The New Kids on the Blockchain

Omar Ali 1
November 7th, 2017
Article by: Omar Ali
The New Kids on the Blockchain

These days, it seems like absolutely everyone is talking about emergent blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies. To many of us, there’s a creeping sense of déjà vu as we’re transported back to 1991, the year that the World Wide Web was made public to the world.

 

Then, as now, authors and experts scrambled to extrapolate all the ways this novel technology would transform our day-to-day lives. With so many books, articles, lectures, and conferences being churned out to address the dizzying array of potential applications, it has become increasingly difficult to separate the attainable from the fantastical.

 

So in order to make sense of the radical innovation promising to revolutionise the very way we live, I sat down with THNKer and blockchain visionary Jason Inch to discuss his latest venture, Genaro Network.

From Banks to Blockchains

When the internet first made its debut on the world stage, few longstanding institutions could imagine the far-reaching consequences it would have on society. People still did all of their shopping in brick-and-mortar stores, sent and received mail through post offices, stayed in hotels when travelling for work or leisure, and hailed taxis when they didn’t have access to their own cars. Blockchain aims to disrupt the financial services sector in the same way that online shopping disrupted physical retailers, email clients disrupted post offices, and the sharing economy disrupted hotel and taxi companies.

Jason Inch
Jason Inch
Co-CEO
Genaro Network
"At its simplest, blockchain is really just a database. It’s sometimes called a distributed ledger. Everybody can see the transactions that have happened on the blockchain, and so it acts as a sort of concrete record of everything that’s happening in a particular economy."

If you’re wondering what all of this has to do with the financial services sector, you’re not alone. But before we delve into how the blockchain works, it might first be helpful to understand why it was developed in the first place. To do this, we have to go back to 2007. In the wake of the global financial crisis, millions of people around the world started to reject the unfettered mandates granted to governments and central banks responsible for determining our fiscal and monetary policies.

While we trusted a consortium of opaque actors to ensure that our assets were accounted for,  the global economy was slowly being converted into a clearing house and casino for the mega-rich. Eventually, enough was enough. As the hunger for alternative economic models reached a fever pitch, movements like Occupy Wall Street and Anonymous rose through the cracks to harness the anger of the masses.

Meanwhile, a nine-page “white paper” quietly made its way onto Metzdowd’s cryptography mailing list in 2008. Penned by a person or group using the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto”, the paper (entitled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System) described a new kind of software that would allow its users to securely transfer money between any two parties in the world –– without the need for a single intermediary. At this stage, the whole notion of bitcoin was purely hypothetical, but it nonetheless captivated the imaginations of programmers and activists around the world.

In essence, bitcoin and blockchain technologies promised to pry the global ledger of financial transactions out of the hands of the gargantuan banking systems, distributing these records onto a network of computers connected to each other via the internet. This profoundly innovative technology provided us with the first opportunity to do away with the financial system that has been with us since it was first introduced to the world over 600 years ago. In 2009, Nakamoto came out with the first iteration of bitcoin software, and in subsequent years, hundreds of developers worked tirelessly to improve the software. Slowly, as more and more people began to buy into bitcoin, so too did they take an interest in the blockchain software underlying the cryptocurrency revolution.

Blockchain is coming – and fast. Are you ready for the revolution? Click To Tweet

There's A Use Case for That

Alright, so now we’ve got a basic understanding of where the blockchain comes from and what it seeks to do. But what does this look like in action? Jason tells me that here, the possibilities are endless.

“Blockchain will provide new currency functions. By making currencies more transparent, we can see in our virtual economy everything that’s going on. The blockchain is an open ledger, so anyone can examine it and see what’s happening in the economy. Are people using their money or are they not? You could see if someone is holding onto currency for speculative purposes. You could gauge the velocity of token or coin usage… but that’s just one particular use case of the blockchain. There are many others.”

Jason goes on to highlight examples such as deeds, intellectual property patents and medical records, all of which will make their way onto the blockchain in the coming years. In his eyes, public and private sector applications abound, and as more and more use cases are identified, an entirely new infrastructure for data storage will become vital to the blockchain’s success. Enter, Genaro Network. Advertised as “the first Turing complete public chain and decentralised storage solution”, Genaro is at the fore of the revolution to move all of our data from the cloud to the blockchain. As Jason explains, “We are a different kind of blockchain company because we provide infrastructure, storage and community services rather than financial ones.”

Boasting a private, efficient, economic, secure and permanent storage space and sharing community for its users, Genaro will pave the way for big data to shuffle off Big Brother’s servers and onto the autonomous and crowd-sourced blockchain. Mobile and internet-based applications (apps) will be replaced by decentralised applications (dapps) and real-world hubs will support and facilitate the growth of the Genaro ecosystem by providing users with co-working spaces and opportunities for collaboration. “We’re just at the beginning right now of where blockchain is going to take us in the future,” notes Jason. Ambitiously, he and his team hope that by 2020, the Genaro Network will serve as the first “dapp” store of the blockchain era.

The New Kids on the Blockchain 6
@GenaroNetwork is at the fore of the revolution to move data from the cloud to the blockchain. Click To Tweet

The THNK Effect

Jason was recommended to THNK by Class 1 Participant Liu Yan. At the time, he was still looking to scale his Shanghai-based social enterprise, the Loft of Health and Urban Sustainability (LOHAUS) and he wasn’t without his doubts. “It was always a bit of a struggle for financing at the beginning,” he says. “Here was this opportunity with THNK which would not only mean I’d have to spend several weeks away every couple of months, but would also cost tuition as well and take away time and resources from the social enterprise.”

But driven by his mission to promote energy-saving technologies that would make city living healthier and more sustainable, Jason knew he needed to position LOHAUS in such a way that it would generate real impact on people’s consumption habits. “I knew I was struggling a bit with how to manage that social enterprise, how to grow it and how to reach the vision that I was wanting to achieve. Talking to Liu Yan and some other people in the school, reading about it… that’s when I really started to think, ‘Okay. This is something that could help me and would be a strategic advantage for me as a social entrepreneur in China — to have this training, network, and community.”

 

The New Kids on the Blockchain 5
I describe THNK as a confluence of amazing people and amazing places and amazing things. – @JasonInch Click To Tweet

Upon his acceptance into Class 6, Jason packed his bags and came to Amsterdam in 2014. He had no idea what to expect. “THNK allowed me to literally think outside the box. I started to think, ‘What if I made this project bigger? What if I spread the ideas more?’ We started doing events outside the space, we started to talk to people outside of our normal community, and actually, the project progressed a lot further and faster through doing that.” But the THNK effect didn’t stop there for Jason. Two years after completing the Executive Program, he decided to return to Amsterdam to take part in THNK’s annual gathering of participants, the FSTVL.

“I actually came up with the idea that I’m pursuing right now at last year’s FSTVL,” he recounts. “That inspired me to start something new in the blockchain space. Right now, the skills I’ve learned at THNK — the creative leadership — that’s starting to come into play as our foundation grows. I describe THNK as a confluence of amazing people and amazing places and amazing things. I wasn’t at Andy Warhol’s workshop, but I imagine it to be something like that. You have a bunch of people coming together and trying to do interesting things, and for me, that’s what THNK is all about.”

To discover how the THNK Executive Leadership Program can help you further develop your potential into leadership ability, visit the program page to find out if you qualify or contact us at admissions@thnk.org.




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