The Global Blockchain Business Council in 2021 and beyond

A special guest joined Joe Roets on Dragonchain’s weekly Super Happy Dragon Lucky show, available on YouTube and all podcasting platforms. Sandra Ro, Chief Executive Officer at the Global Blockchain Business Council, also serving in New York State Digital Currency Task Force and the EU Blockchain Observatory & Forum.

Recently Dragonchain had the honor to join the GBBC as a member. As Sandra explained in the conversation, blockchain is a multi-trillion dollar industry. Through education, advocacy, and partnerships the GBBC is doing their fair share of shaping the industry with those who build and those who regulate the pathways for innovation.

The Global Blockchain Business Council is the leading industry association for the blockchain technology ecosystem. The council launched all the way back in 2017 in Davos and now brings together regulators, entrepreneurs, and lawmakers from over 50 countries around the world.

In this casual conversation between Sandra and Joe, we’re learning more about the work that the GBBC has done in 2020. And just as importantly, what are the three fundamental main points of focus for 2021 and beyond? The council just had their end of year leadership summit and board meeting and their vision is clear!

Text version continues below the video.

Joe: Welcome to the show, Sandra Ro.

Sandra Ro: Thanks a lot for having me today.

Joe: You bet. How did you get involved in blockchain? What brought you here?

Sandra Ro: Anyone who is an old timer will have heard me and my story. I was living in London, in the FX markets, on the trading side. The FX traders started hearing about Bitcoin back in like 2010, 2011, 2012. I heard about it towards 2012. I thought, OK, it's interesting. Like most people I read the white paper and thought at least in my brain this could disrupt the financial markets and particularly the FX markets because it sounds like really cool tech. I got more into it over the years after that. Some people might know I was running the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group. We watch the Bitcoin pricing indices and the futures market. I left in late 2017 to really focus on Blockchain for social impact.

My goal now is to work on initiatives and support those who are working on a democratization of finance, access, and building back more resilient systems. Part of it has to do with probably going through several financial crises, as a banker, our systems are not as good as they should be. Frankly, we need to rethink the way we do things. 00:03:52

Joe: Very true. What does GBBC do and what have you guys accomplished?

Sandra Ro: Like many things in our space, it was formed by a group of entrepreneurs. It came out of a blockchain summit in 2016, during Sir Richard Branson, Necker Island Blockchain summit, which occurs usually once a year. Obviously this year it didn't happen. This is a nonprofit out of Switzerland, Geneva, focused on educating advocacy of partnership, particularly with governments, regulators, central bankers, executives at some of the biggest companies in the world to really help them unpack a very confusing landscape. Even though, Joe, you're doing this day in and day out and I'm in this thing 24/7, it's hard to keep up with all that's going on around the world. And frankly, there's a lot of noise as well. 00:04:57

Joe: How do you keep up with the regulations in the US and all of the different places in the world? I mean, how does GBBC keep up with the changes and what does it do to help members out? Does it try to influence?

Sandra Ro: Think of us as the adults in the room, think of us as the bridge builders. We try to be very sensible, no nonsense, unpack the various elements. We try to understand both sides. We love innovators, but we also understand that there are things that require structure. There's just certain things the institutions have to adhere to so they're limited in sometimes being able to innovate. We're really trying to do two things.

One is this is a multi-trillion dollar industry in the making. When I say industry I’m really talking about everything blockchain, digital assets, crypto, you name it. We've got to nurture this in a way that helps opportunity sets around the world, not just the US or just China, but everywhere for people to have a fighting chance to build if they want to build something. I think that's really cool about this tech.

Secondly, besides democratizing the opportunity set on the business side, we also want to make sure that governments understand and are not afraid of what this technology can actually do for them. The thing that we spent a lot of time on, is getting away from crypto is scary or tokens are scary or all the negative elements and asking what can this technology do to actually help facilitate either payments or oversight information sharing? How do we make citizens' lives better with potentially a digital identity solution? Let's face it, governments, whether you like them or not, are able to scale solutions in a way a lot of other institutions cannot. You want to get a billion or two billion people, you know, galvanized over one thing? Look at what India did with their identity solution. I mean, it's not on a blockchain yet, but they're looking at it. They got over a billion people, most of their population on an identity system. 00:07:24

Joe: What does a membership entail? What does it take to become a member?

Sandra Ro: We believe in meritocracy, a.k.a. fairness. The biggest for profit companies have to pay the larger share. Then we actually even dissect down to the individual emerging country levels. Meaning, we have certain countries we consider frontier countries. So if a company or an enterprise, we only take membership at institutional level, falls into the frontier country category, then they pay a much lower rate than a US entity, for example. We think that's fair. And so we really believe in contributing to the network not only financially, but also to participate. It's got to be done in a fair and as fair as we can make it, transparent. Just to be clear, we never charge government, nonprofits, academia, NGOs, any kind of officials in that way. They come into our network on an invitation basis.

Joe: So 2021 is coming up and a lot of people think we're out of the bear market, which for a lot of what GBBC does and a LOT of what we do at Dragonchain, doesn't actually matter if it’s a bear or bull market. But, it's very noticeable for adoption. For whatever reason, when “number go up”, people hear more about it and maybe therefore ask more about it. So what are your plans given where we are right now? 00:09:24

Sandra Ro: We just had our leadership summit and our board meeting. So we're going to focus on three major areas. And I think it's something for everyone.

Digital Infrastructure

We're looking at who is building the rails of next generation digital highways. Whether it's China with the BSN International and BSN, or the US. There's now rumblings about whether the US is going to step up with getting the democracies together. Could be India who plans to lead on the remote voting and identity side. We are looking at all of those, plus there are many other countries working also. Then the networks. Our social networks are going to play into that. Facebook has, what, two point seven billion people or something to that effect. That's bigger than any country. So what does that do? The Ethereum network, the Dragonchain network, any network that has groups of people now, what influence will those groups of people have? It's not just about the money aspect. This is about what will be built on top of these networks that will influence all of us over time. In our minds, our concern, number one, is that going to be a UN like consortium structure where people get as fair of an input on governance as possible, or is it going to get dictated by a dictator, a.k.a. one country that will decide the rules of the road? That's problematic in our view.

Blockchain Standards and Mapping

I'm the first to tell you, when it comes to standards, I'm like, wow, it's a snooze fest. However, standards create the ability to scale and adopt. We have to agree on basic things like taxonomy and just being able to facilitate commonality in some way to then allow others to build on top. Whether it's a token standard or whether it's an actual fabric layer standard or it's a regulatory standard. The point being is we still have a mishmash. We launched the Global Standards Mapping Initiative. You guys can go to our website. Check it out. There's an interactive map.

We literally took a hundred and eighty five jurisdictions, including forty nine states. We have amalgamated all of the legislation, bills, laws, you name it, that came out of government all in one place. The World Economic Forum (WEF) as our core partner, they worked with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a bunch of other institutions on the 30 plus technical industry setting standards entities. We've looked at gaps, where there were overlaps, and where work still needs to be done. GSMI 2021 is a working group open to anyone. We will be announcing all the working groups come January. But long story short, we've had an outpouring from global institutions and people all over the world. It's been great. Lots of people are digging in from every part of the world that you can think of. So we're really excited. We are already global, but this 2021 grouping is going to be even more fantastic and that includes stakeholders across academia, government, etc.

Sustainability and Resilience Systems.

The Third is vitally important, sustainability and resilience systems. And that includes SDGs, the UN SDGs, the green economy, carbon tokenized, carbon credits, green bond trading. All of this stuff is becoming very in vogue. I think 2021 is going to be a big year for this stuff. And frankly, a lot of good work is being done. So we're going to look to foster that.

Joe: Where can people follow you and the council? What's coming up? How can they get involved?

Sandra Ro: Our newsletter is free, so go to our website, GBBC. We're also on Twitter, not quite the biggest Twitter followers, but we're more of a LinkedIn crowd. So if you're on LinkedIn, you can join us there. A lot of our members are old school. So we've got a mishmash of not only cool cutting edge innovators, but we've got the old stalwarts and kind of established institution as well. But that's what's unique about our network, that we're trying to bring those very different sides together.

Joe: It's probably good to stay away from the Twitter trolls. Definitely stay off Reddit. Don't do anything on Reddit. Thanks for joining us!