The Fintech History Book Vol. 3 – Fintech 2000

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Fintech is ‘the future’. That is fact. That is science.

What came before ‘the future’ was ‘the past’. It was not until the nineteenth century that ‘the past’ stopped being the bleak, shapeless entity it had always been up to that point. The advent of the first fintech, the pantelegraph, began in its wake a chain of events that started to mould the shapely silhouette that we know today as ‘the present’.

In Vol.1, we covered that unsightly transition from ‘nothing’ to ‘the past’, taking us from the pantelegraph to the first ATM. Onwards we journeyed through Vol. 2, as ‘the past’ began to cut a shadowy figure bearing some semblance to our old friend ‘the present’.

Now, we step into the story of The Fintech History Book Vol. 3. In sweeps the millennium and on its back rides another wave of fintech innovation. Fintech 2000 hits the scene.

In 2002, PayPal is bought by eBay and takes on its current form. PayPal, like a phoenix from the ashes, was one of few that rose from the dotcom bubble crash. PayPal redefined the online payment space, ushering in a new era of digital wallets and P2P transactions.

Roll on 2007, and another paytech innovation enters the fray - or finnovation, if you will. The first contactless payment cards were issued by Barclaycard. It’s a common sight in London these days to see a bleary eyed commuter slapping a luminescent contactless card against the tube turnstile, but back in the mid noughties this was strange future tech. We’ve come so far.

Just a year later, and the credit crunch slaps the world’s financial markets in the face. Britain saw massive job losses and a shift towards an austere mind set. The expensive frothy coffees of the early noughties turned to ash in the mouths of metropolitan financial elite. Some people went to jail, and a regulatory straitjacket was put on the incumbent financial sector. The financial self harm had to stop, said the financial sector’s loved ones – which were few by this point – and the only way to do this was with constraints.

As the incumbent financial sector struggled against the chains of regulation, some recently unemployed financial folk saw an opportunity to step into the vacuum. Enter the age of the fintech startup.

2009, and the man (?), the myth (?), the maverick (?) that is Satoshi Nakamoto released version 0.1 of the dominant cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. On 3rd January 2009, the bitcoin network was created when Nakamoto mined the first block of the chain, the theatrically named genesis block.

And with that, we reach the end of the decade, and the end of Fintech 2000. The disfigured physique of the past is beginning to fashion the handsome shape of the present. Next time, we’ll cover a period some historians have labelled, ‘The Golden Age of Fintech’. The Fintech History Book Vol. 4 will tell the tale of the fintechs’ rise through the financial food chain, ambitious to become the apex predator.

Register for FinTech Connect on 3–4 December at ExCeL, London.