Crypto Assets: Master or Servant?


Interview with Christopher Blaufelder, McKinsey & Company

In January 2019, together with our knowledge partner McKinsey & Company, we bring you an unprecedented panel of leaders from established financial stalwarts and rising fintech newcomers. Titled “Crypto Assets: Master or Servant?”, this discussion will challenge both established financial players and emerging crypto-players as to who is able to better satisfy the needs of individual and business clients across society.

We sat down with Christopher Blaufelder, Associate Partner, McKinsey & Company to understand more about why this congregation of financial market shapers is unique.

CHRISTOPHER BLAUFELDER. New hires portrait May 2014. (Mc Kinsey/Alessandro Della Bella)

What are the burning questions on everyone’s minds concerning the shift from old to new finance?

  1. Is the new blockchain technology going to fundamentally change finance? Will it really disrupt banking for incumbent traditional banks?
  2. If yes, what will it bring for the wider public: individuals and firms that use financial services?

We know people are thinking: Are the crypto guys going to bring down the world of banking?

However, we see the discussion moving away from “will new entrants kill the old institutions?”, but how they could both learn from each other.

For example, so far, crypto has been pretty volatile, with Bitcoin prices ranging between $4,460 and $19,345 in a one year period. What can they learn from established financial institutions such as the Swiss National Bank about achieving stability?

On the flip side, what can established financial players like SIX, who run the Swiss Stock Exchange learn from the transparency and agility of the fintech newcomers? Could building the first regulated digital exchange to trade digital tokens across asset classes on a regulated blockchain provide a world’s best practice example of how to marry the old and the new?

What will this panel bring to the discussion?

It’s really about who will be able to best fulfil customer needs – there is no naive enthusiasm about blockchain.

A discussion between the old and new players will really bring out their respective understanding of customers, and how to best deliver the services that these clients need.

Technological progression is always evolving, but people and firms will still need traditional services: payments, mortgages, investment products, savings.

So, we are tilting the focus back towards human centred finance.

What will be the key takeaways for guests?

Indeed, there are great opportunities in new innovation. But we should all be mindful that the established ways are as also strong as long as they are modernized to keep up with customer needs.

We hope the guests at WORLDWEBFORUM will leave with a deeper understanding about what will happen in the future, and they will have clearer idea of how cryptofinance and established finance will mix.

They should leave excited and curious about financial services and a sense of urgency to improve service to their customers.