By @SimonCocking, review of Digital Human: The Fourth Revolution of Humanity Includes Everyone by Chris Skinner 

We are living in the fourth age of humanity. First, we became human. Then we became civilized. The third age saw the creation of commerce. Now, we are becoming digital. Technology has changed the way we communicate, trade, and transact, with repercussions extending far beyond our personal spheres.

The impact of the digital revolution is that we are all connected one-to-one in real time for the first time in history, no matter where or how we live.

In Digital Human: The Fourth Revolution of Humanity Includes Everyone, author Chris Skinner provides a much-needed exploration of how the digital age is affecting human and business relationships. A lack of online presence has become unthinkable, as consumer preferences continue to trend heavily toward online business and transactions. This book offers guidance that shows how companies of all sizes can adapt to become forward-thinking digital businesses.

This is the latest book by the increasingly prolific Chris Skinner. It doesn’t feel like 2 years since we reviewed his last book, ‘The Value Web’, but of course in that time many things have changed, moved on and developed rapidly. One strong element in this book is how clearly he is focussed on where the real change and action is taking place, namely in China, Africa and India. These are the mobile driven powerhouses that are transforming payments, banking and consequently our lives in general. He is clear to point out that you still cannot generalise about Africa, as East African mobile payments has a much, much higher level of adoption than in Western Africa. However overall change has already happened and it is driving further innovation and creativity. He also rightly captures the handwringing laments of Western banks and their legacy code issues. The thing is, soon enough all of us, as consumers and users will just not care, if our existing banking providers, who already provide an excruciatingly poor and slow level of service, do not step up to the plate, then they will rightly be demolished by those who can deliver.

Skinner’s writing is light, breezy and enjoyable, yet also informative. His slightly off-piste comments are entertaining and help to keep the narrative moving along. At times there were a few sentences and concepts that seemed to resurface a couple of times, and tighter editing might have ensured that there was less of a feeling of repetition in a few parts. Overall though the book is a tour de force of informed, timely on the money observations about where things are going, and if it will be TechFin or Fintech that rules the day. His case study of Ant Financial is logical and useful, especially as they are now partnering with Paytm, the Indian market leading for mobile payments. The Chinese approach already deals with far more payments and transactions than any of it’s western (non) contemporaries, and is a clear demonstration that the future is already here, it is just located in Asia.

It was a timely book to read, and useful additition to his blogging, speaking and general zooming around the world trying to shake traditional banks and banking out of its stupor before they are eaten alive by more nimble, faster moving tech startups.


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