SU India Summit 2017 Day 1: Session 3: The new era of Crytocurrencies, Blockchain and Indian Fin-Tech

Brock Pierce, Chair of Bitcoin Foundation proclaims that “Blockchain is the second largest innovation after AI“. Wondering why? Let these digital money experts tell you how below, in three exciting talks of the SU India 2017 Summit.

Explaining the ‘blocks’ of Blockchain technology

CTO and Founder of BlockCypher (which he describes as similar to an Amazon web service for Blockchain) Matthieu Riou took us through how money has grown from being simply a mean of exchange in the beginning to something that transcends across different areas of finance.

Why should you listen?

  • He tells you how to evaluate the way you handle money – You can describe it using 6 characteristics – divisibility, transportability, scarcity, functionality, durability, non-consumerability. Methods like microfinance, payment cards and remittance all have drawbacks. Evident from the 2008 financial crisis!
  • He enlightens you on the advantage of cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency which fulfills all the 6 characteristics.
  • He goes on to explain what exactly are these new-age sounding terms- Cryptocurrencies are basically programmable money while Blockchain is the underlying format which supports their use.
  • He emphasizes the trust models these currencies are built upon. Based on that, you can choose which to trade in. And the foundation Blockchain furthers that trust, courtesy a virtual system of lock and key, as opposed to the risk of credit card fraud or physical signature forgery.
  • He ends with an encouraging note to India – “According to research, adopting digital finance would increase Indian GDP by 11.8%. The future is already here, but not evenly distributed. I believe Blockchain is the way to evenly distribute finance across India

Taking a leap into exponential finance  

Brock Pierce

If Matthieu talked about Blockchain technology, Chair of Bitcoin Foundation and Managing Partner of Blockchain Capital Brock Pierce delves a little deeper into the chips of Blockchain, which is Bitcoin. In his words, “Bitcoin is the app while Blockchain is the OS“.

Why should you listen?

Uber is the worlds largest taxi company but owns no taxis
Facebook is the largest media company  but creates no content
Alibaba is the largest retailer but has no inventory
Airbnb is the largest hospitality provider but owns no real estate
Bitcoin is fastest growing bank but has no branches or employees

  • He breaks down the actual applications and validity of the Bitcoin identity.  You get to hear it right from the horse’s mouth!
  • He tells you how exactly Bitcoin is operated. It is decentralized – a piece of open source software run by everyone; a peer to peer network with an incorruptible public ledger (Blockchain) and with the benefits of instant transaction, negligible fee and no middle men.
  • You get to learn in detail, the potential this currency has for developing nations where traditional financial services are limited.
  • Most importantly, he gives beginners a few simple steps to be part of the revolution -how
  1. Buy 10-100 dollars worth of Bitcoin
  2. Convert 50 per cent to Ethereum (another decentralized cryptocurrency platform)
  3. Buy something online
  4. Send someone money abroad
  5. Show someone else!

And voila, you’ve done your first Bitcoin transaction!

The India Fin-tech revolution

Sanjay Swamy

Sanjay Swamy, cofounder and managing partner of Prime (a seed VC fund), gave the audience an outline of how layering of innovation is revolutionizing fin-tech in India. The topic of his talk was how the Indian Government has stepped in during recent times to put together a set of building blocks for making finance more smoother for everyone.

Why should you listen?

  • He gives a background of the concept of layered innovation happening in India, and takes us back to 2009, where the government introduced a unique identification number assignment to every citizen. The innovation was called Aadhar and was designed to be as minimalist as possible with complete openness.
  • Going on to talk about the various approaches by the Indian government. to layer innovation, he talks about the ‘India stack’, which was designed to enable any person in India to achieve complete financial operability.
  • We get to know of some of the other interesting  inventions in the Indian financial system – digital signatures and eKYC (a technology where your phone camera can be used as an iris camera for biometric authentication, for which the government has to spend next to nothing).  This solves the problem of tearing down the trees to make sim cards and create paper bank documents.
  • You might wonder though, where to store all this digital documents? The Indian government has launched something called “Digi Locker“, an online space to store digitally signed documents. Within 6 months of launching, 1.6 billion docs has been stored in the digilocker, issued by different goverment agencies.
  • UPI (unified payment interface) applications are also a new trend in finance. Now, some of the worlds biggest apps are integrating UPI’s.  Truecaller launched integrated payments with ICICI bank and Whatsapp is also on their way to introduce UPI’s in their systems.

Golden quotes:

The Indian Fin-tech revolution is an example where the government can lead the way, instead of the other way around. Disruption will hit the Indian finance ecosytem in a big way”.

“All of us live in a country where physical infrastructure may be lagging but in the digital sector we are leapfrogging”

As the Valley innovated for the first billion users, India is going to innovate for the next 7 billion in the world. If you think India’s opportunity has not arrived, it has now!”

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