Consumers’ Research Holds Third Annual Bretton Woods Summit

Nestled deep in the rolling hills and craggy mountains of rural New Hampshire, the Omni Mount Washington Resort seems to rise suddenly out of the valley – a sight to behold for the weary traveler.

Standing on the verandah of this 1902 Renaissance Revival masterpiece, one can see mountains and woods stretching out for hundreds of miles of uninterrupted scenic vistas. It was in this idyllic setting in 1944 that over 700 delegates from all Allied nations met to determine the monetary and financial landscape of the postwar world.

Over 70 years after that landmark conference, Consumers’ Research has sought to emulate the spirit of that event. 2015 saw the first year of the Bretton Woods Summit, and focused on the myriad uses for Bitcoin and the blockchain, the ledger that underpins Bitcoin. In 2016, the event convened again, this time to discuss the consumer protection issues inherent in digital currency usage.

This year the attendees of the Bretton Woods Summit met to explore the problem of financial inclusion and financial access, and how advanced financial technology might allow the unbanked and underbanked greater participation in the global economy. Consumers’ Research held this year’s event in collaboration with the Digital Currency Initiative at MIT Media Lab.

This year’s event featured representatives from major financial and legal entities, businesses, think tanks and nonprofits, and others. Attendees represented the World Bank, United Nations, Amazon Lending, Microsoft, Fidelity Investments, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and many other groups.

The diverse yet intimate attendee list ensured that robust conversations ensued around questions of how to most effectively expand financial opportunity and that attendees formed personal bonds with each other that will allow all the participants in this space to work together more effectively.

Thomas W. Miller, Jr., Professor of Finance and Jack R. Lee Chair in Financial Institutions and Consumer Finance at Mississippi State University, said,

“Consumers Research gave me the honor of attending the 2017 Bretton Woods workshop, held at the historic Mt. Washington Hotel. The event brought together a small group of people working on high-levels solutions to problems involving consumer access to financial markets and consumer protection in this ever-changing digital landscape. Experts in such areas as blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, credit markets, and financial inclusion gathered together and listened closely. This successful event was unusual in that I felt bonded to people with an array of viewpoints. I made some steadfast connections to people I would not have otherwise met. I look forward to reading the report summarizing the event, and to working with other participants in the years ahead.”

Consumers’ Research and its partners will be developing a white paper laying out the Summit’s recommendations, and that will be available in late 2017 or early 2018.

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