WIRED Money: After 20 years of experience in the money transfer industry, Ahmed founded WorldRemit — a platform for friends and family separated by geographical boundaries to send one another funds. Before setting up the business, he worked for the United Nations Remittance Programme, helping African money transfer companies comply with the tough anti-money laundering rules introduced after the 9/11 attacks.
WIRED.co.uk: Ismail,you’ll be speaking in the Risks in a Connected World session at WIRED Money alongside Stefan Thomas of Ripple Labs and Mike Lynch of Darktrace. What are you planning to speak about?
Ismail Ahmed: I’ll be talking about how fintech and mobile money in particular is transforming lives, businesses and whole economies in developing countries.
Imagine living in a world which revolves around cash. The only way to store money is by literally putting cash under the mattress. You get paid in cash. If you have to pay someone far away, you have to hand cash over to someone you trust who happens to be heading in that direction, and just hope it gets there.
It’s hard, it’s risky and it’s how hundreds of millions of people around the world live today.
But one thing is changing that. Even if most people live without the financial institutions that we’re used to, they do have mobile phones. With a basic phone, people can now store money in their own personal account, make payments or send money to another person. This is mobile money.
I’ll be discussing how mobile money is already transforming lives, how it’s set to grow and also how it reduces the risks of cash. Read the full article
WIRED Money: David, you’ll be speaking in The People Element session at WIRED Money alongside Shivani Siroya of InVenture and The Misfit Economyauthor, Alexa Clay. What are you planning to speak about?
I’m going to talk about a few ideas relating to money that sound odd, misinformed, or downright crazy. And in some ways they are. Yet they can also be informative, both for understanding money and transactions today, and for designing and implementing the FinTech of tomorrow.
What are you hoping to get out of speaking at WIRED Money?
Not much — I like the listening part. That being said, if some people approach me after the fact with anecdotes or ideas that help me refine — or completely revise — my thinking on something, that is always a good thing.
Who are you looking forward to hearing and/or meeting at WIRED Money?
The Blockchain nerds, for sure. I’m also very interested in TransferWise, as cross-border transaction friction bugs the crap out of me.
Reports in the British press claimed that the number of cashless transactions finally surpassed cash ones in March 2015. What are your predictions for the cashless economy over the next couple of years?
Even though “cashless” works well in headlines (or, ahem, book titles), this is really a matter of degrees. Eliminating cash right now would be foolish. Many people and businesses still depend on it. What we’re talking about are the forces nudging it toward obsolescence. The Danish government’s recent proposal to let merchants refuse cash payments is one such nudge, just as countries eliminating small change is another, Apple Pay is another, and so forth.
My prediction is only that digital options will only expand and improve, making cash less and less relevant. Whether it ever completely dies is actually a lot less interesting to consider than the social and economic impact of the emerging technologies that are threatening it. Read the full article