blockchain for impact


The best of the best – 2! Blockchain experts share their ideas in this second part of the Best of Speaking of Crypto 2018 podcast.

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.

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: