PKG IAP Fellowships: Adam Swartzbaugh Part III
Using Technology to Promote Shared Trust and Financial Resiliency in Emerging Markets
“We’re all at risk of returning to the stone age,” remarked a frustrated and saddened colleague in Myanmar as protests to the recent military coup escalated last week.
Although the regime declared protection of the economy a top priority, ongoing disruption of the banking sector has left the country’s financial system in chaos.
As Almond Finance works through emerging challenges to improve financial services access with our local team in Myanmar, the topic of trust arises regularly – trust in political leadership, government services, infrastructure, and data privacy. Bank closures, internet outages, and a new cybersecurity bill outwardly condemned by Myanmar telecommunications giant Telenor, is shaking trust in these systems.
Along with endless other events across history, the coup reminds us a couple things about trust: power can’t force it; money can’t buy it.
Although Almond is developing a platform to enable safe, secure, and unimpeded flows of money and financial services across providers and borders, we are, first and always, in the business of building and protecting trust.
The integrity of digital technology and confidence of its users must be a priority for institutions working to extend financial access and health to the 1.7B unbanked people worldwide.
However, the isolation and segregation of financial networks has fragmented exchanges and handicapped their resiliency to social, political, and economic instability by erecting walls between users, providers and countries. Almond has recognized the importance of interoperability and is reimagining a distributed system of trust that compounds the value and strength of all stakeholders across regional ecosystems.
Nonetheless, for the foreseeable future, trust will remain about more than the systems, servers, wallets and exchanges – it’ll be about the people behind them. Protecting that trust is a responsibility the Almond team accepts.
Adam Swartzbaugh is a 2021 PKG Fellow and current graduate student at MIT and Harvard.
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