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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Modern money


Francisco Sebastian
Francisco Sebastian

Coin tossing has been crucial at different points in my life: as a child, heads or tails would often decide who took the highly undesired goalkeeper position in playground football. On ski trips with friends, the question of who would take the small bedroom was often settled with a coin toss. At university, coins featured prominently in statistics courses, along with jars full of marbles. 

Other, more important events have also been based on the fate of the flip: 115 years ago, Wilbur Wright won a coin toss against his brother Orville, earning him the first attempt at flying. Wilbur probably ended up hating coin-based decisions as much as I do (I played goalie and slept in the small bedroom far too often), as his failed attempt gave Orville the opportunity to make history.

With the recent rise of digital currencies, however, the days of the coin flip could be numbered. These new forms of money are a hot topic among technology connoisseurs, economists and investors. What about actuaries, though? Digital currencies do not seem to have become a subject of rigorous actuarial debate yet, despite the challenging risk problems that they entail. This may be due to actuaries’ lack of familiarity with the issues. 

This issue aims to help readers better understand digital currencies: Orla Ward and Ian Collier discuss central bank digital currencies and their potential impact on the banking system as we know it, while Nick Furneaux provides excellent insight on the risks involved in owning cryptocurrencies

And continuing with the theme of innovation, this month’s interviewee is Rosaline Chow Koo, a pioneering woman in the fintech world, who is eager to shake the foundations of corporate benefits. 

Enjoy the read!

Francisco Sebastian



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