Blockchain is on the leading edge of social and environmental impact. Making waves in the areas of financial inclusion, environmental protection, and democratization though decentralization.

045. Governance, Self-Sovereign Identity and Ethics in Blockchain Tech w/ Elizabeth Renieris

Elizabeth Renieris, a crypto and blockchain lawyer educated at Harvard and London School of Economics speaks about identity and data privacy in the crypto and blockchain space.

042. Blockchain Visionaries and The Journey with Mann Matharu

Mann Matharu, blockchain consultant and author, was inspired by Satoshio’s Bitcoin Whitepaper. He felt it outlined a system in line with human nature, because isn’t more transparency and immutability what we all want?

039. 5×5 (2) – Five Questions. Five Guest Interviews.

“The requirements for skills are changing so quickly that the only real characteristic you can have is a desire to constantly be learning and constantly be upgrading your skills. Anybody who thinks that they’re going to come into their career with the same skills that they’re going to leave their career in this generation, they’re going to be caught off guard. So, it’s adaptability and a willingness to constantly evolve as a person.”

– Matthew Spoke

In this compilation podcast, I talk to Susan Oh, Matthew Spoke, Anu Bhardwaj, Betsabe Botaitis, and Eman Pulis.

Aside from all things blockchain and crypto related, what else makes these forward-thinking, big-picture seeing, crypto dynamos tick? How do they look at the world and what’s some advice that they can give the rest of us who are trying to grow or do better or learn some insights?

I got to ask these five successful thought-leaders about things like: challenges they’ve overcome, an important character trait that would be helpful for someone entering the workforce, and what they’re looking for in a city if they could create one themselves.

Each of these five different podcast guests answered the same five questions.

1. If someone’s completely new to the world of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, what would you like them to know?
2. Looking back, what was one of the most challenging things you faced in your career and how were you able to overcome it?
3. What would you say is the most important character trait that someone who’s about to enter the workforce should possess?
4. If you could create your own city or town, what are three key elements you would want to include?
5. LOVE, MONEY, + INFLUENCE — can you rank them in order of importance and explain?


Susan Oh, Co-chair of AI

Blockchain for Impact

Matthew Spoke, Founder

AION Foundation

Anu Bhardwaj, Founder  

Women Investing In Women DIGITAL

Betsabe Botaitis, Co-founder, CFO, + COO


Emanuel Pulis, Founder + CEO

Malta Blockchain Summit

032. Blockchain Impact and Data Sovereignty with Susan Oh

“Data sovereignty is just a fancy word for saying that whatever of mine, whatever data that I generate, whatever activity that I have, whatever content that I produce to help you power and fuel your ecosystem, I own it and I get to tokenize it and I get to volunteer it and sell it to you in ways that I agree to, instead of this blanket system of fine print that we have every time that we download an app and decide to you use it.”

Susan Oh talks to me about data sovereignty and the Internet of Value that is being created by blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies. The way the internet has been going, where we give away all of our data for free isn’t working.

“We willingly give away all our data that is worth billions of dollars and then companies take that data and they sell it to third party intermediaries into then weaponizing that data to get us to buy more sh*t”

And now that our lives are becoming more and more digital and we have all kinds of data points out there, there’s an opportunity for a new system. Susan shares her ideas on tokenizing data, with transparency and security built into it using blockchain tech, so the value of that data can be democratized. It can reward users who agree to share their information by participating in yes or no questions, polls, or surveys or by agreeing to look at ads or receive messaging. And why shouldn’t people who are willing to share their options, their likes and dislikes, or their time (like we’re doing now for free now) get paid in tradeable tokens.

In mainstream media, blockchain has become the good guy and crypto the bad guy, but Susan believes that without crypto and the tokenomics model, you’re throwing out the best part of blockchain. Since the technology of blockchain is what gives transparency, the question she raises is, ‘where do we need transparency more than crypto?’

For Susan’s the platform is designed to crowd source the validity and opinions around the top trending fake news stories. From her experience as a business journalist she realized that no one cares about facts, they care about stories. So, she aims to invite participation of users who choose to share their ideas and are rewarded for being part of the community. Those who have the strongest references based on the most valid citations, with the most votes, are rewarded with tokens that can be used within the platform or exchanged for other cryptos.

One of Susan’s main goals is to shift the conversation from right vs wrong to looking at methodology and the ideas or ideals around the technology. She uses an example of inviting a Bitcoin maximalist, Ethereum maximalist and an academic polychain enthusiast to the same table, so that real ideas come to life. When they look for common ground or where their ideas differ, greater awareness overall is the end result.

Understanding the advantages of new technology as well as the limitations and exploring ideas from all sides is one of Susan’s strengths. She aims high and is looking at how tech can improve the status quo not just in her own locale, but around the world. It’s no wonder Susan was honoured with one of the “Top 10 Frontier Women” awards, given by 5th Element Group’s Decade of Women campaign in partnership with the United Nations.

When it comes to women in this space, and even women who are simply users of the internet, women should feel empowered. Susan explains that we’re the most powerful consumer group in the world because women are socialized to consume products from the time we’re young girls and then we grow up to be women who may also be wives and mothers who more often than not are the ones who make purchase decisions for the household. And she goes on to say that women are natural communicators, that if we like something we want to tell everyone we know about it and even ask about it later to find out what our friends thought of this amazing thing that we all just discovered. So, Susan says that “you couldn’t have a better ambassador for nascent tech, than women who have skin in the game and who want everyone to know about it”.

And besides our natural bent toward diving in and sharing the good news, Susan says that the tech is a DIY culture that’s really welcoming, collaborative and meritocratic where the majority of the people who are in the space believe in a decentralization and inclusivity.

And since Susan is an advisor to the Hoboken Smart City Project we also talked about how data sovereignty might work there. She explains the idea for the project was generated by Sergio Fernandez de Cordova whose idea is to turn the city into a real life digital lab where citizens could agree to give the city or local businesses data points in exchange for tokens that could be used toward their utility bill or that stop sign down the street they were petitioning for. When data becomes democratized and there is data sovereignty, then the city will have to compete with other cities and give incentives for why skilled people would choose to live there.

If colleges and universities, and some high schools, compete to attract people to come their way, it makes sense that cities, as we become more and more globalized, would too.

Susan is also working with Adnan Hassan, founder of Mecasa Advisors and former Board Member of The World Bank, on a Global Bank of Small States platform of interoperability that brings together, virtually, 101 small states. The states that are being included have a population of less than 10 million with a high GDP per capital, but low GDP overall so are not part of the G10 global fee structure for international finance and practices. Bringing together small states is away to help build financial and social capital. A service provider or entrepreneur can join in, have access to educational resources and by participating in that learning, teach others how they learn by sharing their data. Then they can open their services to the other countries as part of this group of small states.

NOTE: there are a few incidents of explicit language for those who are language sensitive.

030. Women Supporting Women in Blockchain w/ Anu Bhardwaj

“It’s not something that’s localized. This is something that’s so global now. The Russian government is having crypto classes in all their universities in their curriculum. We have all the best schools in the United States. If you think about it, this technology is scaling, and you see the first crypto exchange open in Uganda just two, three months ago. It’s the next revolution, and my interest has been how do we get more women engaged from the beginning so we’re not left out.”

Anu Bhardwaj is the founder of Women Investing In Women Digital, and the State of Women Radio + TV network whose experience, before starting her own company, was in private equity and venture capital including collaborating with the U.S. Department of Commerce, the International Trade Administration, and the U.S Embassies of many countries around the globe.

And given that her work in global women’s issues & investing for women takes her to countries far and wide, it’s no surprise that I caught up with her remotely while she was in New York, having just gotten off of a plane from events in Sydney and Melboune, Australia. Anu was a guest judge on a show called That StartUp Show.

Anu is excited about the potential for global adoption of cryptocurrencies because it would give people all over the world in different countries with varying degrees of financial security and government accountability, alternatives, which she says gives people more of a voice. Cryptocurrencies can help to democratizing financial access, open up investment opportunities and give people choice.

Anu also believes in blockchain technology for its transparency and trust and is an active Angel Investor in some exciting StartUps out of Canada.

“With regards to blockchain technologies. I definitely think that as there’s more adoption, we will see better and more seamless, more transparent technologies coming forward. I think right now, the knowledge is in the hands of a few, but as we start to see more people reaping the benefits, I think more people will start to engage.”

Anu was honoured with one of the “Top 10 Frontier Women” awards, an award given by 5th Element Group’s Decade of Women campaign in partnership with the United Nations.

When I asked her why she believes in investing in women, she explained that women reinvest in their families and in their communities more often than men do and they share what they learn because women are natural communicators, generally, so she believes that the return on investing in women is exponential.

Speaking of supporting women, Anu also has a site called Qrypto Queens. They’re hosting a beach party in November, all about blockchain technology called Blockchain on the Beach.

When I asked Anu about her advice to young women, she mention confidence and within that, the ability to take risks and then to keep an open mind and to learn, and it is apparent that Anu has all of those qualities and more.

026. Blockchain’s Potential for Social Impact with Dr. Jane Thomason

“A lot of people think of blockchain and all they think about is Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies and then they immediately, their minds go to the dark web, and money laundering and so forth, but what I wanted to do was put a message out to the world which is, yes, there’s Bitcoin. That’s an important application of blockchain. But, there are all these other ways that it could be used that will actually make the world a better place to live in, so why don’t we push hard, lean in, and try and shape this technology to see if we can’t get those future benefits that people talk about.”

I got a chance to speak with Dr. Jane Thomason remotely while she was judging the EOS hackathon in Sydney, Australia recently. Dr. Thomason is a blockchain advisor, hackathon judge, experienced CEO and a women’s advocate who was awarded the UN DecadeOfWomen Quantum Impact Champion Award this year.

With her global experience both in business and in international development and now the world of blockchain technology, Dr. Thomason sees the world from a birds-eye view, with an ability to zoom out and look at the far-reaching potential of blockchain tech from a wider perspective.

And what she’s seeing right now is that we have a lot of “disconnected ecosystems”, a bit like the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, and that what she believes will help speed up the growth in the space would be for more collaboration, education, co-creation or to use a term she’s coined – hyper-co-collaboration.

We discuss some exciting blockchain use cases and where blockchain’s potential lies in the area of social impact.

Identity, financial transactions like remittances and voting are use cases that Dr. Thomason sees as having a huge impact on changing the status quo. In fact she gives an example of in Australia of the cost being over $200,000 per vote, whereas with blockchain tech, the cost would be around 50 cents per vote and mentions Horizon State’s token-based blockchain voting platform. And speaking of voting reforms, Dr. Thomason shares that there is political party in Australia called The Flux Party, which is a Blockchain Political Party.

Dr. Thomason would like to see more accelerator programs and more social impact funds. She talks about the incredible ideas that come out of the hackathon events, but that there’s a gap. There isn’t yet enough support or funding for these ideas to become full-fledged startups or for startups to be profitable ventures and commercialized applications out in the world once the hackathon is over.

One incredible use case she talks about it one that touches the areas of digital identity, medical records and supply chains all attached to one person’s activities.

She uses the example of a long-distance truck driver in Africa who may travel through six different countries. If he’s HIV positive, currently, he wouldn’t be able to get medication in just any country, and his antiretroviral medication helps to stop the spread of HIV. But with blockchain, his identification could be on a blockchain, as well as his medical records and the supply chain information so that wherever he goes, he has access all of these records. What if blockchain really could bring all of these areas together? Well, it can, but what will the world look like when it is put in place?

What does the future look like if all of the facets of our lives could be digital, transparent but private, and immutable?

She talks about education and empowerment and diving into blockchain to find out more and she shares her big a-ha moment with me when she recalls the time after the banda aceh tsunami hit Indonesia. Dr. Thomason was there on the ground during the reconstruction and she explained that at the time there were no records, so although 200 people lost their lives, there was no way to track who they were, what their medical records were, or whether the donor money that came in was going to the right people. She realized that if the blockchain tech were around then that everything around the rehabilitation and reconstruction would have been so much easier. And that’s what got her really thinking about what kind of impact blockchain tech could have on a global impact scale.

Dr. Jane Thomason
Digital Transformation Abt Associates

025. The Global Identity Crisis and Data Protection with Bruce Silcoff

“We’re working with Bermuda right now to put the whole country onto eIDs or digital IDs so one of the first steps would be to do that. The second step will be to make it useful within Bermuda across business and government. And the next step is to enable Bermuda residents to take that ID and use it globally. That’s interoperability.”

I talk to Bruce Silcoff at Shyft Network about the global identity epidemic. He explains that there are over 1.1 billion people in the world with no official identification, which is a huge problem that is hard for those of us in developed countries to maybe fully understand. It means they have no right to own property, they have no way of being allowed to vote, they can’t access services like healthcare or schooling.

Shyft is hoping to do play a role in remedying this global issue by working with the United Nations on two of their initiatives: ID2020 and Blockchain for Impact

Also, where digital identity is concerned, in Bermuda, Shyft Network is working to make credible national digital identification a reality and then to continue to break new ground by making that digital identity accessible, usable, and interoperable across international borders.

And Bruce, with his entrepreneurial background and valuable experience during the dot com era shares what makes the blockchain revolution so different.

“Everywhere I go, no matter who I sit beside, whether it’s in a restaurant or whether it’s on an airplane, as soon as the word blockchain comes out, as soon as I open up my laptop and people see stickers on the top of it, people want to have a conversation.”

He talks about blockchain being a truly global movement on a huge scale and that the pace is way faster than the dot com boom was.

And he shares what it is that’s really key to building a successful company. And although he breaks it down into simple terms, I get the feeling that it’s experience that makes biggest difference and knowing just how to do what he suggest, which comes down to communication, having the right team, and collaboration with other companies.

We talk about data being an asset and a valuable one, and how companies need to validate not only someone’s ID but also information about what the risks are in doing business with them. Shyft Network is able to take KYC and AML data and make it useful by attaching a credibility layer to it.

We talk about the risks associated with centralized data, like centralized wealth, and how decentralization is a necessity when it comes to security.

And Bruce tells a really great story of how he got into blockchain. And the spoiler is that it has to do with Joseph Weinberg and that Bruce was impressed by his passion, vision and honesty and the rest I’ll leave for the podcast.

For more info about Shyft Network or to reach out to Bruce directly:
Telegram group:

020. Blockchain Technology and Solar Punks w/Leon-Gerard Vandenberg

“What we think Solar Punk is, is this mash up of what Solara is, solar and then this cypher punk cyber punk initiative and so it’s a mash up between this social theme with a technology positivity to it.”

Leon-Gerard Vandenberg

One of the reasons why the ideology behind bitcoin made so much sense to Leon-Gerard

Vandenberg early on is because he had been creating a payment system that had similar goals behind it, called US Navy Cash. As he put it, “Imagine having the United States Treasury Department as a customer!” Well.. the US Treasury Department wanted thier Navy to have its own currency and to create a payment system that was transparent and resistant to fraud. Sound familiar? That was years before Bitcoin was ever mined. So it makes sense that Leon-Gerard, with that background, would go on to mine Bitcoin himself, and be working with related technology many years later.

Now Leon-Gerard Vandenberg is Chief Technology Officer for Solara, and developing an incredible clean energy blockchain network. He’s developing blockchain technology around solar energy generation and distribution and tokenizing the energy, through SOL tokens, as an asset.

We also talk about the goal of financial inclusion and bringing opportunities that go along with creating infrastructure around solar energy to developing areas. By bringing energy as an asset to these areas, the advantage of blockchain tech and its inherent transparency and immutability, will come with it, so that political and financial fraud can be eliminated along the way.

Solar is the cheapest way to make energy, so is it possible to democratize wealth through creating digital villages?

He mentions that there are trillions of dollars of bonds allocated by the World Bank and the United Nations in a green climate fund to assist in aid for infrastructure in developing countries.

Leon-Gerard mentions his work with Fuzo building a working system on feature phones and smart phones, but that the company just didn’t get the traction to be able to scale.

He talks about ESIMS which can act like solar sensors with a stack of features inside and how that technology can be applied in the cases that he’s referring to.

He mentions Rob Allen, one of the advisors for Solara, who was on the Speaking of Crypto Podcast #011


Book: Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond

By Chris Burniske and Jack Tatar

Naval podcast with Nick Szabo
@Naval (Naval Ravikant) interviewing Nick Szabo for Tim Ferriss

The Tim Ferriss Show Transcripts: Nick Szabo

013. Climate Change Meets Blockchain Innovation with Nick Beglinger

Nick Beglinger is a bit of a disruptor. He has a background as an economist, and at one point had his own software company, but he’s also an environmental activist.

In his home of Switzerland, he co-founded swisscleantech, a national green business association, to bring together commerce and climate goals, but being the face of climate regulation, in a thriving economy, wasn’t always popular. In fact, by one Swiss economic magazine was labeled ‘the big mouth of energy change’.

But, after learning about the disruptive nature of blockchain technology, and feeling the urgency of climate change, he wanted to bring blockchain disruption to the sustainability movement, and he did, in a big way.

Nick and his company Cleantech21 partnered with the United Nations, organized seventeen different workshops in seventeen major cities around the world, in order to reach out to the international developer community, and out of that – the Hack4Climate hackathon was born. A World Bank initiative.

The first #Hack4Climate innovation program partners:

At last year’s Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, 33 countries were represented at the first ever Hack4Climate hackathon where he was able to bring innovation and regulation together.

Press conference from COP23:

The winning team is Gain Forest, using AI in the forestation space. We can analyse any area and developments of deforestation over 10 years so we are able to find patterns and predict future outcomes, which can influence funding and accountability.

“Sustainable development is defined as development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations” he says. “We’re still in a pretty huge crisis and not many people understand.”

Nick explains that approaches regulation goals by looking at true cost of development by factoring in the environmental repercussions of development on the world around us.

When it comes to climate change solutions through blockchain technology, Nick is not a fan of tokenizing carbon credits because he believes it’s too complex a model that doesn’t affect real change. He is, however, a fan of applying tokenization to the production of solar panels, for example, by making token holders, like shareholders.

He also mentions tokenizing forest assets so that the public can buy into forests to help save them as the valuable resource they are. He makes the point that not only do we have to concern ourselves with cutting down our carbon emissions, but if we help forests to grow and flourish, we help the environment, since trees naturally remove carbon from the atmosphere.

He feels strongly that to affect real change, governments should impose carbon taxes by putting a price for every tonne of emission which would allow everyone factor those costs into their own personal costs and it would follow that we would end up with more electric cars than cars run on gas.

When I ask about a world leader in working on sustainable development goals, the surprising front runner he mentions, is China. In China, people are shifting from bikes to motorized bikes to cars. However, there isn’t enough air in our whole atmosphere to pollute if all Chinese citizens will someday have polluting cars.

Nick used to work as an economist at McKinsey.

Now, as co-founder at Cleantech21, C21, he runs and acceleration program where they have an open and co-creative approach to innovation, with sponsorship from the UN and the World Bank.

With that kind of policy framework, and the type of innovation he sees coming with his hackathons, time will tell if we’re heading in the right direction.

011. Financial Inclusion Through Blockchain Tech with Robert Allen

Robert brings a passion for financial inclusion to his new role as co-founder of the Start Up nodl. With a military engineering background, two decades building platforms for international banks,and technical FinTech expertise, having built the ground-breaking Vulcan blockchain platform when he was at PwC, nodl is where he’s bringing it all together for the greater good.

Today on the podcast Robert shares what big changes he wants to put into practice that he believes could revolutionize the way millions of people live.

We also talk about the new book that he wrote with co-author, Sofie Blakstad. Sofie is a long-time fintech collaborator of Robert’s and CEO of hiveonline whose blockchain strategy Robert is responsible for. The book “FinTech Revolution: Universal Inclusion in the New Financial Ecosystem” comes out this week on Kindle and I strongly urge everyone to grab a copy.

Robert explains that 1/3 of the world’s population, over 2 billion people, are unbanked and how there needs to be big change.

He talks about the convergence of technologies — blockchain, AI, the Internet of Things and mobile cloud coverage across the planet and says that it’s where the convergences of the various technologies happens where innovations occurs. Robert’s talking about breaking down old business models to make way for the new, a global, collaborative, decentralized way of doing things that will help democratize wealth.

He references:

Jeremy Rifkin’s book “Third Industrial Revolution”, exploring the paradigm shift

He talks about these:

UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals

Near and dear to his heart is also the oceans and Robert talks about one of the projects he’s working on being an innovative way to turn plastic waste into clean energy.

He explains that the unbanked in developing countries have natural forms of wealth, water rights, land titles, renewable energy and that that could be tokenized to allow for a greater distribution of wealth, because billions of people, some 70 million people even in the United States, don’t have access to a bank account, so Robert explains that you can’t make or receive payments, or create a business, or even recieve remittances without paying a fortune in fees. “So those who are least able to pay for that service are hit the hardest. It’s really expensive being poor”.

“To have the sorts of technology we’re talking about, the distributed ledger technology, cryptocurrencies, and everything else that is adjacent to that, filling the gap to transparently and incorruptibly provide a service (which is currently very opaque and very exploitative) is a game changer.”

And goes on to say that it doesn’t take much, that it’s a small margin to help raise the poor of the world up out of poverty and he explains how that can create waves of change.

M-Pesa in Kenya

The Bill + Melinda Gates Foundation


Provides interoperability. Open-source software to help create payment platforms for the unbanked people around the world to be able to access digital financial services.

Cash is subject to fraud, theft, it’s localized, and you can’t build a business very well when you have to spend many hours to store your savings and it becomes time consuming.

Robert and co-founder Justin Amos (formerly of Blythe Masters’ Digital Asset) set up He goes into his work at PwC and building a FinTech there which became Vulcan. Vulcan is a platform that was developed to provide financial services through crypto technology and blockchain tech. And while PwC is not able to operate a financial services platform like this due to compliance and regulation, that is nodl‘s objective. is the result of the learnings from the Digital Asset Services FinTech business at PwC. The new business is focused on financial inclusion, a next generation financial services platform providing a new style of bank accounts on mobile phones around the globe to the unbanked and working with partners in reputation platforms, solar projects and waste to energy.

They need friendly NGOs in various developing countries and they’re looking for funding as well.

Robert was a military engineer in the British Army. He worked on battlefield computer systems, including military-grade, transactional, decentralized databases, resistant to attack (where even when network nodes were taken out network could still function). This wasn’t blockchain tech, but it did use many of the elements that Satoshi Nakamoto incorporated into the blockchain protocol in creating Bitcoin.

The FinTech movement was fueled by open source, but instead to build parts of the infrastructure to be shared by others, so Robert explains that the new state of things, of technology, of future tech is collaboration.

He sites his previous collaborations with:

And with his co-author Sophie Blakstad of Hiveonline

Robert says he is excited about Hashgraph and what’s coming on the heels of this new project.

Full cycle energy waste to energy

Plus Robert answers these fun five questions and I won’t give away all of the answers, but he ends with a beautiful piece of advice to anyone who wants to lead others.

  1. What’s a book on bitcoin, blockchain tech, or cryptocurrency that you would recommend?

Robert’s Answer: Dave Birch’s “Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin” history of money and the route to bitcoin and beyond.

  1. What’s one thing you would tell the younger you if you could go back in time?
  2. If you were the King of the World, what’s one law you’d put into place?
  3. What technology would you like to see in the world ten years from now?
  4. What’s the best piece of advice you can give to someone who wants to do something great, but he or she doesn’t know where to start.