Blockchain Adoption Starts with Gamification — Yat Siu, Animoca Brands, on the Future of Crypto
- “So, right now, I look at the state of blockchain very similar to Internet in ’96 and ’97… And so I think at this point, but much like Internet in ’96 and ’97, blockchain is a word you’ve heard. It’s something you know. Everyone’s talking about it in the context of the future, but they might not quite get it. So, the awareness is there. We think the time is ripe, essentially, for blockchain in the next 18 to 24 months to really start showing its big utility cases and sort of create that mass adoption.”
- “We believe that mass adoption will come through games… because gaming has been an industry that has pushed forward technology in general. If you think about it, if it wasn’t for games, we wouldn’t have faster CPUs, faster GPUs. Can you imagine the popularity of smartphones without games on the App Store? Can you imagine companies like Nintendo or Xbox or Playstation even existing? Entirely new industries have come up just because of games, because games is the utility itself. So we think the same will happen for blockchain. But I think the other thing that’s also exciting, of course, is that games have also educated a large mass, roughly 2.3 billion, about the value of virtual reality. So, people who spend time, lots of time, playing games, understanding the value of the virtual world; those are the people who you don’t need to convince why a virtual currency might actually be real, or why a virtual item has value. So they are to us, the most easily adoptable base.”
- “In the past, [virtual value] wasn’t possible because you couldn’t have digital scarcity. You couldn’t create something that was rare or meaningful in a digital world because one could simply copy-paste, and now with blockchain, with digital tokens, you can create scarcity.”
- “I have sort of this view, that ‘let a thousand chains bloom’ sort of thing. I don’t think you need to have one master chain. Right now everyone is fighting for that, but much like games, I don’t think that… there’s a company out there saying there should be one game currency for all games. That doesn’t work, because every community is different. And what’s beautiful about blockchain is that you can actually create a value system for something as small as a village, and that should be good enough.”
- “There’s articles out there comparing dot-com with a tulip bubble , and it’s mostly ignorance because they don’t understand it, and I think the same is true for blockchain and it goes to that progress and I think that for all the harm, of course, that the crypto collapse that happened last year did, it also infused a lot of capital into the environment for real companies to come up and emerge and build stuff. Because it has raised that awareness.”
- The way I look at blockchain in the future is, I see it as being as foundational as what Internet did when it first started and how it changed; meaning a change of governance, the way you may run companies, the way countries are run and the way you experience life. All of that will fundamentally change with blockchain as well.”
Yat Siu, musician-turned-Internet-pioneer, sheds light on the infinite potential of blockchain, especially as expressed through the gaming market, which his company, Animoca Brands, aims to develop and exploit. As one of the first Internet Service Providers in Asia, Siu has ample experience and skill in detecting and growing revolutionary technologies. The next big, world-changing discovery, “much like Internet in ’96 and ’97,” Siu asserts, is blockchain.
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The power of blockchain lies in a multitude of its attributes. Siu lists a few; that it is a countermeasure to the monopoly that distributors have on information – a solution to the epidemic of fake news, by enabling efficient, scalable verification; that it lets less developed countries to join the “capital system” by giving them a value system tailored to the community’s needs; that it creates “digital scarcity” – an integral aspect of any economy.
Siu plans to develop all of these possibilities for blockchain through who he deems the “most targetable base”: gamers. With the cutting-edge, technologically-driven nature of the industry, as well as the cultural understanding of the value of virtual reality and its popularity within the community, gamers are a prime marketing target. The “2.3 billion” people around the world who already regularly engage with games are, Siu explains, already investing – albeit in time, not money, which is ultimately more valuable.
In the video-game industry and on a global, governmental scale, blockchain has the potential to be the next technological boom, rivalling the Internet in impact and reach.
In conversation with Yat Siu, raised by professional musicians, parents who trained you in the art of music, you actually studied music, but today you could say that he’s conducting a very different orchestra, with a unique set of instruments, called blockchain. Welcome, Yat Siu.
Thank you, it’s a pleasure being here.
Alright, so how do you get from musician to really doing incredible work in blockchain?
Well I mean, that’s basically asking me to distil 30-40 years of my life, right, but effectively I was born in Vienna, I studied music in Vienna because of my parents who are musicians, especially my mother, she was working at the state opera house and it was her passion, but as an only child to a musician family of Chinese parents, my fate was sealed.
And I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. But I think one of the other things, is of course with music that I ended up really doing is it brought me into technology because I wasn’t actually that gifted musician. I don’t have perfect pitch and I don’t read music sheets of music for fun, right? But because of music, I found a niche and that niche allowed me to become a self-taught coder, and I basically wrote MIDI software, so that MIDI software is like an interface, the MIDI interface which you plug into a computer, you put it into a keyboard, which back then was kind of very modern. And when you play music, it sort of electrical signals would be delivered to the computer. And I wrote some early notation software which was then put up on CompuServe and Genie, early forms of Internet I could say, a bulletin board systems back then, and back then when you basically offered a public domain or share or software, you would write something there, and say if you like the software of please send the check to this address right?
I was like, ok, who knows if it’s what everyone did. And it was more like a badge of honor. I got to do this not so much as I thought I would get money and then the check started coming through, I was like, Oh really, wow. So I think that was sort of how I got into this and realized I can actually make money.
So, you were 13, you wrote code, you put it on a bulletin board. This is pre-Internet, the Internet that we know today. And suddenly, you were getting checks in the mail.
Yes, I was very rewarding. I think it gave me the motivation to continue and actually that was the path ultimately, that led me to get into this, sort of broadly speaking, technology career. Because when Atari, which is the computer I was coding on the Atari ST, they had an office in Vienna, as well, and they’re like, “Hey, you know what, we like what you’re doing. Would you like to come in and do something for us? And I said sure and for me, of course, that’s kind of super endorsement because the computer that I’m coding on is now I’m actually getting to work with a company that’s built it. And so, for me, it was like a God moment almost. And it wasn’t an impressive offer, it was actually quite small.
Yeah, and in 1993 you came to Hong Kong?
And you provided the first IP addresses to the city.
Well, I wouldn’t go as far as to say I provided the very first IP addresses, because others may have done it, but I was one of the first ISPs. So Internet service providers, essentially providing access to people to go on to the Internet. And the ISP was called Hong Kong Online. The fact that I was actually able to register domain and get the business registration for a company called Hong Kong Online probably kind of says how early that was. And the model was made somewhat to the America Online concept, which is providing people Internet access because Atari brought me to the US at the time, and so I was sort of quasi-sort of working but also studying and because Atari essentially changed business, effectively shut down midway, we started a business with all of our ex-Atari colleagues. Truly only a handful, six of us.
Really just to support all the Atari users that essentially become stranded and I’d start… And then we went on basically to software for SGI acquired business and essentially sent me to Asia because I was the Asian guy on the team so that was kind of interesting… So, I guess, international business strategy early 90s perhaps, I don’t know, certainly for me, I was like, “hey I’m cool, I’d love to go there.” At first, I went to Japan.
I don’t speak any Japanese, I’m not Japanese at all but anyway, seemed to fit. So I went to Japan, enjoyed it a lot, and went to Taipei, and then I came to Hong Kong, and I couldn’t get my access because I couldn’t get… there was no CompuServe node so there was no way for me to actually communicate with anyone I was like, “How can this be possible, at least with someone use a modem and do something… and there were a few obvious groups but they would have long distance calls, it was very, very complicated. So, I thought maybe we should set up an ISP here, and so it happened to be because my father is, background from Hong Kong. I had permanent residency which I didn’t know until I discovered afterwards so I said… Oh, I don’t need a visa to stay here.
So the whole confluence of opportunities. So, the circumstances came together.
Except the fact that Hong Kong is that market place at the time said, “Why do we need the Internet, What is this thing called the Internet and why do we need it?”
And in fact, it wasn’t just Hong Kong of course, it was pretty much most of Asia and many parts of the US as well. CompuServe, GEnie, or FidoNet. Those places were the domains of mostly the weird. The ones who are sort of hacking away on computers.
Does this sound familiar to you now?
Yes, it’s a repeat, it’s a complete repeat. And that cycle seems to repeat itself every so often because it wasn’t just back in the early Internet days, you know, pre-.com, sort of with us like that as well, and then when you get into the smartphone era, a lot of people look at smartphone development in kind of a weird way and today, obviously with blockchain, it’s exactly the same things so to a group of people that they are passionate about an area, of building it out, and most people on the outside, thinking, that’s really weird and crazy stuff and we’re not really sure that that’s sort of maybe appropriate makes sense. And I think what reinforced that sort of quasi-crazy image on the Internet days, is the talk about virtual which was very science fiction.
And so, one of the first tools we built before SGI was a modeler that would allow for virtual shopping experiences basically doing e-commerce in 3D.
And what year was this?
This was ‘92.
This was 1992.
And there was a standard. Back then, it was a push called VRML, Virtual Reality Model Language. Basically, a version of HTML just for virtual reality. They probably, it might even take another five years for that to be reality. And now we’re finally getting there.
But that’s how early those days were and all the graphics were lines and stuff. I mean, nothing like we see today but that was a concept and so we would talk about this future and we would build towards that future.
And people only certain people could imagine it because that’s what you needed, a healthy dose of imagination, to see that it would actually might actually happen for most people who typically might see five minutes ahead, they can imagine it. And so that was the problem.
In blockchain, who are those composers right now?
I mean I think there’s so many of them out there trying to build sort of amazing things. If you, if you look for instance at whether they succeed or not, even if you look at someone like Vitalik for instance, what he’s trying to sort of… when he came up with the concept of the computational token for instance, that was an imagination it was thinking of here is a standard that we want to put code on top. What else could you do with that?
It requires someone who can imagine what the future would look like.
We can talk about decentralization all we like but someone had to at least come up with the initial concept of sort of putting cod on top and then a lot of people follow, so and said, ok, where Ethereum is the standard because it has issues because it hadn’t quite figured out sharding, because of speed issues, but everyone else is now simply saying we want to be a faster and better Ethereum, at the end of the day. So, you could say, they led that trend right there… And he’s very sort of passionate about that. So that would be an example.
Well, transaction speeds, one thing, sharding and language and all and coding, and we can talk about that till we’re blue in the face, but what about utility? What about actually the holy grail, which is mass adoption. One could argue that we are hardly even there yet.
So, right now, I look at the state of blockchain very similar to Internet in ‘96 and ‘97. So if you look at ‘96 and ‘97, the time when companies like Alibaba started and Amazon and eBay and SoftBank and all those guys just kind of starting off, there were only 36 million Internet connections, and most of them were on dial-up, which is actually surprising when I mentioned this to some people because they can’t even imagine the time when there was no Internet, and those dial-up connections were horrible experiences, for those of you who would recall, you had to buy the modem to connect. Sometimes it would disconnect, the software wouldn’t work, and today with blockchain we have wallets and there’s only 30-million of them around the world. So it’s kind of similar.
And the experience of setting with wallets like MetaMask is equally horrible. You have to sign up, you have the security and all the steps. By the time you even get to one point, it’s five minutes in, you have almost close to 100% drop out rate. So, there’s a lot of parallels there that we see.
And so I think at this point, but much like Internet in 96 and 97, blockchain is a word you’ve heard. It’s something you know. Everyone’s talking about it in the context of the future, but they might not quite get it.
So, the awareness is there. So, we think the time is ripe essentially for blockchain in the next 18 to 24 months, to really start showing its big utility cases and sort of create that mass adoption.
Is that what you’re doing at Animoca Brands? 15:41
So for Animoca Brands, we believe that mass adoption will come through games and that’s a focus right now, so…
It’s almost the training language.
It is, but I also think that games are unique in many ways because games has been an industry that has pushed forward a technology in general. So if you think about it, if it wasn’t for games, we wouldn’t have faster CPUs, faster GPUs. Can you imagine the popularity of smartphones without games on the App Store? Can you imagine companies like Nintendo or Xbox or Playstation to even exist, right? So, entire new industries have come up just because of the games because games is the utility itself.
So we think the same will happen for blockchain.
But I think the other thing that’s also exciting of course is that games have also educated a large mass, roughly 2.3 billion of them about the value of virtually. So, people who spend time playing games, lots of time playing games, understanding the value of the virtual world, and those are the people who you don’t need to convince, why a virtual currency might actually be real or virtual, item has value. So they are to us, the most easily adoptable base. If I go to someone who is more traditional, and has never played a game for instance, convincing him why virtual currency might be something, it’s much harder than having someone who plays online games every day for instance, and it’s already sort of some trading, or buying virtual items between other players who are competing for them, so that’s why I think gaming will be the first wave of early adoption.
Don’t we already have an example of where there was a real run into the virtual space, Second Life, Sims, and we saw what was a really incredible economy that was being built and then suddenly it petered out.
Right. So I think the games have proven that there is a virtual economy possible inside the game, but inherently because games are war gardens essentially, they are enclosed spaces that don’t have a way of expanding unless you create real economic restrictions which you don’t have in a game.
So what happens to most online games, not just second life, is it’s more closer to the Venezuelan economy. Apologies to anyone from Venezuela. But, the problem is precisely that, because game creators look at the game as content. So if I need to make more money, I will sell more content, I will issue more coins, I will issue a billion more coins. And what happens to the economy, it becomes hyper-inflationary. And so when you are a gamer, talk to anyone who plays games and has been in the game for several years, he ends up being a multi-billionaire. He has so many coins,
so much he doesn’t even know what to do with it.
And then what happens to the pipeline of gamers who want to…can they afford to even join?
They can’t. It’s like plopping everyone who is a newborn straight into the middle of Manhattan, and saying, live. It’s impossible to become bigger, it doesn’t feel good. They leave the game. And so what happens in many games is that the new user experience can be a bad one because they immediately see… Oh, this guy is at this level. I can never reach it.
You could have some real-world parallels as well in the sense that people in the real world will go to Hong Kong for instance, and have that experience as well and say, “Wow I can’t afford anything here, so I’m not sure I want to live here, but at least they have choices to go elsewhere and that’s what’s happening today, we’re…
Well, this is the criticism of what happened in the global economy in 2008. This is the criticism of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the top 1%…
Right, correct. But, you know, you do have mobility. If people are prepared to move elsewhere, they could basically build a different life and it’s not necessarily about the specific income that you make. It’s about relative. So, if someone for instance, it’s not like everyone in Finland for instance, has the same general income as the top 1% in Hong Kong, but the general happiness may be better because broadly speaking, everyone feels that they are sort of equal, as supposed to see a 1% right in your face, which places like Hong Kong are very good at showing that right in your face aspect, but it brings you back to the virtual side, which is basically people don’t want to be in those worlds, so they choose to go to another game, so they have a new game, they enter that world and they become masters of that world, they become the billionaires of that world. And then, what happens unfortunately, is the game peters out, they get to become number one, and then frankly, it’s Why am I here? And there is no real economy that’s driving it? And so what we believe is that the understanding exists. Now, we just have to tune the games to essentially embrace a real economy, and we think blockchain, and particularly non-fungible tokens can make this a reality.
So, take the example that you just came in with Second Life. Because it’s a walled garden, the value of Second Life has to be inside Second Life only, which means that if Second Life had disappeared, which happens to many games, all the assets, everything you purchase, goes away with it as well.
It’s sort of the real-world example of if you go to H&M and you buy clothes and if H&M shuts down, your clothes disappear, and that’s not really ok, but in the virtual world, that’s what we accept. And I think the problem with that example is that it restricts people for actually thinking of what you’re spending in the time as an investment. Whereas in fact, when you are spending 20 hours a month on a game, actually, it is an investment. Just because for instance, I’m playing a sport or I’m running and it might not cost me any money, I have made an investment of my time which is arguably more valuable than just the money I put in. And the investment is maybe to get fitter or healthier, but it is still an investment. But in games, every investment you make, money and time is in the end, futile, which we think is restricting people’s incentive to purchase and we think that’s proven by the conversion rates. So, in our industry, in the classical free-to-play gaming industry, we exist and that’s 70 billion dollars of a 138 billion business on a 3 or 2 or 1% conversion rate.
So you apply blockchain, alright, so you create this stickiness to the world that you create. Do you believe that you could turn around not only the gaming industry but in self is a backdoor to helping the mass understand code application of blockchain?
So, I think when you think about gamers as a whole, they push an industry forward and so they are the early adopters, first movers. So, we want them to bring that mass at use case and then other people will witness that and say “Oh wait a second. That has a… I understand this better. Also, they’re prevalent in society, meaning it used to be pre-smartphone that gamers were still a little bit isolated and generally considered weird, for the most part.
And now that smartphone has come about, it has expanded the gaming universe, because everyone has a chance to play a game. There’s still more than half the world that isn’t playing games, but you have a lot of them.
The chances that in your social network, you have a bunch of people that are active gamers is very high, they become your advocates, they talk to you about the games or in this case about what blockchain may have done or the value of their in-game economies because of the fact that they’re playing, whatever it is, they become your advocates. And so that social diffusion, we think will come through the gamers.
Beyond gaming, where else are you investing?
I think what we believe in, and I think this is a very big topic as to why we’re doing this, is that we think blockchain and specifically non-fungible tokens will make content king again.
So it’s not just about digital items. And if I want to describe the example here, if I’m playing a game, where I owned everything, where I owned all the items and I had maybe token value as well.
Even if the game is no longer as popular, if there is a community, we believe someone else is going to make games to tap into that community. So, take a large example like an older game, like World of Warcraft, which has tens of millions of players or had tens of millions and players, but those tens of millions and players invested years of their life into it, yeah, and an incredible amounts of money as well, possibly.
And in the past, there were gold farmers in China, if you recall, who were farming gold inside the game mining it, and then selling it on eBay as a form of, frankly early forms of Bitcoin, if you will, right? Except it was all inside the World of Warcraft, there was no system around it, therefore it was actually creating inflation, and so obviously Blizzard to stop that because it didn’t make any sense. And it’s messing up with our economy, but in reality if it was an actual real economy, maybe that would have been welcome because it would be a different set-up. Now, if World of Warcraft was to sort of decline, someone else might say, “You know, those 20 million people who owned items in World of Warcraft, I want to make a game for them because they can move their items since it’s on the blockchain and move it to another universe and we think that is where it becomes very exciting because in that future game developers, actually and the consumer, we will make games based on what your own, not where you go to. So, when Bill Gates coined the phrase “content is king,” the reason he said that made a lot of sense, this was back in 96, because he saw the awesome power of the Internet and he said the cost of transport because of the internet is going be run down to zero, which means therefore, the only thing that is a value in a world like this, has to be content and because the cost of content will decline in its production, everyone can participate. Not just big companies who used to have to make big productions, but also small companies, artists, creators, whatever can make content, and sell it to the world, right? And you could say that for the most part, Bill Gates’ vision has somewhat fulfilled and new companies have emerged in space, large ones, and so forth.
But what he may not have completely understood at the time or thought of is that when you have so much content, the cost of distribution actually, the cost of discovery more precisely, goes up exponentially. So, you’re lost in the sea of content. I don’t know, that’s what I want, I can’t find it, it’s super noisy, there’s too much out there.
You don’t know what’s quality and you don’t know what’s not.
And so, you have a new age of kingmakers, it’s not the ones to make the content, it’s the ones who deliver the content to you.
And so, distribution, effectively has become really the king, or as Johnathon Perelman phrased it, “distribution is queen” and she wears the pants.
And therefore, in that scenario, you see a different problem. Creators don’t actually have a true output: discovery, they are slaves to discovery, they are slaves to distribution. Look at the music industry- look at what Spotify is doing. Spotify is a great service for the consumer. But for the artist, it’s really difficult.
And I think one of the biggest challenges that we as a consumer ultimately end up losing out because we don’t get access to the diversity, because we actually have to get what most people want to be because that’s how the distribution kings make money. Can Game of Thrones really exist, if there wasn’t an HBO? Can there be an Angry Birds if it wasn’t for the App Store?
And so, we think with blockchain this can actually be turned on its head because now the distribution and discovery of that content can be centered around what you own, because it’s in your wallet, someone can make content to target you, which is really kind of where I think it should be going.
But in the past, it wasn’t possible because you couldn’t have digital scarcity. You couldn’t create something that was rare, or meaningful in a digital world because it can simply copy-paste and now with blockchain, you can, you know with digital tokens, you can create scarcity.
Digital scarcity is important in any economy. Right? This is where you actually realize the value, and this is why companies are in this space, this is why industries are in this space, but where does the evolution of this revolution called blockchain go?
Well, the way I look at blockchain in the future is I see it as foundational as what the Internet did when it first started and how it changed. So, meaning change of governance, the way you may run companies, the way countries are run and the way you experience life. All of that will fundamentally change with blockchain as well.
So, what the Internet has done is it has connected us. It’s made the world smaller. We’re all connected and it has empowered many things including network intelligence. So, this rate of innovation increase that we’re seeing, not just start-ups but just technology and rate of progress comes in large part because we are so much more connected.
The best example of that is open source, right?
So open source is the perfect example of Internet-powered network intelligence. A programmer in Russia, can write some code, and a coder, in America can take it and improve it, puts it back and everyone gets richer as a promise. And even though there was no money exchanged there was incredible amounts of value. If it wasn’t for open source, you wouldn’t see maybe two-thirds of the technology companies that are out there.
They would certainly be no Xiaomi or Huawei for instance, and it allows everyone to have a starting field, and maybe even a way to advance faster as a result of that. So that’s what the connections points gave us. It empowered network intelligence.
You are also collaborating and investing with Hashgraph, right?
Yeah, so we have a partnership and investment with Helix, which is the accelerator of a Hashgraph.
Okay, and Hashgraph is not necessarily open source. So how do you philosophically say that open source is definitely where it needs to go?
So I guess the parallel I put there is, do you want to, the counter-argument might be, “Do you want to plan the world democracy style India or do you want to do planned economy China and sort of progressively open up?”
This is a difficult question, obviously, because I think it goes beyond just philosophy, but also practicality because the end-user state is human in nature, not technology. At the end of the day, we’re not building this to serve robots, we’re building this to serve humans, humanity, and people react differently to things, and having to manage and control that is different. So to me, the appropriate protocol approach or governance approach has to do with the audience. Almost like a country.
So if you’re going after a certain set of community, what is the right approach for that? And I think to me this is where blockchain is great because I have sort of this view that let a thousand chains bloom sort of thing. I don’t think you need to have one master chain right now. Right now everyone is fighting for that but much like games, I don’t think that… there’s a company out there saying there should be one game currency for all games. The doesn’t work, because every community is different. And what’s beautiful about blockchain is that you can actually create a value system for something as small as a village and that should be good enough.
Why do you have to have, you know, the US dollar every time? So I think that’s an area I think also creates and sparks in different areas of innovation because if you have a very large let’s say, I don’t know, token that is supposed to sort of impact the whole world which in some cases it does, you end up getting stuck with that governance system and that sort of policy that may not fit a village of 10 people or 20 people who need a completely different set up.
There should be a way to make them compatible, but it shouldn’t be the one that’s running it.
Hong Kong is a great example, when it comes to currencies. Why is the Hong Kong Dollar pegged to the US dollar? The result is inflation of different kinds. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Maybe good for some people, but also bad for a lot of other people.
So I think I see an opportunity for blockchain in the future to change all of that. And if you think what the Internet did, it causes a certain level of transparency, it created open debate, it connected people, every time when societies grew in a connected way, the innovation index went up a lot. But now we’re reaching a point where the information and the data flow has become hard to manage, and so as a result, we have things like fake news.
An artificial intelligence is great at the algorithms and delivering you all the information you might need or maybe the information you really want, but it can’t necessarily know if the data is true. And so, that’s something that blockchain can solve because if the new sources ends up getting filtered through the blockchain, whether it’s fake or not, you can actually verify it in a fast scalable way, which before, cannot happen because the verification is human-powered. You don’t know, actually, where it came from. Maybe we know when it comes from a new source, whether you should look at it a certain way, that’s kind of how we judge it, but if it ends up getting social or viral or it’s picked up by five other places, the noise factor…
So I know this problem very well. I know this problem very well, but I also think that outsourcing to a third party for verification, can also be very dangerous. And it’s, centralized right? And that bottleneck exists. What’s exciting about blockchain is that possibly this can return into the hands of the individual consumer, the media consumer, that there is a tool that restores that credibility and trust and faith in whatever they’re consuming. Right now, that’s being outsourced, that’s a dangerous thing.
It’s extremely dangerous. And I think when you think about what the Internet did is provided the connection point. But it didn’t provide a layer of trust there was no first on this, it just simply assumed that whoever was on the network should be trustworthy. That’s the base point.
But isn’t it ironic that blockchain is deemed to be the trustless system, the one that will restore trust, and yet it is the least trusted at the moment, it feels very scammy for a mainstream audience. The cryptocurrency, the ICO hubris. There’s some ironies that exist in this space. The narrative has yet to be shaped.
So, I think the concept of the blockchain/decentralized ledger, that to me is very clear what that’s supposed to mean. When you start throwing in the crypto-currency aspect, and the fact that we had a dominance of more financially savvy people taking over that segment, just because it had the tokens and a cryptocurrency element, that’s frankly the reason especially with ICOs in the past, and so on, that people felt it was scammy, but also because they don’t understand.
Now, I went through some phases like this. Perhaps the most reminiscent one was a dot-com bust and the talk about how dot-com was compared to the tulip bubble of way back when, to me, was actually outrageous… Because it’s like, “Wait a second, you still need the Internet. This is not something that just goes away and disappears but they compared it. There’s articles out there comparing dot-com with a tulip bubble , and it’s mostly ignorance because they don’t understand it, and I think the same is true for blockchain and it goes to that progress and I think that for all the harm, of course, that the crypto collapse that happened last year did, it also infused a lot of capital into the environment for real companies to come up and emerge and build stuff. Because it has raised that awareness. It’s like if we didn’t have a dot-com bubble and it didn’t burst the way it did would we have these technology companies come up, would they be funded so they can actually deliver?
Probably not, right? So you need to have those waves. So, I think crypto, in this case, blockchain went through that wave. It might even go through a few more waves, but ultimately all to push forward this sort of decentralized future and progress is rarely made if ever without serious friction. So I would say it’s just another path towards that friction.
So what does the world look like post this revolution and when it’s being used, the utility cases are very clear, adoption of blockchain is as transparent as day.
So I think the change in the way we live and work is going to be quite transformative and I don’t mean that in terms of when I go into a place, I just have my wallet, I can use my currency token or I can do payment. I don’t mean that, I mean in terms of the way we operate and expect in our life. For instance, companies. So, if I work in a company, there will be a certain kind of transparency that’s expected and some kind of operation mode which is no longer centralized.
So for instance, leave. Why do I need to do more leave forms and fill out paperwork? Why couldn’t that be traded as a some kind of value inside the company, for instance, just to give one example. The way we operate, I think, will move much faster because you have that trust in this trustless environment, as you say. In the same way that messenger apps and communication apps have accelerated this 24/7 discussions, the speed in which we can do things because we have faster connections and are always connected.
I think blockchain will deliver this other layer of sort of a different form of governance, meaning, I think countries will change. Now when you talk about that level of change, people get scared because they sort of think, “Oh does it mean revolution, does it mean whatever?” So, I don’t know about that. But I do know that it makes it possible, and I think there will be entire countries that could potentially be run on this kind of infrastructure as a door. So that’s one way that I see, I don’t know that, and there will be friction, because of it, because it means breaking down some centralized environments. If you think about banking, if you think about accounting firms, right? For any business that is around centralized ecosystems, Internet broke down certain elements of the middle man.
Now, with blockchain, it’s going to do much more than just break down the middle man. It technically should empower down to the individual. What does that mean for the future?
And the other thing that I think blockchain will ultimately also do is sort of light up the connection points in places like Africa and sort of undeveloped places because what’s needed in those environments, it’s not just an internet connection. You know, they’ve got “Project Loon, people sort of putting WiFi all in the place and creating Internet connects and data sets, that’s fine, but if you can’t trade, if you can create a form in which you sort of have value systems passed on, having a WiFi signal is kind of worthless.
And because these economies are so small, like an entire village might have a 10-dollar-a-day economy, you can actually really trade with that in the current environment but with blockchain, you can fractionalize it, so that means you can create your own village token or you can create a value system where you literally transfer sets, and that’s ok, because you don’t have a cost infrastructure that stops that. What that means is hundreds if not billions of people who are not really connected in the global commerce environment can now be connected and that is where there will be another big sea change, because adding a billion people who don’t really have a role to play in this Internet world, of today will come online with a value system which will happen through blockchain. What will happen then? In the same way, when China entered the world finally in a big way, how did that change the world?
That’s it. I think that’s an incredible analogy. Imagine a billion new more players in this game called a capital system, but it is possible with blockchain. And thank you for explaining it so elegantly. Your point of view as a musician and as an innovator in this space who saw the reason for Internet to exist and for blockchain as well.
Thank you so much.