AIR honored in Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas

Fast Company magazine’s 2021 World Changing Ideas awards have selected the AIR Accelerator as an Honorable Mention. We competed against 4,000 projects from throughout the world across transportation, education, food, politics, technology, and more. AIR argued that the financial regulatory sector must digitize to achieve the world-changing goal of truly fair finance.

The Awards

Now in its fifth year, the World Changing Ideas Awards received more than 4,000 entries spanning transportation, education, food, politics, technology, and more. Fast Company editors and reporters selected winners from across the globe, from Brazil to Denmark to Vietnam.

The Idea

AIR proposed an Accelerator project to solve fair finance problems caused by today’s outdated financial regulatory tools. Our entry asked:

How do you innovate on a problem that people think is boring? If we ask tech people what they think about financial regulation, we know the answer. They don’t think about it. If they did, they would picture bureaucracy, snail’s paced innovation, and terrible old tech. But those very factors mean that financial regulation is loaded with really interesting technology problems. And solving them could literally change the world.

The AIR Accelerator starts by running regulatory hackathons – “TechSprints” – with two key ingredients. First, we invite regulatory and tech innovators to tackle the same problem at the same design table, to create solutions that neither group, alone, could even imagine. Second, we have them work on problems people care about. How can we undo the pandemic’s disproportionate harm to women? How do we save small businesses amidst COVID? How can we win against human traffickers? How should the financial sector address climate change? How can digitized data and AI make regulation highly effective, and “future-proof.”

AIR’s entry featured our sprint tackling one of the worst outgrowths of digital technology: online child sexual abuse material. Reports of CSAM have risen 15,000% in 15 years, partly because buyers increasingly use cryptocurrency to mask their identities. Our sprint brought together law enforcement, child protection groups, banks, crypto firms, members of Congress -- even a famous actor -- to find tech solutions. It was run with support from Ripple and with Chainalysis as our data partner. One team discovered a possible case of live crime underway, which we referred to law enforcement. Maybe some children were saved. For details and video on the sprint, click here.

The Future

Prototypes from the sprint are now being developed into open source regulatory tools in AIR’s incubator, in cooperation with the Fintech Open Source Foundation (FINOS) and the Linux Foundation. The accelerator is building scalable open source tools for regulators worldwide.

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