The banking model of bricks and mortar is no longer sufficient for the speed and diversity that globalization and entrepreneurship require. People need banking, but they may no longer need banks.
The first time I heard that was in 2015, and I thought it sounded clever. Now three years later, we are seeing the banking paradigm visibly crack.
We need to stop waiting and hoping that things will slow down and get back to normal. We are being compelled to navigate complexities. This is the new normal and business models are being disrupted based on participation. Participation is the currency of today. If we aren’t innovating and learning the new models, we are not able to participate.
To go back to the banking illustration—while we still have traditional banks, there are so many more funding options available. We have witnessed the surge of crowdfunding, for example. Kiva has codified lending which is a means for people to get funding not by their credit score, but their level of engagement within a community. More and more communities are even creating their own currencies.
Virtual currency, also known as virtual money, is a type of unregulated, digital money which is issued and controlled by its developers that is used and accepted among the members of a specific virtual community. This may all seem as hype if you are not actively involved in the future-of-money conversation.
It is real. It is so real that recently Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, made the point: “Virtual currencies are in a different category, because they provide their own unit of account and payment systems. These systems allow for peer-to-peer transactions without central clearinghouses, without central banks.”
We still have so much work to do to build bridges between digital natives and traditional working class outside of the banking industry. We need to get familiar with blockchain, the technology underneath the most popular cryptocurrency known as bitcoin.
In 2013, Eyes of the Future had Fast Company Editor Robert Safian speak to a cross section of the Rochester community. His talk had a long shelf life of impact. The mental tattoo he left was his comment: “The biggest obstacle to your capacity to innovate is . . . nostalgia.”
I don’t know how we as a community will navigate complexity. Perhaps the best we can do is frame some good questions.
- What is the biggest obstacle to your ability to innovate?
- Do we sacrifice what we have built to gain much more of an anticipated marketplace?
- Do we have the psychological resilience to take a short-term loss as we build bridge to opportunity?
- How much of the platform is based on traditional financial models with higher levels of digital sophistication vs. how much of the platform is based on an entirely new mindset?
- What are the key indicators of progress and success both tangible and intangible?
- What technical capabilities and collaborative capabilities do we need to strengthen to participate more fully?
The answers will be incomplete and varied. The process of asking these types of questions both inside and outside the organizations will automatically cause new insights and new business models.
I have every confidence that they will. After all, Friedrich Nietzsche reminds us, “We only hear questions for which we are in a position to find the answers.”
Jennifer Sertl is an internationally recognized influencer in social media and thought leader in the emerging field of corporate consciousness. She is president and founder of Agility3R, a leadership development company dedicated to strengthening strategic skills and helping leaders become more resilient, responsive, and reflective.