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Arts and culture 05 Jan 2022

Metaverses, open banking, agrotech: take a look at the tech trends for 2022

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Technology will continue to redouble the capacity of digital businesses in 2022 and will bring opportunities to the world to liberalise data, mitigate climate change, look after people's health, advance education and even create parallel universes.

"Progress is about renewal", said Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno. During this year of post-pandemic recovery, the technology sector and the business world have embraced this mantra, tackling the current crisis as a catalyst for change. The experience of the almost two years during which Covid-19 has changed the rules of the game has led to the emergence of innovative solutions that have the potential to redesign the world.

Predicting the future is a risky affair, even more so in the technology sector, where the opportunities offered by innovation are practically endless. In this sense, the IEEE 2022 Tech Trends Report warns that only a small proportion of innovations actually modify the state-of-the-art of technological development - the majority are either not profitable or have not found their niche in the market.

"One of our missions is to identify the best innovative solutions and proposals in the ecosystem, incorporate them into our channels and offer them to our customers"

However, some technologies seem to be here to stay, having managed to cope with current threats, generate opportunities and, above all, serve people. Others are becoming visible on the near horizon. "At BBVA one of our missions is to identify the best innovative solutions and proposals in the ecosystem, incorporate them into our channels and offer them to our customers", says Director of Open Innovation at BBVA in Spain, Pedro Muñoz. So let’s take a closer look at the technologies that will have a significant impact in 2022.

Open banking and APIs

According to Deloitte, the traditional retail banking model, in which an entity provides its services in a vertically integrated way, is being transformed into an open banking model, in which various entities operate through supplier ecosystems. Open banking, therefore, is a liberalisation of access to data and customer accounts, in order to optimise the sector. Using an API (open application programming interface), bank information is provided to third parties in a way that is regulated by the European Directive.

Thanks to this process, financial institutions share data from their users with other companies, promoting competition and therefore offering better terms to customers. During 2022, as well as creating new services in data exchange ecosystems, users taking control will be encouraged. "Open banking and APIs allow us to incorporate financial services into the business flows of our partners so that their customers have an E2E experience, meaning that they are accompanied throughout the process", explains Muñoz.

Sustainability and agrotech

If there is one thing that businesses have been clear about for years now, it is that the future will be sustainable or it won't happen at all. The European Commission is championing a new ecological, digital and inclusive normality, financed by the massive Next Generation EU recovery fund. Thousands of companies and startups will be able to receive non-refundable subsidies to implement projects that stimulate a more sustainable economic model.

"Agrotech will contribute a number of sustainable solutions, ranging from savings in water consumption to innovations in pollination"

In Muñoz' opinion, in 2022 the agrotech vertical will transfer technological solutions to the field by digitising the agricultural sector, thanks to precision farming that uses algorithms and artificial intelligence. "Agrotech will contribute a number of sustainable solutions, ranging from savings in water consumption to innovations in pollination", he notes.

Healthtech and insurtech

Due to the pandemic and the population's resulting concern for their health, healthtech (medical technology) startups will continue to be at the fore in 2022. The Hotwire report 'Trends in the Health Tech sector' stresses that the main challenges for hybrid health and technology companies is to develop strategies based on data monitoring and intelligence that build trust on the part of users.

This document also highlights that one of the main trends in digital health is the use of systems that encourage patients to take charge of their own health, thereby reducing the burden on healthcare professionals. This can be done through the use of wearables or other devices that provide valuable data, such as blood sugar levels or heart rate, which can serve both to stimulate individual behavioural changes and to look after the health of dependent family members.

"These solutions have created a good symbiosis with insurtech firms, who have identified an opportunity to bring these solutions closer to their policyholders so that they can live a healthier life", explains Muñoz.

Edtech

The pandemic has been a major challenge for students and teachers. CEO of the startup Classlife, Mario Espósito, believes that the health crisis has shown how necessary it is to plan teaching from a digital perspective, something that was almost unthinkable for many institutions two years ago. "It has accelerated a process that was already imperative," he says.

According to this expert, many schools have lost their fear of words like virtual classrooms and e-learning, and he points out that this transformation, whenever used properly, brings many benefits. In this sense, edtech (technology applied to education) makes it possible to better adapt lessons to the way students communicate and to their reality; uses methodologies to liven up classes; prepares students better for most professions of the future; and has the digital tools that offer flexibility in the face of unforeseen events.

The health crisis has shown how necessary it is to plan teaching from a digital perspective

Espósito adds that the advantages of educational digitisation are not restricted to classrooms, but that in fact "points of contact can be established between all the actors involved in the teaching process, including the administrative team". Along these lines, Classlife has developed cloud software that includes all the tools necessary to manage all of an institution's processes and an innovative Virtual Campus, which encourages student participation thanks to its similarity with a social media platform.

Blockchain and metaverses

Other technologies and solutions with growth potential for 2022 - and which are already transforming the financial industry - are virtual reality and decentralised finances with the use of blockchain.

In this field, according to the CEO of Territorio Blockchain, Fernando Molina, the main innovation that will be introduced in 2022 will be to do with the metaverse. The rebranding of Facebook as Meta has been a statement of intent of what Zuckerberg is outlining for next year. "The metaverse is a trend that will bring together the entire current fintech scene, giving rise to a new global economy and way of working", explains the expert.

Plots are already being sold to build buildings within established metaverses such as Decenterland and The Sandbox. "Some cost more than in real life", notes Molina. In this virtual reality, there are also transactions with the most popular cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, although the expert predicts that each metaverse will also have a cryptocurrency of its own to manage its internal economy.

"The metaverse is a trend that will bring together the entire current fintech scene, giving rise to a new global economy and way of working"

Over the years, banks have been able to spot all these new trends and take them into account when actively participating in the digital transformation of their customers. Thanks to this financing, companies can in turn bring innovation closer to their consumers and contribute to the evolution of society. In 2022 we will closely monitor the progress of technological developments so that they positively impact our business and society.

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