a16z Podcast

a16z Podcast: Fintech Revolution or Evolution?

Alex Rampell, Angela Strange, and Charlie Warzel

Posted June 22, 2016

How far along are we towards the vision of a “cashless, cardless, walletless, frictionless future” for fintech? We’re not quite there yet, argued BuzzFeed News technology reporter Charlie Warzel in a recent feature story — for which he got a microchip implanted in his finger while trying to go cashless for an entire month.

But as revolutionary as the chip tech seems, the reality may be that fintech innovation is much more incremental, evolutionary, and still only disintermediating the physical world than truly doing new things (given what’s natively possible with web, cloud, and mobile). Will that change now that Apple Pay is coming to the web? Speaking of, what is the platform and what is the product? Especially given a highly fragmented  digital wallet and payments market (Warzel eventually ended up with 64 apps just to get through one month). And where, exactly, are the banks in all this?

The problem, observes Warzel — who is joined by a16z Partners Alex Rampell and Angela Strange in this episode of the a16z Podcast on all things fintech, payments, wallets, and more — is that the customers/consumers aren’t at the center of any of this. And that’s a big deal given the (lack of) trust and expectations for user experience that savvy users will have for all their tech.