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You 2.0: digital identity, banking and the future

Digital identities are evolving fast as lenders, tech firms and governments roll out platforms to make it easier to shop, invest and constantly prove who you are. Banks – still trusted despite myriad scandals and crises – are at the heart of this process: a situation that is unlikely to change.

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It’s a weird truism that the people who change the world seem surprisingly normal.

Take Bo Harald. First impressions suggest an urbane college professor, a silver fox with the voice of former racing driver Mika Hakkinen. Yet the cheery Finn did something that matters to all of us, and will continue to, as long as human civilization lasts in its current form: he invented the digital ID.

“I created the first one,” he says cheerfully, before his Nordic humility kicks in and he adds the rider: “Well, all the [Finnish] banks did.”

The journey began in 1984, nine years after the man often described in his homeland as the ‘father of e-banking’ joined what is now Nordea Bank, rising to become head of everything electronic, from payments to identities and invoicing.

That year, the Helsinki lender launched the world’s first home-banking service.

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Elliot Wilson is Greater China Editor and Private Banking and Wealth Management Editor. He joined the magazine in 2020 having been a regular contributor focusing on China and the Indian subcontinent, Russia and Eastern Europe/the CIS. He is based in Hong Kong.
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