The 6 Best TED Talks About Financial Services

Inspiration can come from anywhere. If you need a spark of motivation, watching a TED talk is a quick way to get energized from charismatic speakers and their fresh ideas. Starting as a conference 35 years ago, TED is a media organization that posts talks online (5 - 15 minutes in length, from around the world) for free distribution under the slogan "ideas worth spreading."  

Initially discussing topics of Technology, Entertainment, and Design, the company moved towards a full spectrum from science and business, to global issues—in over 100 languages. The key component of TED talks is a storytelling approach of presenting new information or research findings, that’s why the show can be also the best source of references for outstanding public speaking.

Many popular financial services talks in recent years were supported through the partnership of TED and Boston Consulting Group (BCG). These discussions include inspiring talks about financial services that touch FinTech, financial inclusion, unbundling banking, impactful investing, VC and blockchain.

A New Model of Microfinance for Africa, and beyond

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Image Credit TED.com

A dynamic discussion about risk assessment in Sub-Saharan Africa’s small and medium enterprises (SME) by African FinTech founder Viola Llewellyn, who founded microlending platform OVAMBA . Many people in the region are still ineligible for microloans based on standard criteria like collateral or loan repayment history.  Companies need to take into account alternative sources of data that are relevant and accessible in this segment. 

Africa is a continent made up of thousands of ethnic and cultural groups and more than 2,000 languages. Viola decided to develop a financial product with cultural sensitivity and embedded cultural data to AI for risk model algorithms. As a key criterion, they include 400 additional data points, such as language dialect, family structure and how many wives that male applicants have.  Why is the African ecosystem so important globally? The African population is now 1.2B and in three years it will grow to 2.3B, with one-third of the world’s entrepreneurs expected to reside in Africa. Tailored financial products aim to unlock opportunities that global citizens have and empower Africans to less rely on charity and be able to build their own financial health. 

How Cryptocurrency Can Help Start-Ups Gain Investment Capital

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Image Credit TED.com

When ICOs (initial coin offerings) disrupted the fundraising market a couple of years ago, few leaders predicted that VC (venture capital) was no longer needed. One entrepreneur, named Ashwini Anburajan, took steps to make  this happen using blockchain to democratize access to capital. 

Coming from a San Francisco tech accelerator, she tried to raise money for startups and met a multiple individuals with similar challenges.  Ashwini got inspired by cryptocurrency and created a cooperation bundle of 30 entrepreneurs who 10% of their equity to a find that issued tokens for public offering. She believes this distribution of capital empowers more people and enables a new flexible system of investing. In her co-op, 50% of founders were international, and were 20% led by women. Despite the negative headlines and fraud from whitepapers having nothing in common with meaningful business, ICOs are definitely a transformative option to traditional investing tools. 

What Are You Willing to Give Up to Change the Way We Work?

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Image Credit TED.com

Martin Danoesastro is responsible for the digital transformation of established organizations in BCG, especially in the financial sector. With brilliant storytelling, he shared most of the concerns of a typical bank on its journey to becoming a  product and technology center. The main issue stems from culture rather than lack of resources, making significant changes in this area seem nearly impossible. 

Martin approached it successfully within a year, completely breaking through the old silos between marketing, product, and IT channels. Three thousand employees were now reorganized into 350 multidisciplinary teams. How did it all happen? For inspiration, he decided to invite a client to have a look at companies that seem to be more innovative, like Google, Netflix, Spotify, Zappos. 

“I remember how we were walking the halls at one of these companies in December 2014, a management consultant and a team of bankers. We felt like strangers in a strange land, surrounded by beanbags and hoodies and lots of smart, creative employees. So then we asked, "How is your company organized?" And we expected to get an org chart. But instead, they used strange drawings with funny names like "squads" and "chapters" and "tribes" to explain how they were organized”, - reminded Martin. 

Applying new ideas into a modified system, a product person and an engineer were now members of the same team (e.g. members of a team responsible for account opening included an associate from multiple departments). At the go-live date of the new organization, some people were shaking hands for the very first time, only to find out that they had been sitting two minutes away from each other but they were sending each other emails and status reports for the last 10 years. 

The Real Reason Female Entrepreneurs Get Less Funding 

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Image Credit TED.com

Dana Kanze is a doctoral fellow at Columbia Business School where she applied behavioral insights to understand the sources of inequality in entrepreneurship.  Women own 39% of all businesses in the US, but female entrepreneurs get only 2% of venture funding. 

As an entrepreneur who tried to raise money herself, she found out that VCs ask questions in a different way based on gender. She decided to conduct further research on how the dynamic after the pitching conversation is unfolding influence on the likelihood to be funded. Dana shares research suggesting that it may be the types of questions start-up founders get asked when they're invited to pitch.  Either male or female VCs asked similar types of questions to prospective men or women founders revealing similar gender biases. She came up with advice that whether you're starting a new business or just having a conversation, learn how to spot the kinds of questions you're being asked -- and how to respond more effectively. The finding points out unconscious biases that are important to curtail in bringing increased gender diversity to the startup world. 

Designing For Trust | Dan Ariely | TEDxPorto

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A lot of FinTech conversation and industry events discussion is going about trust. Besides the blockchain territory, it’s a key concept for expanding financial services to unbanked, reducing fees of services and unlocking of open banking. From top-level, trust is a pillar for sharing economy and the 4th industrial revolution. Can we imagine going to a stranger’s house for a vacation or jumping to an unknown car for a ride 10 years ago? Now Airbnb or Uber experience becomes a routine practice. TED speaker Dan Ariely is a Professor of Psychology & Behavioral Economics at Duke University, founding member of the Center for Advanced Hindsight, co-creator of the film documentary (Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies, and a three-time New York Times bestselling author of books about Irrationality, Honesty, and Economics. In 2013 Bloomberg recognized Dan as one of Top 50 Most Influential thinkers. Dan is raising the topic of trust in the context of its financial and social benefits. He used an example of a new InsurTech startup that leverages trust by engaging clients in charity activities. As opposed, he pointed out a social experiment on how easy to lose trust in a community. This talk can be useful as a starting point of discussion “How do we increase trust?” in every company.  Finding these trust touchpoints can help increase the efficiency of collaboration and impact on society at all. 

How the blockchain will radically transform the economy

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Image Credit TED.com

However, this TED talk was recorded 3 years ago, it still sounds very fresh and perfectly explains blockchain opportunity for the society and economy in very simple finance words. Speaker Bettina Warburg, blockchain researcher, entrepreneur, and educator, did a good job of landing all technological hype about crypto to mainstream use cases. Her explanation is focused on the shift in how we exchange value. Blockchain technology new, but the story of its applicability is old. From a savage set of trade rules and control by violence, we moved to authority and new institutional economics of governments and banks. Now the responsibility to facilitate deals in many cases is delegated to marketplaces like Amazon or Alibaba. Blockchain allows us to lower uncertainty with technology alone without institutions. Bettina used the catchy analogy of  Wikipedia. Similar to the decentralized online knowledge base, blockchain provides a holistic view of data infrastructure and tracking of updates. The speaker suggested 3 examples of how blockchain can record a human exchange of all types of assets with benefits under traditional institutions.