Every once in a while, a technology comes along that completely changes the way we do things. At the turn of the 20th century, the car replaced the horse and revolutionized transportation. In the 21st century, the internet revolutionized the communications industry. Now, crypto is in the process of disrupting the finance industry. The one thing all these new technologies had in common is that they delivered a better and more convenient customer experience, and ultimately, that is the only thing that matters.

The internet not only revolutionized communications, but it also changed almost every aspect of our lives. From business to media to education and everything in between, every aspect of our lives has been digitized, except money. “But we have online banking” yes we do. However, the underlying technology for transferring money hasn’t changed in 50 years.

Essentially, every bank has a ledger, and they communicate with other banks to maintain these ledgers. If person A wants to send person B some money, bank A debits the person’s account, and bank B credits the person’s account, that’s it. No money or value is actually being transferred. Of course, there are more nuanced details and each bank must maintain a minimum reserve amount based on its assets, and banks have to perform reconciliations every month or so, but in general, what’s being exchanged is information, not value.

Currently, if we want to transfer money internationally, the banks use the SWIFT system. Many do not know that SWIFT is just a secure messaging service between banks. That’s it. SWIFT was invented in 1973 and still remains the most popular method of transferring funds internationally. Swift is a permissioned system where access can be granted and revoked. When we hear of countries being “sanctioned,” like what happened recently with Russia, what’s actually happening is that Russian banks are prohibited from using SWIFT.

What many refer to as “fintech” now is limited to the “front-end” or user-facing applications. The back-end technology of banking remained largely unchanged until crypto came along.

The biggest “fintech” breakthrough came when cryptocurrencies, built on blockchain technology, solved the double spend problem and enabled value transfer online for the first time. Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency, is the first monetary system built for the age of the internet. The biggest difference between the bitcoin network and the current banking system is that it is one ledger. Since the launch of Bitcoin in 2009, every transaction that has ever occurred on it is recorded on the Bitcoin ledger. An identical copy of the ledger exists on every node running the Bitcoin network. Any person in the world can run the Bitcoin software on his laptop and have a copy of the ledger. The Bitcoin system is a permissionless, trustless system that allows any two participants to exchange value peer to peer without the need for a trusted intermediary.

When person A wants to transfer value to person B, they can do so directly, the Bitcoin ledger debits person A and credits person B, and the transaction is recorded on every single ledger in the world instantly. Bitcoin is the first digital asset, natively created on the internet, that can immediately be transmitted anywhere across the globe. No trusted intermediary is needed, and no monthly reconciliation among different ledgers. It all happens instantaneously.

Fintech without crypto is just window dressing. The financial industry has the difficult task of adopting new disruptive technology while simultaneously avoiding making parts of their business obsolete. As we said in the beginning, the best user experience will prevail ultimately. Right now, transferring money internationally through a wire is a tedious process that takes days. Whereas transferring crypto anywhere in the world is as easy as sending an email. Which option would you prefer?