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BlockW x The Bigger Pie - Ireland Blockchain Week | Part 3

Updated: Aug 25, 2022

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:

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