The following is provided by our partner, Ant Financial.
London Tech Week is officially in full swing, and this year, for the first time ever, Ant Financial has brought its ATEC series to be a part of it.
Under the theme of “New Technology: Brining the World Equal Opportunities,” ATEC in London brought together Prof. David Robertson of the Univeristy of Edinburgh, Dr. Andrei Kirilenko from the Imperial College’s Center for Global Finance and Technology, Arthur Gretton, a professor of machine learning at University College London, and Ruhul Amin, cofounder of Orfido, along with Ant Financial’s own VP and chief data scientist Alan Qi, director of blockchain Yu Benquan, senior engineer Guo Zhenyu, and risk and decision science director Wang Weiqiang.
The Ant Technology Exploration Conference has been on a global tour this year. After first making call in Silicon Valley in January, it moved to Singapore in March, and now, finally, is paying its respects to one of the world’s financial capitals.
The conference series is largely focused on the technology that Ant Financial has developed, or is seeking to, cutting across the areas of blockchain, AI, security, IoT, and computing, or what the company calls BASIC for short. And they had plenty to showcase. They are using AI image recognition for helping with claims adjustment in insurance, something they say has already been adopted by at least a half dozen Chinese insurers in the past year and used more than 10 million times. They hope that, especially for car insurance, it might save more than two billion RMB in costs.
Elsewhere, the company has introduced the use of blockchain, not for cryptocurrency or ICOs, but for a more down-to-earth purpose: tracking fruit. Or rather, they are using it to help consumers trace and confirm the shipping origins of imported goods, especially food products from New Zealand and Australia. All shoppers need to do is scan a QR code on a can or package, and they can identify where the product originated, when it was produced, when it was shipped—and remain confident that the information is authentic.
They even hosted an "Exhibition of Payment Tools" at House of Fraser in London. In the past three days, they have been showcasing many of the payment tools in the history of mankind, from seashells, bronze blades, and gold dust to the modern day Alipay, Ant Financial’s flagship app.
Aside from displaying their technical prowess, Ant Financial also shared its mission at the forum. The mission, they say, is nothing less than worldwide financial inclusion. Today, about two billion people in the world remain unbanked, largely in Asia. Around 40% of all people don’t have access to credit cards, either. Ant Financial believes that that lack of financial services can be redressed through technology.
For instance, Ant Financial has championed the use of mobile payments, and especially those using QR codes, precisely because they lower thresholds to accessibility. And in the last two years they’ve made partnerships in nine countries, particularly around Southeast Asia, for sharing their experience and technology in mobile payments with local partners, enabling them to provide local customers with better and more localized products and features like paying bills and utilities, buying movie tickets online, or even, in the case of India, buying gold.
While in London, Ant Financial also organized symposia at Oxford, Cambridge and , Imperial College London, and other academic institutions, as well as some London incubators, to appeal to up-and-coming British tech talents and entrepreneurs for partnerships.
Eric Jing, Ant Financial’s chairman and CEO, remarked recently that Ant Financial’s “globalization” wasn’t just for careerists, it’s for everyone. “With globalization I always bring up the four G’s: one is global vision, since in the future we want to serve two billion users worldwide. Second is global mindset: understanding different needs. Third is global knowledge: respecting cultural differences, and finding common visions. And then there is global talent.”