Highlights from the World Economic Forum 2016

Last week, global leaders in finance, government, and technology met for the World Economic Forum’s 46th yearly summit in Davos, Switzerland.

Together, they turned their collective intelligence and considerable influence to the most pressing problems of the world economy. This year, they focused on issues specific to the Fourth Industrial Revolution; gender parity, financial inclusion, and the incredible importance of financial technology to enabling the world to take its next big steps.

Fintech took center stage at this year’s gathering (as it did at Sibos 2015) with the world continuing to grapple with the unknown future of finance. With 73% of the global population excluded from the financial system, the goal of equality in access and earnings seems daunting. Much of that excluded percentage is made up by women, another important subject at the gathering this year.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launched an initiative for women’s economic empowerment from Davos, with the specific goal to recognize women’s labor and legalize the ownership of bank accounts for women in every nation.

Policy makers at Davos focused on the possibilities of distributed ledger technology and alternative remittance systems to affect financial inclusion both on the individual and infrastructure levels.

Both the individual and the collective were considered in the context of the changes to come in every discussion at Davos this year.

In a session on the digital transformation of industries, panel members discussed the advent of digital culture and how it shapes consumer expectations in everything from healthcare to car service. Their oft-reiterated point was the absolute necessity of speed; when all providers offer certainty, access, and safety, speed may be the only edge by which to compete.

As we build the Internet of Value, we at Ripple study the way the world changed when information began to move faster than ever before, and we plan for a world in which money moves just as fast.

Ripple CEO Chris Larsen explained our vision for an interconnected and interoperable financial system:

“Until now, the world has been a lot of siloed payment networks. Country by country or Visa to M-Pesa, they don’t talk to each other. And because they don’t talk to each other, everybody suffers; from the poorest working-class underbanked consumer to the thriving small business to the biggest global corporation. They’re all paying a very steep price, because our world of money and payments is not interoperating, not working as one. We now have new technologies, whether we call them blockchain or distributed ledgers, whatever we call them, the bottom line is that they are the beginning of an Internet of Value. Where value will be able to move like information. It will move instantly, basically for free, on a free infrastructure, and that’s a good thing.”