radical Insights.

Weekly Research and Commentary on the Future of Business and Technology.

Banks turn into APIs.

Apr 25, 2022

Dear Friend,

Some of you might have heard us talk about our next book. I am a good 40,000 words into the journey, talking to book agents and publishers, and overall having a good time putting insights and thoughts to paper. In the process we took a long, hard look at our content and the way it connects and flows, and decided to combine the two main threads of our work, FutureFWD and Disrupt Disruption, into a singular narrative. We call this “Practical Futurism : Decode. Predict. Disrupt.” You will see us talk about this more in the coming weeks and months (here, on our website, and in our sessions).

I’d be curious to hear your initial reaction/thoughts. Does this sound compelling? Does it get you curious and interested? Hit reply and let us know — we love hearing from you!

Practical Futurism : Decode. Predict. Disrupt.

We have been talking about the commoditization of value chains (or “stacks”) for quite a while. I remember vividly standing in front of a whiteboard with Mozilla’s then-Chief Innovation Officer Chris Beard, discussing the commoditization (and democratization) of the software stack: From the operating system, to the application layer, databases, all the way to the front-end: Everything existed (or started to exist at the time) as freely available open-source software, allowing a company to focus their creative energy solely on the top-most part of the value chain. This development shifted the dynamics, creating a handful of companies which provide pieces of the stack, and many companies innovating at the closest-to-the-consumer parts of the value chain. Instagram, for example, didn’t need to develop and maintain a mobile phone operating system, an application framework, nor camera software, or even cloud storage infrastructure. All they needed to do was to develop a great user interface and some appealing photo filters. It made for a company consisting only of five engineers at the time of purchase through Facebook.

This week we see this happen again in the financial services industry. After Stripe cleaned up the market for credit card processing, and Shopify did the same for e-commerce, Column just launched and pushes deeper into the financial services stack by launching a whole bank as an API. The disruptive potential of Column can’t be underestimated. By commoditizing pretty much all the backend services a traditional bank provides, we will see huge amounts of innovation (and thus disruption) unlock. Now the question becomes — which industry is next? (via Pascal)

What We Are Reading

😨 The Future Is Uncertain. Here’s How to Ensure Your Team Can Adapt. Learn how teams used the pandemic crisis to reappraise and reinvent their work processes so that they could continue to adapt to unpredictable change in the years to come. JaneRead

🐜 Sniffer ants can smell cancer better than dogs Ants shall not be underestimated. Through associative learning, an odor associated to a reward, ants learn to sniff out cancer cells with incredible accuracy. MafeRead

🧠 Help! Brain overload Research in neuroergonomics combined with mindful design and use of new tools can help our brains manage the increasing overload of our present and future operating environments. JeffreyRead

✈️ Drones Have Transformed Blood Delivery in Rwanda An encouraging and fascinating read on how a new technology is systemically adopted, bringing not just hype but validated and crucial improvements. JulianRead

How the AI industry profits from catastrophe AI needs labels to make sense of training data. These labels are often created by humans — creating another ground zero for labor exploitation. PascalRead

Internet Finds

Here is an absolutely incredible 3D walk-through rendering of the ancient Persian city Persepolis — all in your browser. A wonderful way to experience history! 📜

In Case You Missed It

🏴‍☠️ The Heretic:  How To Be (More) Creative 

⚠️ Disrupt Disruption: Listen in on our latest conversation with Bruce Smith, founder and CEO of connect rowing machine company hydrow.

Radically yours, take good care, friend!

— Pascal, Mafe and the three Js (Jane, Jeffrey, and Julian)