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This Much I Know: Lex Sokolin, Fintech entrepreneur on Roboadvisors, AI and Token Mania

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Which slices of the financial stack will new technologies irreversibly transform, and which will be the enablers – artificial intelligence, NLP, virtual assistants or blockchain – most significant in this transformation?

On that topic Lex Sokolin, Partner at Autonomous Research, a leading research firm for the financial sector, joins Seedcamp partner Carlos Espinal . Lex is a futurist and entrepreneur focused on the next generation of financial services. He was founder and CEO of NestEgg Wealth, a roboadvisor acquired by AdvisorEngine. Prior to NestEgg, Lex held a variety of roles in investment management and banking at Barclays, Lehman Brothers and Deutsche Bank.

Alluding to his own entrepreneurial experience, Lex suggests ‘most people who build fintech companies think they’re going to get the attention economy but instead what they get is a financial services business’. He explains that unless start-ups have the ability to chase customer acquisition with millions of dollars, the smart bet historically has been to sell directly to banks.

Most consumer facing roboadvisors and fintech companies today, he says, are just ‘a new distribution mechanism, a new UI, sitting on top of existing wealth management solutions’. But, he argues, AI’s most visible effect will occur at this layer, through voice or chatbot enabled interaction with financial services.

Lex also addresses the recent proliferation of Initial Coin Offerings, a financing mechanism for cryptocurrencies and decentralised applications. ‘The things that are built [in the crypto economy] look wildly different and look like they really can’t be replicated on the traditional stack, on an 80s core processing system’, he says.

It’s a world, he argues, that closely resembles science fiction, promising the ‘full collapse of all asset classes into software’ and autonomous machines transacting with each other entirely through digital assets and tokens.

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