Henri Arslanian, the Asia fintech and crypto leader of PwC Hong Kong, Chairman of the FinTech Association of Hong Kong and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Hong Kong, will moderate a panel at the World Congress on Information Technology in Yerevan (WCIT 2019). In an interview with Armenian News-NEWS.am Arslanian, a renowned fintech and crypto expert, shared his expectations from WCIT and spoke about the future of IT.
Mr. Arslanian, you are expected to participate in WCIT 2019 in Yerevan. What expectations do you have from the event?
Such high profile conferences are always good to share and listen to the latest ideas and market trends. But, I find that the real magic happens at the coffee breaks, breakout sessions and other social events around such events where you meet other passionate individuals trying to change the world. Such moments are the real 1+1=3 outcomes.
The Armenian government declared IT as a priority area. Armenian IT sector is developing, the country is a good place for IT experts to work and live in. However, information technologies are not used in the economy that much. What do you think the country should do in this direction?
I really believe that Armenia should focus on the new opportunities brought along not only by IT more generally but also by some of its verticals. One of them is the rise of blockchain technology that mines cryptocurrencies.
There are numerous use cases that blockchain brings and Armenia, due to its size and the deep tech talent, could be a good testing ground. For example, putting land titles on the blockchain that would reduce transaction costs and government corruption. Or looking at launching a central bank issued digital dram that could not only reduce the cost of remittances that Armenians send back home but also significantly reduce the risk of corruption and money laundering.
What questions related to Crypto currency do you plan to raise as a moderator during WCIT 2019?
This is the most exciting moment in the history of finance. In 100 years, we will look back at the period from 2008 to 2018 and say that this was a period of pivotal change in finance. From the financial crisis and the creation of Bitcoin in 2018 to the rise of FinTech and the entry of big tech in Finance in recent months.
Look forward to discussing the latest global crypto trends. Not only macro trends like the entry of institutional players or Facebook launching its own Libra cryptocurrency but also more fundamental topics like the decentralisation of finance and the future of money as we know it.
Do you think that Crypto currency may one day replace traditional currency in markets such as oil and gas?
Cryptoassets, including cryptocurrencies, are here to stay. I absolutely believe that we will see them go mainstream in the coming years. I expect to see stable coins, that are cryptoassets backed by fiat currencies like the U.S. dollar, be increasingly used over the coming years, especially in cross border transactions that are currently still slow and expensive. For example, the average cost of remittance payments globally, say foreign workers sending money back home, is still above 5%. This is unacceptable in 2019 and cryptoassets are one good way to try and solve this issue by making such payments instantaneous and at negligible cost.
What are the main IT development directions for the next 20 years?
There are many developments that I am following, especially on their impact on global finance and I cover many of them in my last book called “The Future of Finance” that is coming out next month.
For example, I believe that the biggest change may not come from one development but the combination of many. For example, I believe that the combination of FinTech and AI and Crypto will have an outsized impact on finance.
For example, today we all use social media platforms and give away our data for free in exchange for the chance to use these platforms. I truly believe that in the coming years, we will be compensated for our data and this will happen via small micro payments that are only possible in crypto. And we will have AI engines in the back that will price our data as not everyone’s data is worth the same. This is only possible because we can marry some of these tech developments. Andthisisveryexciting!