The Next Billion People

In the recent months, since I joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the word “billion” has acquired a life of its own in my mind.

More than one billion people live in extreme poverty.

There are in excess of 2.5 billion people who have no access to a financial account.

More than half of the world population (more than 3.5 billion people) live in Asia (source: Washington Post).


By 2030 there will be billions of people who will have been lifted out of extreme poverty.

One percent of the U.S. budget is about $30 billion a year.

And more and more. The word “billion” keeps coming back in many conversations.

Sometimes it sounds ominous or daunting – what can we, what can I, do about these billions?

Most recently, in Bill and Melinda Gates Annual Letter 2014, the topic is more factual and optimistic – we should not be daunted by the task of helping these billions of poor people, and we should not be afraid of the billion-surpopulation.

You will know me as an optimist, and I whole heartedly subscribe to the positive view. In fact, I got thinking – what will  the next billion people bring to this planet?

The next billion people, in my opinion, will be connected people – connected to the internet and connected to each other and a billion devices. A great majority of them will still be poor, but they will be able to make a difference by being connected – they will have a voice they don’t have now. So they will make more of a difference than now.  My job is to help them make this difference.

Here is my attempt to describe this new generation.


How do you think about the next billion people?


The 2013 Tech 50, “Masters Of A Volatile Universe” – and I’m #33!

This morning came with this amazing news: Institutional Investor, a well known and read American financial magazine, has named me #33 in their 2013 ranking of the top 50 people in financial technology.

The online article is here.

When you look at the quality of the people on the list, and the tagline “Masters Of A Volatile Universe” – what is there to say? I just feel incredibly honored.

Aaron Timms, one of the journalists, wrote the very nice bio, mentioning my teens spent in Burundi. Aaron and I had breakfast a short while ago in New York, and he wanted to know everything (!) about me in order to write this bio. Well done!

Thanks Institutional Investor and senior contributing editor Jeff Kutler!

The Sandbox For Disruption

I was recently in New York for the Innotribe Startup Challenge showcase. It was for some time that I needed to get in touch with TABB Group. We had missed to connect several times in my previous visits to New York, but this time it worked and I met Paul Rowady.

It was truly a meeting of the minds. Paul and I immediately aligned on the key topics of innovation in financial services and more particularly in capital markets. So much so that Paul said “why don’t we put some of this on video?”. I readily agreed and here is the result.

TABBForum video.

It was interesting, stimulating and … fun (make sure you see the last 2 minutes)!

Paul has invited me to speak at the upcoming TABBGroup event on Nov 19th in New York. I’ll be there!

It’s Here At Last – A Gallery Of My Drawings And Sketches

You know I got into illustrating on my iPad some time ago.

Since then, I’ve been tweeting and posting these works on various media, and over the last couple of months I had a number of people asking me if I there was a place where they can browse them all.

So, here it is!

Navigate, give me your comments. All feedback welcome.

I wish you a sparkling and innovative 2013. More on my own plans very soon.


The Three Best Job Titles Of 2012 (And A Wish For 2013)

For me, 2012 was an intense year of encounters and meeting of the minds. As I was replaying it in my mind, I remembered three unusual job titles, and three special persons behind those job titles.

These persons and their titles also represent what I wish to be hot topics for 2013 – possibilities, innovation and the “internet of things”.

The first best job title of 2012 is “Princess of Possibility”, and it is proudly worn by Min Xuan Lee (twitter: @minxuan, LinkedIn), co-founder of PlayMoolah.

PlayMoolah was the winner of the Innotribe Startup Challenge 2012, and I had the pleasure of giving Min and Audrey  Tan (the other co-founder of PlayMoolah) the $50,000 prize at Innotribe@Sibos Osaka in November 2012. More about PlayMoolah in my earlier post on this blog.

Audrey (left) and Min (right) with PlayMoolah kids

Min has chosen the “Princess of Possibility” job title, and I find it goes perfectly with her – she is all smiles, outgoing and very kind. At the same time, she (and Audrey) relentlessly pursue a very ambitious and noble goal related to kids (educating them to master money and finance). And she manages to pull some magic (which really is all about perseverance and passion) to make this small startup grow.

The second best  job title of 2012  is “Chief Happiness Officer”, and is a title that has been acquired after considerable effort by Laurence Vanhée (twitter:@happy_laurence, LinkedIn). Surely by now you must be thinking Laurence works in some startup in the Silicon Valley to claim a title like that. Well, not really. Laurence works as the head of human resources at the Belgian Ministry of Social Security. One of her basic beliefs (to which I subscribe 100%) is that people should be happy at work. Here is her TEDx talk explaining some of the ways she uses to make this happen in a governmental organisation.  Don’t do the mistake of considering this as wishful thinking. Laurence is a woman on a mission, and she has many success to demonstrate that, yes, being happy at work is possible and necessary.

The Innotribe team has recently run an “Ignite” event at SWIFT – a kind of a TED event for the SWIFT employees, where we have brought some of the best 2012 Innotribe speakers (in fact we call them “Igniters”) to inspire our people. Laurence was with us and here is my sketch of her talk.

Happy Laurence’s Happy@Work talk

I really love the way Laurence says it – “Don’t Complain, Innovate!”. It’s a mantra that helps me at many occasions.

The third best job title of 2012 goes to Erik Kruse, “Networked Society Evangelist” at Ericsson. I got in touch with Erik (LinkedIn) when organising a SWIFT Business Forum is Oslo earlier in October 2012, and he simply … evangelised … me. I’m a technologist at heart, and he talks about pervasive technology, hyper-connectivity, and the “internet of things” (the internet where billions of humans but also hundreds of billions of things – computers, cars, fridges, micro-drones – will be connected and interacting). I’ve heard similar speeches before, and they tend to be threatening (at least to me). The big difference with Erik is that he explains this simply, in a non agressive manner. He is very humble and he talks in a kind of  “around an open fire” manner. I also like the way he uses the life of his son to illustrate many of his concepts. Here is his TEDx talk for you to enjoy.

I also invited Erik at the Ignite event at SWIFT, and here is my sketch of his talk.

Erik Kruse’s The Internet Of Things

Erik Kruse uses the expression “Digital Transfomation” which I vibrate in sync with, see here for my thoughts about the digital transformation of finance.

2012 is drawing to a close, and as I said I had the privilege of meeting and interacting with incredibly creative and innovative people. I’ve highlighted three of them in this post, as they have what I thought to be inspiring job titles, but if you read this blog you will find out about many others.

On to 2013 – I think the above three job titles are the perfect representation of my wishes –

– Possibilities. We need to be open, to scan and understand the tremendous change we’re going through, driven by technology.

– Don’t complain, innovate. For the financial industry, this means: yes, we have more regulation, more rules, more costs. And yes, we have to do all of that with flat or reduced budgets. The only way ahead is innovation.

– The “internet of things” or hyper-connectivity. This drives tremendous changes in the social fabric, especially with the younger generation, soon to become our new employees and/or consumers. Focusing and understanding this new generation will be of paramount importance.

I want to use the opportunity to wish you an innovative, sparkling, exciting 2013.

A HAPPY 2013.


Interesting year … From Moscow to New York… From “Banks for a Better World” to “Operational Forum”

Here we are mid April 2012, and I’m reflecting back on the already very rich year.

I don’t know about you – until recently when I wanted to go back in time and remember everything that happened, I would go to the Outlook calendar at work and browse through. This could be for remembering the secretaries day (hint, hint it is soon!) or for preparing my end year appraisal.

If you read this blog, you know I have picked up since some 8 months to jotting, painting and otherwise scribing – event summaries, abstract impressions of some significant moments, paintings of places I visited that I particularly like.

So as I was sitting reflecting on 2012, I figured that rather than going to the boring Outlook I would rather go to my (now very familiar and fond) sketchbook pro app on the iPad and review what I had drawn and painted recently.

So here we go.

First a a very beautiful mountain landscape in my little retreat in Sainte-Foy-Tarentaise in the french Alps – I was there in January.

Here is a painting of the Kremlin. @matteorizzi and I were there in February (cold!) for a very succesful business visit.

Here is my colleague Javier Perez-Tasso announcing a new SWIFT product on the same day Tim Cook was announcing the latest iPad 🙂

In that same week in NYC, @martinedeweird, @mela_atanassova and I were holding the first Banks for a Better World workshop. Here is what we used to kick-start the meeting.

And finally, here is an impression from another of my retreats, Zeebrugge in Belgium on the North Sea coast, pictured here in a typical April belgium weather :-).

Nice year so far. And it is definitely a more fun to remember significant events than going through Outlook…


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This work by Kosta Peric is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

A ..scary.. brick and mortar experience

A week ago the internet connection at home started acting up. Goes down, then available for a couple hours, then down again.

A big problem!

We’re all so used to have internet that all at once we started being a bit … anxious is not the right word. A bit stressed.

My wife works from home 2 days a week, and she’s heavily dependent for her job on being connected. So she started using her iPhone as a hotspot. Works but not ideal.

I started being uncomfortable as all the bills, home banking, investments (all these things I’m responsible for… 😉 ) are all electronic, so I started feeling a little late for everything. I also began using my own iPhone as a hotspot. Not ideal – slow, some things somehow don’t work. Granted, I could do some of the stuff from the internet connection at work, but it’s kind of in between meetings and things, no time to concentrate.

The boys (and girlfriends) –  when they are around – started clamoring about all their contacts waiting for them on Facebook, that couldn’t wait, so they all went to friends and cafés where they could connect.

A big problem, I tell you!

So I asked one of my sons, who is in between jobs and thus has some free time, to call our internet provider – Scarlet in Belgium. He tried over two days many times, at all periods of a working day, without success. Call the hotline, wait with music for 20 minutes, then the line disconnects.

Impossible to get in touch with these guys. #Scarlet #Fail

So I was sitting and thinking what to do. One of these solitude moments 😉

And I figured: maybe it is some hardware, wiring, problem… I’ve never paid attention to where the phone wires were – as a matter of fact I don’t even recall ever seeing phone wires in the 25 years we live in this house.

So I took a flashlight and went down in the cellar. Indeed very quickly I found a whole mess of wires on a wall, to which I had never paid any real attention at all before. There is one wire coming from the street into the cellar. It connects to a hub where clearly many people had a go: the phone guys, the alarm system guys, the digital TV box guys and god knows who else. It looks like a wild cat!

But I figured the key thing is this phone wire coming from outside. A big, thick, many times painted over, nailed to the brick wall, wire.

I poked it a bit, took it in my hand, pulled a little …. and there it goes: breaks free! The solution is near!

The house we live is from 19th century, so god knows how old is this wire. For sure more than the 25 years we live in the house. Very brittle, kind of falling apart from age. I took my swiss knife, cut out a 10cm piece of it. Still very brittle. I cut 10cm more. Looked better. Connected the wires to the right spots in the big mess of wires.

Ran up the stairs to the office where the Time Capsule router is.

And miracle: the green eye of the Time Capsule is on! And has been now on for 2 days. Clearly, problem solved.

I ran an internet speed test: I have 20Mbps download speed. We connect the 5-6 computers in the house on this wire. We download all sorts of music and movies all the time from iTunes. And Skype. And digital TV. And Internet radio. On and on and on.

Think about it. All of this on this piece of brittle copper wire coming off the street into my cellar. From another age and generation.

And this wire choose a particular day to start acting up. Isn’t it amazing?

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This work by Kosta Peric is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.