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.