Revolutionizing Finance with AI and Blockchain: Insights from PayPal’s Jose Fernandez da Ponte

  • Jordi Torras
  • Podcast


In this episode of the Torras AI Podcast, Jordi Torras interviews José Fernández da Ponte, the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Blockchain, Crypto, and Digital Currencies at Paypal. With over two decades of experience in finance, technology, and AI, Jose shares insights into the evolving role of AI in the financial sector, the applications and challenges of blockchain technology, and the future of decentralized AI. This fascinating discussion covers everything from fraud detection to ethical considerations in AI, making it a must-listen for anyone interested in the intersection of finance and technology.

Interview Transcript

Jordi Torras: Welcome to Torras AI Podcast! We are excited to have Jose Fernandez da Ponte with us today. Jose is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Blockchain, Crypto, and Digital Currencies at PayPal. With over two decades of experience, including leadership roles at BBVA, McKinsey, and Hewlett Packard, Jose brings a huge knowledge in finance, technology, and AI.

Jordi: Jose, what do you do as Senior Vice President for Blockchain, Crypto, and Digital Currencies at PayPal?

Jose Fernandez da Ponte: I lead the work that PayPal does in digital currencies. We believe that digital currencies have the potential to revolutionize payments. We have the ability to buy and sell tokens like Bitcoin and have also launched our own stablecoin, the PayPal USD stablecoin, which is an Ethereum token.

Jordi: AI and predictive models have been used in the financial sector for decades. Could you give us a glimpse of how this has been done?

Jose: Most of the activity in financial services historically has been on predictive AI rather than generative AI. Initially, AI was used for risk management, primarily for fraud management and risk underwriting. Over the years, with improvements in data availability and data engineering, the applications have widened significantly. For instance, PayPal uses graph theory to manage its vast network of consumer and merchant accounts.

Jordi: How is AI evolving in the financial sector, especially with the rise of generative AI?

Jose: The fight against fraud is an arms race between good actors and bad actors. With AI's advancements, we see new applications in blockchain transaction monitoring and forensics. AI helps analyze blockchain data, identify key actors in crime rings, and ensure secure transactions.

Jordi: Could you share some examples of successful AI implementations in finance?

Jose: There are many successful implementations, such as explainable AI in loan underwriting and the use of optimized decision trees. Another area is homomorphic encryption, which allows neural networks to learn from encrypted data without sharing confidential information.

Jordi: Can you discuss the ethical considerations and potential biases in AI for financial decision-making?

Jose: There are three main biases: bias in the modeler, bias in the data, and model drift. These biases can be mitigated through training, expanding data sets, and using generative AI to create synthetic data. Regular audits and regulatory compliance are also essential.

Jordi: How is Generative AI helping the financial sector?

Jose: Generative AI is used to create synthetic data for research and improve engineering productivity. It also enhances customer interactions by providing better information to developers and improving integration with payment instruments.

Jordi: How do you see the future of AI?

Jose: We are just scratching the surface. While technical advancements will continue, we must be cautious about centralization and the concentration of AI models in a few entities. Decentralization and ownership of data are crucial for a balanced future.

Jordi: How can our audience contact you?

Jose: You can find me on LinkedIn. Feel free to reach out to learn more.

Jordi: Thank you, Jose, for this fascinating discussion. Stay tuned for our next episode of the Torras AI Podcast.

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