After the credit crisis of 2008-09, former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker quipped that the only important innovation the financial industry had come up with in the prior 20 years was the automated-teller machine. Now almost everyone is walking around with a smartphone loaded with apps to manage personal finances, cryptocurrencies have become funding vehicles for everyone from cloud technology entrepreneurs to rappers, while big banks are pondering how to put their records and conduct transactions on decentralized blockchains. Bloomberg View columnist and economics professor Tyler Cowen recently spoke with fellow Bloomberg View columnist Matt Levine, who spends a lot of time thinking and writing about the future of finance and its intersection with technology. Here is a lightly edited version of their online chat.

Tyler Cowen: Twenty years from now, when we look back, what do you think will be the biggest and most surprising way that fintech will have changed our lives?

Matt Levine: I am going to have a boring answer here, which is that I don't expect anyone to experience financial technology as surprising or life-changing. The point of most innovations in consumer finance has been precisely to reduce its presence in our lives: Instead of talking to a bank teller to get money, you use an ATM. Instead of physically walking into a broker's office to talk about which stocks to buy, you buy index funds through a web page. Or, now, you click to enroll in an app and it does all of your asset-allocating and stock-picking and tax-harvesting and so forth for you. I think that a lot of financial technology is heading in the direction of perfecting that vanishing act, so that in 20 years you'll just think about financial things less than you do now.

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