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6 Questions for Cristina Dolan of InsideChains – Cointelegraph Magazine

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We ask the buidlers in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector for their thoughts on the industry… and throw in a few random zingers to keep them on their toes!


 

This week, our 6 Questions go to Cristina Dolan, co-founder and chief operating officer of InsureX Technologies, an alternative insurance marketplace based on blockchain, and CEO of InsideChains, which builds large consortia and marketplaces with economic token layers to facilitate the global exchange of data and transactions.

Cristina is an engineer, entrepreneur and author who has successfully embraced advanced technologies to build and grow disruptive businesses throughout her career in media, telecommunications, e-commerce and, more recently, fintech. As an early adopter of crypto and blockchain technologies, she co-founded and advised blockchain-enabled companies in climate tech, insurtech, healthtech and crypto trading. As a veteran of evolving networked technologies, she is currently focused on cybersecurity, which has become the most immediate financial material ESG and sustainability risk organizations face today, and co-authored a recently published book: Transparency in ESG and the Circular Economy, Capturing Opportunities Through Data (available at ESGdataBook.com).

 


1 What has been the toughest challenge you’ve faced in our industry so far?

In the early days of crypto and blockchain, I would speak on panels where people would say things like, “Crypto and blockchain are only used by bad actors.” Unfortunately there are still “leaders” that talk about the criminal activities that are enabled by crypto and blockchain that “need to be stopped.” It is amazing that they haven’t learned from the radical transformation of media and e-commerce through the evolution of connected technologies.

It is unfortunate that some “leaders” just don’t understand that the evolution of new technologies also aligns with the changing needs of communities. Technology adoption is one of the most important pillars of corporate sustainability! (Look at Blockbuster or Kodak!) When companies fail, it impacts the communities, partners and even the local tax base that pays for services like education. We live in a world that is evolving faster and faster, and regulators want more and more data and transparency — you can’t stay in business without adopting new technologies.

The beauty of the hyper-innovation that has evolved from the interest in crypto and blockchain is unparalleled by any other disruptive technology. It has influenced innovation from cybersecurity, which utilizes cryptography, to supply chain, which needs transparency more than ever before!

Lack of understanding is probably the toughest challenge. It is hard to keep up with the accelerating evolution of technology in the context of social needs, like improved sustainability data tracking or improved controlled access to healthcare data.

Today, there is a requirement to be a self-learner just to keep up, and it takes up a lot of time. Even for those of us who are curious and love to learn and focus on solving problems with technology, the avalanche of evolving technologies can feel overwhelming. 

 

2 — Does it matter if we ever figure out who Satoshi really is or was?

I hope that Satoshi Nakamoto remains a mystery forever! While there has been a lot of detailed speculation around who was working on the foundational building blocks and who was influential in the public-key cryptography and decentralized architectures, it is important to keep the technology separate from the behavior or personal activities or an individual. Our “networked” culture is full of “celebrity” figures who have large social media followings and endorse products. This kind of celebrity would be a distraction to the impact and evolution.

Bitcoin is the grandfather of an incredible age of hyper-innovation which is hard to understand with all the complex interrelated layers, like economics, technology, politics, or simply how to transact with Bitcoin. Adding a celebrity layer to Bitcoin would just add more polarization and misunderstanding than what already exists, creating an unnecessary distraction or excuses to ignore the transformation that is coming quickly. Celebrity figures like Elon Musk have moved the crypto markets.

Organizations that don’t embrace technology will not be sustainable. We have seen many examples of this over the past few decades. Moving from a figurative representation to an actual human who will be depicted as having possible political or economic interests will only become an excuse for some leaders to ignore the requirement to transform to meet the needs of a changing society.

 

3 — When you tell people you’re in the blockchain industry, how do they react?

Years ago I would publish social media posts about blockchain and crypto, and people would say “block-what?” At the time, I was working in the fintech space, where some peers in the institutional financial trading space would make jokes about it “…there she goes again talking about crypto or blockchain…” Of course, many of them transitioned into the space later as their industry began to shrink.

Today, there is a totally different reaction. Many people are eager to learn more about the technologies and the potential trajectory of transformation. I do get a lot of calls from people who have “lost their keys” and want to know if there is a way to find them — of course, if it was that easy to solve for lost keys, people would have unlocked some of Satoshi’s Bitcoin by now!

Focusing on cybersecurity, I do get a lot of questions about custody and security. There are so many people across all industries who are now doing incredibly interesting things in the space. It is fun to listen and learn about possible solutions to critical social issues utilizing the technology. People are now thinking about the use of these technologies within important or sophisticated business processes, and collaborating on possible solutions is now a lot more fun!

 

4 — Which two superpowers would you most want to have, and how would you combine them for good… or evil?

Speed-related superpowers would be the most valuable in a world that is evolving at hyper speed. While some people might describe me as being energetic, I would love to have the ability to do more and experience more each day!

First would be related to travel speed that would enable movement from one location to another location without traffic jams or airport check-in protocols, which have gotten more complicated with the pandemic. So much time is wasted in traveling. As we begin to plan more face-to-face meetings that require putting travel time into the calendar to arrive in time, it is clear that having the ability to travel at light speed would save time. While the carbon footprint for travel could be decreased since there would not be a requirement for traditional vehicles, I am sure that traveling at the speed of light would create some significant heat. 

The second would be related to the speed of ingesting information and understanding it. The faster you can learn and connect the dots, the faster you can apply the intuitive understanding towards building valuable solutions for the growing number of problems our world faces today. This would enable me to do what I love to do, but even faster.

While living forever creates issues, including the increased demand for the limited resources on earth, the idea of being able to do and experience even more during our short lives is a good alternative.

 

5 — Name the things you own that you’ll never part with.

This is a great question, because my answer today is probably a little different from things I would have listed years ago. For example, a passport, which has been my gateway for learning, connecting and growing is probably the most valuable tool I possess. While it can be replaced if lost, it is still one of my most important possessions because of the possibilities it offers to engage with people all over the world. 

One of the lessons from the pandemic was in helping me understand how much I missed engaging with close friends all over the world. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, the passport didn’t offer the opportunity to travel, especially if it represented residency in a country with high covid cases. During the pandemic, the passport wasn’t as valuable as it had been throughout my life. It was even impossible to engage with close friends who lived within a mile of my home. While the evolution of conferencing tools has made it easier to video conference, the nature of the conversations tends to be more transactional and efficient, which eliminates the opportunity to learn or collaborate to the same degree. Travel is a wonderful gift. Unfortunately, we need more than just a passport to make it possible during the pandemic.

I have always loved beautiful watches the old-fashioned jeweled masterpiece kind and have a treasured collection that reminds me of important milestones throughout my life. It is such a treat to wear a beautiful timepiece, yet I rely more on my Fitbit these days to track my early morning runs regardless of where I am in the world. While I also have an Apple Watch Series 7, I still prefer my Fitbit with its longer lasting battery and its efficient metrics.

It is sad to admit that my mobile phone has become so important to my day-to-day activities, communications and work. While I don’t use it for banking and avoid SMS verifications because it can be a security risk, I recognize its value in remaining engaged and active both professionally and socially. It is becoming a bigger part of identity, and the required COVID-19 vaccine verifications are so much easier on a mobile device. While having the latest mobile phone isn’t as important, what is important is the connectivity and engagement. I love the ability to grab a spontaneous picture and send it to a friend or the ability to connect with people on demand. As an avid photographer with a large collection of amazing cameras from the old Rolleiflex, Kodak Brownie and an old tiny spy camera, to the latest Canon professional DSLR cameras and lenses, nothing beats the spontaneous nature of using a mobile device to capture an emotional moment and share it instantly with friends. There is still a time and place for these beautiful traditional cameras, but the smartphone has a unique use case. 

I treasure the more traditional artwork my sons have made in school over the years, which I have framed and placed on my walls, because the art represents their interests and activities over the years. Time feels like it passes faster and faster, and having the ability to look at their art and pictures, which I have throughout my home, brings back the joy and wonderful memories. 

 

6 — What’s the future of social media?

Social media has evolved over the last two decades as networked devices, smartphones and specialized applications have matured while the people that use them are also evolving and aging. For example, Waze lets you know that people you may know are traveling nearby. You could argue that the shared economy is a derivative of social networks that enabled growing mobility and shared solutions within communities. 

The nature of information that is shared on social media has changed as the demographics of certain networks have changed dramatically. Freedom of speech isn’t always welcome, and the ability to block opinions have polarized communities. There are a plethora of different communications tools which enable private communications. It is hard to keep up with all the different options and networks that friends prefer for direct communications. 

There is a move towards smaller private groups on networks with encryption and security. Mobile devices have become a critical component of how people communicate and identify themselves; for example, some COVID-19 vaccine verifications are dependent on smartphone access.  

While social media platforms where influencers inform large numbers of followers are still popular, they will need to evolve as the community matures. A different strategy will be required to attract younger digital native generations who have a different relationship with their digital identity and the digital worlds they play and engage in. How they communicate and engage may be an extension of the video games they participate in. It isn’t a surprise to see the popularity in NFTs when you look at the popularity of digital objects in video games over the years that have generated billions of dollars for popular gaming platforms. The popularity of digital worlds where identity is tied to digital representation of an individual’s interests and values will continue to rise.

While there will continue to be a variety of specialized social networks that cater to professional or other communities with common interests, the younger digital native generations are going to be more comfortable interacting and communicating through the use of their self-created digital identities in virtual environments. Technologies are evolving quickly to support immersive environments to facilitate interesting new interactions and experiences. The possibilities for the future are endless and not necessarily a direct extension of today’s leading social platforms. Who knows, maybe the future will be about sharing virtual experiences in the same way people share TikTok video clips? This will require easy ways to create the experiences, and yet we already see young kids creating interactive environments in Roblox.

 

A wish for the blockchain community: 

Wishing the ambitious blockchain community continues in its excitement for problem solving and innovation. While not all problems will benefit from the technology, the energy applied to problem solving through the evolution of the technology is contagious and inspiring! Hoping the ideation and creativity grows more to address some of the world’s biggest problems!

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Why Gold Is Beating Bitcoin In 2022

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Bitcoin continues to underperform as a general “risk-off” sentiment has investors driving toward gold as a safe haven asset.

Not Risking It

Concerns about the Russo-Ukrainian war continue. The U.S. inflation struggles at a four-decade high and Fed rate hike fears prevail. The uncertainty extends to the world economy as a recession is expected instead of a recovery. The IMF’s managing director Kristalina Georgieva called it “a crisis on top of a crisis.”

“The war is a supply shock that reduces economic output and raises prices. Indeed, we forecast inflation will accelerate to 5.5 percent in advanced economies and to 9.3 percent in emerging European economies excluding Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine. ” The IMF stated last week.

Reuters recently quoted Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann, who talked in a note about the factors that have “lent buoyancy to gold in recent days,” mentioning the “strong buying interest on the part of ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) investors” and news about the Ukraine war.

“Russia appears to be preparing to launch a major offensive in the east of the country – that is generating considerable demand for gold as a safe haven,” the analyst said.

This summarizes the “risk-off” sentiment at the moment. As expected, equities suffer as investors are selling risky assets and purchasing the ones negatively correlated to the traditional market. Thus, the crypto space is struggling alongside de stocks market and gold is rising.

Bitcoin Outperformed By Gold

Data from Arcane Research’s latest weekly report notes that it has been a gloomy year for the “digital gold.” In the first three weeks of 2022, Bitcoin sank 25% and it is still down by 18% in the year despite its slight recovery.

Similarly, Nasdaq records a 19% decline in the year, having underperformed against bitcoin “by a small margin,” notes the report, adding that “This is surprising given that bitcoin has tended to follow Nasdaq, albeit with higher volatility.”

The general fear over geopolitical and macroeconomic uncertainty has given gold the safe-haven asset spotlight once more. The asset outperformed all the other indexes seen below with a 4% gain.

Physical gold outperforming “digital gold” in 2022 | Source: Arcane Research

Meanwhile, the currency market is performing with “the same risk-off patterns.” The Dollar has been proving its “risk-off” dominance as the US Dollar Index (DXY) is up 7%. The Chinese yuan has taken a hit over concerns about the country’s “zero-covid” policy –which creates issues for the global supply chain– and the slowing down Chinese economy. In contrast, investors have been running to the US Dollar for safety.

Bitcoin supporters usually refer to the coin as “digital gold” alleging it is a safe haven asset, and this narrative had held well while BTC had been “uncorrelated with most other major asset classes,” but the tide is shifting with the 2022 scenario as investors are rather placing the coin “into the risk-on basket”.

A previous Arcane Research report indicated that bitcoin’s 30 -day correlation with the Nasdaq is revisiting July 2020 highs while its correlation with gold has reached all-time lows.

A pseudonym traded noted that “As Bitcoin adoption goes on and more institutional investors enter the market, the correlation of BTC and stocks becomes more and more tight. That is a paradigm that the crypto world struggled to come to terms with in the past but is now more real than ever. A healthy stock market is good for Bitcoin.”

Meanwhile, the general sentiment of traders seems to be bearish, with many saying that the coin could visit the $30k level soon.

Bitcoin
Bitcoin trading at $39k in the daily chart | BTCUSD on TradingView.com

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Attendees talk the future of NFTs

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The crypto community headed to Nassau in the Bahamas this week for the inaugural Crypto Bahamas conference.

Like most conferences, panels fill up the agenda and on Wednesday the topics at Crypto Bahamas ranged from NFTs to crypto in sports and to asset allocation in Web3. During one particular conversation, titled Evolution of NFTs: Culture, Utility and Regulation, panelists had some insightful musings on the NFT market.

To put the Crypto Bahamas conference into context, Sam Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency exchange FTX moved its headquarters from Hong Kong to the Bahamas in Sept. 2021. It recently inked a multi-year partnership with Anthony Scaramucci’s investment firm SkyBridge Capital, and its events arm SkyBridge Alternatives, or SALT. They jointly presented the conference.

That’s why the NFT panel consisted of multiple perspectives from Tristan Yver, head of strategy at FTX U.S., Joseph Doll, attorney at Fenwick law firm, Roham Gharegozlou, the chief executive officer at Dapper Labs, and Sarah Hammer, the managing director of The Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance at The Wharton School. Zack Guzman, writer for the Meta-owned newsletter platform Bulletin, moderated.

Gharegozlou pointed out how new the NFT market truly is when “most people have only been thinking about it for a year and a half,” making valuations “very immature.” As the CEO of Dapper Labs, the company behind NBA Top Shot,  Gharegozlou recognized that “utility, rewards and the how you value and NFT is primarily based on the strength of that of the community.”

He added that a good way for an NFT collection to build a strong community is to have multiple tiers of scarcity. In the case of NBA Top Shot, at the higher price end there is extreme scarcity, but there are also millions of “common” moments so that people can “get their first NFT and see how it feels without breaking the bank.” 

Tristan Yver echoed that the current valuation and pricing model for NFTs is based on a collective perception on value based on the amount of people willing to buy an asset for a certain amount. He anticipated a “movement away from this consensus view to a more unique singular view where people buy things that resonate with them rather than what resonates with a larger community.”

Joseph Doll chimed in to say that “communities need to be thoughtful about democratizing access.” There are some “massive” barriers to entry to certain projects, he said, including not being early enough or not having enough capital at the time. He questioned, “That’s not what crypto is about, right? It’s kind of about the exact opposite of that.” Democratization, he suggested, can come in the form of derivative projects at better price points.

Another important point brought up by Yver was the reality of scams, especially on Discord and Twitter. He said that “we need to move past security aspects to be able to really bring in the next large mass of users.” He recommended talking among family and friends or asking a Discord moderator to make sure “you click the right link when minting that NFT” because “wallet security sucks right now.”

Gharegozlou even said that Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, should use Web3 to fix Twitter’s fraud problem, just as Discord should use Web3 authentication and verification as well. “Once NFT’s are the sort of identity bridge across all these different social networks, identity and assets, authenticity, provenance,” then the system can be more resilient he added.

When asked what “main alpha” the audience should bear in mind, Doll said to engage with and be part of these NFT communities even if it’s “scary,” because getting scammed is a “part of the journey.”

Sarah Hammer, who leads the Cypher Accelerator at Wharton business school, said that the school is launching an incubator specifically for NFT projects in partnership with Dapper Labs because the “NFT model is a business model for the future.” She emphasized that the greatest way to grow and innovate in the space is to increase education efforts in order to get more people learning and working together.

Related: Goldman Sachs reportedly eyes FTX alliance with regulatory and public listing assistance

Recently the Bahamian government allowed residents to use digital assets, including the world’s first central bank digital currency, or CBDC, to pay for taxes in 2022.