A HiveMind Explores the #NewNormal #BeyondCovid2020
On the 20th of March 2020 life in the UK changed forever when the government, a conservative government to boot, created a safety net for the population as well as for businesses and began to pay the wages of a significant proportion of the population for the duration of the crisis. Around the world the coronavirus is disrupting at least this deeply in many places.
The way forward looks difficult, challenging. But what is also clear is that there is no way back. The definition of normal is suspended. For how many months - we do not know? Initially 3 but it could be 6, 9, 12 or 18. No one really knows.
All we can say for certain right now is the definition of normal will never be the same again. Whenever that day comes we will still be grappling with climate change and many of the other forces we were grappling with before. But there will be a new normal.
Earlier in the week on a day when I had had a stream of phone calls from people asking me for, or offering me, ideas about all this, some of the best minds in the country and across the world, I had just decided it was probably time for the next in the series of #GreatDebates when my friends from Fifth9 rang (have you noticed how many more phone calls rather than emails were all now getting) to suggest much the same thing.
So it was that's on on the afternoon of March 20th as the prime minister and Chancellor we're preparing to lay out their ground shifting plan to support the nation, it's businesses and people, through the next year that I gathered, electronically of course, together a team of expert thinkers who have already proven an ability to explore the future.
Kate Baucherel is a writer and acclaimed novelist, an experienced finance professional and thought leader in the blockchain space. Her books include the recently published "Blockchain Hurricane.”
Johnny Fry is a denizen of the city and money markets and knows more about what's happening in crypto and blockchain then almost anyone - partly because for the last 2 years he has been producing a weekly report called digital bytes analysing what's happening around the world.
Yakeen Prabdial is a partner at Fifth9, that is helping lead the mobile telecoms world, on which we all now all rely, increasingly so in these times, into the 5G future and beyond.
And Lee Birkett, who is CEO and founder of MoneyBrain (who have created BiPS) and the JustUs P2P lending platform is one of the UK's leading exponents of fintech for the people - including the revolutionary #PeopleMortgage, and champion of #FairerFinance
Jonny Fry launched us off by painting a chilling picture of the present and recent past, with us all - governments and people - in denial of the fact that the world is awash with debt and close to drowning, the levers of the economy no longer working, with interest rates now negative in many places and close to that in others and money being printed at an alarming rate so as to raise the spectre of hyperinflation ala the Weimar Republic, and more recently Mugabe's Zimbabwe. Followed by this hammer blow - raising the question as to whether it might survive.
So I started by asking Lee and the panel "is it really that bad? And what comes next?
The answers were revealing!
The barriers to 'digital' are already falling all around us - including adoption by the elderly, and soon. of digital identity.
People are already 'working from home' in unprecedented numbers and this is about to mushroom - as those who did not think they could, discover otherwise. Nor are many of them going back - so creating a potentially massive slump in demand for transport and especially office space and nowhere more so than in London.
It's long been said that London is another country with different mores and that too has been apparent with cafes, pubs and High Street's more generally all but deserted around the country for the last few days while they continue to heave in Central London - necessitating the imposition of laws to close them.
Digital medicine is taking off like a rocket with online consultations now the norm.
And connectivity, broadband and beyond, has become the fourth utility.
Before long we may all have an official government provided digital wallet into which may be deposited food tokens, on a use it or lose It basis, as a better delivery mechanism than money into bank accounts. TA precursor to the introduction of the digital pound perhaps?
Meanwhile necessity being the mother of invention, as in the second world war and the aircraft industry, innovation will be accelerated rather than the reverse.
The meaning and nature of social media will also change.
Now that "We're All In This Together" perhaps they will be room to challenge the idea and attitude that's for four decades has brought us to this point... That "Greed is good".