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19 May 2021

Crypto, ESG and the future of technology companies

Many of you will have spotted Elon Musk’s change of heart in relation to BitCoin.  An investor one day…declining to accept the currency as payment the next!  This along with my recent appearance on the ‘Future Tech’ panel at the Securities Finance Technology Symposium 2021 prompted the team and me to think further about how Technology and, additionally, Technology Companies need to evolve.

Pirum is a FinTech company and whilst the term has been around for some time, its meaning has changed. Nowadays, the term FinTech often elicits thoughts of disruptive technologies e.g. Cloud, AI, blockchain etc.  However, it shouldn’t do.  FinTech should represent the leading edge of what technology can offer financial services.

Pirum is an established FinTech.   From inception, we broke new ground in terms of a SaaS deployed solution targeting the very largest financial institutions globally.  Whilst commonplace now, this approach was atypical in the noughties as banks were pre-disposed to building themselves or buying on-premise solutions.

Given Pirum’s history of innovation, I recently challenged my team to define the essence of future technology today.  If Pirum were created now, what would we need to do to be truly considered groundbreaking?  The Pirum FutureTech Initiative (FTI) was thus borne.

The answer we came up with has 2 clear elements.  Firstly, as you would probably expect, we are focused on the nature of the technology we deploy.  Given our role in the industry no one is asking us to predict whether and how quickly any of new technologies will be adopted.  Rather, our clients and my staff want us (simply!) to be central to all of these DLT, cloud and AI discussions and assist the industry on its evolution.  For that to occur…and to occur over an extended period we need to continually invest in not only our platform but also our staff.  This takes me neatly on to the second element of FTI.

The second area my team focused on, and very aligned to Elon’s epiphany was the future nature of technology companies themselves.  This talks not only to those various ESG related topics that are important to our clients (and now Tesla), but also to the fundamental purpose of securities finance and those companies that operate in this space.  I think it is clear that, in future, a technology company (indeed, any company) can’t simply disregard the footprint it leaves behind as it goes about its business.

The convergence of these 2 topics is at the heart of Pirum’s Future Tech Initiative.  21 years ago Pirum was at the vanguard of a new era in technology.  It is very much our intention to remain there for the next epoch.  To replicate this success our sense is that no longer is it sufficient to simply develop a novel idea.  Rather, to be truly ‘FutureTech’ we believe our focus should be much broader where the definition of FutureTech captures both the technology, our clients and the company.  Maybe Elon had a point after all!