36. How Blockchain is Rapidly Redefining the Finance Landscape | Brian Mahoney

Slide Ep. 36: Interview with Brian Mahoney
How Blockchain is Rapidly Redefining the Finance Landscape
EP36-Brian Mahoney
We take a detour this week and delve into the rapidly evolving blockchain landscape with Brian Mahoney (Chief Strategy Officer & Co-Founder, Alkemi). During our conversation, Brian provides some deep insights on the mainstream adoption and usability of blockchain, some misconceptions that exist in the market, and some recent changes to the blockchain space. He also talks about the bifurcation of the digital asset markets and the opportunities these present, and what the future holds for blockchain.

Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Blockchain as a mass coordination mechanism – a new way to track and transfer value securely. [8:17]
  • Brian’s view on the mainstream adoption and usability of blockchain. [11:29 | 12:39]
  • Debunking the misconceptions of blockchain. [14:13 | 18:02]
  • Recent changes to the blockchain landscape: The rise of digital assets [21:17] and decentralized finance (DeFi). [25:22]
  • “Off chain” vs. “on chain” – the bifurcation of the digital asset markets and the opportunities they present. [27:30]

Companies & links mentioned in this episode:

Transcript

SPEAKERS

Christian Klepp, Brian Mahoney

Christian Klepp  00:08

Hi, and welcome to the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast. I’m your host, Christian Klepp, and one of the founders of EINBLICK Consulting. Our goal is to share inspirational stories, tips and insights from b2b marketers, digital entrepreneurs, and industry experts that will help you to think differently, succeed and scale your business.

Welcome everyone to this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast where you get your weekly dose of b2b marketing insights. This is your host, Christian Klepp. And today, I’d like to welcome a guest into the show who as he puts it has a passion for new ideas, is obsessed with All Things technology, and is always seeking to broaden his perspective, while striving for balance. Mr. Brian Mahoney, welcome to the show.

Brian Mahoney  00:51

Thanks for having me on Christian, it’s a pleasure to be here.

Christian Klepp  00:53

Right! I’m really looking forward to this conversation, Brian, so why don’t we just get things started? And um, you know, before we dive into your area of expertise, I cannot help but ask you the question. And it’s something that we brought, you know, we talked about in our previous call, and you brought up this phrase, which I thought was so apt. It was something around monarchies and militia, I believe it was. (laugh) Yeah, I can’t, I can’t help but ask you this, Brian. But you know, your take on what’s, you know, what happened with GameStop and whatnot. Is this like, foreshadowing events to come? Or, you know, what’s your take on that whole story?

Brian Mahoney  01:33

It’s a great question. First off, I can’t say that I coined that phrase, I first heard it from one of the partners at Andreessen Horowitz, a guy by the name of Chris Dixon, and he used it to describe sort of the, in the context of technological adoption and sort of what’s happening in the digitization of the world. The militias being sort of like the open source community, and all these different developer forums. And then the monarchies being sort of these closed, enterprise based systems. So that’s sort of the context and quite relevant for the space I’m in, which I’ll touch on here a little bit later in the show. But in terms of relating to the what’s happening in the markets and the GameStop, you know, sort of I call it the, you could say social capital or social finance. You know, it’s frankly, it’s, that’s the power of the internet, right? It is these forums that are serving as sort of mass coordination and collaborative networks, people putting their or, you know, the militia coming together online, right, and putting their capital behind the things that they believe in and, and disrupting the sort of traditional, in this case, traditional capital markets. And I think actually, there’s, there’s quite a few sort of, you know, tailwind behind that and drivers. It’s more than so than just, you know, people are, are trading and the internet is around, but also there’s bigger implications. Like with COVID-19, gripping the world, people are home more than ever looking for other ways to collaborate and, and sort of, you know, that are also with, like, government stimulus checks, at least here in the US. Lots of people have extra money, they’re not going out. Right. And they’re not spending it on frivolous shopping experiences or trips anymore. So it seems that the stock market is benefiting from that, and you know, less commuting time to the office means more time and home and more sort of leisure time, if you will. So I think you’re seeing that those trends be reflected in the stock markets, right, with Robin Hood and the gamified apps taking in and then obviously, that sort of the media side as well with streaming and everything else being, you know, super, super high on sort of usage by everyone around the world.

Christian Klepp  03:49

Exactly. But that’s incredibly interesting. And I think you, you brought up some really great points there. It sounds to me like it’s a kind of a mixture of, or a combination, rather of a disruption and kind of a natural progression of things given the current state of events, wouldn’t you say?

Brian Mahoney  04:05

Yes, yeah, I think, really, this is an inflection point for society at large. I mean, I think we are witnessing the digitization and financialization of everything. I mean, markets already rule everything around us, right. It’s Yeah, that’s capitalism at its finest and capitalism is sort of the top the top system that is the governance mechanism for people in most countries, or at least in the Western world, for sure. And, you know, the eastern side less so but still, they do play in the capital markets regardless right. And so I think that’s been a system that has designed and you know, getting back to the founding of the USA, but that was pre internet, pre check, you know, pre technology, pre digital, everything. And I think you’re seeing sort of these, you know, these communities gather online that are borderless and the internet has unleashed the power of the average Joe and removed sort of the barriers to entry for anyone. And you know, I think you’re, you’ve sort of seen it happen in more, I guess, or let’s put it this way less regulated environments. So music is a great example of this, right? There’s been, you know, dating back to the 90s. Right? Those had the peer to peer file sharing like with Napster. That eroded the music industry from within.

Christian Klepp  05:26

Yeah, yeah.

Brian Mahoney  05:28

And there’s a lot of problems in the music and the music space. You know, from a business model perspective. I mean, you see, you know, famous artists getting publicly exposing their, their overlords look no further than Kanye West Twitter feed, right? I think it’s, it’s been a, just in terms of a long time coming for these sort of more regulated markets. And the moment has been bigger around them. Wall Street’s had its grip on society for a long time. And, you know, they continue to sort of rule the world, you know, from a US perspective, but the big lobby budgets and working with the government, and I’m not saying that that’s wrong, it’s just the game as is starting to change, right? And they play the game and have been winning the game for, you know, the past few decades, or, frankly, the past century, right with industrialization, and enter the sort of the different boom and bust cycles of the economy. But all that aside, the internet is sort of allowing people to, to access opportunities in ways that they hadn’t been able to, you know, before, and you have that coupled with, you know, increasing ease of use and, and sort of internet proliferation across the world. And it no longer matters where you are, and, you know, we had sort of this is like an oil and water sort of situation, meaning, you know, there was the traditional structures that were holding strong, and the technology has been eroding it from, you know, over the past, I would say sort of the 20 years has been the real, it’s really accelerated and social media has been sort of the point for that. And now that’s starting to leak into everything else. I mean, even healthcare right, now you have telemedicine as a common thing, and then the NAD and COVID, and you have five years of change, and 10 months, right? It’s just mass accelerator for all these sort of digital tailwinds and all the industries. So, anyways, I think GameStop is just sort of the what’s happened there. And with Reddit and everything else, it’s just one example in a long history of examples where technology and the malicious has been able to or the crowds, and then come together and use their power in numbers to inflict change. And I’m, I’m pretty excited about what it means for you know, the future of the world. I remain an optimist. So I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes. And I’m trying to have my hand and facilitating it as well from a blockchain perspective.

Christian Klepp  07:58

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Speaking of blockchain, I mean, let’s jam on that for a little bit. Because you know, you’ve clearly developed your expertise and build up your career around that. So walk us through, you know, the benefits of using blockchain. And what are some of the challenges that you feel blockchain has helped to address?

Brian Mahoney  08:17

Sure, so I view block chains, as you know, just a it’s a collection of databases, right? I mean, people throw it around, like is this sort of complex term and there seems to be a theme. And then in the industry, the more complex you make something the smarter you seem, but I prefer to just sort of, you know, think of it as a mass coordination mechanism. And, and what I mean by that is, if you think back to sort of, I mean, this has been… this is how humans coordinate on mass scale. That’s why I mean to, quote Yuval Harari and the book Sapiens, right. That’s sort of why humans are Homo Sapiens have been the top species is because they’ve been able to coordinate in numbers. And that’s sort of why they’ve been able to take over the world. It’s because they invent things to coordinate on mass scales. So blockchains are sort of the underpinning of the internet economy that for the first time ever, we can have money actually baked in digitally. And you need a record to store that and you need one source of truth and blockchain to unlock that. Right. So it’s the same way if you know, you use your you have your money in a bank now, right? It’s your money is digital there, right? You know, if you go to your bank. Just pick like JPMorgan Chase, right? You’re not you’re never actually dealing with physical money these days. I mean, you can go to the ATM and withdraw it. But most of the time, it’s digital. And the balance you see, when you log in your checking account, it is digital, right? It’s just a bunch of debits and credits on some Excel spreadsheet that sits in a database. The difference is, is that you’re trusting JP Morgan, they’re the brand. You know, you trust them to get your funds back if they’re hacked or, you know, some credit as some transactions as fraudulent that you trust JPMorgan. And that’s starting to change. I think people are, you know, waking up to the power of sort of what Wall Street has had over their lives. And so that’s sort of this, you know, organization back to the militia thing people are looking to sort of coordinate on in new ways and transact in new ways. And if you can attain financial freedom, which is what these open source systems allow, that are built on blockchains with money inherently built in, right, that’s sort of the power of it. And so I think of blockchains is just sort of this ledger for an internet age, right? It’s sort of the new way we track and transfer value. And in addition to being this master coordination, and sort of recordkeeper, there’s also the security element right there, there is this concept of, and that’s what Bitcoin has been famous for. And that’s why you have all these Bitcoin maximalists out there, because they they’re they love the fact that Bitcoin is, you know, it can’t be controlled by anyone, it can’t be taken down by anyone, right. So there’s various actors in the system, whether it’s a government or some other organization or an individual, you know, it’s hard to sort of take over the network, because there’s so much… it’s been decentralized and a bunch of people are invested and incentivized to keep the Bitcoin blockchain, you know, having one source of truth. Right. So that’s, I would sum it up as the benefits of blockchain being, you know, sort of this coordination mechanism, the fact that there’s the security and transparency element of it. And then just a general record for internet economy and functioning on that. So yeah.

And then in terms of, I believe you asked the second part, your question was the problems or some of the issues that blockchain sort of needs to overcome for at least the way I think about it from a mainstream sort of adoption. And by the way, I think, if you look at the markets now, I would say we have arrived at the mainstream. I mean, it’s COVID, again, is sort of this accelerator. So we’re at a very interesting time. And I certainly am loving kind of participating in this mass inflection point for society at large. But I think blockchain still has a complexity problem. I think that again, people get carried away with different terms and buzzwords. And I, myself are guilty of this, because I’m literally in, you know, living this 24/7, but I try to always take a step back and center myself. So I think there’s one there’s just sort of this, there’s a complexity problem to it, and that these technologies need to be sort of distilled down so that the average person can interact with them. And you’re seeing lots of companies, I mean, look no further than Coinbase. That’s why they’re a 50 billion plus company that’s supposed to be going public here in the next few weeks. Because they have mastered the way to get access and made it simple for people to understand, you know, and within sort of the principles and products that they’re used to dealing with, they’ve molded it to that but and sort of subtract away that complexity to dealing with these blockchain based products and services.

And then there’s also this usability thing, which I think is another sort of, and that’s more so focused on the space that I’m in, but if you’re dealing with, you know, digital assets on top of these blockchains, there is sort of this, you know, how do you get access to it? How do you make sure your funds are safe, there’s this whole thing of hacks and. You know, also the media, the media sorts of, depending on which website you’re going to or which news organization you’re looking at, there are lots of different spins on the sort of how the, the blockchain based economy, and what the risks and in fact, attack factors are so that, that I think, is starting to get sorted out. We’re in the early days of it, but it but you know, with this momentum of mainstream sort of acceptance behind it, I think the usability, these are all problems that just, you know, whether it’s usability or just creating a more simple experience, they will be solved.

Christian Klepp  13:44

Exactly, exactly. Brian, you know, you broke that down so beautifully. You’ve given us a look under the hood. And I think that was really important. Now, just for the benefit of the listeners, let’s have a look under the hood again, and let’s talk about some of these. And I’m sure you’re gonna have, you’re gonna have a field day with this question. What are some of the key misconceptions that you’ve seen out there that people have when it comes to the topic of blockchain?

Brian Mahoney  14:13

Wow, so this is a, this is a loaded question. I would just, I’ll sort of just kind of sum it up. I’m gonna try to keep it short and sweet. So, you know, the way I would respond to that is, you know, as fire right…It’s fire as you’d say as a technology, that sort of what, go back to sort of the evolution of humans. Fire is what enabled us to, at least from what I understand, to come down from the trees, if you will, and you know, to be the, you know, the land animals that we are today. So fire is this technology that can be used for good or for bad, right? You could burn down someone’s home or you could keep yourself warm. I think that is similar sort of situation that’s playing out with technology at large, right? It’s just, you know, we’re now in the internet age, and whether it’s social media or crypto or, you know, AI, or you name it pretty much sort of any, any technological evolution that’s been occurring. Now, especially more recently with the sort of the differences that’s been rapidly evolving. There’s nothing inherently evil about blockchain or inherently sort of bad. It’s just how people themselves decide to use it. So the fear of I think governments around it, and that’s sort of why there’s this messaging with it is that, you know, they are losing control of sort of the system that they’ve built and technology. I mean, again, and by the way, how do governments control the world, especially when I think about my government in the US, well, their number one export is the US dollar, right. And that is how they control and run societies around the world. And you could argue that but I would say, generally speaking, that is in our defense and other things, too. But I would say the dollar is the one of the top sort of mechanisms we have to as a country control and push our agenda and in terms of a foreign policy as well, as well as the domestic policy. And so blockchain and crypto as part of a package, because the two are very much linked erode that and are a threat to that. So there’s different narratives that depending on who you are – Wall Street or government, or you know that and say the more traditional monarchies. They’re sort of scared of it, they think, you know, it’s going to sort of ruin the system or disrupt the system that they built. And so I think that there’s nothing inherently bad about crypto and blockchain just depends on the concepts and use cases that people are using it for.

Christian Klepp  16:52

Yeah, yeah. You know, you brought up such a great point, it actually reminds me of… it was a webinar that I, I attended last year, and it was by this guy. He positioned himself as a financial expert, you’ve probably heard about his name’s Ken Honda. So and can basically set them when he was growing up as a kid in Japan. His parents told him that money was evil. Right? So money and currency are evil, because it leads to greed, and so on and so forth. And that’s ironic. That’s somebody who grew up with his parents having instilled that mindset of man, he grew up making a business out of teaching people how to like, you know, lead a better life and control their finances. Right? So basically, it’s going back to your point, it’s, um, money isn’t evil. It’s not bad. cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, and so forth. They aren’t bad. What makes it bad is like the intention. Right?

Brian Mahoney  17:48

That’s exactly right.

Christian Klepp  17:52

It’s not like, let’s not go down the negative slope, but like, I’m just saying, like, it’s really dependent on like, okay, what’s your purpose? What’s the intention? What’s the long term goal? Right, there’s gonna be an end game here somehow.

Brian Mahoney  18:02

Right. Right. Yeah, no, I totally agree. So in our case, you know, I think about this quite a lot. You know, I think that there’s no denying that, again, I sort of mentioned this at the beginning. But the financialization and digitization these are just major tailwinds for the world at large. Right. I mean, markets. I mean, I’m seeing it firsthand. And just the space that I’m in which, you know, I think it’s cracked sort of a trillion dollar market cap pretty recently. And that is, now that’s not a small feat. It’s taken… Bitcoin came about, you know, 13 years ago. So I think that you know, that this is, it’s already inevitable, like the technology is here. The genies out of the bottle, whether we like it or not, you can’t put the genie back in, which in this case is crypto or even AI. So pick, pick your sort of, this is more of a blockchain based discussion here. But sure, I think that’s why you have you know, Elon Musk, and some of these other guys like Bezos and some of the top sort of names and billionaires in the world talking about AI and right. It’s because it’s inevitable, really, I mean, it’s just gonna continue to get what do they call it? There’s this tendency towards complexity, right? Everything will get more complex can get more complex. And so that’s what’s happening with innovation. And just so happens, a lot of the innovation continues to be on the internet. That’s where people are spending more and more of their time. So from my perspective, I may as well try to steer it from within. I mean, as opposed to resisting it because eventually you’re just going to get overpowered. It’s almost like I think of like a river and a dam right. Eventually, the water will break through right. So that sort of.. if innovation as the water and traditional sort of society or the way the current structures are as this dam and eventually the the water gets high enough that it’s going to over… either go over the top or just completely destroy the dam altogether, unless you let that release that pressure, right. So for me and sort of how I think about the world is, you know, we are we’re trying to drive good and inherent good behind these products and, you know, get ahead of it and think about where can this… where is this going. And how can we set up frameworks that allow for, you know, social good and society at large – the benefits, right. And, of course, you have the other side of the nefarious actors, which is why all the more reason to get in now and try to plant the flag for, you know, the good guys. Right? So we’re doing that in our products and services, the alchemy, and there’s lots of other players that are out there doing the same thing. And, you know, I think it continues to be growing. It’s a it’s a growing sort of sector at large. Right. So anyways,

Christian Klepp  20:54

Those are definitely amazing insights. I think we’re not going to spend time during this conversation to talk about the pandemic. You can you can watch the news for that stuff. But like, yeah, talk to us about talk to us about some of the changes to a blockchain landscape that you’ve seen, especially coming out of last year. And your top three predictions moving forward.

Brian Mahoney  21:17

Sure. Yeah. So this has been sort of what’s been happening with I wouldn’t say I mean, COVID was the catalyst. Right. But it’s really sort of been the quarantine aspect and the response of governments that I think has driven this sort of increasingly online wave, right. We are locked down in our apartments and have, you know, at least sort of in the US, and some of the other Western countries. I mean, I think Canada has a similar setup that, stimulus checks, right.

So people are not spending money, as much at least. I think credit, credit card debt in the US, at least is at an all time low. I think it shrunk something, don’t quote me on this, but something ridiculous, like 10%, or over the last year. So people are spending less on products and services, which by the way, affects the GDP, which is pretty interesting. But I think that’s a separate discussion. But in terms of the way I see how this has affected my industry, specifically. You know, the money people are looking to put money in new products and new services, right to generate wealth for themselves. And that’s always been an innate thing. But we’ve, I guess, we’re priorities are split, or people are / have been distracted by maybe consumer products, or going out or traveling and now you’re the attention is much more sort of focused on really the only thing that you can do on your computer. While one of the top incentives and motivators for people at large is generating wealth, because that is a direct implication on everything else in your life. And, so what you’re seeing is stock market go through the roof and sort of separate from reality because actually, the I think the economies is in probably some of the worst shape that’s ever been outside of what’s happening in the stimulus side. But the people that have sort of that extra capital are putting in into the economy. And you know, I would just say that crypto is a part of the economy as well. I view it as an extension of capital markets. And so the space that I’m in continues to see an influx of cash. And, you know, Bitcoin is sort of the entry point to it. That’s the one that people can kind of get their hands around first, because it’s been around the longest, it’s the most trusted, right, but that’s starting to spread to other areas. And it’s not just retail, by the way, meaning the average kind of consumer, like, you know, someone like you and I. These are institutional capital, that’s for the first time ever. And this is, you know, it’s been broadly a retail space today, which is a bit different from traditional capital markets, usually the banks create the financial products, and then you know, distributed out to the, to the consumer. Crypto has been direct to consumer historically, and that is now changing. The wall of institutional money and starting to come in. People in uncertainty in all time… And uncertainties at an all-time high, right. And Bitcoin sort of sort of has this security element of it and sort of like a hedge against the economy or the traditional markets, at least that large, you know. It’s gotten the attention of sort of the top asset managers, and pension funds and wealth managers, you know, around the world. And so they’re looking for ways to secure and manage their money and still generate a return. So that’s been coming into bitcoin. That’s what’s been driving the price. I mean, that’s why we’ve cracked the all-time high. I mean, it didn’t go past the 19,000 in the history of the price, and then the last time was in 2017. Now it’s almost cracked 40. So you know, I mean, and that’s like been in… you know, six months, right? So now it’s extremely volatile, by the way, because of the nature of new technologies, there is always going to be volatility. But that’s not reflective of, I think, sort of the longer term time horizon of where this is going. And so now that people are in Bitcoin, they’re looking for other digital assets to sort of get their hands and hands dirty with or feet wet, if you will.

And so that’s where they this new thing called decentralized finance, and that’s the space that I’m in. But it’s really just sort of structured product structured finance, which is, you know, it could be things like mortgage backed securities, or, you know, get it even simple as taking out a credit card or getting interest, right, that’s sort of all structured finance bucket. And so that’s being built out right now. And this institutional capital is starting to come in that direction. And so we’ve positioned ourselves and my company to take advantage of that, and by the way, to help facilitate that, as well. And, and, and solve a lot of other folks in the space. Yeah. So it’s a really exciting time to be in the crypto world. And, you know, I think, these implications of what COVID has sort of caused and induced on society at large, are… you know, it’s not like we’re gonna go back to normal after this. I think it’s pretty clear that this, you know, the vaccines while they’re around, the mutations are just continues to be sort of this, this test that we can’t get rid of. And so I think as a result, everything’s gonna continue to be more and more online.

Christian Klepp  26:31

Yeah, we’re, we’re not quite over the hill yet. Let’s put it that way.

Brian Mahoney  26:35

Yeah, yeah.

Christian Klepp  26:37

Hey, it’s Christian Klepp here. We’ll get back to the episode in a second. But first, is your brand struggling to cut through the noise? Are you trying to find more effective ways to reach your target audience and boost sales? Are you trying to pivot your business? If so, book a call with EINBLICK Consulting, our experienced consultants will work with you to help your b2b business to succeed and scale. Go to www.einblick.co for more information.

Okay. Well, that’s, that’s awesome. Um, you know, you mentioned something in our previous conversation that really got me thinking, and it’s this one key word that kept coming up. Just trying to quote you here, you said that the current blockchain landscape is very bifurcated. So, um, explain why you think so and what can be done to address this, in your opinion.

Brian Mahoney  27:30

So there’s this misconception that sort of going back to what we were talking about earlier, you know, crypto or technology being bad, right? And crypto is just another form of technology. So it’s not inherently bad. What’s inherently bad are the intentions behind it and the humans that operate the product and services that use this technology. So if you think about just sort of the evolution of space right there, I was talking about the usability sort of problem and an access problem that has been. It has been solved by some and it continues to get solved. Most of those solutions for accessing blockchain based you know, assets or products and services are what we call “off chain”, meaning they are not built on the blockchain. They’re actually built using traditional corporate structures, legal entities and databases. Now they can write into the blockchain and assess the products just as anyone else can. But they have chosen… if you think about it as a stack, right? They’ve chosen to sort of keep their traditional stack of their technology back-end front-end the way that they build their products, and sit next to the blockchain if you will – we call it off chain and interact directly with the blockchain based you know, Bitcoin on down in terms of different assets. This has some benefits, right? Cuz blockchain as a technology is still sort of evolving. There’s  scalability problems and other things that there’s, you know, there’s complexity with dealing with sort of a new paradigm shift for technology that blockchain enables. So as sort of this, like interim step, these off chain services have been created. And that’s Coinbase. Right, one of the largest, I think, the largest, with their 50 billion market cap coming here. And going public, they are a entirely off-chain based company. Yeah, they are not built on a blockchain. They are just built the traditional way but they serve their customers and access the blockchain behind the scenes.

And then on the other end of the spectrum of the crypto space at large, you have “on chain”, right. There are these things called ICOs that were created back in 2017. And that sort of got the attention of a lot of people because of the price with that but that aside, there’s lots of other sort of products and services that have evolved to to be on chain and these are things like it. They a lot of them use the word “decentralized”. And it’s a bit of a buzzword. But it basically just means “open” or “open source” technology. So I want to create a product or service, I want to build on the blockchain. By doing that, I create an open source sort of system that anyone can interact and things people are doing just like Coinbase, where a lot of people are accessing financial assets, you know, crypto assets, through exchanging, right. You can also do that on the blockchain. And there’s these things called decentralized exchanges that live fully on chain. And there’s a bunch of other sort of structure products and services that are evolving. Borrowing and lending is another huge opportunity and the space and there’s liquidity aggregators and market makers, lots of terms that capital markets, you know. I have been around in capital markets for a long time, those are starting to get replicated on the you know, this on chain world.

And then in addition to that, what I mean by on chain, there’s also a bunch of competing block chains out there that have raised lots of money to build out their ecosystems. So there’s a famous one that you know, Bitcoin is on a blockchain, obviously. But there’s another one that’s quite popular, and that has all the network effects right now. And that’s called Ethereum. That’s where a lot of people are building. And that’s like a general purpose blockchain that uses this complex thing, or just sort of term called smart contracts. But it’s basically just a bits of code that can do your transacting on your behalf. And all these other blockchains are sort of trying to compete with Ethereum and what they’ve done. So you have two sides of the spectrum, that one is built, you know, sort of serving a purpose, no doubt, and that’s where a lot of actually the volumes are, is on the off chain sort of systems, right. And then that’s Coinbase on down in terms of products, and then you have decentralized exchanges and other things that all live on chain, but there’s no sort of middle ground, which means this sort of bifurcation of the crypto markets or digital asset markets overall.

There is continued innovation and evolution on the on chain side. And most of that actually, what you’re sort of seeing as one of the top drivers in the space right now is what they call DeFi or decentralized finance. And that is a that’s all on chain meaning people are interacting directly with the blockchain to trade, borrow, lend, transact, right, send money, remittances all that. That is reached the tipping point of activity. And meaning I think it’s at the market cap is like something like 40 billion now. And sort of the deep DeFi arena. Yeah. So it’s, it’s, you know, a year ago, it was, I think, a couple billion. So it’s, it seemed quite a lot of growth. And from all over the world, as well. So anyways, you have sort of these two bifurcated markets that are both doing this, trying to achieve the same thing, but built on inherently different corporate structures, right. One’s more using and there can be hybrids of the two, but you have this bifurcation.

So what’s happening now is a lot of the centralized guys or the off chain, guys, if you will, are seeing what’s happening, and the on chain world. And they want to start to come over there, because to tap into that, because that’s where all the innovation is happening. That’s where the new products and features and, you know, stuff that’s just different, like built differently from the ground up, is being innovated over there. And, and so, it is, it is a process that has started to happen, where I call it the this wall of money, you know, first it was into bitcoin, right? And, and it’s coming there. And it’s been coming there now. And increasingly, it’s not all the way into that, but starting to end, and that’s being facilitated by the off chain guys.

But the next phase of that is for all this capital or the wall of money, as I call it, moving on chain, right. And that’s when it truly gets digitized. And there’s, and that is starting to trickle in quite rapidly. And so Alkemi, at my company, what we’re doing is is offering a portal between the two gateway between the two worlds that allows for the centralized guys with the off chain capital guys to come into the decentralized finance space or the on chain capital world. And the way we’re doing that, is we offering a compliant way for them to do it. Number one, a turnkey way for them to do it. Number two, we call it the 3 C’s, so Connectivity, Control, and Capital. So Connectivity, we make it easy to plug in; Control, we make it easy so that they can mitigate their risk and sort of know what they’re getting into; and Capital, that one of the big sort of problems historically prior to the 40 billion sort of brought up in this space is that there wasn’t enough… the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze in terms of these guys making the jump right. They want to deploy large sums of money and the blockchain based or on chain capital sort of world couldn’t handle that sort of volume. That is now changing. So we are we are offering ourselves or our our positioning is a, we’re sort of this gateway or a launchpad into launching capital world because we want to help facilitate the revolution of, you know, capital all moving on chain. It’s better for everyone. Right. Especially in an internet age.

Christian Klepp  35:21

Yeah, no, exactly, exactly. First of all, thanks for sharing that. Secondly, the insights that you have contributed to this conversation in the last couple of minutes, are well worth people taking the time to listen to this interview, if I’m going to be very honest. Right? Um, no, I think, Brian, thank you so much for like laying that on for us there. I mean, like, I believe you give us like this top level, I would say perspective of what the current landscape looks like. And you know, how, you know, what the, I wouldn’t say the consequences, but what the current scenario is, like, you know, being bifurcated and whatnot. And also, on top of that, how companies and entrepreneurs like yourself are uniquely positioned to address the challenges in the current ecosystem. So I think that’s definitely something worth looking into. Now that we’ve been, you know, we’ve been talking in these past couple of minutes about like, you know, the current landscape of, you know, blockchain and you know, your top predictions and what have you. Talk to us about one thing that you think people should start, and one thing people should stop doing when it comes to blockchain.

Brian Mahoney  36:32

Okay, sorry, I’m just chuckling a little, because there’s a couple ways I could go with this.

Christian Klepp  36:38

Go go anyway, we want them.

Brian Mahoney  36:41

I would say, do your homework. Educate yourself. Don’t listen to anyone else before you know what you’re doing. Because if you just follow the crowd, or the herd, if you will. And this, by the way, this can be applied outside of just sort of coming into crypto because a lot of people are saying, oh, crypto, I want to make a bunch of money. And that’s sort of this, the branding of it. So I, there therein lies my answer, I guess to both problems is do your homework as a way, that’s something people should start doing. And stop thinking of crypto is just this like get rich quick scheme, because it’s much greater than that.

Christian Klepp  37:17

Right. Exactly. Exactly. Well, that’s fantastic. Brian. Speaking of which, do us the honor and tell us a little bit about yourself. And most importantly, What’s the story behind your nickname?

Brian Mahoney  37:31

Blockchain Brian? Or “Block”. Yeah that too. Well, so I’ve just sort of adopted the I mean, I’m very obviously, as you can tell, I think about this stuff quite a bit. And so you know, it’s just a bit of a catchy ring. Unfortunately, my Twitter handle, I was not able to capture that. Someone took that name, but on all other sort of social media channels. I’ve just taken the handle “blockchainbrian”, I think it just got a nice, nice ring to it. And also, sort of encapsulates how I think about the world and what you know, blockchain sort of allows for the people. There’s a lot of stuff behind that and philosophical stuff as well. That, for me is particularly enticing. So my background quickly is. So I grew up in the Midwest. I’m from Minnesota, originally. I’m a hockey guy. I’m a big, big hockey fan to this day. Yeah, exactly. A little Canada as people say right. The state of hockey. So I grew up there. I grew up playing hockey outdoors indoors, we actually had a rink in our backyard. So I, you know, hockey is very much in my DNA and very much a lifelong sort of sport for me. I went to school in the Midwest as well, to University of Iowa, and I did a study abroad program that sort of completely changed my perspective and outlook on life. Oh, it was called something called Semester at Sea. I did it when I was 21. And got to travel the world on this sort of ship, this cruise ship, if you will, that was equipped with classrooms.

Christian Klepp  39:19

Yeah. Back then when people are doing that, right.

Brian Mahoney  39:22

Exactly. Yeah, yeah, it was about 50 days at sea, 50 days at land. And we circumvented the globe, about 650 students from all over the world. And actually, my dad did it back in 1980. And my dad was one of one of six, and all of his brothers did it as well. So it’s very much sort of like a family thing. And a couple of my siblings went on and cousins as well. So we’re big fans of that program. But that aside, what it did to… what it sort of did for me was open my eyes to the world and all the different perspectives, because it I’ve done some traveling growing up, but nothing quite like that. And it gave me the confidence to sort of enter into new situations and, you know, come into foreign environments and with, you know, the confidence that you can sort of achieve your dreams or whatever it is you want to do. And so I harnessed that, and the perspective that gave me and I decided, hey, you know, I’m gonna use my finance degree, to sort of pursue more of an international career. And so I joined, I wanted to, you know, I wanted to use finances degree, because that’s sort of the universal language of business. So I am just, you know, it’s a good launch pad for anyone who sort of wants to have a career in business. So I joined HSBC out of college and got to work in London and Europe for a bit, which was great. Got to go to New York, with HSBC, as well as Chicago, and then spent the past sort of six, seven years in New York. And that was when I decided I wanted to get out of traditional capital markets after having been trained because I realized that there’s so many sort of problems and inherent sort of inefficiencies with it. And that’s and about 2016, I found, or I sort of fell down the rabbit hole, as they say, now with crypto and blockchain, just sort of the potential that it unlocks for, for the digitization of money and all the opportunities with it.

So you know, fast forward, up until 2019, I was with a couple of companies in the space. And then 2019, I joined up with my two co-founders, Ryan and Ben. Ryan is a Toronto native. And Ben is, he’s an Australian living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Well, the three of the three of us. Yeah, we  have a distributed team. So there’s, there’s kind of us at the company, we’re going quite fast, we have a main product on main net. Anyway, so we’re, what we’re doing is I’m Chief Strategy Officer there now and one of the co-founders, and we’re sort of trying to change the digital asset space, and it has its and take it to that next level by unlocking that institutional wall of money, as I said, in addition to be playing hockey and running my business, I love to travel when I can. No, we’re just this this past 12 months been a little tough, but love to do that. I also am an avid newsletter I obsess over newsletters. I’m a big time reader, I think, you know, sort of newsletters, newsletters have been my weapon, if you will, in terms of learning quickly and digesting the world that continues to move faster and faster. So I actually, as a result of that, and my passion for newsletters, I probably read like 40 to 50 a day. Yeah, it’s and what that’s actually done is it I’ve read quite far and wide. So I have I refer to my sort of Elon Musk and some of the smartest people that I sure I just look up to, they were they call them or they use this skill of being a master generalist. So you’re able to recognize patterns and form analogies across a wide variety of subjects. And I believe sort of being a generalist in a world that continues to move faster and faster, where specialization is actually going to hurt you, right, because you’re not going to be able to sort of adapt to how fast the world moves. So I sort of pride myself on being a master generalist and have watched the newsletter myself, which is sort of holds me accountable one. So I have a place to digest and put all of the things that I read into one place. And I’ve sort of been building a community around that on the side. It’s called, it’s called the balance. So I’m very much about sort of keeping balance in my life across the board as well. So anyways, that’s a little bit about me. And, yeah, if you want to reach out or connect with me, I’m on Twitter, as well, as well as LinkedIn. Even just find me, Brian Mahoney on there. So yeah.

Christian Klepp  44:05

Yeah. Wow, fantastic. Well, first of all, what an amazing story in the truly international in every sense of the word. Brian, I really appreciate you coming on. And I really hope the listeners on walk away from this discussion, like, um, you know, as you as you alluded to, in a previous conversation, I hope that they get their feet wet with… you know, with blockchain.

Brian Mahoney  44:28

Yes, definitely. Definitely. I think now is the time, right. It’s sort of at this inflection point. So it’s a great opportunity, but do your homework, right. Yeah. You know, make sure you know what you’re doing. And there’s lots of resources out there. Just a simple Google search will, you’ll get plenty of ways to educate yourself. But yeah.

Christian Klepp  44:48

That’s it. That’s it. Brian Mahoney, this has been an absolute pleasure. So thank you so much for coming on. And the you know, take care, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you soon.

Brian Mahoney  44:58

Yeah, appreciate it. Thank you for having me.

Christian Klepp  45:00

Thanks! Bye for now.

Thank you for joining us on this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast. To learn more about what we do here at EINBLICK, please visit our website at www.einblick.co and be sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes or your favorite podcast player.