The software programs that form the global financial stack are the first of their kind because they govern real value.
Every transaction facilitated by a financial protocol appends the blockchain state, the ownership status of all assets within the network. By contrast, legacy payment rails do not govern the transfer of assets directly and are highly trust-dependent. They work by exchanging IOU's between banks, trusting them to achieve settlement. In this way, incumbent financial applications and services are merely new intermediaries unto an existing remittance layer. Financial protocols however, require only trust in the cryptography and game-theoretic incentives that support the network.
Anyone with an internet connection can access applications built on the global financial stack. More still, because the smart-contract libraries are open and write access to the blockchain is free, anyone can contribute to improving it.