Thought Leadership· 7min August 9, 2022
These are troubled times for the fintech industry too. Economic instability has led to a fall in investment in the fintech sector; according to data from CB Insights, funding declined by 33% in Q2 2022, having dropped by 21% in the previous quarter.
While it’s easy to get sucked in by the doom and gloom, we shouldn’t forget that there are plenty of things that we should be positive about. During a recent conversation with one of Form3’s senior engineers, it dawned on me that we truly live in a Golden Age of technology. And while technology might not be the answer to every single one of our problems, it certainly does have the potential to help us create a better future for our world.
The cloud has played a central role in bringing about this Golden Age as a democratizing force. If you wanted to build meaningful technology 20 years ago, you had to invest a lot of money in the infrastructure, the servers, the networking, the tooling, and many other things too. This made it very hard for anyone to build anything of any size; but with the cloud, all you need is a couple of hundred pounds and you can have access to institutional-grade infrastructure. This means that it’s much easier to bring an idea to life and release it to the world. You don’t even need to have an especially powerful computer — just a credit card.
Open source principles have also helped to give rise to this Golden Age of tech. It has opened up low-cost, high-end software to everyone, supported by a whole global industry. Combine this with the greater access to information we have through the web and numerous tech forums, and we can see how it’s become much easier to solve problems and take a collaborative approach to software development.
Software development is much more distributed too; these collaborations can take place between engineers in multiple locations around the world. The barriers to becoming a software developer are much lower than they have ever been thanks to technology, meaning companies like ours can get access to high end talent in remote places. This in turn helps us to continue to diversify our engineering teams and drive innovations that are truly global and inclusive.
None of this would have been possible 20 years ago — you would have had a relatively small team in a centralized location building proprietary solutions, relying on their own infrastructure. The odds of creating world-class software would be stacked against you. Now, thanks to GitHub, Stack Overflow and the like, the power of the community has been unleashed and today’s software developers can access a whole library of components and APIs and use them as building blocks for their own projects.
While I would never describe a software engineer’s job as an easy one, the tools that they have at their disposal gives them the potential to build jaw-droppingly exciting solutions that are genuinely changing the world. This is why it’s a Golden Age for tech — while the world is in a parlous position, technology gives us the power to solve many of our problems and drive humanity forwards.
Looking inward for a moment, at what Form3 has been able to achieve in this Golden Age, it’s just incredible. We — a company that is less than six years old — are providing mission critical technology to very large regulated financial institutions. And we do that at scale. In the old world, that wouldn't have been possible because it would have taken us years to develop the platform in the first place and then convince customers to move onto that platform, and we've done all that in parallel.
As a matter of fact, only five years after the platform went live, we're now replacing it with a multi-cloud platform. We are agile enough to be able to swap out all of it and rebuild it to offer clients unsurpassed, industry-leading resilience. This wouldn’t have been possible without the tooling, the engineering, the access to talent, the access to open source, the cloud, and all the rest of it.
Long-term technology trends are rarely derailed by short-term economic developments. So, while the current outlook may not be bright, there are real reasons for optimism. It’s our duty as a business — and as a wider community — to ensure we continue to support software development so we can fully unlock its potential to create a better future for all of us.
The questions we need to be asking ourselves now are: To what extent can we convince people to go into software engineering and drive this? To what extent can we keep access to information and borders open? To what extent can we continue to lower the barriers to entry for software development? To what extent can we keep the internet resilient? Effectively addressing these issues will be key to driving on this Golden Age of technology.
Michael set up Form3 in 2016 after spending more than 25 years in executive positions with Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Barclays. Before that, he was Global Head of Cash Management and a Member of the Corporate Banking Executive Committee at Barclays.
For many years Michael has been passionate about driving digital change and innovation in global banks and has sponsored many key initiatives in this area, including white-labeling, biometric security, cloud-computing and mobile payment/banking technology.
Re-engineering payment back-office systems in response to industry developments, customers demand, capacity constraints, cyber threats, payment fraud and cost challenges has been a strong focus of Michael’s work during his time in financial services and as the CEO of Form3.
In October 2023 Michael handed over his responsibilities as CEO to Mike Walters and was appointed Executive Chairman, focussing on governance, investor relations, strategy, corporate development, key clients and industry initiatives.
Michael holds a degree in Organisational Psychology and a Master of Business Administration from INSEAD.