While we don’t even use it yet, it has doubled in value since the beginning of the year and its use is gradually gaining ground in the economy: the digital currency Bitcoin broke above US$2,000 last month even though when it was first introduced at the end of 2008 it was worth as little as 0.001 cents. Why such enthusiasm for this currency that has until now tended to be associated in the news with dubious undertakings. One reason no doubt is its adoption by Japan as a payment method, a great official endorsement for a currency without a central bank or country of origin… And that does not belong to anyone. Since then the price of Bitcoin has continued to set* new records: US$2,760 on 25 May.
However, the real revolution is Blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin that has radically transformed our exchanges. This disruptive technology very simply eliminates the need for these trusted third parties (central banks, Governments, legal professionals drawing up acts and contracts, etc.) that were considered indispensable. The enormous progress it is generating goes far beyond the field of finance. After Nasdaq, banks and insurers, all sectors are impacted. Estonia is experimenting with its use for the certification of legal documents, Sony for education, the French department of Yonne for connected water meters… By recording all transactions, this distributed ledger technology for unfalsifiable records offers an enormous potential. While one may prefer the paper ledgers of the past, this secure online platform shared by all will occupy a growing role in our exchanges while minimizing their costs. The scope of possible applications is just beginning to be understood.
We are living one of those moments of history when innovation radically transforms our day-to-day existence: biotechnologies are revolutionizing medicine, artificial intelligence and robotics are gradually transforming our existence and the economy is becoming collaborative and decentralized. In response to these changes, anxiety and defensive reactions are only natural and it can be tempting to “regret the soft light of oil-lamps, the splendour of sailing ships, the charm of the days of horse and carriage“1. We have nevertheless learned from history that transitions are difficult but necessary and doubt and anxiety the worst enemies of our societies. The Canuts, the Lyonnais silk workers, learned this the hard way…However much we might be tempted to take a hammer to modernity (in this case the mechanical Jacquard looms), innovation is inevitable and we must learn to live with this progress that is sometimes disorienting.
And so what are the consequences for the savings industry? By all accounts, we are impacted and will be affected by the acceleration of technologies in the same way as other industries. However, faithful to our tradition and underlying optimism, we take a positive view of these transformations. We accept the challenges and the new possibilities.
More concretely, we have already expanded our range by adding the FCM Robotique fund, launched in January 2015 that invests in artificial intelligence. Since its creation it has generated a return of +25.9%2… An encouraging performance! The more conventional funds are also evolving through their capacity to identify projects throughout the world, a capacity that did not exist when the Echiquier Agressor was launched in 1991.
At a time when France appears to have decided to espouse modernity, and as Jean-Baptiste Say3 recommended “We who see in the very same progress that we achieved, the seed of even greater progress to come, let us advance forward with even more boldness and confidence down the road of the future.” An enthusiasm that we share, though you may count on us to remain coolheaded: there is no question of falling in a state of blissful TechnoMania. We thus continue to believe in the virtues of human intelligence and good sense that are essential for integrating with clairvoyance technology into our businesses, our lives … and our management!
Didier Le Menestrel