speakers at SIFMA and Commodity Futures Trading Commission conferences agreed on one thing — that fintech’s tall promises will take years to materialize.
Promising Technology but Not for the Near Future
Speaking at the SIFMA conference, Bank of America’s Chief Operations and Technology Officer Cathy Bessant commented on blockchains and said that the technology “is not as impactful as the hype.” She also said that blockchain is a promising technology but that its benefits for consumers are yet to be proven. According to her, distributed ledgers are still in the laboratory. She added:
“There’s nothing at scale now. It’s untested and untried.”
Bessant had a similar view for artificial intelligence (AI). She mentioned that the hype on AI is overblown. She went on to say:
“Nothing makes me crazier than when someone says AI is better than human intelligence. It is a subset of human intelligence.”
She is widely regarded as one of the most powerful women in business.
Fintech May Not Be That Great After All
Another area that became the subject of discussion at the SIFMA conference was robo advice. JPMorgan Asset Management Chief Executive Officer Christopher Willcox said that this fintech innovation hasn’t shown its full potential yet and has a long distance to cover. He also said that the existing limitations of robo advice means that it can only help a consumer get a book on Amazon.
At the SIFMA and CFTC conferences, fintech was also considered a hurdle in discussing the impact of technology on finance. CFTC’s Chief Innovation Officer and Director of LabCFTC Daniel Gorfine said that the new trend is to avoid using the word “fintech” and focus on the specifics.
Talks about devising sandboxes for fintech companies also dominated the conferences. Securities and Exchange Commission Senior Advisor for Digital Assets and Innovation Valerie Szczepanik said that the regulator already has a sandbox to let fintech creators discuss their plans.
On the other hand, CFTC Commissioner Rostin Behnam talked about new technology and disruption in businesses, especially considering the fact that businesses may have an incentive to maintain the status quo as they have already invested in employee training and the current infrastructure.