Projects & Observations
We are focused on the social trends that could shape the future and the tech tools that may drive it. Our projects are informed and influenced by our engagement with experts across the research, tech and design spectrums. In this space, we share what we’re learning, what’s inspiring, and what’s next.
By: DEANNA LAUFER | May 17, 2021
Automation is moving up the value chain, taking on more “human” tasks like financial planning, factory floor management, and home health care. In response, companies need to reevaluate how to build trust in automated systems, considering both their reliability and the human-machine relationship.
Digital assets continue to display tremendous growth, as investment banks, private equity groups, financial advisors and commercial banks grow more comfortable considering crypto as a potential investment opportunity and eventually a more widely accepted medium of exchange.
By: SIMON BROWN | April 13, 2021
I’m attempting to learn the Rust programming language, and for me, the only way to learn something is by trying to solve a problem. I’ve decided to try to implement my own digital signature library for educational purposes, and hopefully share a little knowledge along the way. Read more here.
FCAT Research
By: SOPHIA MOWLANDEJAD | April 6, 2021
Part One of a series about Inclusive Financial Services

Financial exclusion is a reality for millions of Americans who don't have access to useful and affordable financial products and services delivered in a responsible and sustainable way. The FDIC noted that the surge in joblessness caused by COVID exacerbated financial exclusion – there’s a direct correlation, for example, between being unemployed and being unbanked. But financial exclusion is about more than just being unbanked.
Ever wanted to look under the hood of a quantum computer? Or see how quantum computing might dramatically improve investment simulations? The Emerging Tech team has just published two new explorations of quantum computing, with insights into how it works and how it may impact financial services.
FCAT Research
Over the past twelve months, we have collectively experienced a massive disruption triggered by a tiny pathogen. And in the face of virus-prompted changes, we’ve each had to adapt—as parents of new online-learners to leaders of teams, businesses, and nations. As the pandemic plays out, we see three areas where meaningful adaptations have taken hold.
FCAT Research
Now that so many of us are doing almost everything online at home -- shopping, work, doctor appointments, school, financial check-ins, parent-teacher conferences --- you may have noticed some not so subtle behavior changes among those around you. Maybe a colleague has suddenly started blocking her video feed during Zoom calls. Perhaps a customer has started speaking slower, making a lot of spelling errors, or is typing at a different pace. Maybe you’ve noticed a change in the tones of a colleague’s MS Teams or Yammer posts or changes in a customer’s chatbot message style. All of this could be indicative of something important, and AI is an ideal tool to pick up on these changes.
Lightning is not a silver bullet, but it will significantly aid in the utility of Bitcoin and the expansion of its monetary regime.

Money invention is something that necessitates first principles. Much like our founding fathers -who found it more suitable to create a new system of government from scratch rather than monkey-patch the existing agreement called the Articles of Confederation - Bitcoiners find it more suitable to create money from scratch rather than mangle our minds and hands through the legacy infrastructure that stilts today’s existing financial system. Or even worst yet, somehow reengineer the dollar back to a hard money standard.
Read More
BY: BRIAN WRIGHT | February 11, 2021
The following is excerpted from an interview with Apolline Blandin, Research Affiliate of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF). The findings from Apolline’s research on the Bitcoin mining industry were published in the 3rd Global Cryptoasset Benchmarking Study in 2020. In this interview Apolline discusses some of the most important trends in Bitcoin mining including cost structure and hashrate dispersion across geographies, use of renewable energy sources, and treasury management strategies. The interviewer is FCAT’s Brian Wright, senior manager of Bitcoin mining.
BY: LAURA BOWDEN & BEN KERTMAN | February 9, 2021
It goes without saying that 2020 has been an unusual and disruptive year. The global COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty, and imbalanced sector performance have wreaked havoc on investor activity. Despite the concept of “buy low and sell high,” the industry continued to see record outflows even as the market approached its lowest levels in over a decade. As the market began a rebound, we saw increased investment activity and speculation. Some investors panicked and abandoned their financial plans.
BY: JOHN DALTON | February 4, 2021
FCAT Research is a bet on the value of outside-in thinking, a rigorous analysis of external trends that we believe will have a dramatic impact on our business, our industry, and on the lives of our customers and associates. Our goal is to help Fidelity associates reimagine the future of our business. So where do we look for the most promising trends?
BY: COLLEEN MCCRETTON | January 28, 2021
Bias in data used by AI algorithms is drawing increasing attention. The internet is full of examples of AI systems bias: recruiting algorithms trained on data that favored male candidates, facial recognition software unable to appropriately identify people of color, medical systems trained with data that is not sufficiently diverse, and many other examples. However, there is another aspect to bias that impacts AI systems and bears some scrutiny as well - the cognitive biases that users bring to the table.
BY: BRIAN WRIGHT | February 11, 2021
The following is excerpted from an interview with Apolline Blandin, Research Affiliate of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF). The findings from Apolline’s research on the Bitcoin mining industry were published in the 3rd Global Cryptoasset Benchmarking Study in 2020. In this interview Apolline discusses some of the most important trends in Bitcoin mining including cost structure and hashrate dispersion across geographies, use of renewable energy sources, and treasury management strategies. The interviewer is FCAT’s Brian Wright, senior manager of Bitcoin mining.
BY: SARAH HOFFMAN | January 12, 2021
Before the novel coronavirus swept through the world, things were looking bright for women in the US workplace. For the first time in almost a decade, women made up the majority of the workforce; 42% of businesses were women-owned; women with patents went from 4% in 1976 to almost 22% in 2019; at each level in the pipeline, the number of women was increasing.1 And then the pandemic hit.
BY: Alessandro Vigilante & Caroline Federal | December 3, 2020
Until recently, the cognitive load of almost all financial decisions has remained with individual users. But now, the ability to source and collect reams of data, combined with rapid progress in artificial intelligence, lays the groundwork for autonomous finance – freeing individuals from routine decisions, so they can focus on living the life they want.
BY: ALESSANDRO VIGILANTE | November 20, 2020
As the as-a-Service business model keeps expanding from infrastructure to applications, financial services capabilities and products are being re-built to benefit from, and participate in, the platform economy.
FCAT Research
BY: DEANNA LAUFER | November 10, 2020
Just as COVID-19 has inspired a wave of invention across industries, a new breed of green fintechs are tackling climate change via financial innovation in payment, lending, trading, investment, and insurance.
BY: SIMON BROWN | November 5, 2020
The following is excerpted from an interview with Carmit Hazay and Muthu Venkitasubramaniam. The two are experts in the fields of lightweight scalable protocols for secure multiparty computation (MPC) and zero-knowledge proofs (ZKP), as well as co-founders of Ligero. The moderator is FCAT’s Simon Brown, principal blockchain software engineer in the blockchain incubator.
FCAT Research
BY: Sarah Hoffman | October 30, 2020
Technologies have been getting smaller, and smarter, for a long time. But recent developments in miniaturization have changed the game. In medicine, nanotherapies – where nanoparticles (larger than an atom or a molecule, but smaller than a bulk solid) deliver a drug to a given location in the body – are within reach. Researchers at Stanford School of Medicine found that drug-coated nanoparticles reduce the buildup of plaque in mouse arteries without causing negative side effects.1 Drones also are shrinking, some as small as a quarter. And advances in materials design mean that sensors and networking capabilities can be baked right into walls and desks for stronger, more energy efficient buildings. Even space exploration is getting small; CubeSat’s mini satellite is a mere 10 x 10 x 10 cm.
BY: SETH BROOKS | October 22, 2020
Humans have enjoyed an intimate and physical relationship with technology and how they have interacted with tools throughout time. Throughout history the tools created by people have the same two basic characteristics: tools require that a user manipulate them through some physical input, and the tool or some connected object will respond accordingly and provide user feedback via an externally observable output. For example, at the dawn of time a person might hit a sharp stone tool against a branch (the input) and then see the tool’s effect from the cuts created in the bark (the externally observable output).
FCAT Research
BY: SARAH HOFFMAN | October 16, 2020
FCAT’s Sarah Hoffman, VP AI and Machine Learning Research, sits down for a far-ranging interview with Haptik’s Burka Gurgenidze-Seinau, discussing the AI field, how AI influences our daily lives, and how it may reshape the future.
FCAT Research
October 7, 2020
Mike Durbin, Head of Fidelity Institutional, discusses new Fidelity research on the implications of COVID-19 with Judy Marlinski, Head of FI Product and Advisory Solutions, and Megan Kelley, Head of Research at FCAT.
FCAT Research
In just five years the fintech landscape has shifted from a focus on solving vertical narrow problems, to being driven by broader horizontal trends. We have identified seven of what we believe are the most important trends shaping the future of fintech.
BY: SAM ABBASSI | September 29, 2020
In this article, we describe Bitcoin transactions, restricted transactions called Covenants, and our own research into secure Bitcoin custody using a type of Covenant called Vaults.
FCAT Design
BY: WILL REED | September 21, 2020
I was struggling to facilitate my first Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) session when it hit me — this was "another growth opportunity." Specifically, it was an opportunity to rethink what it means to be a leader in our hyper-connected, ambiguous, and shape-shifting environment. And it started with 3 simple questions.
FCAT Research
BY: SOPHIA MOWLANEJAD | September 10, 2020
Sadly, it’s too easy to tally up the losses from COVID-19 – as of the end of August, more than 700,000 lives, millions of jobs, more than 100,000 small businesses in the U.S., and seven to ten months of learning for students. COVID-19 has also disrupted innovation because of how isolated knowledge workers, immigration restrictions, and broken global value chains have impeded knowledge sharing. But crises also present opportunities, and this one is no exception. In fact, COVID-19 has unleashed innovation beyond traditional hotbeds like Silicon Valley, big pharma, and research labs, in unexpected areas like:
Blockchain Incubator
FCAT launched its blockchain incubator in 2015. Since then it has been our mission to fully understand Bitcoin and blockchain technologies and their impact on money and the modern financial system.
Facing a global pandemic and a continuing need to bring on new team members, Fidelity recently turned to FCAT for help in creating an immersive, interactive onboarding experience for employees. The test program was initiated to explore an alternative to face-to-face orientation.
FCAT Research
By: Sarah Hoffman | Aug 27, 2020
Bias in AI is a known problem. Cases involving medical care, parole, recruiting, and loans have all been tainted by flawed data sampling or training data that includes biased human decisions.1 The good news: large organizations are waking up. Even the Vatican has chimed in with a charter on AI ethics.2 Even better news: there are practical methods for combatting AI bias.
If you asked a room of 50 people their perception of mining, you’d get 50 different responses. And quite a few are misconceptions. Over the past year, the Blockchain Incubator at Fidelity Center for Applied Technology (FCAT) expanded its mining operation to dig in and start to shine some light on this world. We learned quite a bit about this ecosystem and created a forum to share our findings and invite others to do the same – in August of 2019 at Fidelity’s first ever Mining Summit.
Today, FCAT is sharing its recent experimentation with quantum computing using Amazon Braket.
FCAT Research
BY: SOPHIA MOWLANEJAD | August 1, 2020
Gen Z currently accounts for 40% of all U.S. consumers, and by 2030 they are expected to make up 30% of the labor force.
By: Sarah Hoffman | Aug 4, 2020
Three simultaneous crises – a deadly pandemic, record-setting unemployment, and a global protest movement – have led to huge challenges at the workplace. Several trends have now come to the forefront: flexibility, emerging technology experimentation, and corporate social responsibility.
Blockchain & Digital Assets
July 9, 2020
For philanthropic institutions, the emergence of Bitcoin has presented a unique set of issues. Donors enjoy the efficiency and tax savings of being able to donate non-cash assets directly to organizations such as Fidelity Charitable®, a public charity.

This website is operated by Fidelity Center for Applied Technology (FCAT)® which is part of Fidelity Labs, LLC (“Fidelity Labs”), a Fidelity Investments company. FCAT experiments with and provides innovative products, services, content and tools, as a service to its affiliates and as a subsidiary of FMR LLC. Based on user reaction and input, FCAT is better able to engage in technology research and planning for the Fidelity family of companies. is independent of Unless otherwise indicated, the information and items published on this web site are provided by FCAT and are not intended to provide tax, legal, insurance or investment advice and should not be construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any security by any Fidelity entity or any third-party. In circumstances where FCAT is making available either a product or service of an affiliate through this site, the affiliated company will be identified. Third party trademarks appearing herein are the property of their respective owners. All other trademarks are the property of FMR LLC.

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