Monthly Blockchain Update @ PwC Downtown
On June 25th, PWC was host to The Blockchain Society’s monthly blockchain update event, in partnership with silver sponsors Nobul, Skrumble, and MLG, as well as community sponsors Crypto Canucks, Crypto Chicks, and Thinkwire.
The event is a platform for discussing the capabilities of blockchain technology, with a focus on practical applications rather than technical details. Guests were treated to speakers from their respective companies, each of which are established and recognized in their field.
The first speaker to take the stage was none other than Kunal Taneja of Nobul Corporation. Kunal is the managing director at Nobul, which is a growing application that with transacting and buying and selling homes. T
The app connects consumers with agents, and ensures that customers get the best service for their money and time. When asked “Why real estate?”, Kunal stated that “Real estate is an outdated model. It hasn’t changed in 150 years - which means that up until 3 years ago, Ontario, one of the most regulated boards, didn’t even allow e-signatures when purchasing a home. Up until 3 years ago, you were signing every document by hand to purchase or sell a home.” Nobul aims to bring the real estate experience to the next level, all in the palm of your hands. 1.3% of Canadian GDP (or 2% of total funds in the country) come from real estate commissions. Nobul has a model that crowdsources agents and disrupts the 150-year old industry. Agents commit service, cash-back rebates, and lower fees, with negotiation with customers. The app is currently available on iOS, Android, and online, and is currently working on proprietary blockchain and AI machine learning.
We then heard from Lucia Gallardo, the founder and CEO of Emerge. Emerge provides customized, socially impactful blockchain solutions to clients based in emerging markets.
The company published the world’s first publication to track blockchain innovation in emerging markets, known as LEAP. Lucia looked at 448 blockchain projects across 85 countries, speaking to developers and trying to understand “what it was about digital payments and what it was about cryptocurrencies that had the potential to bring to emerging-market entrepreneurs. She also works on an in-house project known as Homeward, a refugee screening and country referral platform. For instance, it takes the work being done in Jordan in refugee camps that currently uses eye-scanners to capture biometric information, and distributes world relief coupons to people. They use blockchain to “create a very secure, very comprehensive database of who people are, even if they lack paperwork.” This enables the UN to replace refugees in new countries within a year, as opposed to the current rate of 3-5 years.
It was then time for Zeppelin’s very own to address the crowd, Connor Spelliscy. Connor runs legals and operations for Zeppelin’s Transaction Permission Layer project, and consults for Polychain projects. Zeppelin happens to be the number one auditor of Transaction Permission Layer space, working with auditing and smart contracts for quite some time now. They are the biggest open-source library of solidity codes, with networks worth over $4.5 billion having been built on Zeppelin’s systems.
William Yin of Creative Destruction Lab was also in attendance, who happens to be the Senior Venture Manager of the Blockchain Stream.
CDL is an incubator for early-stage science-based ventures. It offers a ten month program, where companies receive mentorship from accomplished tech entrepreneurs, VCs, and thought leaders in blockchain and AI. Companies receive $100K in pre-seed funding and co-working space. When asked why the interest in the intersection of blockchain and AI, William stated that data is scarce, valuable, and the ‘life blood of AI’ and data will, in the distant future, become a commodity and unleash a new wage of AI possibilities.
Representing DFINITY was Arthur Falls, who works for the blockchain-based computer network that is backed by Polychain Capital and Andreessen Horowitz, providing secure, decentralized cloud services. He is a leading blockchain industry observer and the producer of three popular blockchain centric podcasts. The company offers a far greater security than the current firewall model that the Web uses today. DFINITY brings about an approach to addressing the security issues that have plagued the internet, and are forecasted to lead to trillions of dollars in annual losses by 2020, and their infrastructure will be simultaneously available to all people worldwide.
Last but not least, we welcomed Matt Hinkley of PWC Canada, who has been on the front line of financial innovation for many years, having worked with the Alternative Finance industry in Europe. He was a major part in building Europe’s largest online business finance brokerage, giving businesses the the access to thousands of online equity and debt products to help them scale. Matt provides advisory services into companies looking at adapting to blockchain technology, and also companies that specialize in the cryptocurrency industry, such as exchanges and trading desks.
The monthly blockchain update event was yet another success, with renowned speakers and and intellectual discussions bringing together yet another wonderful evening in the industry.