Updated: Oct 2, 2020
The world is changing, yet, these are not unprecedented times. There has been a long list of events in the past that have disrupted our way of doing business and how we go about our lives. These events have affected us on a biological, psychological and an economic level. The only major difference between the past 40 year’s events and the Coronavirus is its abruptness and the shock it gave us on these three dimensions of our lives.
Like everyone else, I too was taken by surprise by this pandemic. I was aware of the rapidly developing situation, but I didn’t feel like it affected me and my daily activities at the time. The only bearings it had on my life were the cancelled events and meetings. Then the panic reached me. I was in Glasgow in my apartment on a Sunday evening around 9 o’clock when I got the phone call from my parents to pack up my stuff and get on the next flight out to Budapest the following morning, to be able to get back home before the lockdowns were put in place. That was the moment I realised how serious the situation was. With that phone call, I was suddenly thrust in the new world we currently live in and I started my journey to adapt and change the way I lived my everyday life to thrive in the new situation.
The world is transitioning into uncertain times, everything around us is changing. This means our lives have been turned upside down, the way we conduct business has been disrupted, worst of all the situation has taken a psychological toll on most people. Amid the turmoil, we must find order and structure in our new way of life.
Open to students of any backgrounds, our mission is to develop knowledge of FinTech topics amongst students, and provide opportunities for them to develop employability skills. We thrive on cross-faculty collaboration and insist on events that engage industry professionals.
Opportunity amid chaos
The events that govern our lives, however sudden and harsh are not unseen. There have been numerous incidents and developments in the past that have had a similar effect on our world such as the advent of the internet. With the appearance of the internet, a technological sock to our economy, many traditional business models became obsolete causing a plethora of companies to lose business and disappear. One such giant that drove this change was Amazon. When Amazon first appeared, bookstores started to go out of business, all because they refused to adapt to the new way of doing business.
In this case, the instigator of change might not be technology or war, but a virus. This has happened before, as it did in the 1300s the Black Death ravaged the globe, killing 60% of Europe’s entire population. This forever changed our economy transitioning from the feudal system to a more modern employee contract-based system. Or in more recent times, with a smaller impact, during 2002-2004 the SARS pandemic catalysed the world of e-commerce, due to the anxiety to leave home and refraining from any human contact.
The Coronavirus is not different from any of the historical changes that we went through. It might have been caused by something cruel, but its effect remains the same. Our way of business, our economies are all changing. New opportunities are presenting themselves, a new wave of innovation is coming, businesses will fall and most of us will have to adapt to thrive in the new world. In adversity, there is always opportunity.
Making the most of your free time
The average person has considerably more time on their hands due to their social plans being cancelled, not having to commute to work and back and many other reasons. This provides us with the opportunity to learn, work on the business idea that has been sidelined for so long or pick up a new skill. One such topic you can learn more about is how the average folk interacts with money and finances. I introduce the topic in a later paragraph of the article.
Most of us have too many distractions in life, being glued to our phones, watching a video of a cat crawl through a tight hole or binging Witcher for the third time in a row. This is not a good use of our precious time. Now more than ever is the best moment to leverage the free time we have and gain an advantage over everyone else. Times are changing, a recession is coming we live in disordered times, yet all of this presents us with new opportunities best leveraged by the prepared person.
This is the time to learn and not to waste time, to catapult yourselves ahead of the competition.
Important topics and opportunities during and after the pandemic
During hard economic times like the 2008 financial crisis, societal problems get highlighted. Such a deficiency is the lack of financial education in the general public. There is a large percentage of people who have never been taught how to handle money, how to budget, what are good financial assets and what are liabilities, how to invest, simply but they are financially illiterate. During the recession that is looming over us, businesses, projects and startups will have a central role to play in educating the population, spreading financial literacy.
Yet another crucial topic is financial inclusion. The world is changing everything is being digitized and services are becoming decentralised. A great example of this are the FinTech financial service providers such as Revolut and Monzo. These startups have reinvented the way we interact with banks, making it easier and more accessible to handle our money, get real-time data on our spending as well as numerous other benefits. However, there is a prerequisite to be able to use all of this. You must be comfortable with using technology.
Many people still don’t have access to ample technology to allow them to open a bank account with one of these financial service providers or they just don’t have the know-how to utilise them. One such group are the elderly people. In the UK, as well as in multiple other countries, we have an ageing population. The elderly tend not to be as comfortable using their phones to entrust their pension and life savings to a bank as they would be at the local branch of a traditional trusted bank, where they know the desk clerk by name.
These two topics, financial education and inclusion merely cover two of many fields that hold countless opportunities that will present themselves during the coming months. I encourage everyone to take these points to heart educate and put yourselves in a position that will help you and potentially many others out during the coming hard times.
The FinTech Society
Here at the Glasgow University FinTech Society, we are taking financial education and inclusion seriously. During the upcoming academic year, we will put on events that discuss these topics and will continually put out materials and our thoughts on the topic. We will also keep looking for opportunities to interact with our followers. We want to have an open discussion about important FinTech and entrepreneurial topics. In the coming months keep an eye out for the weekly blog post we will be publishing about interesting topics that might potentially be the thought provoker needed for you to find success in the new world.
Stay safe and remember to self-isolate!