Konstantin Peric

Technologist, author and Deputy Director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Konstantin Peric (Kosta Peric) Peric is a technologist, author, illustrator and recognised thought leader, who has focused his career on the fusion between technology, finance and innovation. Kosta currently holds the deputy director position of Financial Services for the Poor at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he leads the team that focuses on finance inclusion and digital payments.

Kosta Peric is one of the top leading financial / fintech worldwide personalities according to various international finance outlets like FinServ 25 – The Most Influential Voices in Banking (The Financial Brand); Institutional Investor’s Top 100 Influencers and Brands and Onalytica’s Top 100 Influencers and Brands. Konstantin has also written several books and essays.


Early life

Konstantin Peric was born on Oct 19, 1961 in former Yugoslavia (now Serbia). At the age of 10, Kosta moved with his family to Bujumbura, Burundi after his father, a geophysicist for United Nations, was allocated there. In Burundi, he graduated from secondary school.

Later on, at 18, he moved to Brussels to study computer science at the Free University of Brussels (Université Libre de Bruxelles).

The SWIFT Initiative

Kosta in a recent event

In 2009, Kosta Peric joined the SWIFT Initiative. In there, Kosta co-founded and led Innotribe, an initiative to enable collaborative innovation in the financial industry. Innotribe -which stands for Innovation + Tribe-, was meant to foster creative thinking in financial services through a number of events while a new Incubator was created to support innovative new solutions.

At SWIFT, he was also the chief architect of SWIFTNet, the backbone worldwide secure network of  8,000 banks and 1,000 corporations to service daily the world economy. 

Deputy Director at The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In August 2013 Kosta joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as the Deputy Director of Financial Services for the Poor. His main role is to lead the team that focuses on digital payments. He he oversees the strategy and grants to deliver secure, reliable and affordable digital payment solutions.

Focusing on the needs of poor people whether they are urban or rural, Kosta is responsible for the technical direction and leadership of the digital payments systems initiative, accelerating the adoption and use of financial services in developing countries. The emphasis is on making these services available at zero or very low cost for the poor. Engaging all the way from visioning to architecture to partnership to building and development.


Kosta’s vision is associated with a solid work of fast forward vision and praxis that relates society, innovation, disruption, digital and finance inclusion and innovation. And his thoughts and writings have always tried to align  theory and praxis, solving the problems with “eternal optimist take”. He affirms that “we are half way in the digital revolution and we have digitise pictures, books (…) so the next thing is money, reputation and digitising ourselves” and in a time when humans digitised everything, reputation and digital inclusion are critical.

Kosta is specially interested in financial inclusion. As the Deputy Director of Financial Services for the Poor at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, he puts his efforts to build what he calls a digital financial system that, if successful, would include everyone to financial services. For him, financial inclusion means creating channels of financial support during times when people need it the most.

“When  say poor people, I’m really looking at extreme poverty that is currently being defined by the World Bank as people who have, on average, less than $2 of income per day. Remember, when you say that, it’s an average with many living well below even this level of poverty. As a matter of fact, these people live quite complicated lives from that financial perspective, with many sources of irregular revenues coming from jobs, often times several jobs.  Equally, if you think about agriculture, there is of course the irregularity of crops and harvests, with some years of crop failure and famine” Konstantin Peric

As per his vision, dealing with cash in these circumstances actually proves to be an aggravating factor from several perspectives. For example, the risk perspective of simply having cash; the risk of being exposed to a lot of corruption that goes with the distribution of cash and the ability to absorb financial shocks, which is all about financial instruments being available such as payments, as well as the capacity to save money.  “We need to help people to manage money in order to have the capacity to finance projects; to pay school tuitions; for children to pay for utilities; and also unforeseen shocks that inevitably come.  Good shocks, such as marriage, or challenging shocks, such as death in the family, and so on,” Kosta explained.

Likewise, another of Kosta’s main ideas is that there has been an established order for banks and financial organisations, that arguably since centuries, process money and loans and the products and services they provide. Kosta elaborates that financial organisations – banks are under pressure today by the following:

  • the ongoing crisis
  • the advent of the new  connected generation on social media
  • the advent of easy, cheap person-to-person international payment schemes (Paypal and others)
  • the advent of new business models, dubbed banking 2.0 (see Movenbank, SImple, Fidorbank)
  • the advent of telecom operators as payment processors (mobile payments schemes not involving banks)
  • new business and artificial intelligence technologies.


Kosta’s Drawing called Ecosystem

Kosta is the author of the book (The Castle And The Sandbox), a book particularly focused on demonstrate how companies can innovate in conservative companies using open innovation. The book displays examples from healthcare, music, Hollywood, mobile commerce and finance. Kosta dispels the myths of innovation and offers the tools, techniques and life lessons needed for a culture of open innovation. Here’s your chance to find out: What’s an intrapreneur? And where can I find one (or ten)? How can I create a business case for innovation? How can I start a fire outside of my organisation (not an actual fire, obviously) Why are the boundaries between my company and the outside world arbitrary?

The sandbox is an “incubator” – a protected place where people with ideas can “play”, or to try out their ideas, without impacting the castle. The “castle” is the metaphor for the mothership, the core of the company. The incubator is the place where you can try, experiment, fail, try again, fail again, and eventually learn and succeed.

Kosta is also a proactive illustrator that uses drawing to express and visualise his ideas and thoughts. His drawings are partly done with a simple trace and using the language of infographics. These drawings have been used in various international events and articles.

He is proactive on social media and can be found on Twitter @copernicc, and in his forward thinking blog https://copernicc.wordpress.com where he expresses his deep belief that innovation comes from the ability to experiment.