On June 26 I participated in a panel discussion on digital money at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) in London. The RSA, - whose full name is the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, - was founded in 1754 to “embolden enterprise, enlarge science, refine art, improve our manufacturers and extend our commerce”. Today, it calls itself “an enlightenment organisation committed to finding innovative practical solutions to today’s social challenges”.
The panel was organized to mark the publication of an RSA pamphlet - From the digital divide to inclusive innovation: the case of digital money. I was a co-author of the pamphlet, along with Imperial College professors David Gann and Gerald George and University of Queensland professor Mark Dodgson. The four of us were joined in the panel by Citigroup executive Tomasz Smilowicz.
We discussed the profound transformative power of digital money. Economic transactions are increasingly moving from the physical to the digital realm, democratizing financial services around the world and helping billions join the global digital economy and improve their standard of living. As we wrote in the pamphlet:
“Just as communications and publishing have been transformed by digital technologies, so too will financial services. The progress of digital money will inevitably surprise us and it will develop in unexpected ways, but we believe it is on the cusp of delivering a remarkable transformation in the global economy. It will end the divide between those who can and those who cannot participate in formal economic transactions. It may usher in a new era of more inclusive innovation that involves billions of more people around the world in constructing the services that affect their future.”