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What is The Fourth Age of Humanity?


What is The Fourth Age of Humanity?

I’ve been musing for a while about inclusivity, and find that the world is truly being transformed as everyone joins the network. It is the theme I present all the time right now, and discussions around M-Pesa, Saldazo, Paytm and Ant Financial are great ways to illustrate the change. I could say a lot more, but the stunning figure from McKinsey who estimate that emerging economies will release $3.7 trillion a year in new productivity by 2025 sums it all up well.

For my friends who have noticed my leaning towards inclusivity, they may like to know that it’s also the theme of my new book. I finished the draft of the book in August and has the title:

Digital Human: The fourth revolution of humanity includes everyone 

Here’s a brief overview of what it’s all about and, for those who have seen my recent presentations, you’ll know where I’m coming from.


We are in the fourth age of humanity. The first phase was becoming human, as homo sapiens created language and beliefs.  The second was becoming civilized, when we created money; and the third was becoming commercial, when we created banks during the industrial revolution.

In this fourth age of humanity, technology is proving to be so pervasive in our lives that we are changing behaviors and becoming digital humans.  The way digital humans relate to each other is a revolution. It is changing the way in which we talk, trade and transact and changing the way in which we make business, make friends and make love. This book explores the way in which human and business relationships are changing in this digital age, and provides clear lessons in how to evolve existing businesses to be digital businesses relating to their digital human customers. Specifically, Digital Human explores what the fourth age of humanity means for business, banking, society and government.

Related: The New Status Quo in the Financial Services Ecosystem

The themes explored include how bitcoin and the network are altering and challenging government and control mechanisms; the rise of global digital giants, and how the Chinese giants are far more imaginative than their American counterparts; the rise of the most fundamental innovations being notable in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Philippines and other emerging markets, and how these markets will educate those of Europe and America over time; and the challenge to govern a globalized world when we live in nation states.

The book concludes with the world’s first in-depth English case study of Ant Financial and Alipay, the largest payments processing company on Earth. The company has a stated ambition of bringing onboard all of those people excluded from financial services today. That’s two-thirds of the world’s population, around 4.5 billion people. This is the core of the change we are seeing in the Digital Human age: that everyone can be included in a network thanks to low-cost mobile coverage. As a result, everyone on the planet can not only talk, trade and transact digitally, but they can be raised out of poverty through inclusion.

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