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.
BLOCKCHAIN FOR IMPACT
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.
“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?
“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.
“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 https://www.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 https://id2020.org/ and Blockchain for Impact https://blockchaincommission.org/.
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: https://t.me/joinchat/HhrB_hKGQDQKU7mhpzor_g
“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.”
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
Naval podcast with Nick Szabo
@Naval (Naval Ravikant) interviewing Nick Szabo for Tim Ferriss
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.
Connect4Climate.org 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.
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.
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 Nodl.io. 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.
Nodl.io 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.
- 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.
- What’s one thing you would tell the younger you if you could go back in time?
- If you were the King of the World, what’s one law you’d put into place?
- What technology would you like to see in the world ten years from now?
- 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.