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Do’s and Don’ts. How to get a Board/Advisory Position within the blockchain/Crypto space – Part 2

Skillset? Experience? or Expertise?

Following on from Part 1 in this series, our panel opens up the floor for questions.

Some topics that come up include CV do’s and don’ts and the range for salaries and how to negotiate!



Bridget Greenwood: You spoke about tailoring your CV for the board position and what a value add that you bring.

When you are looking at the boards, would it therefore make sense to see the skillset of the board that you’ve got, a board that you might be applying for and where they’re missing your expertise?

Rachel Tranter: Oh, absolutely. One of the key pieces of advice that I give to people actually when they’re applying, but possibly more so when they’re going through the interview is find your seat at the table.

If we just step back a minute, you produce your board CV and that’s your generic CV, but then obviously as you applied for a particular role, you will tweak it depending upon that specific role.

One CV won’t fit every role. But I would definitely, part of the process is get to understand, go into everybody that’s on the board, understand their skills and find your seat at the table.

There will not be a “you” at the table.

There won’t be. I can guarantee there will not be. And your first challenge is to say, well, why isn’t there a me at the table? What do I mean by that? And that’s going to be you helping to actually build up what your profile is. It tends to happen more and actually by the time you’ve come to the interview and I’ll always say to somebody, “have you looked at the board? Have you figured out why you’ve got the interview?”

Well, because they clearly don’t have a you because of your skills. It’s a really important thing to do definitely.

Bridget Greenwood: As you were talking, does anyone remember the book?

“What color is your parachute?”

I read it back in my twenties when I was looking at my career and it basically says, write down everything that’s great about you and then go and find that role.

It seems to be very much the same thing in the boardroom.

The other question that I had,

“what are the salary ranges apart from zero to and how do you figure out what does that negotiation look like?

Do you come asking for something? Do they offer something? What does that look like?”

Rachel Tranter: Again, forgive me. I don’t know about the more specialist areas that you’re in, but more broadly up until you get to the private sector, it’s almost zero pay. Charities, for example, cannot pay. Sports bodies cannot pay. Housing associations pay you a bit, but not a lot. You’d be delighted if they offered you 12 grand a year to sit on a housing association board.

That’s reality.

Public sector boards do pay. Pretty much all public bodies pay, but it tends to be a per day rate. Does it do much more than cover your expenses? Not really.

Once you get into the listed roles, I can tell you I’m helping two companies at the moment.

They’re FTSE, they are paying between 50 and 70,000 for the position.

One for example is saying 50,000 and offically seven meetings a year but expect to commitment, therefore 24 days annual. Now fifties low, fifties low. But this is a recently listed growing ambitious company.

You’d expect 70 I would say as a typical listed company board.

Toby Lewis: And Bridget, I’d sort of chip in a bit on I guess the crypto blockchain tech space.

Largely the first area where you’re negotiating for is either equity or tokens.

You’re looking for a percentage of the upside and obviously depending on how advanced the space is, that kind of table stakes. Then the reality is your time is very valuable, right? You probably want some form of paid retainer. That can be anywhere from a thousand pounds to 50,000, but obviously like 50,000, would you be bringing a whole army of people, right? That’s more a consultancy engagement.

What I would recommend to people looking at doing advisory work and in the crypto and blockchain space is take a project that you find really, really interesting and inspiring take some of their tokens and take some of their equity.

See if you can negotiate a fee, that’s often dependent on how much money that project has at that time, or sometimes a success fee on capital raised. Depending what your skill set is like, I think you’ll find certain people; marketing people, corporate finance people, lawyers, those kind of people have the skill sets that startups will want to pay for all programmers right or whatever.

A lot of other people, it will be a bit more,

“Why are you you at the table? Why are they wanting to pay for you?”

But I think my view is in the tech startup space. You shouldn’t be pressurising a founder to compensate you because I think that can be distasteful and I think quite experienced executives can sometimes lead to the wrong dynamic with founders just because they might not actually be experienced at scaling a startup scaling a crypto business.

I think it’s just a very fluid negotiation, but I think the best thing was a lot of these roles to dive in and see what happens.

Genevieve Leveille: Thanks Toby. We have a couple of questions.

She’s asking,

“What kind of board roles or sectors are available for senior HR professional?”

In my viewpoint, I would think that if you’re going to be working with startups, they are starving for your support because they’re basically scaling up, being able to understand what are the issues around that is key. And I would also even suggest that in some of the large banks, they are looking at re-skilling and having somebody who’s outspoken be able to provide them with feedback. It’s something that would be really greatly appreciated.

Amber Ghaddar: I would say with regards to HR role, I think they’re quite relevant  in banks that’s for sure, because we have a retention problem and we have a diversity problem and we have a pay gap problem. Having senior HR professionals on board of banks is something that I would strongly support.

Similarly, I would say for sort of larger corporation in the startup space from my experience, I don’t think there’s a real need because the VCs that come on board usually have the skillset to with regards to anything that is related to HR, anything that is relating to hiring talent, retention, et cetera. Especially when you are at this very, very fast growth space.

But I think if you check with scale-ups. I think maybe that could be something that is interesting to them. Especially scale-ups. I don’t know what sector you specialise in but I would say anything that is a very highly technical and rare i.e. C plus plus coders that are not very easy to find.

If you have like strong experience in this or that was the Saturday you were working in. Definitely speaking with scale-ups in the deep tech space would be something interesting.

Rachel Tranter: I can obviously add from outside into the other sectors that there’s an absolute need for HR, but it’s D&I, it’s people, it’s talent.

They’re the type of things that I see in the criteria of roles.

Has there ever been a better time to be looking for to join a remuneration committee?

There are plenty of opportunities to go run comms I can assure you. So, yes. I would say.

Companies haven’t always had HR directors on their boards, so they’re missing that, that is a seat at the table as we were talking about earlier. Absolutely yeah, lots of demand.

Genevieve Leveille: The next question came from Jannah and I think part of it might’ve been answered, which was the salary range is from zero to 50.

And what do they look like for advisory board? And what is a typical time commitment in terms of appointment? How many hours per week should be needed for a consultancy role?

Toby Lewis: Yeah. I mean, I guess it’s kind of how long is a piece of string really.

I think you can really formerly timebox a lot of these things, I’ve never been particularly good at this. I’ve hired a project manager who was running trip to Deutsche bank so she’s now extremely good at that. Everything is costed. Everything is mapped out. Normally in an earlier stage business, there’s a bit more of a sort of informal negotiation and tease. And then as you formalise it, you, you can have an hourly rate and the structure  and just how that engagement operates.

I think it all depends on the entrepreneurs and the people  knowing the advisors and vice versa and getting something that is a non frustrating relationship right. I think in the startup space especially, there’s a bit of a cat and mouse between advisors who are pseudo investors often and the founders.

There’s a lot of nuancing and the relationship of how those things get built up. And sometimes someone who you think might be your advisor ends up being the lead venture capitalist in your race or whatever it is. It’s a complex field.

Amber Ghaddar: If I may add something here, I think a good way to go about it is, it’s easier for you to just ask them, “okay, what is the budget that you have for this consultancy role or for this advisory role?”

And then you get back to them telling them. For this salary, this is how much I can offer. This is how many hours I can offer. And within these hour I will be able to do XYZ. For example, not the rest and you can start the negotiation from this point in time.

Genevieve Leveille: I’d like to add a little bit to this because I’ve had some of the experience being asked. I’ve looked at about three roles recently.

Usually in terms of time commitment, they will tell you anywhere between one to two days a month, and that doesn’t always include your meeting. That also includes things like reviewing papers, providing advice on the board meetings and depending on the maturity of the board, you could have very formalised meetings whereby it’s a three hour meeting. May need to be face to face and everything such as finance and also strategy is being brought to your attention.

But those you will have had gotten the papers ahead of time to do a review. You can figure about to six hours to get yourself around that, which then comes in to that 8 to 14 hour a month timing.

I’ve had certain people tell me that you will need to be flying overnight for dinner prior to the board meeting. Which means you’re then looking at about two or three days in that timing when the board meetings are happening and usually they will tell you formally when those days will be on calendar, plus you will have informal ones.

Depending on the size of the company, you may also be asked to be participating in committees. Those can be the renumeration committee, the technology committee and diverse things. For those for the larger company, they will be a top up, which is put on top. Most of those large boards will ask you to actually be part of one. Um, there is actually only three minutes left.

I’d like to give a big thank you to everybody for your time. And I would like to give starting with Toby our esteemed guest the opportunity to have one last minute and quickly tell us how you would go about it.

Toby Lewis: I think on the point and valuing your time, the way I tend to look at those is try and have a portfolio of retainers.

I think it’s a good way of just ensuring that you’re always getting a good income from that kind of activity. I think if you’re of a certain mindset, advisory board and board roles are very interesting. If you’re a typically inquisitive thinker, someone who’s quite out of the box, it can be really, really valuable and you can get this area of very trusted relationships with interesting CEOs and, and people around the world.  I’ve also seen both the advisor board role go wrong both from the entrepreneur’s perspective. I’ve had to fire a chairman before and run into areas where the client doesn’t listen to your advice. But anyway, lots to discuss.

Genevieve Leveille: I’d like to hear one quick from Amber and Rachel and of course our hit esteemed hostess Bridget.

Rachel, would you like to please give your last parting

Rachel Tranter: My call to arms statement.

I think that there is never a better time to start looking at board opportunities  than today.

This time last year boards were starting to resurface from a few months of stepping back and really wondering what on earth do we need now? There’s never been a better time. Boards need talent, they need diversity. And please don’t think for one minute that we are at a tipping point in terms of meeting those targets.

We’ve met the targets, marvelous. But there’s so much work to be done and it is talent like you that needs to get on those boards and make the difference.

Amber Ghaddar: If you’re running a business and you want to build your board don’t be ashamed or scared of trying to hit high, especially within your network.

The ex CEOs of the companies you were working in, don’t be afraid to go and ask them and tell them, “I’m building this business, we have X revenues we’re growing at X. And we think that you could be a real addition to a real addition to our boards in terms of X, Y, Z.”

Again, you’d be surprised a lot of people are looking for these types of roles, don’t know where to find them and are always willing to be part of a potential success story.  That would be my last one.

Bridget Greenwood: A huge thank you to everyone Genevieve, Amber, Toby and Rachel everyone showing up, especially asking your questions.

I know a couple of you have joined us in The Bigger Pie so welcome. When it comes to things like negotiation of salaries, people will ask in the group and I’ll pull together a select people who can give you their experience for the different types of roles that you’re going into as particularly in the crypto sector where,

I can’t say money anymore I have to say Fiat to have to define it. But it’s not just sort of what salary expectations that might be an equity, but we also have the tokenisation as well.

Thank you very much everyone, we are more than happy to continue these types of discussions in our community.

Genevieve Leveille: Thank you very much everybody and looking forward to seeing you guys online on The Bigger Pie channel.

Here is both parts of the recording for the second segment:

Kickstart Training Programme – Details Outlined

Kickstart Training Programme 2021

We provide a 6-month virtual learning program in combination with group coaching for Kickstart stakeholders – employees and employers. The goal of the program is to enable the young hirees entering the workforce to transition with ease while acquiring lifelong skills and mindsets for success and significance.

As an employer you will be supported in integrating these new resources into their existing culture and protocols and becoming agile to accommodate fresh perspectives.

The proposed program has 6 components:

  1. Masterclass once a month (topics detailed below)
  2. Online Access to the supporting E-book and downloadable resources that each participant uses to explore the learnings from the Masterclass at their own pace
  3. A Group Coaching Call twice a month to coach each participant on their individual issues around the topics explored in the Masterclass
  4. A Wellness Session once a month delivered by different experts exploring movement, meditation, mindfulness practices, breathwork, journaling Group calls once a month (topics detailed below)
  5. Social and Networking activities
  6. Check points and practice

Masterclass Session Schedule:

1. Setting the Foundations

How can I be happy and make sure that I am successful at work? How can I ensure that my employee is happy while delivering optimally for my business?

Date & Time: 15th June, 10am-11.30am

Recording: https://youtu.be/EJBIBws2rFA

2. Exploring and Expressing Core Design

What is a Core Design for an Individual and Business? And why must it matter?

Date & Time: 20th July, 10am-11.30am

Recording: https://youtu.be/6bBJErmw3iE

3. Key Skills for Leadership

Are leaders born with it or can leadership be learned? Learn the 5 skills that all leaders model as a tool for ongoing success. Explore how to facilitate the development of these skills in your employee.

Date & Time: 17th August, 10am-11.30am

Recording: https://youtu.be/rswBgldVIso

4. Aligning Goal Achievement with Core Design

Learn how to set goals that are aligned to your value, vision and area of genius and make it easy to achieve goals, especially massive goals.

Date & Time: 14th September, 10am – 11.30am

Recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SWoECiNaW0

5. The Power of Daily Anchors

What you do everyday is what you will do in your life…infuse your daily routine with incredibly easy to do and yet powerful practices that will prepare you for success in all areas of your life

Date & Time: 19th October, 10am-11.30am

Location: Zoom

6. Building Networks

What does it mean to build trust and meaningful connections? Whether you are a shy introvert or a very outgoing person, you can learn how to connect, collaborate & co-inspire.

Date & Time: 16th November, 10am-11.30am

Location: Zoom

If you have any questions or require more information, please email: bridget@thebiggerpie.io

BlockW X The Bigger Pie – Ireland Blockchain Week – Part 3

If the challenge exists, so must the solution.

Following on from Part 2 in this series, the panel share their insights on tackling global issues such as financial inclusion, lack of support for SMEs and lack of funding.

We also hear from the Minister of the Department of Finance Sean Fleming as he gives a closing speech for the end of Ireland Blockchain Week.

Here is part 3 of the conversation:

Bridget Greenwood: Jane, we’re clearly talking here about global issues and you’ve got the bird’s eye view of being the storyteller of seeing what’s happening.

How many times can you see a problem being solved in one area where that solution could be moved across to another area? I’m thinking about the regulators now we’re becoming so global. Regulators still have borders. But can you talk to the experiences that you’ve seen where we have seen a solution for one place being put across? Is that happening?

Jane Thomason:

I think that we need to look to the emerging markets for the solutions.

The problem that we have is that we’re so fettered by our legacy systems and ways of doing things and ways of thinking, that it’s almost impossible to innovate our way out of it.

And if you think about the work, for example, that Sofie’s doing creating alternative credit scores for illiterate communities in some of the poorest nations in the world, we can learn from those experiences. And we can learn from other countries.

The top 10 countries, the proportion of the population who own cryptocurrencies, they’re all emerging economies. They’re Nigeria, they’re Indonesia, they’re Brazil. They’re not England, they’re not Australia.

People are using these digital technologies all around the world in humanitarian settings.

And in other settings to figure out how to solve their financial inclusion problems. People in the Philippines are surviving by playing a game called Axie infinity, where they can trade NFT tokens within the game and earn enough money to keep their families in food.

The Good Dollar is allowing anyone in the world to collect good dollars. As long as they’ve got access to mobile technology and build up a bank of good dollars and be able to exchange in the good dollar market.

Electroneum’s doing really interesting things because they’re trying to create financial inclusion through the work that they’re doing and they’ve created. They have more than 4 million wallet downloads mainly in developing countries. They started creating a marketplace through allowing people to get phone credit in exchange for their tokens. Now they’ve got to do any task, which means people can sell their skills or whatever they’ve got on these global marketplaces.


If it’s not broken, don’t fix it?

The problem we have and when I say we. We the Western world, developed economies. We’ve got systems and processes that have been developed over hundreds of years that have served us well. We find it hard to change that for these new technologies and we really need to change our paradigm and think about how we can learn from emerging economies.

My final comment, because here we are, it’s the Commonwealth.

Sorry, Ireland’s a bit dodgy in terms of where it sits, but my goodness me.

You’ve got China rolling out the digital Yuan to all the belt and road countries. And we’re sitting here with the Commonwealth with $10.4 trillion in the global economy and 2.4 billion people.

Where’s the Commonwealth coin?

Come on guys. We can really change this. We can absolutely reinvision the way the global economy works if we have that vision and we have the idea because the technology is there.

Bridget Greenwood: Amazing. And we’re almost up with our hour. Sorcha can I  have some final words from you. And then if you had one ask of each of the panelists that would really help you to move forward projects and your businesses. If we could just quickly go through that.

Sorcha Mulligan:  There’s just so many points that I wanted to pick up on what everybody’s said. Jannah just mentioned something about taxation and it’s not our area. I was never interested in tax until I got involved in blockchain and more recently in cryptocurrency and interested in what’s happening with the money that we pay in taxes.

And how transparent is it?

Especially from a Latin America perspective, since Kraken mentioned earlier, contacts in Brazil who are really looking at this because there’s a lot of corruption and bureaucracy. We only see the big numbers.

Where’s the rest of it? What’s happening? I’m just enthralled to learn more about that.

But in terms of the SME side, what we’ve seen throughout the last year and a half is the focus on our essential economies everywhere, SMEs. It has not been on SMEs for the last number of decades. We have been focusing on multinationals, international companies coming into our countries, focusing on them, funding them. Also then through our education systems, we’ve been prepping everybody to work in multinationals and our essential economies and our family businesses everywhere have been completely neglected.

Technology professionals have not been building tech to support them.

And now look at where we are just within the space of a year. All of the people coming forward to address this global issue, because if we don’t support our SMEs and we don’t build the technologies to help them digitise and to access infrastructure and to be visible.

Then it’s a humanitarian issue.

Because it’s the people behind them that are all of us.

I’m so happy to be collaborating across this collective here. I’m amazed by the amount of questions that’s coming in. Roshi and Barry you’ve taken over. You should have a podcast.

But I’m going to hand back over to Bridget because obviously you want your last question, but also we have our Ministers’ address coming up.

Stay online, everybody.

Bridget Greenwood:  Yeah, very much so. If you want to fire Q and A into the chat, we won’t have time for it now but you registered for this so we will follow up with the recording and then we’ll do some answers to the Q’s that we haven’t had a chance to address today.

Quickfire because we’re on the hour. Sofie, if you had one thing, one resource, one whatever it might be, what would it be?

Sofie Blakstad:

For me it’s just about speed, getting out there quicker.

I just posted about the global threat of Facebook and between them, which is likely to propose a systemic risk to economies.

Especially in Africa, which have less stable currencies.

For me, speed is of the essence. In order to do that, we just need to get out there quicker and that means money.

Money for me.

Jane Thomason:  Education and re-imagining. People do not understand what is happening in the world now. I mean, governments and international organisations and the general population.

Bridget Greenwood: Amazing. Thank you, Victoria.

Victoria Thompson:

It’s money at the heart of everything.

Re-imagining systems, getting people to understand how you can do things differently is not a cheap business. For me, it’s about getting investment into the hands of people like myself and other women and other entrepreneurs that need to change it because there is something critically broken with venture capital and how it works.

And there is a distinct lack of patient capital that is purpose and mission driven and that needs to flow to people.

Bridget Greenwood:  I’m very impressed with the work that Acumen do, but we need much more than just that. Sorcha.

Sorcha Mulligan:  Well, I’m going to repeat exactly what the ladies have said in terms of funders need projects and projects need funders.

It’s not just in the green space, it’s in the diversity space. We need more clarity there.

We’re certainly here, we’re at the table.

Funders come forward and ask your questions.

Bridget Greenwood:  Okay, Jannah.

Jannah Patchay:  First, I want to apologise to sort out the big flip about tax.

When I said that it wasn’t my area, I do fully appreciate that a well-designed CBDC that allowed for taxation at the point of transaction could actually be hugely helpful in reducing corporate tax evasion and things like that and making sure the tax is collected where it needs to be collected.

But what would I wish for, special education and understanding.

Again I think both policymakers and investors. Policymakers need to understand the opportunities that are available through a digitisation of creation of digital native financial infrastructure should I say.

Because it’s not good enough just to be digitised, it’s got to be digital native and the opportunities of this.

And investors as well may need to stop focusing on tenant scenario and the short-term profits.

As Victoria said, we need more patient capital and more investors using their money and targeting it to impact

Bridget Greenwood: Very much so. We have just gone a couple of minutes over.

Thank you everyone. Everyone for the entire week, there have been incredible sessions.

Everyone who has shown up today. Everyone on our panels. We will hang on. We’re going to listen to the address from the Minister but we will be here when we come back.

Ministers’ Closing Address

Sean Fleming:  Good morning all and congratulations you and your team for organising such a comprehensive and wide ranging event.

And what is a fascinating subject and one that is of interest and to many people and policymakers. The program of virtual events is based in crucial teams in the area that diverse has the security of data and supply chain, the role of the EU commission, fostering innovation, the inclusive development agenda and the way technology is changing the relationships that art has have with their work in this digital age.

Running throughout the issue of trust and how block chain has distributed ledger technologies are emerging as a foundation that’s part of development of new services and applications.

As Minister at the Department Of Finance, with responsibility for financial services. These issues are of strategic importance for the future development of our economy. My team at the department has been following this area closely. I look forward to continuing to work with Blockchain Ireland through the action plan for our Ireland for finance strategy.

The Ireland for finance strategy is a partnership between the stage and the industry and has technology and innovation as one of its key pillars.

The strategy recognises that Ireland is uniquely positioned to benefit from the massive global investment in FinTech and disruptive technologies like blockchain. This is due in part to our excellent track record in attracting foreign direct investment, our entrepreneurial culture under unique cluster of IFS and technology firms.

We are one of the very few global locations with a proven record of accomplishment in the financial services and technology arena. In addition, to being a committed English speaking member of the EU and the EU single market.

Ireland has access to talent from both the EU and the common travel area and our ecosystem is underpinning and is underpinned I should say, by a strong pulling independent financial services regulator in the Central Bank of Ireland. Among the deliberate actions in this years Ireland for finance action plan is the establishment of a new FinTech group here in the department of finance.

This is an extension of our commitment to leadership in continuing change in our international financial services sector, are my priorities for this new group bar.

Number one, making an accident, significant contribution to development of EU policy and legislation, the possible real innovation in FinTech by protecting consumers against it.

Number two, orchestration and coordination the active proceeds of all relevant public and private bodies under Ireland for Finance.

And three, conducting outreach to various industry firms from startups to incumbents, the big techs who provide financial services by digital means and industry representative bodies to understand their needs and business models and how the EU can provide an ecosystem for them to grow.

Our reason for developing our new FinTech group is to ensure alignment with new EU digital finance package published in September 2020, which sets out general lines of how Europe can support the digital transformation of finance in the coming year while regulating its’ risks.

The strategy sets out four main priority; for moving fragmentations in the digital single market, adapting the EU regulatory framework to facilitate digital innovation, promoting a data driven finance, and addressing the challenges and risk with digital transformations, including enhancing the digital operational resilience of the financial system and testing markets for crypto assets.

As digital finance accelerates cross border operations, it also has the potential to enhance financial market integration in the banking union and the capital markets union and in the process strengthens Europe’s economic and monetary union.

Blockchain. As your program of events have clearly demonstrated, promises decentralised and real time mechanism for enabling storing and securing database transactions while allowing greater direct connection between intermediary. We see a strong future for Ireland as a leading European home for global innovation labs and FinTech, where the potential of disruptive technologies can be harnessed for the benefit of all its citizens.

The pandemic has shown us a glimpse of the future and new economics and emerging.

One that has built on technology and is conscious of the environment and the resources needed to power the future. During the pandemic, we’ve all seen how much it is possible in financial services due to the innovative technologies and the events this week show that there is yet more potential.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you once again for this opportunity to participate in the program and to say that I am looking forward to engaging with you and the team to Ireland for Finance, as we look to develop the potential of this exciting technology.

Thank you all for listening.

Bridget Greenwood:  Thank you indeed.

And Joyce final words for you about how the citizens of Ireland can actually help participate and shape what that might look like.

 Joyce O’Connor:  Could I just say first, this was such an inspiration. And thank you all very much.

Bridget, yourself, Jannah, Victoria, Sofie, Jane, and Sorcha because you’ve set a vision for the future.

Now I’ll come to the Minister in a minute, but it is about identifying problems, creating solutions and reinventing the future.

It is about reinventing the future, getting the discussion going.

In terms of the actions that you’ve talked about, it was investment with the purpose. It was about education and it was also about values. Changing values and understanding the system.

What’s the challenge for all of us?

You asked about the Minister.

The Ministers’, I think presentation gave us great hope because he talked about there’s more potential, more understanding and we have a structure to Ireland for the financial strategy to input. I think our challenge is to educate, is to create awareness, is to bring these out ideas into the mainstream and to get the opportunity to meet policy makers, politicians with the whole public, to understand the part they have as citizens to control their own future.

Money is central to that.

We heard last week during the week of Jane on healthcare.

It is about owning your own data.

It’s owning your own money and having success to that.

What I see today has been the beginning of a conversation and we’ve certainly through BlockW and with The Bigger Pie create other opportunities to have this discussion. I like the idea of storytelling, Jane. I think that’s really important.

And all of you have amazing stories to tell because you’ve done it.

We have one very amazing Irish company that’s based in Singapore. I don’t know if you’ve come across them A Tech and they do exactly what you’re doing. They’re working on it. Digital identity and financial inclusion, but they’re working in Singapore.

What we need is to bring all your knowledge back, not just to the Commonwealth Jane, but to Europe and Ireland because I think that’s what we have in common. Those values and the importance of changing the system.

Thank you all so much. It’s been a great pleasure and thanks to all the participants it’s been great interaction.

Thank you very much again, and we’ll see you soon.

Bridget Greenwood: Just one last note, what I love about this technology, and it’s a phrase that was shared with me last week and I want to share with you is,

“it allows us to have the radical responsibility of what we have and how we build it.”

I encourage all of you to take up.

Sorcha Mulligan:  Just a huge thank you to again the Blockchain Ireland team, and in particular Amber and Marzena who are on the call.

Your responsiveness, your professionalism and your warmth through the entire session night, noon, and day since Monday and in the weeks beforehand has been incredible.

Bravo to you.

To all the people in the background. Your voice is heard.

Joyce O’Connor: I’ve got emails at 11 o’clock at night from Marzena and 7 o’clock in the morning. Well done ladies you were absolutely the backbone and the drivers of blockchain Ireland week. Well done. And thank you very much.

And of course, to the guys, Paul and Dáire as well.

Bye now. Thank you.

Here is part 3 of the recording:


BlockW X The Bigger Pie – Ireland Blockchain Week – Part 2

Financial Illiteracy is more common than you think

Following on from Part 1 in this series, Ireland Blockchain Week.  Jane, Sofie and Sorcha share their background and how they got into blockchain. They also discuss the ramifications of financial illiteracy and how we can use technology for financial inclusion to support those that are vulnerable.

Here is part 2 of the conversation:

Bridget Greenwood: I just saw yesterday in the FT advisor, that there is a gap between the knowledge of financial advisors and ESG issues.

Not only is there a gap, but clients are leaving to find advisors who can help with this. Also this week I saw that in Holland, that the Friends of the Earth and other charities and partners took Shell to court and have won.

Shell is now court mandated to reduce their carbon emissions by 45% because left deregulation and left on their own.

They weren’t doing the job.

It’s wonderful to have these conversations and actually seeing you all re-imagining what the future should look like and be able to build that. And then Jane, we would love to hear from you as well.

Jane Thomason:  Thank you Bridget, what an amazing panel.

I don’t know how to describe myself, but I feel like I’m just this global cheerleader for all these amazing people that are building these incredible things. And then trying to tell their stories in language that the general populace can understand. I think I’m a cheerleader. I think I’m a diviner of the future because Bridget you’re right, we are re-imagining and recreating the future all around the world as we speak.

Then the other thing that I am is a storyteller who tells it in words that people who are plain speaking can understand. I believe that the pandemic is charging us to have a major rethink of the global economy.

If it’s anything it’s a pandemic of inequality and it has bought into stark reality, the issues that we have neglected people, we have neglected the panel and we have this economic system that drives pursuit of profits above all else and we have an opportunity to really redefine that.

What I’d just like to say, hopefully I’ll get a second chance and I can talk about some of the things I’m working on thinking about is that we really have an opportunity.

And we have seen, because the pandemic forced people to shut down, forced people to go digital, forced people to rethink what they were doing, forced people to figure out how they could earn an income when they couldn’t actually go out and participate in the cash economy.

But now the question that I have for you and for all of us is how do we do that?

Our global institutions have not been great during the pandemic. Many of our governments have not been great during the pandemic.

Can we actually now think about the promise of distributed autonomous organisations to be able to address this issue of sustainable finance and create those incentives to be able to get people to participate and to think about.

We think about carbon credits and we’re blockchaining those and so forth, but why don’t we think about women’s credits?

Why don’t we think about poverty credits?

Why don’t we think about sustainable development goal credits and tokens and so forth.

This technology that has this incredible power really reimagine how we have those conversations, how we build communities, how we connect people and how we incentivise people to do the kinds of things that we know matter.

Bridget Greenwood: And that talking about things that the pandemic did, it definitely lets us know that we are all globally connected, but our local communities are really, really valuable and SMEs are  hugely valuable.

Sorcha I would love you to introduce yourself again. Without Joyce and yourself, we wouldn’t be here having this incredible discussion.

Sorcha Mulligan: And indeed you. We all play a part in this.

There’s a grace cross-pollination story across the entire panel here,

which started out with Bridget and The Bigger Pie back in 2019 for me, where I met Jane, I met Jannah, I met Victoria.

Jane introduced me to Tokenomics on ETO-system and Jason, my fellow co-founder is in the crowd here. We have partners on the panel as Sofie Blakstad, and Hiveonline. Hughbon is in the audience – Deadline and many more.

It’s a great collaboration story here. And I’ve been with The Bigger Pie since around the same time in 2019.  I am a steering committee member with Joyce and I’m just delighted to see so many people here.

And thank you all for so much of your engagement and support and all the energy is still here at the end of the week of Blockchain Ireland week 2021.

And we’ve had so many sessions and conversations, which included Jane, in the healthcare panel just the other day. There’s a synergy in terms of gaps in systems and I’m a systems thinker and rather than been forced to rethink systems that Jane just mentioned but prompted so many people in COVID. Me and so many of us here at the table have been rethinking these systems for years, if not decades.

It’s 2016 that I got into FinTech after working for a decade in financial services. Victoria was a decade in law. Sofie’s from a finance background. Jannah is from a finance background.

Once you start looking at the gaps in one system, i.e. The monetary system, you see the faults in the economic system and then in the political and policy system, and then agriculture and the food system comes into it. And that impacts healthcare.

Where do you start if you’re stuck in the macro and how do you become relevant and how do you solve problems?

Well first of all, you study, you research and then you find people.

You find people through events like this. You find people through social media, through conferences,  word of mouth and referral and introductions.

I started speaking with Jason Curry and Tokenomics in early last year. And I was just over overwhelmed by the amount of work thought that had been put into the proposition.

I was delighted to join the team has as a co-founder at the time.

And we’ve been working in stealth mode for the last year building systems of systems, with a focus on the agricultural food supply chain and starting off with micro farmers and small holder farmers in Ireland.

For those of you who are outside of Ireland, we’ve got Asia Pacific, we’ve got the States, we’ve got all over the world here today, all across Europe as well.

In Ireland, agriculture is one of our most important industries and we’d be very well known for it across the world. We’re seen as a very green economy but I think you need to look a little bit closer at the numbers. We might be green, but we are very monoculture.

We are only 2% of our agricultural industry is organic and we’re quite behind Europe in that front. This is the problem that we want to solve and how do we solve it? Now our government and our Irish pharmacy association put a program together back in 2018 to address the issue of that 2% and how to boost it and farmers and small holders and large farmers from across the country were advised to participate. But 75% of applications we’re rejected because of a biased point system. It’s not that the will isn’t there.

The will is there, it’s just the infrastructure isn’t.

Sofie is building infrastructure from scratch in Africa. We need to rebuild or restart with the infrastructure that we have on its innovators like Tokenomics and ETO systems, the teams that I’m part of, and indeed other teams.

We have the origin chain networks in Fiona Delaney and Ireland.  We hope to be working with Origin Chain networks in a few years time, if not sooner once our platform is progressed to that level. We have AgriLedger and Genevieve Leveille  who I’m actually on a panel on later this afternoon at a hackathon. There’s Cultivate Vatty. In the USA. There’s a Baeza network in Spain, which are an insurance platform for small holder farmers based on blockchain and using cube satellites to monitor agricultural crop from space which is phenomenal.

All of these partners, but just fitting in different elements and  the beauty about blockchain technology and the decentralised finance and the peer to peer network world is that we’re so accustomed and tuned into working in a different way and working from a far that it just comes completely natural to us.

We don’t have to meet face to face.

We can just continue in business.

We just need to know more people that know each other and that just happens over time.

As I say we’re addressing the problem of, helping SMEs to be digitised through blockchain infrastructure and become more visible in the national infrastructure contribution towards the sustainable development goals.

Again, that’s just one industry agriculture where 75% of the contributors are invisible because they’re not accounted for. Then that has a knock on effect because if they’re not accounted for for their good behaviors, then they’re not actually visible to financial services. They can’t access the funds that are available, particularly from banks because of their credit processes.

We’re looking at green bonds based on blockchain. We’re looking at asset tokenisation, crowd funds so much in there.

I’m going to hand it back over to Bridget because everybody else needs to say more, but please, if you’ve got specific questions follow up and we’ll have conversations afterwards.

Bridget Greenwood: We should have a whole conference on this rather than one hour.

One of the things that I’ve very much noticed is if you’re invisible to the system, if there isn’t record keeping of you, then

your ability to progress to financial empowerment is taken away from you and that seems to be the story that everyone is sharing.

Sofie I’d love to know a little bit more about, how you rolled out technology where there was no infrastructure, there’s no literacy and there is no technology.

And what are the lessons that we can learn from you to be able to apply to the other situations?

Because I’m sure when you’re talking about many of the vulnerable people, people who are displaced or who are living in areas where the language isn’t their first language.

Literacy becomes an issue, not necessarily for them in their first language, but maybe where they’re staying.

Sofie Blakstad: I have to say, before we started in Africa, we did actually start with the products in Denmark. And one of the things we learned from the Danish builders, this is the most digitised nation on the planet.

Danish builders don’t use their mobile device as much either. It’s not just a developing economy problem. As others have mentioned that the farmers are excluded wherever you are.

First off, how do we tackle it?

Well, we’ve used existing social bonds and Jane mentioned tokenising, what I call natural and social capital. That’s a big part of it.

We use existing structures such as cooperatives and the savings groups, which are all over Africa. Cooperatives are the key driver of many African agricultural economies.

We use those structures to enable people who are members of those groups to register, to have identity and to build up a record of their transactions with the group and also the groups transactions with buyers so that they can build up both a personal and a group identity.

We do that through measuring financial transactions, but also other kinds of commitments.

For example, in a savings group, do the women shop to put money in every week.

That is a commitment that they make in a farm, in a cooperative. We measured their commitments to the cooperatives to deliver different types of crops, which in turn also builds up a picture for the whole group about what crops are going to be available.

The buyers can pre-buy the crops and then there’s money going into the system and the whole thing is much smoother and more transparent and takes out a lot of the middlemen, which I know is a thing, in agricultural, wherever you are. Where you’ve got middlemen buying crops at a low price at the farm gate and taking more of the profit from the farmers.

You mentioned literacy as a key barrier.

Something we do is we exploit the slightly better literacy of the people who are either authority figures or social leaders in these groups and ask them to enter data on behalf of people who are not literate.

But I have to say that even people who are not literate tend to be reasonably numerate.

Especially if they’re in business  as all of our customers are.

We share the numbers with the people who have some kind of device so that they can check that what’s going into the system is accurate and reflects what they’ve told people. We do have some checks and balances there as well. Of course the assets themselves know who they belong to. We can make sure that they’re going to the right people.

For example, in a situation where a corporative is issuing a voucher for a sapling to a farmer. That farmer doesn’t necessarily need a device. They can go to the merchant with their identity and their pin number, and the merchant can use those rather they can log into the metrics device with those credentials, get their voucher redeemed and they never have to touch a mobile device at all and they don’t have to own one.

It’s complicated and it’s not intuitive, but it’s something that we’ve been able to prove works and we’d be really excited to bring us back to the global north and places where people are more digitally literate, because I think the opportunities are so much greater.

Bridget Greenwood: When it comes to the communities that you’re serving, Victoria and Jannah through Orora. What are the challenges that you face there?

Victoria Thompson: Well, to pick up on that. I think the big challenge really is identity because when you think about money, what is money?

Money is, it’s value, it’s promises and value and trust.

I’ll do X, you give me Y and here’s some money that’s backed up by a central bank to say that this is good. This is a good promise. This has value okay and the network has it.

It’s really thinking about all of those things and mixing identity because ultimately, identity through your passport or your driver’s license or the things that we think of as identity credentials, give us access to this world of value and promises and give us access to the things so we can do the things that we want to do.

If we have for example, a digital identity in the UK. The things that Orora are trying to do would be tremendous for here and a lot easier.

If we had access to real digital financial infrastructure issued by the central bank that was out there for people to innovate on top of, our life would be a lot easier at Orora.

From my time in Asia, working in Singapore when I worked for the development bank in Singapore, that’s what’s quite interesting they’re light years ahead in this. When you look at also in India, what’s happened in FinTech there because the work that’s been done on digital identity, whether there are there issues with what they’ve done, that’s really powerful as well.

Because identity and linking that to the entitlement, you don’t necessarily need to know who you are but you need to know that you have a right to access that.  I think there are some fundamental pillars in the way some of the systems operate at the moment that are preventing that.

It’s looking to technology, looking to how we can overcome those and asking those really hard questions.

How can we help the vulnerable?

When we sat there and thought about developing our wallet, well if somebody is being domestically abused and they haven’t got the ability to take all of their identity documentation with them.

When they feed that sector, how do we get them into the system?

How can we have somebody that says I will support you, I will vouch for who you are and I will trust you.

How can we do that?

If you’re a homeless person and you can’t get into the system because you haven’t got a permanent address because you haven’t got a job, you haven’t got all of these things that is all stacked up to say, “I can trust you.” Then how do you do that? They’re the key things for us.

Then there’s regulatory barriers because let’s be honest, the financial system the way it’s set up to help the big institutions.

I used to work in a big institution. I lobbied lot to keep that, that way as well. There is a real to get into being able to have reserve accounts, clearing accounts, and all these things that they say you have to have to be a payments institution or alert any money issue.

They’re all there to supposedly deal with the trust and deal with the issues that come with the responsibility of being a financial institution. But actually there’s really clever ways with technology.

You can show what you’re doing and that’s the power of blockchain for me is the access to the data that can be used to inform that trust.

And really empower people to think and do things in a different way.

Complete Transparency!

With what we’ve been able to develop, we can show literally from when the donation comes in, how it’s allocated by the charity, how that then goes into the wallet and what people do with the money that’s in the wallet. Completely transparent.

We had a discussion the other day with a charity that’s a food bank and they were talking about the fact that a local authority didn’t know how to distribute money that had been given by central government to the children that should have been fed and have free school meals.

Didn’t know how to do it. There’s absolutely zero way. The schools didn’t want to do it. Nobody wanted to do it.

Nobody wants to take ownership.

The local authority just bundled up all the money and gave it to the food bank and said, “go and buy some food and you figure it out. You don’t need to tell us what you’ve done with the money. We don’t need to know. We trust you. You go out into the community and do it.”

How is that actually solving the problem? How can we work?

And that’s ultimately what we want to do. We want to be able to give that transparency and trust, help people figure out how they get access to the things they need? Because that’s really what we need to do.

It’s never a technology issue. Technology you can always figure out.

It’s about the people, it’s about getting into the system. It’s about knowledge and trust and value.

Bridget Greenwood: And once you say it’s not a technology issue. It is interesting to understand a bit more or maybe Jannah you can speak to this, about what the digitisation of assets and tokenisation looks like.

How are we able to use the technology to replace transparency and get the funds to the right people that we’re not able to do with the current system? Can you speak a bit more general about what that looks like?

Jannah Patchay: Sure. I think it can build on what Victoria’s already said there. As she’s mentioned that the biggest obstacle for us has not been the technology, it’s been dealing with financial and payments infrastructure that by its very nature creates these problems of financial exclusion.

We’re trying to solve a problem with financial inclusion but we’ve got to go through the same payments infrastructure that is set up to creates these barriers in the first instance, which is really challenging.

And we’ve had to do some seriously creative thinking around how we restructure our wallets and what it’s actually doing and things like that.

That comes on to, for example, what the digitisation of money can provide for us. To give you one example of a digital asset and other people have mentioned things like stable coins and central bank digital currency and the chats as well. I’ll pick up on that.

With central bank digital currency, again, it’s not just about taking the existing infrastructure we have and the existing forms of money we have and just digitising them because the problems are really more fundamental than that.

The banking and payments infrastructure that we have today, grew organically over many decades.

At each stage it’s been limited by not only the current technology constraints, but actually the technology constraints of decades past. Whilst wheelbarrows of cash are not being exchanged at the end of the day. We have a payments infrastructure in the UK that assumes that we are better as cash are being exchanged at the end of the day, which introduces all sorts of inefficiencies at every stage.

Opening hours from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM on weekdays only that creates the need for multiple payment systems and types of settlements, reserve accounts and headaches that we’ve got to work with.

The introduction of central bank digital currency gives us an opportunity to reimagine what society needs from money. Because money ultimately is not just about enabling the economy. It’s enabling society to function and that the economy doesn’t work unless you have a functioning society really.

If we can again, take a blank sheet of paper and re-imagine.

What are the requirements that we actually have of money? What are the functions that we need money to perform?

And this could be quite wide ranging. We want money and we want means of transmitting money from between senders and receivers that are financially inclusive. For example, the government may want to ensure that a new payments infrastructure is able deliver better policy delivery. Helicopter money, things like that.

There’s potential impacts for taxation, which some people get very excited about. It’s not really my key area.

But there’s lots of things that we could want money to do that would help society function more smoothly. And then if we take those requirements and we look at the technology that we have today, we can actually implement something that meets those requirements.

That’s the real revolutionary aspect of central bank digital currency and digital money.

Enabling you to do things that actually meet the requirements that people have of money, rather than just digitising the existing type of money we have and taking along all those legacy issues with it.

Here is part 2 of the recording:


BlockW X The Bigger Pie – Ireland Blockchain Week – Part 1

Ireland Blockchain Week 2021

The European Commission defines Sustainable Finance as “the process of taking environmental, social & governance (ESG) considerations into account when making investment decisions in the financial sector, leading to more long-term investments in sustainable economic activities & projects.”

BlockW & The Bigger Pie are delighted to present this partnership event during Blockchain Ireland Week 2021.

Join us as we discuss real world projects with Founders, Investors & Advisors – those doing the work – in the field harnessing blockchain & a variety of crypto protocols, digital assets, as well as other emerging tech to fundamentally change how finance is traced, collected & distributed amongst SMEs in emerging & developed economies, the unbanked & underbanked, through P2P networks.


Here is part 1 of the conversation:

Joyce O’Connor:  I’m just going to say a little bit about BlockW for those of you who don’t know who we are. We’re a female led network whose mission is to create awareness about blockchain and other emerging technologies and promote equity and diversity in its use and application.

We foster inclusivity by helping to provide pathways and access to education, training, and skills.

We are delighted to be in conversation with a group of amazing women, entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, leaders, and our panel will be introduced to you by Bridget. As you can see, there’s Bridget herself, Sorcha, Sofie, Jannah and Dr. Jane Thompson. We’re really delighted to have this international group who are based in Australia, UK, Denmark and Ireland.

Following today, our discussion with the panel and our audience, we’re very pleased at the Minister with responsibility for financial services in the department of finance. Mr. Sean Fleming will join us on video to give his closing address to blockchain Ireland week.

Minister Flemings’ closing remarks will leave us I think, with a clear view of his department’s intent to build financial services within the European framework with the help of frontier technologies like blockchain. But I would like to take this opportunity if I may to thank the Blockchain Ireland Week team for all their hard work, I’m sure they’re absolutely exhausted and delighted that it’s the end of the week. Well done Dáire, Paul, Amber and Mazena it was a tremendous success and I know you put an awful lot of work into it.

Our focus today is timely.

Digitalisation is the foundation of inclusion into revolving, networked inter and interconnected lives from agriculture to healthcare to financial services.

Tomorrows and today’s and dates strongest performing financial services are likely to find new value at the intersection of digital technologies and sustainability provided by these two engines of growth.

We are five times more likely to outperform our peers.

Our colleague and friend Sanjay Podder from Accenture during the week said that that was two and a half times pre pandemic, but now post pandemic it’s five times more likely. It’s not just the right thing to do. It is successful business.

Digital financial inclusion is defined by the European commission as the process of taking environmental, social and governments’ considerations into account when making investment decisions in the financial sector, leading to more longterm investments in sustainable economic activities and growth.

This perspective resonates with our panel who will discuss real-world projects. Our panel, our members, our founders, inventors and advisors and they are harnessing the power of blockchain and a variety of crypto protocols, digital assets, as well as other frontier technologies. Their work and that of others is pioneering and will fundamentally change how finance is traced, collected and distributed among SMEs in emerging and developed economies, the unbanked and the underbanked for peer to peer networks.

We’re absolutely delighted to be with you here today to have Bridget as our moderator from The Bigger Pie.

The Bigger Pie is an organisation founded on supporting women in blockchain and further technologies. I’ll hand over to Bridget now to introduce our panel and to moderate the event.

Thank you very much.

Bridget Greenwood:  Thank you so much, Joyce indeed.

You’ve covered a lot in terms of framing what we’re going to be talking about.

I just want to say personally,

I founded The Bigger Pie in 2019 because I saw the opportunity that this technology had to be able to change the way that we interact with each other, to change business models and to be able to distribute global solutions.

But having come into the industry in 2017, I saw incredible women in the space, but there’s just not enough. I think if we’re going to be shaping our global futures, then we need everyone at the design, development and deployment table.

The Bigger Pie is very much focused on making sure that we have visibility of the women who are pioneering in the space like we have on this panel, that we can support them, that we can have conversations around getting these women funded.

I was speaking to somebody yesterday and I was actually recording on a podcast around them, “investing into female founders” and we should be investing for diversity and looking in spite of it.

And this idea as well, “sustainable finance” that often, I think people seem to think that type of purpose or profits. When you have a look at something like Kapor Capital, they are a top core tile fund that has in their 102 companies at the last report led by over 50% of women and people of color. They focus on addressing educational inequity, climate change, quality job creation for formerly incarcerated people, alternatives to predatory loans and other critical inventions. And they’ve made more money than those who are just focusing on profit.

I’m really excited. I’m not going to take up anymore of everyone’s time because I want to hear from the panelists about what problems that they identify, how they’re solving them and how the sector of technology is allowing us to be able to radically change our business models and to, I think lead and be able to deliver on that new leadership.

Sofie, would you mind introducing yourself please?

Sofie Blakstad: Sure. And thanks very much for asking me to speak today.

It’s great to see so many familiar and new faces as well.

I’m Sofie Blakstad, I’m CEO of Hiveonline. We’re a Danish impact FinTech company rolling out in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a community finance platform that’s based on blockchain.

We support the bottom of the pyramid, communities of farmers. Many of whom don’t have access to technology, literacy and electricity anything very much.

We help the the whole community to get digitised by the community-based hub, which doesn’t require everyone to have a device.

Everyone can have an identity wallet and build a digital history of their commercial activity without needing a phone.

It’s based on blockchain.

We have a three token model, which is based around a stable coin that we also have a share token and a debt token. We can manage relatively complex financial fund structures and transaction structures. But obviously all of this is non transparent to the users who just see it as money and lending and buying into the community that they’re a member of.

We started it for savings groups in Niger a couple of years ago, working with care international and as a consequence have built it for very high resilience with very, very low literacy, because Niger for those of you who don’t know is the least developed country in the world. We’ve got corporatives in Mozambique, savings groups in Zambia and Uganda and we’re about to start working in Nigeria, with returning refugees, helping them to build communities farms there and also in Kenya.

We will also be working on a project in Ireland with Tokenomics, that’s again where the Irish connection comes from, us bringing our experience of working with communities of farmers to the Irish ecosystem.

As well as doing transactions and savings and things, we also do traceability and crop quality, building markets and helping farmers to get access to seamless markets for. Which is a problem in Africa bits. I think it’s a problem everywhere as well.

In terms of the challenges we faced, having to deal with customers who don’t have access to things that we take for granted has been a big learning curve for us. But it’s been, I think very valuable for us because it’s enabled us to really start building distributed infrastructure, where there is no infrastructure. Another big learning is that, some of the things that we thought would take three to five years to really get people excited about are starting to happen now partly because of COVID. Because

people are beginning to recognise the need for alternative financial structures and things like tokenised assets

which we were planning to do later on. We’re now starting to deliver next month.

That’s been a really exciting thing.

One of the big challenges we face is actually just working with organisations in Africa because things tend to be very slow.

Technology can be quite behind the curve, the financial sector is very conservative.

But at the same time, I’m very excited about the opportunity to reach customers that they literally can’t see today. It’s a very different set of challenges to the typical ones here.

Although of course, regulation is always very high on the agenda and managing in a way that is protecting customers and compliant with regulation. Of course that’s different from country to country.

We’ve been with five countries, more on the way. That’s all, it’s a bit of a challenge. But I think one of the really key things that the technology has enabled us to do, is to start to build the rails of a distributed economy, where there is no infrastructure. That to me, is the really exciting thing about this technology.

I spent most of my career building international banks for a living.

When this tech came along, I saw the opportunity to fill in the gaps where the big banks have really failed to reach.

Bridget Greenwood:  I know that for each of you as panelists, we could spend a whole session just absolutely. Victoria, please. Would you mind introducing yourself?

Victoria Thompson:  Yeah. Thanks, Bridget and thanks for the invitation to come and talk.

Who am I? I’m Victoria Thompson. I’m a lawyer by background and training. I’ve spent more than a decade and we’ll just leave it at that number, inside financial institutions thinking about innovation inside those organizations and what that really means.

Up until the global pandemic, I was quite happy in that role. And then I picked up a phone and answered a call from one of our other panelists. The delightful Jannah Patchay who is my partner in crime, and a lot of things that I get up to. We started a bit of a passion project, which has now turned into Orora and I am the founder and CEO of Orora.

And really what is Orora?

Orora is about creating and reinventing the future of money, about making sure money flows where it needs to go the most and has the most impact.

It’s about putting people and humanity at the center of every decision that that organization makes and tackling the hardest business problems that we’ve got.

It isn’t a charitable institution. It’s about exactly what you’ve said is a good growth. It’s a good growth company with profit that comes and flows back to where it needs to, to do the work that it needs to do. We’re at the moment, where we’re developing a distribution platform and our wallet, which is about financial inclusion because there is a shockingly alarming number of people in this world that don’t have access to financial systems, which has largely been addressed by Sofie in her introduction as well.

There are 1.3 million people in the UK that don’t have access to any form of bank account. And we’re a developed nation supposedly. There are 1.7 billion globally. As a result of the COVID pandemic, the world bank estimate that and another hundred and 50 million people will be pushed into poverty. That’s going to have a tremendous impact. At Orora, we really want to think about how do we help people deal with those situations? How do we get people that are homeless banked?


How do we get the women that are fleeing domestic abuse and have been subject to coercive control of their financial history, into a safe space have access to cash when they really need it?

We’ve come up with a nifty little way, courtesy of a little bit of money that we got from the UK government, by their sustainable innovation research fund, to develop our wallet with NEM and leveraging the NEM symbol blockchain protocol and the tokens that they have, how we can create something that enables corporates to sponsor financial inclusion.

Starting off with the charitable sector, if you imagine how charities like Big Issue and Refuge could support the people that they want to take care of and get into the right situation. How we can get them into the system and then into a place where they can develop good credit history, they can then develop access to systems and entitlement and benefits.

Because right now,

if you haven’t got all of the lovely things that you need to rock up with either online or in a branch, the bank will say, “no. “

AML, KYC all the things that are suppose to stop financial crime are actually barriers to financial inclusion. What we’re about to do with Orora is have an engagement process with the regulators with government to think about, “can we come together to actually properly solve this?” Because the technology is there.

This is not about technology. This is not actually about how hard it is. This is about values.

This is about understanding that technology and actually applying it into a real world to solve real world problems.

And that’s what Orora is really about. That’s me.

Bridget Greenwood:  Amazing.

I think the other thing that I understand is a 1.7 billion of unbanked people is actually under-representative because it’s the head of the household. There are other people within the household.

Victoria Thompson: It’s really scary.

When you look at those numbers, when you really analyze the numbers that the UNDP put up about this, about financial inclusion, and also when you go drill into the equality angle for women.

The amount of women that don’t even get paid for jobs they do, they get paid in “kind” is scary.

Then the exposure that women have to the manipulation because they are in a cash based economy. I mean, I was involved in a world health innovation summit around the impact of wellbeing and access to cash and financial coercive control.  And this is the shocking statistics.

When you look as well what’s happened in the COVID pandemic specifically to women. It’s really, really scary that the system at the moment just isn’t set up. There aren’t products out there, there aren’t safe spaces for women to go to get the support that they need.

As somebody as a junior lawyer who spent a long time volunteering in women’s refuges and helping with care orders with children and various other aspects.

There’s a real need to allow those safe spaces in communities to exist and help women and young girls know that they can have financial independence.

That they can have financial literacy and that they can have those skills to be able to get themselves into that position. And that’s what we want to do.

We want to use our Orora wallet as that conduit, working with community partners to get those that are the most vulnerable into a space where they can feel like they can take control of their financial destiny, that they don’t have to rely on food banks.

They don’t have to rely on benefits and age.

You can get them to a place. Because when you give access to cash, whether it’s in real form or digital form, most of the time, people end up doing amazing things with that. When you look at also what the future of universal basic income could be for people and the pile ups that have happened all around the world. When you give people that access, you see tremendous growth in entrepreneurial development, you see tremendous growth in people being able to do great things in their community. That’s something that we’re also very passionate about in Orora about making sure people get the things that they are entitled to, to give them that space because access to cash and the fear of financial insecurity is a massive mental health crisis that we’re going to face in the next decade.

Bridget Greenwood:  Very much so. And Jannah, Victorias’ partner in crime.

Jannah Patchay: Yes. Thanks Bridget. Aside from being Victorias’ partner in crime, which I will get onto as well.

I am the founder of a consultancy called Markets Evolution, which specialises in financial innovation, regulatory strategy and market structure, which may sound like seemingly unconnected things.

But they actually are quite connected.

My background is entirely in capital markets and that’s where I’ve been working for about the past 20 years.

The major part of my career has actually been in working with large institutions such as banks, trading venues and exchanges and helping them deliver their strategy.

Market structure is basically about how different market participants interact. What happens if you change something like introducing a new regulation, or how do you build up new markets and new products and services that you want to launch.

What kind of market participants do you need to engage? What kind of intermediaries do you need?

And things like that.

It was about a year and a half ago, it was an afternoon in January last year that, I went for a coffee with Victoria and I remember having rant to her about how I just read the latest of many really depressing papers, mainly produced by consultancies and the future of capital markets.

I’ve always been quite passionate about about creating financial markets that are fit for purpose for everyone, not just the tiny number of beneficiaries that they actually serve today. I think capital markets at the moment only serve something like the top 1% of all companies. Everyone else has to go somewhere else for financing.

And that’s before you even get to retail consumers and the financially excluded, which Victoria has spoken extensively about already.

I’ve been reading all these depressing papers, usually put out by consultancies about the future of capital markets.

And I suppose they’re intended to scare clients into, “purchasing the syrup”, “procuring the services of those consultancies” but they all painted a very bleak picture of a future with lower profit margins and lots of what they described as “external pressures.”

The external pressures of climate risk and the pressures of lower margins.

I said to Victoria; what if we could rethink all this? What if we could bring together everyone who’s working on really exciting technology innovation and financial innovation, or what if we could bring that all together and actually paint a really positive future of what capital markets, what financial markets could look like.

Where we actually could build in the ideas of sustainability and fairness and equity from the ground up.

It’s not just about that having those sorts of annoying bolt-ons that have to be on the side.  And here we are, a year and a bit later, kind of doing exactly that, which is really exciting.

Sustainability and Inclusion

I think my key for me, when traditional financial institutions talk about concepts like sustainability and inclusion, they quite often talk about it within the constraints that they face, the constraints of their existing business models and the constraints imposed on them by the technology that they use.

For instance, if you look at green bonds and the issues around greenwashing being unable to really measure the impact, of green or sustainable investments.

That’s a huge issue at the moment, but what if we could rethink that?

If we started from scratch as a fresh piece of paper and designed financial products that were fit for purpose to not just meet ESG criteria, but to have the actual impacts built in from the outset.

What if we then built those using the technology that we have available now, rather than the legacy infrastructure that has all of its constraints.

What if we used DLT for example, what if we use smart contracts and tokenisation and created digital native financial instruments that had impact measurement built into them from the ground up. What if those could be linked to the internet of things to real life census that were measuring what was going on in real time and continually updating and reevaluate the instruments based on that.

That’s when you start to see the really transformative potential and the real ability to create financial markets that are fit for purpose, that do serve the needs of the many, rather than as the few.

That’s what gets me really excited. And that’s why I love everything I’m working on at the moment.

So both Orora with Victoria.

We’re also amongst the originating team behind a new digital pound initiative

which is looking at the case supporting the introduction of a UK central bank digital currency and what that can mean for financial inclusion and sustainability as well.

I guess my whole career sort of transformed to focus on this new area of digital sustainability.

Bridget Greenwood: That’s amazing and it’s really timely as well.


Here is part 1 of the recording:





Blockchain EdX : How to bring more wisdom into the scene: Mind, Body & Soul – Part 3

2030 Vision.

Following on from Part 2 in this series, Yip invites the panel to take part in her mindfulness exercise and share their vision for 2030. Yip starts first and shares her version of how her 2030 will look like, a world where she has the freedom to work and live on her own terms.

A world where technology connects us to each other so that we can look out for each others wellbeing.

Here is part 3 of the conversation:

Bridget Greenwood: Yip, I know that you’ve shared with me a few times about your vision for the future and we’ve touched on it a little bit more here, but do you want to paint a picture, maybe tell a story. It could be imaginary or not of what you see this technology bringing.

Yip: Bridget, I was thinking maybe we can do a little experiment altogether with all the participants in the room.

Can we get two minutes of visualisation exercise for everybody to join into this? And of course I’m happy to share my own 2030 picture. This is just an invitation for you guys to lean back, find a comfortable position, and then if you want, you can close your eyes.

We’re going to just tap into our immediate intuition.

Bear with me. It takes just a few minutes. If you want to close your eyes, that’s fine. If not, just find a relaxed gaze and then sense into your two feet and two feet on the floor and just feel how they connect to the ground. And then get your attention towards your breathing and see how your spine moves along with your in breath, and your outbreath.

Pay attention to your belly and see how it moves when you breathe in and how it moves when you breathe out. Relax your shoulders, do a quick scan of your face and see if you have any tension and then focus on the chest area and connect with your heartbeat. If you you can put the two palms together and feel the warmth of your fingertips and the ridges in your fingertips as the hands pressed together and tenderly listen to your heart and then put yourself into 2030, and you wake up in the morning.You had a very good night’s sleep and you feel good. And then open your eyes and look around.

What are you seeing? Wherever you are and who are you with?

In that very moment. And then just reflect on the really cool things that happened in 2030 so far, what are the really good news. And then you think about the past five years, what were the major developments that have happened that made you feel very happy and made you feel very safe and connected to your beloved ones.

Then you think of how you got there. What has actually changed in this world compared to 2021? When there was this thing called blockchain or internet of value.

What has actually really changed within the past 10 years for you?

And now listen to your heart again and ask yourself, what was my contribution to the shift? What were my actions and how did I contribute?

Just take a mental note of whatever comes up and then bring a sense of kindness and joy to you being here in the present moment and imagining your future, knowing that you can have empowerment to take action. Sense into your two feet again, wiggle your toes. And then you can come back. Open your eyes and then you can maybe share in the chat, whatever came up.

In 2030, I think I’m waking up in a world where I feel happy because I can choose where I’m working and how I’m spending my day.

There’s no 9 to 5 job commitments, but I’m managing my day according to energy and flow.

I’m living in a world where it’s quite normal for people to engage with technology for women alike and for men and where there’s actually an understanding that taking wellbeing for others in society. The care work you mentioned before is as valuable to the wellbeing of society as any role working in tech or in finance so that everybody can actually get paid for and make a living off what they care most about.

If that’s about taking care of beloved ones, then so be it because everybody else knows that if we don’t do these things, we don’t feel good in society.

We got there in my view when I look at my own vision for 2030 because as a global society, we used wisdom and insight. We looked at what was meaningful to us and prioritise how we want to spend our 24 hours of the day and work together to figure out the problem we want to solve in our little groups, in our little networks and work together with other networks to create the change and to contribute towards creating the world we want to live in.

Bridget Greenwood:

I woke up in a home that clearly wasn’t in the UK. I was in a much more pleasant climate. There was a lot of nature around. I had the sense of freedom that when I was making any consumer choices that I was able to do so in a way that I knew that I was buying without damaging the planet and making sure that the people in the supply chain had been rewarded fairly for what they were doing.

And as a result, we were filled with a world of abundance, but not with the world’s greed.

And the part that I had played was what I’m looking to do with The Bigger Pie, which is to make sure that I can facilitate and support the amazing game changers that we have to be able to go off and to create these incredible futures for us.

And we can imagine a future by collaborating and working together, and the technology allows us to do that. As you said, the peer to peer, the permissionless aspect of being able to do and to do good. Now with that means a permissionless aspect to be a bad actor as well.

It’s not a perfect society by any measure and there’ll be lots of challenges that we’ll have to face and come along with.

Let’s go through the questions from our audience.

I know Eléonore, Shandran has asked a couple of questions that he’d love you to answer. Do you want to kick off with those?

Eléonore Blanc: Yeah, of course. I’m still dreaming of me in 10 years. I also need some time to come down. Yip that was so surprising and beautiful. What a beautiful exercise and thank you both of you for sharing your future. I could see myself with kids jumping into bed that’s where I went. I just dropped crypto for a moment. I went all family. Let me go back to crypto. I saw a great question earlier by Shandran and let me just scroll back the question I’m going to answer.

“What would happen to people possessing crypto in countries where governments might vanish now? Isn’t it more a problem for them?”

Exactly for that reason. It’s difficult right now. And I would say that governments and regulations do fluctuate. Governments are a bit undecided on what to do with it. On some level they realise it’s threatened their system, they want us to all continue to use Fiat so they can trace what we’re buying and spending, and they want the central banks to stay relevant.

If we’re all on another spreadsheet, then what are they doing?

At the same time, I feel like in those countries where there is so much financial grasp, where the government has so much power on your finances, it would make me want to crawl out of my skin and find the alternatives as fast as possible.

What I might do in that situation would be to focus on privacy coins, focus on making sure that I’m as anonymous as possible by peer to peer, don’t KYC yourself on centralised exchanges. Make sure that you always own your private keys. Make sure that you’re using products basically that are designed in the true spirits of the cypherpunks to give you full privacy and control over your digital assets.

That’s my 2 cents on governments and crypto. And then there’s a second question.

“If crypto or Bitcoin was made for everyone and bypass the central banking system and Fiat currency, how come it has become money for the rich and not actually available for everyone?”

Great question. I think today, anybody that’s transacting and using cryptocurrencies might feel the burn when they realise that they need to pay fees, right?

Whether it is miners for the Bitcoin network or gas fees for the Ethereum blockchain, there’s a cost to using these blockchains. They’re very fancy clubs right now and the bouncer are miners, validators asking for crazy entrance money basically for you to use these systems. And it’s one of the reasons why I usually give Bitcoin cash to people during my classes because it remains very cheap to send a fraction of a cent. It is still a UTX based blockchain, meaning that you still can obfuscate and use mixers for your transaction.

You still can use HD wallets, et cetera. Yeah, it’s not cool. The situation right now is just not optimal. Let’s just put it that way. We’re in a space where it’s 99% speculation, 1% values and use cases. I wanted to have that balance.

Bridget Greenwood: True, but then you don’t have to own a whole Bitcoin, right?

This idea of one unit, the value has come up. I need less of a Bitcoin to be able to hold a hundred pounds, a hundred dollars. If it was a hundred dollars at one, but I can still hold a hundred dollars worth of Bitcoin so there is that element to it. And that was part of the design, right. That you could go down to the small Satoshis.

Thank you everyone. Do keep sharing your visions for 2030. We’ll have a chance to have a look at those. Now, because everyone’s sharing everything, which is wonderful.

I’m losing sight of where the questions are. Question one and question two was answered.  Bettinna, are you still here? Do you want to ask your question “in your teachings? Are you informing students?”

Did you want to come on and ask that question?

Bettinna: My question was in regards to of your core, you informing them of the centralised exchanges.

I think you answered my question a bit Eléonore but how are you doing that in Lebanon too?

Because I’m wondering and cause there are decentralised exchanges that does not require KYC, but as there is a major learning curve, like the bisque and then the running of the node, that’s another thing. How does that work for those who are in places that may have trouble obtaining some of the cold storage, raspberry PI. I mean they could break a couple of computers and create their own.

But I’m just trying to understand how you’re able to go around some of the issues because those are what really will help, really provide, I guess, what the woman was saying in regards to the fees situation.

How do you get around the system in regards to also ensuring that if the government ban some of the exchanges, you have these alternatives.

Eléonore Blanc: Yeah. Great question. I think you’ve touched on so many technical aspects on the crypto 101.

I don’t tell people to run their own nodes. I think that the decentralisation of the network is great for those that are ready to run a node. I’ll talk about it more in my crypto deep dive, in the more advanced classes for the beginners and how I do it is that I really insist on, not your keys, not your crypto. When I onboard these people, I give them a noncustodial wallet and I’ve checked with Edge and I was asking them what happens if the Apple store or Google store bans you.

What happens then? And he was like, “well people can still run an SDK.”

They can still run it directly and run it directly on desktop. It’s a wallet that allows people to have privacy. It’s an HD wallet. I mentioned it before, meaning that every time you receive a transaction, your public address changes. I think that’s great. I don’t want people to just have one public address.

I mean, that’s the problem with Ethereum which sound checks a model.

But to have their private keys, I don’t let them get out of the class without them knowing where in the app to swipe and click and write them down. And this is a paper wallet. To write those words down, to ideally make sure that you keep those words in a safe place, make copies, think about it. Imagine yourself at 2030, finding that piece of paper, don’t put it on a post-it somewhere weird. Just think long-term about these things.

I don’t want another, “Oh, I’m looking for my computer hard drive.” There’s so many horrible stories like this.

Basically, beginners is all about private keys and ownership. The next step would be where to buy peer to peer on a decentralised exchange, et cetera. Node situation, running your own node. I keep that for much later.

Bettinna: But it’s important to use an actual good app. That’s perfect.

Eléonore Blanc: I’m glad. I have a promotional link! But yes, they’re great. Edges, I personally used them and I liked the fact that they have zero data on you. That’s also really important. Zero data on you, you have full ownership. It runs even though if they get banned or something weird because these governments, they shut down WhatsApp and Telegram on a whim.

You also have to think about these stores, these closed gardens where you’re telling people to go. That’s how I do it.

Bridget Greenwood: That’s a very good point. We are past the hour now. I would love to hear just one last thing from Yip and Samantha, and then Eléonore, do you still wish to offer a bonus session for those who would like.

We’re going to hear from Yip and Sam, then I’ll tell you about a little bonus afterwards.

Yip final words from you.

Yip: No, really now is the time to shape the economy and shape society because we are in such early stage of the industry. If you all speak up and try to understand it, there’s not too much to learn because it’s so narrow sense the industry. Then you can really have a big impact on how we are designing it for the years to come and for future generations to come.

If we believe technology is here to stay, then let’s shape it.

I guess literacy is part of that. And that’s exactly what you’re offering through the Unit Master’s course.

Bridget Greenwood: And Sam final words from you.

Samantha Mullet: Yeah, I think it’s really easy to get overwhelmed by this space, even when you’re in it. I would say just to remember how early it is and how much incredible power you have as an early player.

I think all of us on this zoom whether you’re a participant or speaker, when I had that 2030 vision, I was like, wow, 2020 seems so long ago, but everything we’re doing now,

we’re really planting the seeds for massive, massive growth.

Definitely acknowledge the power that you have now, the resources that are out there.

I think again, keeping up on things, even if it’s in a light touch way. The Blockhead has a weekly newsletter. I’d recommend signing up for that. It’s a quick read every week that just details, “Hey, what’s happening.” And I think by having that pulse on the industry, it makes it really easy to absorb the changes that happen.

Thank you for having me too. I think this is such a fun panel. Amazing meditation walkthrough. I’m super happy to be here.

Bridget Greenwood: Wonderful. Thank you very much, everyone.

Here is a recording of the mindfulness exercise by Yip: