Lessons from “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Harari

As I turned the pages of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari, I came across a chapter where the author analyzes the reason behind the rise of European superpowers during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

The Romans, Chinese, Persians and other Asian empires were convinced that they knew everything, with the effect that maps were drawn in such imaginary detail that you couldn’t see any empty spaces in them.

“...Unfamiliar areas were simply left out, or filled with imaginary monsters and wonders. These maps had no empty spaces. …

Alternative access to credit & its impact on consumer’s financial sanctity

Nearly two-thirds of Americans, 63%, say they’ve been living paycheck to paycheck since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the U.S (CNBC, 2020)

The pandemic, the resulting rise of industry wide layoffs, stagnant and depleting sources of revenue for SMBs, and the rapidly evaporating stimulus checks, North Americans (both north and south of the border) are finding it difficult to sustain basic necessities of life.

Enter BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) around 2019/2020. This alternate way of lending and access to credit has gained much popularity among the masses in developed countries (right from Australia and Europe to UK and North America)…

Meme currencies & Payment infrastructure overhauls

Here’s the latest edition of my Payments Innovation newsletter, a monthly collection of small digestible content from the world of Payments, Fintech, Banking and Innovation.

You can read more about why I started this newsletter here.

This pint-sized month of February felt long. However the moment has finally arrived to redeem crypto from the depths of oblivion, given the capriciousness of the currency we’ve all come to know and “adore” — bitcoin. Here’s a quick recap of how Bitcoin and Crypto fared in general across world markets this February -

Crypto & CBDCs

There was an uptick in institutional interest in the emerging…

Data, Trust, Regulation & Convenience

I’m hoping to deep-dive into how digital onboarding (especially for regulated industries such as banking & financial services) can be done right and what kind of critical factors need to be considered in order to drive optimum and intuitive onboarding experiences for end consumers.

COVID pandemic has accelerated the need for such contact-less & touch-less digital identity and onboarding solutions.

Getting Digital onboarding right for any kind of product/service is necessary for a few reasons —

  • Ease of access to a product/solution (credit, personal finance, savings, investments, loans etc.) …

Voice technologies, Voice assistants & Voice as a Service

I’ve seen a growing number of fintechs, banks, and other organizations set up innovation voice labs to experiment with voice-based technologies, be it in the fintech context, insurance context, retail context, healthcare context or n number of other fields.

Voice itself is an interesting channel? technology? commodity? medium?

Voice is being transformed into a variety of permutations and combinations, be it a virtual voice assistant integrated into your phone or laying slack on your bedside table that enables you to activate and access information on the fly, or as another channel to provide your content (podcasts, ads, information, guidance, touch-less…

All about Payments, Fintech, Cards & Disruption

As part of my new role in Cards and Payments innovation, I’ve taken the proverbial plunge to write more about insights in fintech, what’s trending in the market, long term opportunities I foresee and my outlook on all things disruptive.

I’m planning to make this a monthly newsletter to avoid bombarding our already packed mailboxes. However this monthly one-pager will provide you with a quick snapshot of the payments, cards and fintech market (with a few surprises hidden in there).

If you’re excited to read a few of my previous articles, do check them out here https://paymentsinno.substack.com/

The news broke recently around Canada finally taking a firm conclusive stand to ban single-use plastics with an aim to eliminate the said plastic completely by the end of 2021.

This was already known to become an industry standard in the coming years, but with the onslaught of COVID and it’s indirect impact on the food, restaurant and packaging industry (and tangential industries such as face-masks, sanitizer and cleaning products), is Canada prepared to battle the fight against the all-pervasive plastic?

More specifically, what is banned?

A list of six items appears to be banned, which includes plastic grocery bags, stir sticks, six-pack rings, utensils…

How to optimize your Capacity & be your own Chief Capacity Officer!

LeanIn Canada, Toronto chapter, had it’s 2020 post-COVID kick-off event ‘Reboot Your 2020 Goals by Optimizing Your Capacity’ this evening with Melanie Sodtka, a truly inspirational speaker, creator and capacity creator who helps transform high achieving individuals from over-commitment and overwhelm to thrive in their current environments.

It was organized by some amazing set of volunteers, led by Torey Konecsni and KarenGeterdone (Karen Simpson). You can find more details about the team on our Lean In Canada, Toronto website.

Ethics in AI

Technology needs to be ethical, or in more clearer terms, it needs to be used ethically. And ethics can mean a lot of different things — it can mean being transparent with how it’s used to solve a customer challenge, being able to explain and interpret the results and decisions made by that technology, being fair and unbiased in those decisions and also being accountable for the use of that said technology.

Why is regulatory compliance a elephant in the room for most organizations

By and large it depends on the context — the problem you’re trying to solve, and also how you’re solving that problem.

Where is the AI going to…

by Building your Personal Brand

Me at a panel discussion at the Annual IIF (Institute of International Finance) conference

This article is for all my friends and acquaintances, co-workers and aspiring product managers, mentees and anyone else who has ever asked me —

“How do you get your speaking engagements?”

— with the implicit inquiry around how can they get the same.

What people don’t realize is that to get invitations to speaking engagements or to sit at panel discussions or to get requests for interviews does not happen overnight (Disclaimer — I’m not tooting my own horn here; I’m not even a tiny speck amongst the people who earn serious money out of these engagements or get invited…

Swapna M

Product Lead @RBC | #Fintech #Innovation #Payments #AI | Previously Head of Product @ Klood, @Scholastic, @Accenture | https://www.swapnamalekar.com/

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