TOKYO -- Fintech leaders on Tuesday called on governments to facilitate cashless societies.
A necessary step toward a cashless society is having an open conversation about the future of money, including how to comply with different laws and regulatory changes in different countries, said Charles Hoskinson, founder of a blockchain development startup Input Output Hong Kong, or IOHK.
Hoskinson made the comment at Nikkei's Global Digital Summit 2019, held in the Japanese capital.
The panel of industry experts discussed privacy and ownership concerns surrounding fintech and the vast flow of data that the sector is creating.
Yosuke Tsuji, CEO of Money Forward, a budgeting app, said he is optimistic about the Japanese government's proposal to ensure a secure and free flow of data across borders. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the proposal ahead of the G-20 summit that he will host in Osaka at the end of this month.
Tsuji referred to the proposal as an alternative -- to the Google-Apple-Facebook-Amazon data oligopoly, to Europe's general data protection law and to the kind of state control of data that countries like China maintain.
"A fourth approach," Tsuji said, "would be important."
Takashi Okita, CEO of SBI Ripple Asia, also said "there should be alternatives" to having to give up personal data in order to use search engines and social networks, essential utilities in the digital age.
With big data, blockchain and other new tools, financial transaction "systems are becoming open, decentralized and democratized, like the internet," said Hoskinson, who co-founded Ethereum, a blockchain-based distributed computing platform.
"For the first time ever," he said, startups "have a chance of innovating."
Hoskinson said he is working with the governments of Ethiopia, Mongolia and other emerging countries on digital infrastructure. Ethiopia's government is one of the first users of IOHK's Atala blockchain.
Hoskinson said in an interview that he hopes to be part of a fair transition to a capitalist system as the country "builds a stock market, allows IPOs to happen and private ownership of the land and private ownership of payment systems."
Japan is known for strong regulations, which have been criticized for inhibiting fintech. Tsuji said regulations should vary according to the size of the risk associated with a transaction, adding that Japan currently uses the same standards for financial product purchases of 10,000 yen ($92) or 1 million yen.
He also said the Japanese government is working on a single regulation to cover transfers, investments and other financial transactions that currently have their own requirements. The idea is to make it easier for digital citizens to handle all of their financial transactions from their smartphones, and to do so all at once.