Major cryptocurrency exchange OKEx is at the 50th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos this week, promoting blockchain technology as a new motor for the global financial system.

Two presentations — delivered by the OKEx Financial Markets Director Lennix Lai on Jan. 21  at the Russia House 2020 and EmTech Investment Meeting 2020 — focused minds on the challenge of extending financial services to the over two billion people worldwide who remain unbanked.

“A free, open, permissionless financial system”

In his presentation Lai argued that a digital, decentralized financial system underpinned by blockchain and cryptocurrencies can be of mutual benefit both to the incumbents in traditional financial markets and to the unbanked global population. 

Decentralized finance (DeFi) innovation is poised to “substantially lower” operational costs for institutions, he argued, and bolster financial inclusion by serving areas that traditional banking fails to. Lai said:

“We see the endorsement from global regulators. [...] We also see the volatility of Bitcoin getting lower, making it become a favorable alternative asset for mainstream finance. And the recent surge of DeFi reflects that people are starting to brace a free, open, permission-less financial system.”

An embattled system

As reported, this year’s theme at Davos is “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World,” which some have construed as the World Economic Forum’s response to increasing public discontent with rising inequality and the power of oligopolistic financial elites, as evinced by protests across Europe, Asia and Latin America over the past year.

Comparing this year’s event at Davos to last year’s, Monero’s former lead maintainer Riccardo Spagni pointed to the same prevalence of “old school” bank and regulatory personalities. In an interview with Cointelegraph, Spagni — a.k.a Fluffypony — said:

“I think by a lot of [Davos] events like this one and some of the other blockchain events, we’re starting to show them that if they don’t adapt, if they don’t change, they’re going to end up losing.”