Macroeconomic & Geopolitical

What Robinhood and Bitcoin Reveal About the Future of Technology

February 2021 – 5 min read
The efforts of the disenfranchised to adopt new technologies that democratize access may look chaotic, but they represent an important driver for still further innovation.

The first month of 2021 has provided a number of reasons to think that the adoption of new technology is playing a significant part in society’s chaotic evolution. Understanding its role will help explain how the commerce and governmental layers in society may change in coming years and, therefore, better show which technologies will likely proliferate and grow to become part of the accepted infrastructure for our digital future.  

We would argue that these tensions and the often-shocking consequences are inevitable and follow a historic pattern we have seen before at times of significant technological disruption. Digital technologies that lower the costs and frictions of transactions will democratize access, dramatically reshape how markets operate, and lead to a new generation of market leadership.  

The events surrounding the Robinhood investors congregating on the Reddit social media platform can trace their roots to the same forces driving the popularity of cryptocurrencies in the last few months. Anger at restricted access to financial markets, frustration with the institutions that sit at the heart of the financial and political systems that perpetuate the status quo, and the resulting widening of economic inequality are manifesting themselves in financial markets, causing an urgent reassessment of the current system’s stability.  

The kneejerk regulatory responses to these specific events may well block the path of growth for the likes of Robinhood, or even Bitcoin. However, it is clear that technological disruption has been building for over a decade, and gaining a better understanding of why these events happened is an essential part of best practices needed to successfully navigate investing in the rise of technology in our society.

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Matthew Ward

Head of Global Technology Equities

Colin Moar

Investment Manager, Global Equities—Technology

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