012. The Bitcoin Experiment, Big Business, and Blockchain with Dante Disparte

Dante Disparte is a regular Forbes contributor, author, CEO and founder of Risk Cooperative, and former Chair of the Harvard Business School Club of DC and Member of HBS Alumni Board in Boston. He is also a founding advisor of the Global Blockchain Business Council.

In our chat today, we talk about one of his recent Forbes magazine articles titled, “Our Economic Model is Out of WACC”.

His article, referencing Weighted Average Cost of Capital (WACC), explains how large companies think about investment models, and his stance is that it’s time for a new investment yardstick. He explains how blockchain and cryptocurrencies enable new business models that can help reprice and right-size finance and incentives.

Dante also references an article written by one of his colleagues at Forbes, Michael del Castillo 

Article: The 10 Largest Companies In the World Are Now Exploring Blockchain

Dante gives us an incredible statistic about how popular “blockchain” was at the World Economic Forum that he attended in Davos in January of this year.

World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2018

Dante also mentions the Global Blockchain Business Council, of which he is a member and advisor.

I don’t know about you, but I had no idea how big the business of insurance really is, but Dante shared that it’s a $5.5 trillion market! So, no wonder it’s an industry that is inherently risk averse. He explains the hierarchical nature of the corporate structure and that blockchain, inherent in the technology, can flatten corporate structure. As he likes to say, “corporate hierarchy is flat, the next layer down”. When he explains that forty percent of the American public could not withstand a $400 emergency right now, he shares that blockchain can enable insurance companies to reach more clients and enable a faster process when disasters strike.

Dante co-authored a book with Daniel Wagner called “Global Risk Agility and Decision Making: Organizational Resilience in the Era of Man-Made Risk”.

He talks about the notion of values mattering most when it’s least convenient and the fact that sixty percent of global risks are man-made.

We also get into politics and why in our culture plagued with doubt and distrust for politicians, big business, and institutions, that blockchain has huge opportunity right now. He cites that the rise in populism, whether in the Brexit example in the UK or the election of Donald Trump in the US, are symptoms of the real issue underneath being that people are fed up with status quo.

Why are we in Western cultures fed up with the status quo? Dante says it’s in large part due to severe income inequality, that we’re not doing enough to address it, and that it’s one of the Big Four Global Threats — the other three being Climate Change, Pandemics and Erosion of Trust.

Dante quotes one of his Forbes articles: “Blockchains record trust like the atomic clock records time”.

He goes on to say that “in an environment like that where a company or a firm could say I am irrevocably recording this particular transaction, it’s a proxy for trust.”

He talks about Bitcoin as an experiment. At the beginning of 2017, Bitcoin was worth $1,000 and it became a $20,000 asset by the end of last year. Although there were large sums of Bitcoin owned by whales, does Bitcoin help to democratize wealth? There is no centralized authority or governing body and a flat, decentralized organizational structure, so should we look to Bitcoin as an emerging business model? Dante called it “an encouraging societal experiment”.

Dante cited exciting examples of blockchain businesses:

He is an advisor to Power Ledger, innovative tech in the energy sector.

He also mentions Bitfury paving the way for new models in the area of land registries.

And, Etherisc, a platform re: flight delays.

He quotes Michael Casey “a cryptocurrency can be coded, but a dollar cannot”. *See SOC podcast 010. Hilary Carter recommends two of Michael Casey’s books.

Lastly, we discuss his being a leader among a community of leaders at Harvard Business School Club of DC and also serving on the Alumni Board in Boston as well and giving scholarships to local non-profit leaders in DC.

009. Blockchain Like Electricity with Jason Lee

Blockchain Expert, Jason Lee is the Expansion Director for the NEM foundation for Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific and was named one of Forbes Top 30 Under 30 Asia.

Jason compares blockchain tech to electricity. Electricity powers what we use all around us but it’s working behind the scenes. Blockchain protocols are similar. As we go forward with this technology it will become seamless. It will be the technology powering what we use all around us, working behind the scenes, like electricity.

We also talk about the Facebook data privacy scandal and Jason introduces the concept that “If you’re not paying for the product, you ARE the product.” Food for thought. But in a decentralized world, we could be paid for the data or personal information that we choose to provide.

Decentralization puts the power back into the consumer rather than the service provider. It begs the question, shouldn’t businesses pay consumers for the information they receive if it helps them with marketing, or allows them to sell advertising space to others business or if it helps improve business strategies?

Blockchain is changing the way we look at the world and changing the way the future world is going to look.

If you’re looking to get into blockchain tech, Jason recommends following your curiosity. Find out how it relates to your life, your work, your business or what you’re passionate about and use your area of expertise to dive into or develop the projects that peak your interest most.

Jason refers to NEM as a smart asset blockchain.

Big Unicorns, like Facebook, Uber, Air B+ B, are holding more and more information and whatever is centralized can be hacked. However, businesses can streamline processes through blockchain protocol, providing accuracy of information that is tamper proof — immutable.

Business have record keeping books, ledgers, only with blockchain tech this record book is placed around the world and maintained through cryptography and the power of the internet. And the record book can be updated, but no one can cook the books or go back and falsify records in the past.

NEM Foundation is a non-profit with a council that governs the protection, promotion, and development of the NEM blockchain. They are in 50 countries that talk to business owners and a distribute the NEM community fund.

Some NEM partner projects include:

Copyright Bank

X Arcade

Travel By Bit in Brisbane, Brisbane airport….

Choice in New Zealand uses QR code scanning and a portion can be placed into charity.

Loyal Coin that aggregate all of the loyalty cards in your wallet and potentially tokenize your loyalty points.

XEM Cryptocurrency

We also talked about Smart Cities, like Dubai, who plan to have all city and government functions on a blockchain by 2020.

Smart Dubai

Centralized vs. Decentralized blockchains.

GDPR in Europe

Right to Be Forgotten

ID 2020 is an alliance of organizations looking into this

Blockchain Association of Australia

FinTech Australia

Australian Stock Exchange

Used to clear and settle up to 2 trillion dollars worth of cash in Australian equity markets. They have a plan to implement blockchain technology by 2020.

Jason Lee came to Australia because his wife, a medical doctor, got into a specialist program. He’s always had a love of learning and curiosity and was interested in what the future would look like and what we’re leaving for our children and our children’s children.

He can be reached at:

Twitter @jasonleecj