Humans have been buying and selling assets in organized exchanges since 1602 when the Dutch East India Company created the world’s first stock exchange. Since then, technology has empowered more efficient transactions, greater transparency of information, and the inclusion of a larger percentage of the global population.
Contrary to popular belief though, these advancements were not led by technology, but rather they were created by changes in society, culture, and user behaviors. Certain technologies were merely the tool of choice. A means to an end.
The historical context is important because another shift in society, culture and user behavior is occurring. The changes are led by a generation of digital natives — young people who have grown up with supercomputers in their pockets.
The digital native expects different products and user experiences than generations before. If a webpage looks outdated? Dealbreaker. If the product takes too long to load? Dealbreaker. If they can’t share and connect with their friends? Dealbreaker. If they feel your product is only for old people? Dealbreaker.
Digital natives are dictating technology’s winners and losers.
We have seen this in social media, gaming, transportation, fashion, consumer goods, and news. While each of those industries has been disrupted in a meaningful way, we are at the forefront of the greatest disruption of them all:
Digital wallets are becoming the modern brokerage accounts.
This shift isn’t driven by technology, but rather by digital natives demanding a product that addresses their needs and desires. They don’t understand outdated finance concepts like paper checks, non-instantaneous transfers of money, stock exchange’s hours of operations, geographically limited user bases, or lack of full control over the assets they own.
Simply, the digital wallet is gaining user adoption because it serves digital natives in a way that no other product has previously. These users are currently able to store currencies and commodities (cryptocurrencies and utility tokens) in their digital wallets. In the future, as more assets become digitized, the digital wallets will also hold stocks, bonds, and other traditional assets.
Why can’t you hold your publicly traded stock, cash, private real estate interests, and gold all in the same account today?
The existing financial system is fragmented. There is no interoperability of structure or format between asset classes. Each asset requires a different technology stack. A different user experience. A different product.
Digital wallets solve this problem. They create a single, central location where a user can hold every stock, bond, currency and commodity they own. The digital wallet is the foundation for a global, interoperable financial system inclusive of every asset class.
Asset owners will have no choice. They will be forced to digitize their assets or risk being left behind.
Remember, digital natives dictate the winners and losers now.
This post originally appeared in “Off the Chain,” my daily email newsletter analyzing the crypto markets. You can sign up here to receive it every morning.
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