February 08, 2022

This is a special episode of Barefoot Innovation because I have no guest – it’s just me.

As we go into 2022, I want to share the advice I have on my mind for everyone (including myself). And I’m also going to share a quick overview of what we’re doing at AIR. We are a small organization doing very big work, in the US and worldwide. I’m going to describe the highlights, partly to encourage you to engage with us if we have points of connection.

In addition, I want to invite you all to tell us what you would like to hear about this year on Barefoot Innovation. What kinds of guests should we have, and what kinds of issues should we explore? Take our survey and let us know!

So, here’s my advice. Many of you have seen the movie, Don’t Look Up, about a comet that’s on a collision course with earth, and politicians telling everyone not to look at it. I think it captures something critical about our moment.

We have huge change coming. To see it, we all have to look up from our busy lives and study the far horizon, the space beyond crypto. It’s the seemingly distant territory where people are working on Web 3.0, Defi, tokenization, NFTs, DAOs, new forms of encryption, embedded finance, the metaverse. There’s a new frontier there, a wild west, a gold rush, where the land isn’t mapped, where people haven’t even agreed yet on terminology, much less what it all means or who will win and who will lose. The one thing that’s clear is that it’s big, and it’s moving faster than anything we’ve ever seen.

There’s a school of thought that these changes are going to enable a whole new internet, and also a whole new financial system. Proponents say that these new technologies will enable us to solve the problems we have with our tech world today – like the loss of privacy and the centralized power of Big Tech – and that they’ll also solve old problems, like concentration of wealth and financial exclusion. And there’s also a school of thought that thinks the whole notion is bunk. In this show, I’ll share with you what I think is happening and encourage you all to look up and focus, urgently, on understanding these shifts. That’s what I’m doing, myself, and the same is true for everyone I know who’s paying attention.

Beyond that generalized advice, this show also has specific recommendations for four groups of listeners:  banks, fintechs, regulators, and advocates. I think each of these groups also needs to look up from the issues of the moment to see a new horizon forming, not very far away. If you’re in one of those categories, I hope you’ll find my thoughts helpful!

On the AIR Report, this show tells the story of who we are at AIR, what we’re trying to do, and what we achieved in 2021. We’ve received four notable honors. We’ve brought in Nick Cook, the former head of innovation at the UK Financial Conduct Authority. We’ve won a big federal contract, and are doing a project on women’s empowerment with the Gates Foundation, and much more. We are a tiny organization, with a big vision and a big reach, and I hope you’ll enjoy hearing about it. All the things I mention in the show – including how to register for our February 24 webinar on Green Finance – are on our website.

Finally, I’ll share the advice that permeates this whole show:

Speed up!

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