A Future of Finance Webinar that investigates whether the adoption and impact of Blockchain could be accelerated by pursuing an infrastructural strategy that lowers the cost of adoption, recovers the openness of the early Internet and facilitates inter-operability between different networks.
Thursday 26 May at 2.00 pm UK time
A major economic mystery is why a general-purpose technology such as digital computing has not transformed productivity. After all, the marginal cost of producing further copies of software is effectively zero. Part of the answer, despite 25 years of the Internet and open-source software, is that software lacks an open infrastructure akin to the electricity grid or the road network. A true infrastructure is a shared and (crucially) open means to many ends. It creates value obliquely rather than vectorally, by enabling third party businesses and entrepreneurs to create new and innovative products and services on a reliable and low-cost foundation. Instead, the value created by digital technology is currently being privatised, chiefly by the massive data extraction platforms such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Uber and Airbnb, which have used network effects to build powerful monopolies. Although they do provide platforms for third-party businesses to advertise and sell, they take a turn on transactions, extract data from transactions for sale to third parties and suppress innovation through a combination of patents, purchases and the blight cast on innovation by their sheer size and invulnerability. A true infrastructure would spawn a constant series of innovations, as the electricity grid did and does (including, ironically, digital computing). And there are now signs that just such an infrastructure is coming into being in the financial markets. Open Banking and Open Finance are prising open the closed customer bases and data sets of incumbent firms, presaging the emergence of an Open Data economy in which customers rather than companies drive the evolution of economies. Forward-thinking financial institutions (such as LSEG) are embracing this shift from data platforms to open data networks by introducing their clients to third party product and service providers via a blockchain-based network. Blockchain is an obvious rather than inspired choice to fulfil the role. It is intrinsically decentralised and networked. At its heart lies the concept of simultaneous data-sharing. So Blockchain is the natural infrastructural underpinning of the networked markets that are now primed to succeed the platforms controlled by the large technology companies. Unfortunately, Blockchain has until recently succumbed to the same supply-side economics that has prevented previous digital technologies from transforming productivity: networks are fragmented by incompatible protocols designed to privatise and protect the profits of successful blockchain ventures. But there is work in hand today that is enabling blockchain to rediscover its original vocation. Efforts to bridge protocols by agreed data communication standards is one part of it. But there are also collaborative public-private enterprises such as the LACChain Alliance in Latin America, Alastria in Spain and the Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI) in the European Union (EU) which aim to provide open, low cost blockchain infrastructures to innovative businesses. LACChain has already inspired a tokenised service that could transform the speed, cost and complexity of making payments across national borders in Latin America and the Caribbean. Blockchain still faces many obstacles to widespread, institutional adoption – not least limited speed and scalability – but it is possible to see in infrastructures based on blockchain the beginnings of a new form of finance-capitalism in which genuine, productivity-transforming innovators can succeed at last. At this webinar, Future of Finance panellists will discuss the viability of blockchain as the technological underpinning of the Open Data economy that is now struggling to be born.
To read more on this topic, access the accompanying article HERE
The topics to be discussed will include:
- Is a “Blockchain infrastructure” a coherent idea?
- What are the benefits of a Blockchain infrastructure?
- What new business models can be built on a Blockchain infrastructure?
- Should Blockchain infrastructures be built on national or sectoral or international lines?
- Is Blockchain technology suited to an infrastructural role?
- How can infrastructures overcome the speed and scalability limitations of Blockchain technology?
- How can Blockchain infrastructures secure adoption by users?
- Who should build blockchain infrastructures?
- How can Blockchain infrastructures best be governed?
- How important are data or communication standards to the future of Blockchain?
- Can Blockchain infrastructures displace existing infrastructures in payments and securities?
- Conventional systems and processes will persist. How is a Blockchain infrastructure relevant to them?
- What range of services should a Blockchain infrastructure provide?
- If it charges no transaction fees, how will a Blockchain infrastructure fund itself?
- What practical examples do we have of a Blockchain infrastructure in action?
Martin Hargreaves, Chief Product Officer at Quant
As CPO, Martin leads Quant’s product strategy with a particular focus on how distributed ledger technologies and blockchain-based tokens can unlock new efficiencies in finance, supply chain and beyond. He is a seasoned fintech and payments specialist, steeped in product discovery, who has spearheaded the development and delivery of projects for B2B SaaS products.
Prior to Quant, Martin spent nearly 13 years at Vocalink, a Mastercard company, where he was most recently Vice President, Product Management. He led product, strategy and architecture teams by championing an agile culture, innovation and continuous learning. Martin approaches product development with a focus on solving real customer pain points, ensuring commercial viability, and facilitating frictionless user experiences. He is experienced in building infrastructure architecture teams and departments and in professional services delivery.
With two patents in payments data processing and ACH transactions to his name, Martin is also a Steering Committee member of the Digital Pound Foundation.
Amrit Kumar, Chairman at Binarii Labs
Amrit Kumar is the co-founder of Zilliqa Capital. Previously, he co-founded and served as the President and Chief Science Officer of Zilliqa Research. He has been an active fintech and digital asset investor and a builder. In his past non-entrepreneurial life, he researched at National University of Singapore and has a PhD in Computer Science from Inria, France. He has published several academic papers on blockchains and smart contracts at top-tier conferences such as PLDI, OOPSLA, ESORICS and DSN. Many of his research papers have been deployed into production systems particularly on the Zilliqa blockchain platform.
Claudio Calderón, Strategic Business Project Manager at DCV.
As Strategic Business project manager at DCV, Claudio has participated in many studies and initiatives related to Blockchain and DLT, which include the direction of proofs of concept over this new technology, standing out the bond issuance conducted with Chilean Central Bank. Also, jointly with other financial market infrastructure providers at the international Securities Services Association (ISSA), he has contributed to different reports like the recently revised “Crypto Assets: Moving from Theory to Practise”.
Claudio has been with DCV for 15 years developing different products for their customers and being part of the improvement projects for the company’s services. Main projects have been developed for Central Bank, Santiago Stock exchange, Central Counterparty and pension funds Administration companies.
For the last two years, Claudio has participated in the technical Committee for AUNA Project, which is a technological consortium formed by DCV, GTD Teleductos and the Santiago Stock Exchange, for the development of a blockchain ecosystem that allow mamber and partners to: Create, launch and commercialize blockchain applications, connect to the formers’ companies customers networking, and create alliances with other companies in the AUNA ecosystem.
Sara Feenan, Senior Product Manager at Infura, part of Consensys
Sara Feenan is a Senior Product Manager at Infura, powering Web3 infrastructure. Prior to working at Infura, Sara was Senior Product Strategist at Clearmatics, an Enterprise blockchain company based in London and prior to that Head of Research, Emerging technology at Capco, a financial services consultancy. Before moving into the Web3 infrastructure space, Sara has 10 years’ experience in traditional financial services on the buy side and sell side. Sara has a MSc in Innovation and a BSc in Mathematics and Computer science and has published articles in financial journals and national newspapers.
Yves Messy, Head Tutor at Said Business School, University of Oxford
Dominic Hobson, Co-Founder at Future of Finance
Dominic Hobson has worked for himself for 30 years. He was one of the founders of Asset International, a transatlantic financial publishing, events and survey business, which was sold in 2009.
Since then, Dominic has contributed to the work of two data businesses covering financial markets, run a peer group network for hedge fund managers, and co-founded the Future of Finance, which hosts events on innovation in finance.
As one half of Hobson Cardew, Dominic also provides consultancy services to a number of financial services businesses and market infrastructures.
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