EBAday: Banking leadership needs just as much innovation as banking technology

EBAday: Banking leadership needs just as much innovation as banking technology

For this year’s EBAday Challenge Speech, Claudia Olsson, CEO and founder, Stellar Capacity and Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, provided new perspectives in understanding technology’s impact on society, people and leadership.

 According to Olsson, while technology is accelerating, the leadership within organisation and the approach to challenges has not been updated at the same time or in a way that would enable the payments and transaction banking industry to fully grasp the opportunities that digitalisation presents. 


Using the example of George Hotzthe hacker renowned for developing iOS jailbreaks, reverse engineering Playstation 3 and creator of self-driving car machine learning company, comma.ai, Olsson said that Hotz essentially “open sourced innovation around this and he’s continuing to develop it. That’s just one example of how one individual, one hacker is challenging the entire industry.”


Olsson went on to consider the UN, “a global architecture that was built seven decades ago. Many of the structures that we have today are not adjusted for the developments in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and generative AI. I believe that in the coming years, we will have to rethink our global architecture and how it’s developed, how decisions are made, and how we collectively decide about potential opportunities,” she explained.


With it being easier than ever to connect with communities in different countries and continents, innovation will spread as fast as more of the global population goes online. Referencing Metcalfe’s law, which states every time you add a new user to a network, the number of connections increases at a proportional rate to the square of the number of users, Olsson praises interconnectivity. 


“If you add more nodes to the network, the higher the value you will get out of the innovations and this means that in the coming years, we’re adding more and more nodes to the global network and the speed of innovation will only continue to speed up.” Further, with Moore’s law, which claims that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles every two years, Olsson highlighted how computing power has in turn doubled every other year. 


“We’re seeing that many scientists believe that this might go even faster with quantum computing, for example. And there’s even a group called the transhumanists that believe that in 2045, our computing power will surpass the wealth of all the human brains and then we will develop a super intelligence that can improve itself. And when it improves itself, it will create new ways of decision making. The question is of course, what will happen with humans as others believe that it will happen even sooner than 2045, given the recent developments in large language models and generate AI?”


Technology adoption will always be on an upward trajectory, and solutions will need to be built that meet these trends and the exponential curve. Olsson provided an example of delivery robots during the Covid-19 pandemic, and that if innovation must continue, the next step is to allow these robots to receive payments. Another interesting example is the creation of new digital currencies to be used in Activision Blizzard games such as World of Warcraft, and in some cases such as Roebuck, the currency is valued at more than 5 million Euros. 


Olsson asked: “This is a whole new economy that’s being created, and our future customers are getting used to being in these platforms. The question is: do we as national insitutions have enough strategies to cater to this generation and make sure that we are as modern, updated and as digital as they are?” 


Generative AI will be crucial to this; by solving complex problems with synthetic data and creating new scenarios, it can be used for strategic purposes. In Europe, there are currently 80 million people working in the knowledge economy, and 25% of the tasks can be completed with generative AI in the years to come. This will result in substantial job reduction, but also entrepreneurship. However, before this happens, biases will also need to be resolved. 


According to a LinkedIn Learning 2020 report, the most in-demand soft skills were:

1. Creativity, 
2. Persuasion,
3. Collaboration,
4. Adaptability, and 
5. Emotional Intelligence. 


However, the most in-demand hard skills were:

1. Blockchain,
2. Cloud computing, 
3. Analytical reasoning, 
4. Artificial intelligence, and 
5. UX design.


Further to this, according to the World Economic Forum, the top 10 skills in 2015 were:

1. Complex problem solving,
2. Coordinating with others,
3. People management,
4. Critical thinking, 
5. Negotiation,
6. Quality control,
7. Service orientation,
8. Judgement and decision making, 
9. Active listening, and 
10. Creativity.

However, the top 10 skills in 2025 are expected to be:

1. Analytical thinking and innovation,
2. Active learning and learning strategies, 
3. Complex problem solving,
4. Critical thinking and analysis,
5. Creativity, originality, and initiative,
6. Leadership and social influence,
7. Technology use, monitoring, and control,
8. Technology design and programming,
9. Resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility, and
10. Reasoning, problem solving and ideation.

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