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Announcing the Availability of My Book, The Business Blockchain

The Business Blockchain Cover ImageToday, May 9th 2016 marks the date that my book, The Business Blockchain is officially released on Amazon. This is the day that you would start receiving the hardcover copy if you pre-ordered it, in North America. The European release is scheduled for May 18. However, the Kindle version has been available for worldwide downloads as of April 29th, and I’ve been fulfilling the pre-orders from the Kickstarter campaign and Shopify purchases since then. The book reviews are trickling in, and there are more coming. Here are the last 3:

  Last week, at the Consensus 2016 conference in New York, the conference organizers gifted 500 copies to the attendees, and I spent 2.5 hours signing each one of them. It was exhilarating but rewarding to see the long line-up and tremendous interest around it. I spoke to each person, even for 20 seconds. Here’s a photo from that moment. Book Signing William Mougayar Then, last week, I woke-up Friday morning pleasantly surprised to see the book reach #1 status in 3 large categories, Banking and Finance. Definitely, the book is striking a chord with the financial services community, since my previous slideshare deck analyzing Blockchain and Financial Services has reached 188,000 views. Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 9.23.07 AM So, what’s in the book? It’s about 45,000 words, divided in the following 7 chapters. 1. What is the Blockchain? 2. How Blockchain Trust Infiltrates 3. Obstacles, Challenges & Mental Blocks 4. Blockchain in Financial Services 5. Lighthouse Industries & New Intermediaries 6. Implementing Blockchain Technology 7. Decentralization as the Way Forward

What else can you expect in the book?

  • How to think holistically about the blockchain as a meta technology, a business model disruptor, and legal/regulatory policies challenger.
  • The 10 properties exhibited by the blockchain (beyond its most popular one, as a distributed ledger)
  • Blockchains as a new Internet layer, comprised of the new breed of decentralized applications.
  • The unbundling of trust and how a new form of trust inserts itself between peer-to-peer relationships, and brings a new level of transparency, trust and truth.
  • The rise of New Intermediaries. Just as the Internet replaced some intermediaries, now the blockchain is replacing other intermediaries, while simultaneously creating new ones.
  • Industry cases in healthcare, energy and government, including an in-depth review of financial services.
  • Practical recommendations for implementing the blockchain within the enterprise.
  • The blockchain as the operating system that enables decentralization, and its technological, political and societal implications.
  • The birth of a crypto economy that creates its own wealth via new business models, and peer-to-peer transactional relationships between producers and consumers.
  • A new flow of value, with the blockchain acting as the digital leveler that moves value across a new variety of markets.
  • 47 blockchain predictions about a not-so-distant future, when blockchain technology permeates our world and creates new companies and new services.
  Finally, I opened a new book site where you can follow everything related to the book, reviews, events, and where I’m speaking.]]>

Moving the Toronto Business Blockchain Conference to Consensus 2016 in New York City

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 12.55.29 PMAs part of today’s joint announcement with DCG/CoinDesk, I’m cancelling the Toronto Business Blockchain conference, originally planned for April 19-20, and transferring my related work to Consensus 2016, Making Blockchain Real, being held in New York, May 2-4 2016.

All ticket holders for the Business Blockchain conference will be offered a chance to transfer their attendance to Consensus 2016 at no additional costs. I will contact each person that has purchased a ticket and make specific arrangements with them.

In addition, I plan on officially launching the availability of my upcoming book, The Business Blockchain at Consensus 2016.

It made a lot of sense to merge my efforts of building a conference around use cases and blockchain practitioners into Consensus 2016 in New York. And I’m excited to be working with the CoinDesk team to help them produce the premiere event in the blockchain space.

Some of the planned sessions for the Business Track agenda will include a range of topics covering Internal Approaches for Blockchain Strategies, Identity and Personal Security, Post-Trade Financial Applications, Innovations in Insurance, Derivatives and Securities Settlements, Global Trade Finance, Best Practices with Smart Contracts, Using the Blockchain for Assets and Processes Verifications, Titles and Ownerships Applications in the Government sector, and Private Blockchain Implementations.

In addition, I will moderate a private, invite-only 90 minute banking roundtable on the final day of the Summit, during which time a special group of leading financial services executives will discuss their internal initiatives surrounding blockchain technology.

See you at Consensus 2016 in New York on May 2-4 at the Marriott Marquis. In the meantime and over the next several weeks, I’ll be writing more details about the upcoming business track sessions that we are planning.]]>

My Girl Geeks Video Presentation on Blockchains: Why You Should Care

The Business Blockchain to speak at the GirlGeeks Meetup group in Toronto about the blockchain and Bitcoin as part of their regular meetup. More than 100 (mostly women developers) showed up. I spoke for 30 mins and we did a good additional 20 mins of Q&A on the topic. I was asked some good questions. The best way to consume this presentation is by watching the video and/or flipping through the slides!

and the video: ]]>

Why I'm Being Tough on the Banks Re: Blockchain

Tough LoveYou can’t talk about Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency or Blockchains without taking into account what the banks are doing or not doing in these areas. And I’ve written plenty about that already, including Dear Big Bank CEO, Re: Blockchains: Obliterate, don’t Automate, the mega 67-slide deck (that has 150,000 views on Slideshare) Blockchain 2015: Strategic Analysis in Financial Services, and more recently Blockchain Inside Regulations Is NOT Innovation.

That last article received some push-back from maybe 5% of the readers (my estimate) who took issue with points I made, and they defended the banks and their technology innovation role.

The various feedback could be classified anecdotally by the following categories of comments:

  1. I don’t understand innovation (yeah, that’s directed at me)
  2. The banks can innovate within regulation because disruption comes in shades
  3. Look, they have innovated; we aren’t licking as many stamps to pay bills
  4. They are spending lots of money on blockchain initiatives, even more than VCs
  In this post, I’m going to rebut these objections, but first, here are the real reasons why I’m giving the banks a hard time regarding blockchain. It’s because I’d like them to succeed with the blockchain, but I want them to push themselves further in terms of understanding what the blockchain can do. I’d like them to figure out how they will serve their customers better, and not just how they will serve themselves better. I’d like them to innovate more by dreaming-up use cases that we haven’t thought about yet, preferably in the non-obvious category.

So, I am giving the banks some tough love, because I know three things about them:

  • They aren’t going anywhere any time soon, so we need to forget about predicting their demise
  • There are some very smart people working for the banks, but they have to figure things out for themselves
  • Startups that mount direct attacks (verbal or product) against the banks are not going to be successful, so I’m dismissing those efforts
  Now, let me address the above points:

Knowing and Defining innovation

I have been around technology-driven innovation for a very long time, and have seen and been involved in business and technical innovations in large and small companies. My definition of innovation is disruptive innovation, i.e. innovation that creates new markets and users/customers which could not be acquired otherwise. Innovation is harder in large companies than in smaller one. And it’s even more difficult when a large company is regulated. I don’t see many shades of innovation. Either it moves the needle, or it doesn’t.

Innovation Within Regulation

Innovating within regulatory frameworks is an oxymoron statement. Being creative and hacking around regulation is hardly innovation. It is creativity and it might yield marginal gains, but it doesn’t often lead to breakthroughs. But I’m willing to be proven wrong if we start seeing use cases that point to the opposite.

In my opinion, disruptive innovation is the only type of innovation that produces big results. The difference is between wanting to make small progress or large gains. Before the business process reengineering (BPR) days, it was all about TQM (Total Quality Management), i.e. aiming for step-wise improvements. Every year you were supposed to make small improvements, but BPR came along and the message was: No more small improvements, because you have gotten so far with it. Now, you need to innovate with a clean slate, and re-think all your processes. Don’t just improve them. In other words, it means destroy and re-invent.

The blockchain carries potentially the same message as BPR, if it is applied in the right places. And disruption doesn’t have to be a bad, scary word, as long as it carries innovation that expands your markets by an order of magnitude, not by a few percentage points.

I’ve heard enough banks justify why they can’t do something by citing regulations or customers not asking for it. But banks haven’t been very good at acquiring new customers. They’d rather focus on keeping the existing ones, which they are better at.

Look, They Innovated

Someone thought that we have come a long ways because we’re licking less stamps to pay bills. No disrespect to the author because he agreed with my article otherwise, but I found the stamp analogy worth a mention, or a chuckle.

Banks are Spending Millions on the Blockchain, Therefore It’s Innovation

That one came to me via email. The spending part is correct to an extent, but not the innovation linkage. Many banks are investing internal resources on a variety of blockchain projects as well as funding external initiatives. That’s great, but we can’t compare apples and oranges. We know well that big company investment numbers are super inflated due to their overhead costs and FTE accounting. It’s like saying banks are spending billions on digital technology. But these dollars are not the same as venture capital dollars that fund scrappy startups who work solely on developing new products and carving new markets.

Back to the innovation vs. regulation debate, I maintain my position that innovation comes first, and regulation should lag. Therefore you need to innovate outside the box of regulations because it’s a lot easier. Then you can bring it into the business if it makes sense.

And regulation can be a tricky endeavour. Sometimes we regulate for the .1% bad actors and impose these same regulations on the 99.99% good actors. But there is a new school of thought that prefers to monitor more intelligently instead of regulating more heavily, and the blockchain allows that, if regulators allow it.

It is a lot easier to start innovating out of the regulatory boxes, both figuratively and explicitly. Some banks are starting to doing it.

Simon Taylor, head of the blockchain innovation group at Barclays and someone whose views I respect, summed it up well by leaving a comment on my previous post. He said: “I don’t disagree the best use cases will be outside regulated financial services. Much like the best users of cloud and big data are not the incumbent blue chip organisations. Still their curiosity is valuable for funding and driving forward the entire space.” I very much agree with that point, which is why I have hope some banks will contribute to the innovation potential of the blockchain in significant ways, as they mature their understanding and experiences with this new technology.

My ending note to banks is that innovation can be a competitive advantage, but only if they see it that way. Otherwise, they will dial it down to fit their own reality which is typically painted in restrictive colors.

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My Epicenter Video Interview on Ethereum, Blockchain and Bitcoin

Ethereum DevCon 1 conference in London, Meher Roy of Epicenter Bitcoin conducted a behind-the-stage interview with me. We covered a wide range of blockchain related topics, including adoption in financial services, Ethereum’s evolution, Bitcoin vs. blockchains, and venture capital. The video is about 20 minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m28sbOFhChQ   For background, in July 2015 I did a longer interview (1h 10 mins) with Epicenter on the Business of Decentralization. Here’s the link.]]>

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