The consensus from speakers at ITC 2012 was that face to face dealing will not disappear. Technology support will get better, but it will not make individual negotiations and conversation redundant. This concern about face time baffles me at times.
But these statements need to be made because some technologists' primary focus is on technology rather than the business. If you have a pure technology point of view, then you see the ideal system as having no human nodes. But, of course, a system that never interfaced with people would be pointless. Machines aren't ever going to be interested in insurance.
The first piece of financial technology we know about is the tally stick. The tally stick was a way of recording transactions prior to the introduction of writing. The parties to a deal would take a stick and cut notches in it, representing quantities. They'd then split the stick in two and take a part each. These could then be matched up later. This is where we get the word “stock”, which is a name for a split stick.
My point is, no matter how much you refine the technology – from tally sticks to digital data – it's the deal that counts. It's not “how do we best cut the notches?” but “how many notches shall we cut?” And the latter question hints at rich, human communication.