The world has been celebrating quite a gloomy anniversary this autumn: the 10th anniversary from the beginning of the Great Financial Crisis.
With Lehman’s default, the world woke up and found out that banks were not the safest industry in the world. They could not borrow enormous amounts of money from the public and invest them in very uncertain financial markets without running any material risk of default.
2008 taught us that banks could run out of the cash and capital necessary to manage their risks, and that they could default or require taxpayer money to be saved and avoid a default on their deposit liabilities.
What happened in the next 10 years? Did banks disappear? Was commercial bank money replaced by a new global cryptocurrency? Did financial markets, that were the spark that lit the crisis flame, get replaced by a network of trustless smart contracts? No, banks survived, and so did financial markets.
And now that banks and financial institutions seem to have discovered that blockchain is not a magic software giving easily safety and efficiency to existing processes (neither is it the weapon of a overwhelming digital gold crushing all existing world money), they tend to disregard that this was also the decade that saw concepts like distributed systems, financial cryptography and consensus algorithms become part of a public debate.
Yet, 2019 could be the year when banks really understand what these concepts mean for finance. Remember, finance had to pay a price for surviving, as a review of financial markets over these 10 years clearly reveals.
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