Blockchain and its Impact on Finance, with Cristina Dolan from iXledger

This week on The Tech Cat Show…

Speaker 1:                           Welcome to the Tech Cat Show with host Lori H. Schwartz. Each week, we hear from established leaders in the technology and consumer industry. Finding out the scoop should never be this much fun. Now, here is your host Lori H. Schwartz.

Lori Schwartz:                    Hi everybody, and welcome back to the Tech Cat Show. We are continuing our deep dive in our month-long series into the blockchain, which is a really exciting technology. We’ve been talking all about how it was born, how long it’s been around and what solutions it’s providing for a number of businesses and where it’s going to go. Today, we’re going to talk to the fabulous Cristina Dolan, who is the co-founder and COO, and now has even more new roles for iXleger, which is an alternative blockchain marketplace for insurance with an economic layer in there, which is so exciting.

She’s founder of InsideChains, which works with the organizations to help them digitally transform through blockchain ecosystems. We’re really going to start to dig in to how this is all really being applied to the real world. So let’s have a big Tech Cat welcome for Cristina Dolan. Yay.

Cristina Dolan:                   Thank you, Lori.

Lori Schwartz:                    [inaudible 00:01:21] goes wild. Cristina, you have such an interesting background. Set the stage for us because you have a big association with MIT Media Labs, and even people who aren’t tech nerds have heard about MIT’s Media Lab. Tell us about your background and sort of how you surfaced into this blockchain world.

Cristina Dolan:                   Well, thank you Lori, and thanks for the opportunity to be on your show. I’m an engineer that was very, very fortunate to have been at the MIT Media Lab right at the time that the web browser came out. It was interesting because at that time, I don’t think the entertainment companies were really convinced that the internet was going to be as disruptive as it turned out to be. I went on to be the head of technology at Hearst for the first consumer websites, then at Disney, and from there …

Well, what’s interesting about that time was that the business models were not quite working, paying huge CPMs for eyeballs, places like Yahoo and selling their own ads for a fraction of that while many of the eyeballs they acquired weren’t quite generating revenue. And what’s interesting is that if you fast forward, it took a bit of time to get to the point where Google and Facebook actually developed really very interesting models. From Disney and Hearst, I went over to Oracle, which was actually developing a secure layer that enabled secure transactions that enabled the next generation of the internet, which was the Web 2.0, which was eCommerce.

And what’s interesting was that people, “Oh, that eCommerce, who’s going to shop online?” Which, of course, was also very disruptive. I went on to be a co-founder of a company called OneMain, we did a very successful IPO and then it was acquired by a strategic competitor called EarthLink. And then from there, I sort of moved over. I was CEO of a venture backed company in the AI space, was started by some folks from MIT-Harvard. Then from there I moved into the fintech space, went to an institutional financial software company that was focused on traditional financial training across all asset classes and globally.

And it was while I was there, I went back to the MIT Media Lab for… I think it was like 2011, where they were talking about bitcoin and some of the capabilities that it had in its underlying architecture. And at that time, I don’t think the word blockchain had actually evolved, but people were starting to notice that bitcoin had very interesting architecture that sort of locked data in and allowed for workflows to be visible, and allowed for these mete able trusted record to be stored in a distributed fashion, in a way that couldn’t be changed and allowed for the technology to hold some level of trust.

From that point on I realized, “Wow, this is going to be the next wave of disruption that I’ve seen in the past.” I was very fascinated. I took online classes, I read everything I possibly could. I became involved with a number of organizations and spinoffs from MIT that were looking to utilize the technology to do some interesting things. And then eventually, about 14 months ago, I left the company that I was working for and pursued blockchain opportunities.

And within that journey, that I met my two co-founders Ingemar. Ingemar was actually working in the insurance space, he had formerly been the CTO at SunGard and Mikael, who’s also in the financial space and we co-founded iXledger, as a marketplace for insurance on the blockchain.

Lori Schwartz:                    Well, that is an exciting history. That is an exciting history. When you talk about thinking about a particular business category to dive into, were you thinking about insurance like way back or is it just because of all these different factors that led you to that?

Cristina Dolan:                   It’s interesting because I had been working with the Terminal One car data companies, and in working in that space, I started to recognize how valuable data is, and the fact that you need a lot of data about assets in order to be able to finance or insure them, because you can’t even finance unless you have something insured, and people who have data don’t give it away. It’s becoming harder and harder to aggregate data behind a firewall because there’s a lack of trust.

It was that moment that I recognized the insurance space requires a lot, a lot of data, and the people who have the data don’t necessarily just want to give it up. Blockchain facilitates the ability to take little shards of data that may be owned by a number of providers that may be either good partners or frenemies, but allows them to control the access to that data, but allow that to be accessible to an entity that needs to assemble all these little shards in order to execute a transaction.

Lori Schwartz:                    I love that idea of trust too, because trust has come up so much, obviously with everything going on with Facebook and even YouTube and all the different digital platforms. Do you think it’s a coincidence right now that trust is such a big issue and that blockchain is sort is becoming a word, an expression that regular people know now? You’ve been in this industry for a while, but we all are starting to understand it now. It’s sort of in the current. Is that because of what’s happening with security and privacy?

Cristina Dolan:                   That is very insightful of you, Lori, because one of the things that has caught my attention is that, you know, trust overall ever since the financial crisis has gone down significantly. After 9/11, I think everybody came together and there was a sense of trust in centralized organizations, but after the financial crisis, that sort of completely fell apart. And I think that was one of the many things that was going on at the time, that allowed bitcoin to ignite and engage people.

But if you look at things like, for example, the Edelman’s study that’s come out every year, the trust that people have in for example financial systems or even insurance system is very low. In general, when trust goes down, compliance and regulatory requirements go up, and that’s expensive and it takes time. So if you can utilize a technology that embeds trust, that means the cycle of contracting, earning, getting paid and then using that money to pay somebody else is shorter. When you shorten that cycle, it’s good for the economy.

It’s actually much more effective to use the technology that improves the speed of transactions through trust than it is to use economic easing and throwing all this money out and devaluing money.

Lori Schwartz:                    That’s another great point because the other thing I keep reading about right now is how different countries are shutting down bitcoin or they’re shutting down companies that are pursuing it and because of the legislation and the regulatory issues. Do you see that as being a continual issue or do you think that will sort of evaporate over time?

Cristina Dolan:                   It’s interesting you should say that because there are some countries that are totally embracing this technology, and there are other countries that don’t understand it and they’re fearful of it. While they’ll shut down one venue or one approach towards some type of exchange, there seems to be another outlet that people will pursue to utilize these technologies. I think the thing that people are not quite catching on to in respect to blockchain is that blockchain is not just this linear stored value and pay for something based on a request for money. It’s not just a payment system.

It’s a technology that has many, many facets and these elements that store information about a particular object, or whether you call them reprogrammable money for lack of a better word, can have many, many dimensions that allow somebody to utilize these tokens in an economy to motivate or to create certain parameters that control the use of that. I’ll give an example in the insurance space just to use a simple example, parametric insurance is sort of a newer type of insurance and it’s easier to facilitate because it’s data driven.

If these certain actions or activities or data is correct, then a payment of X is made if in fact there is a loss. And so having the ability to embed the values by which this action or activity will take place is very efficient in certain ecosystems. When you think about these tokens as having these many, many dimensions and operating in these ecosystems, we have many players that want to control their data and want to control the transactions and what’s going on with respect to their customers. All of a sudden, the dynamics and the business rules start to change.

It’s not really about is a coin regulated or not, it’s really about the fact that you have all these things that are going on in the world about trust and the value of data, and the liabilities of not handle data correctly that are motivating this new type of architecture that’s driving new business models. And so, whether or not the coins get regulated or not regulated, is not going to stop the momentum. It just means that people and organizations and entities will find new ways to utilize this technology to take advantage of the trend so that they’re not dis-intermediated by people who innovate around them.

Lori Schwartz:                    That is fascinating because I am seeing a lot of people sort of running to blockchain now, and I think it’s being driven by that very concept; by fear that if they don’t jump onboard the next thing, but I don’t think they totally understand it yet.

We have to take a quick break. We’ve been talking to Cristina Dolan, who is the co-founder, COO of iXledger, which is an alternative blockchain marketplace for insurance. And we’re digging in to where blockchain is really going to take us. We’re going to be back in a moment with Cristina getting more insights on the future of the blockchain.

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Speaker 5:                           The key point of contact between consumers and brands is technology. Story Tech, a boutique agency, empowers you to use that tech to deliver your message, engage your customers and raise the bottom line. How do you track and exploit the trends? How do you stay ahead of industry disruption? And how do you maximize profit from content? From the strategy to execution, the answer is Story Tech: inform, innovate, create. Visit us at story-tech.com, that’s story-techy.com.

Speaker 6:                           If you currently or aspire to serve on a board or work in a leadership capacity for or with a public or nonprofit organization, where can you turn to get the best advice and practices? How about Leadership Matters with Dr. Cheryl White, Linda Hsu, Gerald McFadden, Andre Howard, Tom Wall and [Leanna Absa 00:13:55]. Our program discusses challenges facing both public and nonprofit leaders. Don’t miss these practical solutions and tips to enhance your leadership style and effectiveness. Leadership matters airs live Wednesdays at 2:00 pm Pacific, 5:00 pm Eastern on The VoiceAmerica business channel.

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Speaker 1:                           This is The Cat Tech Show with Lori H. Schwartz. If you want to find out more about our show or to leave a comment or question, send an email to lori@techcat.tv That’s lori@techcat.tv.

Lori Schwartz:                    Hi everybody. Welcome back to the Tech Cat show, and you are joining us during our month-long series on the blockchain. We’ve been talking to Cristina Dolan, who’s the co-founder and COO of iXledger, which is a blotchy marketplace for insurance, because she is really an expert in where these industry is going, and I know she’s heading off to do a number of key notes about this space.

I was wondering if you could talk to us a little bit about what’s going on with like what’s the whole thing about coins and tokens? I know bitcoin was the first technology to come out of blockchain, but why is everything moving forward being referred to in that sort of coin metaphor?

Cristina Dolan:                   It’s interesting, because bitcoin is the great-grandfather to all this innovation, the concept of a coin has sort of stuck with people because obviously historically, coins have value and represented value for thousands of years. But what’s interesting is that… Blockchain comes in two flavors, one has an economic layer and the other one doesn’t. And the one that doesn’t is able to track an entity, track the workflow is associated with that and any and all information associated with that entity.

Whether you call that a token or not, it still represents an entity. In the blockchains that actually have economic layers, for lack of a better word, these tokens can be considered a token that has a variety of different values that may not necessarily be economic or it’s basically considered a security, in which the regulatory bodies in a variety of different jurisdictions have sort of stepped in to figure out how to define these elements. But in essence, they are a representation of value.

It doesn’t necessarily need to be monetary value. Many kids have seen these kinds of tokens in video games, this latest generation which I think they call Generation Eight or Nine, where kids play roadblocks and they spend all this time building these communities engaging their friends from the inside out. Their reward system is digital, right? It’s pride. It’s a number of other elements that aren’t necessarily monetary, and so the idea that these tokens have many, many dimensions that are part of that ecosystem is what differentiates them from traditional money.

Lori Schwartz:                    What about the, I know I was looking at some of the content that you shared with me, and going back to kids, you were talking about how token economics program human behavior. Can you talk a little bit about that too because that’s really fascinating.

Cristina Dolan:                   Well, that’s an interesting topic because the first tokens we’re used in the 1800s to program people, prisoners, to get them to behave a certain way. If say, they exhibited certain behaviors over a period of time, the would earn a certain number of tokens and then with those tokens, they would be rewarded with something, I don’t know, a beer or whatever that might be that they would reward prisoners. It is still used today with autistic children and young children today, with some parents, it’s like you pick up your clothes five days in a row, you can get an ice cream. Some kids fall for that.

It does engage the limbic system in human beings because humans like to win. That’s part of the nature of being human. What’s interesting is the token systems, these tokens in these ecosystems today play an interesting role because traditionally, when a company goes out and tries to build a marketplace, it raises venture capital money, private equity money, raises a lot of money, and it builds this platform and it spends a lot of that money on marketing to get people to engage in that platform.

And then they have to be very clever because, you think about things like an Uber marketplace or Airbnb, in which you need to keep both sides of that marketplace engaged, if you don’t have enough properties or enough drivers, the people, the customers that want to buy these services aren’t going to keep coming back because their needs are not met. So there’s a lot of external marketing and clever marketing that goes into engaging both sides of that marketplace to keep everybody excited and engaged.

When you think about these token environments in which the people within this or the entities within this environment play a role in creating and driving economic or token or some sort of value from their participation in that ecosystem, it means that they are driving the marketing, the engagement, the network effect from the inside out versus the traditional model of raising a lot of money and doing a lot of marketing to get certain behaviors to occur from the outside in.

And this dynamic enables new business models as well. It changes the economics of how these things work. So it’s a very interesting evolution that’s occurring, people often say that if Facebook came out today, that the expectation would be that those creating the content would in some way be rewarded and they would have you believe to own their data. And there are other people that argue, like how much money could you actually get from participating in that, because these big companies make a lot of money from aggregated data. That’s where they generate the value.

But that doesn’t really matter because if there are other non-economic aspects of value that are derived from participating in these ecosystems, you still get the inside out marking effect. And that’s very, very interesting, but also very, very disruptive.

Lori Schwartz:                    Well, and it also gives people more people roles and impact than the current scenarios, which you were talking about, because so many people think this is just something that’s happening and maybe they’re participating, but what you’re saying is that the community will have a bigger role in this than ever before.

Cristina Dolan:                   Exactly. Exactly. And what becomes even more interesting too is that, a lot of systems and processes in place in which you have an intermediary that owns the data, owns the processes, defines the processes. But in these new models, it doesn’t always have to work that way. So as these new models evolve, intermediaries may not have the same role they have today because there are other mechanisms by which to achieve the same goal in which a number of people may be involved and not just one entity from an economic perspective.

Lori Schwartz:                    When you talk also about marketplaces, because I hear that a lot in these blockchain conversations, what does it exactly mean, the marketplace? Because the other conversation we were having before is, there was the first generation, second generation and third generation. Can you define for us what the marketplace means when we’re talking about all this?

Cristina Dolan:                   It’s a good point. So obviously, when you travel through Europe, one of the things that you see in these beautiful cities is the landscape of beautiful marketplaces and rich shipping and thereby these waterways, usually they’re a little empty now, but they may have some flowers in them. That first generation marketplace which also had stores on most of the big avenues and big cities were then replaced by, or shouldn’t be replaced, but the next generation was the eCommerce that facilitated through the Internet, and that was available to this secured layer that was developed as part of Web 2.0. That made it possible to be able to shop online.

And at first people thought, “Nobody’s going to do that. Everybody wants that experience of going to a store, right?” And then of course to see that that eCommerce took off and then we went to this third generation of marketplaces, and that was like the Uber’s and the Airbnb’s. What’s interesting is if you talk to anybody who heard the first pitches from the innovators who came up with these, what they call shared models, they would say, “Wow, that’s really crazy. Who’s only getting into a stranger’s car or stay in some stranger’s house?”

It’s interesting because now you’ll talk to people who are sort of entrepreneurs and they’ll say, “Oh my model is very similar to like Uber’s and Airbnb’s and that shared model.” It’s now and understood concept that that business model works great. So now we’re in the fourth generation which I call sort of a peer to peer model, or a decentralized model, in which you don’t necessarily have a centralized authority that owns all the data and facilitates all those transactions. And in that world, I find that there’s going to be an even greater amount of disruption because business models that we hold as being the only way to do things in today’s world will no longer be the only option.

And so there’ll be a lot of disruption, a lot of disintermediation, both in terms of business processes, financial processes. It will be extremely disruptive, while I think it’s also very hard to even conceive or understand how this is evolving because it has so many dimensions to it that are hard to grasp. It’s not just about whether or not a token is regulated or unregulated, there’s so many more dimensions to this technology.

Lori Schwartz:                    That’s a really great layout of it. I was just thinking about walking to a French market and buying flowers and then how now I don’t leave my house because I just do everything through… now I’m doing everything through on demand services, so it’s just really interesting even from the consumer side how our marketplaces are evolving, like the actual result of all this.

We got to take a break, but we’re going to be back again with Cristina Dolan who’s really taking us through all these great insights on the blockchain and specifically sort of the underbelly of it, but in a way to look at it that is not so threatening and that will create a lot of opportunities for everybody, because so much of this new world people are afraid their jobs are going to be taken away. And the way that you talk about it, it’s really creating a lot of great opportunities. We’ll be back in a moment on the Tech Cat Show.

Speaker 7:                           Become our friend on Facebook, post your thoughts about our shows and network on our timeline. Visit Facebook.com/voiceamerica.

Speaker 5:                           The key point of contact between consumers and brands is technology. Story Tech, a boutique agency, empowers you to use that tech to deliver your message, engage your customers and raise the bottom line. How do you track and exploit the trends? How do you stay ahead of industry disruption? And how do you maximize profit from content, from strategy to execution? The answer is Story Tech; inform, innovate, create. Visit us at story-tech.com. That is story-tech.com.

Speaker 9:                           Get the news on our shows and other happenings by following us on Twitter, find us @VoiceAmericaTRN or Twitter.com/VoiceAmericaTRN.

Speaker 8:                           Today, Enterprise Technology is both strategic and global. Each week on CTN, CIO Talk Network, IT thought leaders from around the world, share their experience with listeners as they discuss with Sanjog Aul how they are trimming costs, and partnering with business to innovate and help IT become more competitive, better care for customers and improve the corporate bottom line. If you want to keep up with IT thought leadership, listen to CTN, CIO Talk Network with Sanjog Aul at CIOTalkNetwork.com.

Speaker 6:                           If you currently or aspire to serve on a board or work in a leadership capacity for or with a public or nonprofit organization, where can you turn to get the best advice and practices? How about Leadership Matters with Dr. Cheryl White, Linda Hsu, Gerald McFadden, Andre Howard, Tom Wall and Leanna Absa. Our program discusses challenges facing both public and nonprofit leaders. Don’t miss these practical solutions and tips to enhance your leadership style and effectiveness. Leadership matters airs live Wednesdays at 2:00 pm Pacific, 5:00 pm Eastern on The VoiceAmerica business channel.

Speaker 4:                           Looking for exciting video content, live and on demand, visit www.voiceamerica.tv for exclusive content you just can’t find anywhere else. That’s voiceamerica.tv. Tune in now.

Speaker 1:                           This is The Cat Tech Show with Lori H. Schwartz. If you want to find out more about our show or to leave a comment or question, send an email to lori@techcat.tv That’s lori@techcat.tv.

Lori Schwartz:                    And we’re back on the Tech Cat Show and we’ve been getting the download on the blockchain from Cristina Dolan, who is launching a company called iXLedger, which is leveraging the blockchain for the insurance business and creating a new marketplace there, and Cristina was just explaining to us sort of the metaphor for marketplaces and why we’re in this next, this fourth generation, I guess, in marketplaces. Are there other business categories that you think are going to really thrive in this blockchain scenario? Is there a particular type of category that you think will light up because of all of this?

Cristina Dolan:                   That’s a good question. I actually think there’s a lot, and it’s partially because we live in a world in which there’s a lack of trust. You need a lot more data to transact. And we live in a world where there’s a lot of complex ecosystems that require data, sensitive data that people own and want to control access to. And so everything from healthcare to assets, and also there’s this trust element too. There’s been a number of organizations in fintech space that have been dealing with settlement, for example, because after 2008, 2009, there were a lot of concerns with respect to the speed at which traditional financial securities were settled.

There’s been a tremendous amount of effort on that and I think that what’s going to evolve are new technologies to support the ability to transact with securities in a way that allows entities to control where and the custody of those assets. I think that there’s another aspect to this, is the idea that instead of raising lots of money through traditional mechanisms to build out big system. For example, there’s one that’s called Lampix, that’s actually crowdsourcing 3D images, and there’s a community of people that earn tokens for utilizing this lamp that they’ve created to take 3D images of objects, and therefore, creating this giant library of 3D images that can be used in AI.

And to be able to do that the traditional way, you would actually have to go out and raise a lot of venture capital and private equity money. But by doing it this way, in this incremental way in which the participants earn tokens by participating in the platform, it enables the ability to grow from the inside out and then build this valuable library through what is considered to be a little bit of a different business model. And so, it’s these different approaches to utilizing the technology for engaging economies, engaging ecosystems and defining different mechanisms by which people participate in that environment and get rewarded for their work.

Lori Schwartz:                    Do you think just because some of the third world countries don’t quite have marketplaces and economies well established that blockchain will come in and sort of lit those on fire, because they haven’t been able to play in the current networks? Is blockchain going to solve a lot of that problem? Simplify maybe or at least let them engage deeper?

Cristina Dolan:                   It’s interesting because there are a number of countries that are actually trying to utilize blockchain for trust and visibility. There has obviously been scenarios like one that’s used by a lot of people in their talks about Honduras and how there were some government officials who went over to the registry and erased the ownership of certain plots of land and went over and built themselves these incredible homes on the water or something to that effect, and the ability to use blockchain to prevent something like that from happening.

This whole concept of having government systems that facilitate the ability to create immutable records that cannot be in any way tampered with, is something that a number of countries are actually approaching. Unfortunately though, is that you have to have a mechanism by which to create a number of nodes so that some centralized authority doesn’t own one or two nodes, call it a blockchain and then go in and change all the information on those nodes. I think the architecture has to be representative of what blockchain requires in order to have immutable records. But I think that there are a number of countries that are trying to create these immutable records.

It’s interesting, there’s an example of an interesting application in which things like car insurance, registration and a driver’s license are records that are immutably placed onto a blockchain, so that as the people are pulled over, the QR code on a phone could be presented to a police officer, and by just utilizing that QR code, they have access to a record to make sure that all three pieces of information are both all correct and that they’re still valid. So it reduces the amount of time required to validate all that information when someone is pulled over.

Utilizing the technology in order to be able to validate records quickly and efficiently, and also make sure that people can’t tamper with them has tremendous value. And there a number of countries, turning to your point, where we haven’t had that much infrastructure in place for certain types of records, that are exploring this as a mechanism by which to create more transparency, less corruption and better access to the required information.

Lori Schwartz:                    I love hearing the promise of where all this is going now. My question for you is, how do you personally keep up with all of this? Because when you’re in a sort of new media or new technology, that’s not new for you because you’ve been playing with it, but now it’s sort of exploding on the marketplace. How do you tell what’s real and what’s not real? Are you getting up every day and reading tons of newsletters and tweets and things? What’s your sort of approach to staying on top of this?

Cristina Dolan:                   That’s a good question, because I think those of us in this space are always fearful that we don’t have enough information and that we’re not on top of everything. I’m fortunate enough to have graduated from MIT and I have a lot of really smart friends, and I stay very close to the school and some of the people doing interesting things. The MIT Media Lab obviously, brought the Bitcoin Foundation into the lab when it was in need of some funding. And so, it has the digital currency group.

In addition to that, the MIT Tech Review actually creates this chain letter that it puts out, that has some very interesting data points in terms of what’s going on throughout the world with respect to these digital currencies and blockchain. I’m now the vice chair, former chair of the MIT Enterprise Forum, and we’ve put together some very interesting panels. And I always try to pick panels on areas in which there are people who are very insightful on certain aspects of technology. As you had mentioned earlier, I also speak a lot and I’m on a lot of panels, and one of the things I find is that, when I’m on a panel with other folks who are in the space, the conversations we have on the side in terms of, “Well, how are you dealing with this, how are you coming up with this issue?”

Those conversations that take place with people in these events and in panels are actually very, very educational. I also read a lot… Two books I would highly recommend is Cryptoassets by Jack Tatar, and his co-author Chris, and The Truth Machine by Michael Casey. Michael Casey is an advisor at the MIT Media Lab, at the digital currency group. But those are two great books and Michael actually has a couple of other books that are very well written and give you a good intro on the space, but it’s a space in which you feel like you have to be reading every nanosecond of the day. CoinDesk actually has a probably one of the best publications and they have an event in May called Consensus.

Lori Schwartz:                    That one sounds good, is that one for people that are deeply involved in the game already or couldn’t be for newbies who want to jump in?

Cristina Dolan:                   I think it could be for both. Obviously, it’s part of CoinDesk and CoinDesk is probably one of the premier publications in this space. And so they organize a very good event and they have great participants that have good insights, not sort of surface knowledge, but really good insights in terms of what’s going on in this space from all facets of the industry.

Lori Schwartz:                    Great. Well, we are going to take a break in a moment and when we come back, I want to find out how we can learn more from you Cristina. Where you’re going to be speaking next and all those great things, because when we find someone who knows what they’re talking about, you want to follow them, maybe stalk them, is another expression we would use. We’re going to be back in a moment on the Tech Cat Show, and just hear a little bit more from Cristina Dolan who is leading the charge of building a new business in the insurance vertical, leveraging blockchain and sort of being a real industry leader in helping us understand this exciting new marketplace, which I’m now going to call it, because you’ve taught me that that is a good way to explain it.

We’re going to be back in a moment on the Tech Cat Show with Cristina, dropping insights and stalking her.

Speaker 4:                           Looking for exciting video content live and on demand? There’s a www.voiceamerica.tv, for exclusive content you just can’t find anywhere else. That’s voiceamerica.tv. Tune in now.

Speaker 6:                           If you currently or aspire to serve on a board or work in a leadership capacity for or with a public or nonprofit organization, where can you turn to get the best advice and practices? How about Leadership Matters with Dr. Cheryl White, Linda Hsu, Gerald McFadden, Andre Howard, Tom Wall and [Leanna Absa 00:13:55]. Our program discusses challenges facing both public and nonprofit leaders. Don’t miss these practical solutions and tips to enhance your leadership style and effectiveness. Leadership Matters airs live Wednesdays at 2:00 pm Pacific, 5:00 pm Eastern on The VoiceAmerica business channel.

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Speaker 1:                           This is The Cat Tech Show with Lori H. Schwartz. If you want to find out more about our show or to leave a comment or question, send an email to lori@techcat.tv That’s lori@techcat.tv.

Lori Schwartz:                    Hi everybody. We are back on the Tech Cat Show talking to Chistina Dolan, who is deep in the heart of the blockchain industry and she just formed a company called iXledger, or not just formed, but is deeply involved in the insurance vertical. And Cristina where are you sort of sharing some of your insights? Are you writing a lot? Are you blogging? Are you tweeting? What’s your way of sharing your thought leadership?

Cristina Dolan:                   Well, I do a lot of social media sharing across a variety of different channels, but I speak a lot at a variety of different conferences. I’m actually heading out to Istanbul to participate in a fintech conference that’s being organized by Oracle, and specifically for fintech insurance and the use of this new technologies. I’m also speaking at Bloomberg on Thursday with a woman from Homeland Security and someone else from the regulatory side. And then going to be participating in a number of events over the course of next couple of weeks. I actually think I speak at least once a week these days.

Lori Schwartz:                    I bet, because this is such a hot topic right now. Do you envision that you’ll be leading the charge in the insurance sector, maybe throwing events around that vertical, or do you think blockchain events will be just more generic around just leveraging the marketplace as opposed to category-specific?

Cristina Dolan:                   What is interesting about insurance is, insurance is actually involved in other types of categories. If you insure cars, you’re involved in a car space. If you’re involved with cyber insurance, you’re involved with the cyber industry. And so, our industry does actually work closely with a number of other different types of marketplaces for lack of a better word. And as a result of that, we are constantly talking to people and organizations in this space, because one of the things that I think blockchain facilitates, is the ability to introduce new types of products, for the insurance space that require a lot more data.

Because blockchain is really good data organizer and it organizes in such a way that when you bring a number of parties together, you all have little shards of data relative to an entity, an asset, a person. Each of those entities gets to control and set the rules in terms of how they enable access to that data. We are focused in insurance and specifically in insurance … We’re actually getting ready to announce something which we’re really excited about but we’re not ready to announce it quite yet, but what we’re finding is that, the opportunity to create a marketplace in which the companies that are underwriting these new types of insurance have access to data, is actually something that makes this type of a marketplace very compelling.

Lori Schwartz:                    And that sort of I think matched up perfectly to how blockchain will best suit the industries. In other words, when you were talking earlier about the role that data is going to play and why blockchain and data … industries that generate a lot of data are the ones that will be profoundly impacted by blockchain, it does totally make sense to me. And it also makes insurance interesting again.

Cristina Dolan:                   I know. Insurance requires a lot of paperwork, and a lot of data, and a lot of interaction. And I think that what’s interesting about blockchain is that, it allows for the management of workflows and the management of access to data in a way that sort of matches the requirements of that industry. And obviously, insurance works with a lot of other industries too, so it’s an interesting marketplace to be working with, because I think that the insurance industry is very risk averse. It wants a lot of data, but it also wants to generate revenue from new products. And so, for these new products, it becomes an interesting approach to bring together what’s needed to create new revenue opportunities.

Lori Schwartz:                    Yeah. And you were mentioning early on what’s so great about blockchain or even bitcoin is that, you can assess risk. It allows you to land the plane a bit because of that ledger.

Cristina Dolan:                   Yes. Exactly. The way to determine risk is by having access to data and then being able to assess that data, in whatever form it might exist, in order to determine what’s going on. And underwriters use years and years and years of history of data to sort of assume what are the characteristics of risk, and they create very extensive models around that. But there are new requirements that are evolving over time and there’s new models. Like I mentioned parametric insurance that’s driven off data rate.

It’s a much more efficient mechanism for executing a claim, because it’s driven on data, whereas a typical insurance claim, whereby both parties are challenging each other and lawyers are involved, is actually quite costly, because both sides are sort of debating what the lost value is and determine what that claim should be. So a lot of time is lost, a lot of money is invested in that process. Taking the approach of utilizing data driven models, and while they may not cover 100% of the risk, they cover enough of the risk, maybe actually at a lower price and a much more effective approach.

Data driven business models will evolve as a result of having that data accessible through a trusted mechanism that a number of parties can participate in, to control the access to the data they are contributing.

Lori Schwartz:                    It really is a community more than most people, I think, really understand that it’s going to be in so many ways. Cristina, where can people find you?

Cristina Dolan:                   Well, I’m on LinkedIn a lot, and Twitter, and I’m constantly posting there, but I’m also speaking at lots and lots of conferences, and I tend to post where I’ll be speaking next on my social media. I also have a page called InsideChains, where I try to post where I’ll be speaking in the future as well.

Lori Schwartz:                    And is it @CristinaDolan, is that your hash tag for people following you?

Cristina Dolan:                   Yes. That’s it.

Lori Schwartz:                    That’s so cool and I wanted to ask you one question, because I have so many friends who are involved in this side of sled to Puerto Rico. Is that like a real thing that Puerto Rico is going to be the home for cryptocurrency or is that just another funny over-hyped trend?

Cristina Dolan:                   It’s interesting, because I know that they’ve put together a number of incentives to get people interested. Like no capital gains, businesses, I guess, pay smaller amounts of tax on their businesses. I think that they’re looking for ways to create new types of banking entities that have maybe a little bit of a different approach than some of the regulated traditional ones in the states, and maybe hoping to compete with the islands and some of these offshore tax havens. So we’ll see. I know a number of people who are looking at that as a mechanism to bypass some regulatory hurdles.

Lori Schwartz:                    To vacation. To bypass a lot of stuff going on everywhere else. Well, we’re going to have to close for the day, but it’s been fabulous talking to Cristina Dolan, who’s the co-founder and CEO of iXledger, and I know you’re going to be taking on different roles there as well, which is an alternative blockchain marketplace for insurance, and really giving us the download on the infrastructure around what has created this world, and then a lot of the positive things that are going to spin out of it.

This has been such a great conversation as part of a series on the blockchain, and sort of really understanding the economies of scale with it as well, and the industries that are all going to be impacted by it. Thank you so much Cristina, it’s been great having you.

Cristina Dolan:                   Thank you so much for having me on your show, Lori.

Lori Schwartz:                    Well, I feel like I’m the smartest Tech Cat around now when it comes to the blockchain.

Cristina Dolan:                   You are.

Lori Schwartz:                    You can check out Cristina, @CristinaDolan, and also feel free to google on iXledger. And I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from her. Thanks everybody, talk to you next week on the Tech Cat Show.

Speaker 1:                           Thanks so much for listening to the Tech cat Show. Please join Lori H. Schwartz again for another great program next Wednesday at 4:00 pm, Eastern time, 1:00 pm, Pacific time on the VoiceAmerica Business channel and syndicated to the VoiceAmerica Women’s channel.