Articles & stories Technology’s New Era?

Technology’s New Era?
From the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution, to robots that move like humans and the machine-learning funds that are increasingly encroaching on traditional asset management: innovation and technological change are shaping the way we live.

The implications of the rapid technological evolution we see today will be a key anchor of conversation in Hong Kong during the 20th Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference (AIC), where thought leaders will meet institutional investors, corporate leaders and high net worth individuals to debate whether this is “The Beginning of a New Era?”

Understanding where technology is taking us and how it is being used is key to also understanding whether there are investment returns to be made in all these advances in innovation. One business leader at the forefront of the technological revolution in robotics is Dr. David Hanson, the founder of Hanson Robotics, whose robots demonstrate the interplay of multiple technological advances by combining AI and human-like faces that can express emotion and carry out a conversation. The robots are real enough, but the question is whether they can indeed replace the functions of humans. Another business leader using technology in a different way, aimed more at advancing, rather than perhaps replacing,  human endeavor is Rahul Narayan, the founder and CEO of tech startup Team Indus. He is harnessing technology and entrepreneurship to enable private companies to explore space. Team Indus is representing India in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition to land a fully privately funded spacecraft on the moon.

As a disruptor, technology is also moving fast across a range of industries, but perhaps nowhere more dramatically than in financial services.

The so-called fintech revolution has moved from the unseen back office operations of financial institutions to new customer-facing mobile technologies, virtual robots, algorithms and AI. In turn, the largest financial institutions are facing huge changes in their traditional business models as consumers have more options at their disposal than ever before to buy mortgages, invest and move capital globally, access loans, structure derivative products or buy insurance without ever using a bank, leaving their home or even using a computer – a smartphone is often enough. Fintech is opening new avenues for distribution of financial services that will make it possible for firms with the right products to reach out to the  billions of untapped customers globally that are estimated to be as yet untouched by financial services.

But, where will all this go in the end? Are we at the beginning of a new era, or will the traditional financial services industry adapt and evolve, swallowing up the fintech start-ups, and take a leading role in driving and bringing together the multiple strands of technological innovation?

Fintech entrepreneurs and CEOs presenting at the AIC will consider these very questions, including Gregg Gibb, CEO of Lufax; Kenny Lam, Group President at Noah Holdings; and Ericson Chan, Head of Ping An Technology.

Are we at “The Beginning of a New Era” for technology? Perhaps.

Asking the question is the first step. Even more critical is reaching for answers to map out the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Making these new innovations remunerative for their investors, and indispensable for consumers, will surely be a key factor to determining success or failure.