Ruth Wandhöfer

Ruth Wandhöfer

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Dr. Ruth Wandhöfer has been instrumental in shaping the future of finance for over two decades, operating at the nexus of finance, data, technology, regulation, and identity. An influential female leader in the technology space, she is promoting the understanding, development and deployment of new business models for our digital future across financial markets and processes as well as money itself.

Identified as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Finance 2012 by Treasury Risk Magazine, she received the ‘Women in Banking and Finance Award for Achievement’ in 2015, is a global ‘Women in Fintech Senior Leader’ of Innovate Finance and a Top 10 Global Fintech Influencer - Fintech Power 50. 

After a distinguished career of over a decade with Citi, Ruth runs her own advisory and consulting business, is an independent Non-Executive Director on the boards of a bank, an exchange, and a Fintech business and is the Chair of the Statutory Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) Panel in the UK.

Ruth has published three books: “EU Payments Integration” (2010), “Transaction Banking and the Impact of Regulatory Change” (2014) and “Redecentralisation: Building the Digital Financial Ecosystem” (2023) and lectures Fintech and ESG in Finance at Bayes Business School in London.

Speaking Topics

From Beads to Bits: The Future of Money

The future of money is a hotly debated issue nowadays, ranging from futuristic predictions about the substance and form of money - will it be data, clean water or air? - to technical dimensions of exchanging money in new ways, to who is actually going to be in charge of money supply in the future and what kinds of value will exist and who, if indeed anyone, will control these. Next to the everchanging world of crypto currencies, central banks are racing to stay in the game with the expectation of at least 15 retail and 9 wholesale Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) expected to be in circulation by the end of this decade.

Today, we sit at the cusp of decisions that are by and large driven by developments in technology innovation but increasingly fuelled with questions of power and geopolitics. These decisions are reshaping the foundation of money and payments with significant impacts on the payments and broader financial services industry. How to best strategically position your organisation to navigate this significant transformation?

Shaping the Digital World of Finance: A Call for Redecentralisation

The evolving digitisation of the financial industry is characterized by the application of new technologies such as blockchain, smart contracts and AI.

Matters are complex but also increasingly centralised, with a growing trend of distrust by users. Should we push for more decentralisation?

When we look to the future to consider some of the latest trends and ‘what if’ scenarios, where do we see Redecentralisation at play in the Digital Financial Ecosystem? What is the role of technology in this, e.g. Web3, the Metaverse and Decentralised Finance? Can Redecentralisation support an alignment of values across people, governments and businesses? Do we need a new digital social contract to underpin and protect our digital lives? What role can the financial services industry play in helping shape this future digital infrastructure and where should it play?

The Role of Digital Identity and Data Privacy for Humanity in a Digital World

The rise of smartphones, social media, cryptocurrencies and digital assets has changed our lives profoundly over the last decade. In tandem, the relationship between governments, citizens and businesses has evolved, creating new sets of challenges and imbalances, but also opportunities.

The increasingly interconnected, data-driven digital economy has become a challenge for individuals as they are driven by algorithms rather than applying their personal agency. At the same time cyber risks are rising exponentially with quantum computing looming on the horizon. Without the missing piece of digital identity, risks will get out of hand. In the wake of Web3 and its promise of decentralisation and increased control by individuals of their data, a resilient digital identity infrastructure that enables consent-based data sharing and embeds data protection rules and principles is essential.

This should go hand in hand with a specific focus on developing a corporate digital identity infrastructure, based on implementation of the existing global Legal Entity Identifier standard, to assure resilience and transparency. What practical, tactical, technological and policy approaches can deliver these outcomes?

Payments, Open Banking, Open Finance and Data

The first Payment Services Directive (PSD) in Europe opened the floodgates to Fintech innovation. Since 2007 Payments has become one of the hottest topics for the industry. With PSD 2 and the concept of Open Banking a next step was taken on the road to increasing competition with banks in payments. The API ecosystem has evolved, leading us now into the opportunity of Open Finance and potentially Open Everything, creating a data highway that connects all parts of our economy. Enabling the ability to share healthcare, educational data, industrial datasets and more will require different specific API data sets. At the same time the API-based data highways need to be secure. In order to embed digital security and data privacy into our growing digital economy we need to put in place a cybercrime framework as well as ensure a broader cyber resilience pillar and new approaches to data sharing to facilitate cyber resilience in the face of organised crime. What successful approaches and best practice exists around the world? How can the banking industry play a leading role in providing the data highway for the digital economy?

Designing a Path for Cross-Border Wholesale Payments

Delving into those technology areas that form part of the tectonic plate shift of our financial system we are at a turning point with the replacement of key infrastructural components necessary for the future of the Digital Financial Ecosystem. The absence of a global payment system in light of trillions of foreign exchange that remains unsettled on a daily basis represents are significant risk for the banking industry. In parallel, prudential regulations under the Basel framework have significantly increased the cost of correspondent banking but not taken out the inherent risks of commercial bank money-based IOUs. What new types of infrastructures are emerging on the basis of innovative technology and a fresh approach to business models that can reduce banks’ capital cost for cross-border wholesale payments whilst at the same time removing the risk that the industry is facing today?

Speaking Topics

  • From Beads to Bits: The Future of Money
  • Shaping the Digital World of Finance: A Call for Redecentralisation
  • The Role of Digital Identity and Data Privacy for Humanity in a Digital World
  • Payments, Open Banking, Open Finance and Data
  • Designing a Path for Cross-Border Wholesale Payments