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"We need new regulations"

A globally respected leader, William Mougayar outlines the steps towards massive blockchain adoption.

Blockchain will revolutionise the world, but not right away... This is the credo of William Mougayar, who readily compares blockchain’s current state to that of the internet in the 1990s. We take a closer look.

Which economic sectors will be disrupted by blockchain technology first?

Since the blockchain is primarily and natively about the movement of digital money, it is first going to affect the financial services industry. Initially, the impact will be small, in relative terms, because the financial services industry is a huge market. But you can’t just apply simple market share analysis to the blockchain’s penetration record. You need to remember that the blockchain is creating a new parallel system that has no equivalent today. It’s easier to create a new system than to attack the current one head-on.

Are there examples of big companies making large-scale use of blockchain technology?

We are still on the hunt for truly visible blockchain technology implementation. The reality is that large companies take a long time to conceive, approve, fund, test and rollout big projects. Furthermore, they don’t want to disrupt their business models, which the blockchain could easily do. So for the time being, they end up tinkering with the blockchain and clamping down on its real potential. If you want to look for real blockchain innovations in the short term, I expect it will instead come from the thousands of start-ups that are emerging in this space.

Which listed companies active in the blockchain industry are the most promising in terms of investment?

The most promising companies and projects in the blockchain space are the ones that are delivering on their promises, with actual users, and not just making promises.

I look for those that are exhibiting visible outcome metrics such as the number of active users, the number and value of transactions, the value of contracts, the way in which users are compensated, etc.


"Blockchain’s influence will become significant between 2022 and 2025"


In terms of obstacles to blockchain development, the legal aspect is often discussed...

I’ve always said that the blockchain’s full potential will only be realised when these three aspects meld together: business, technology and legal. On the business side, it depends on our ability to innovate and implement new business models. On the technology side, we are still developing the blockchain. On the legal side, we haven’t yet come to terms with the fact that we need new regulations. Unfortunately, we are still trying to apply existing regulations, which is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

How long do you think it will take before blockchain will really be at the core of the economy?

The blockchain economy will become more significant in the 2022– 2025 time frame. There will be a long gestation period, just like the internet. Many of the blockchain technology pieces need to mature and evolve before widespread consumer adoption can set in. We are still in the early days of blockchain technology developments. We are probably 65% into the infrastructure build-out, 30% into middleware availability (ed. note: middleware is software that links two separate applications together) and at best 10% into applications.

Why are the share prices of various cryptocurrencies still tied up with Bitcoin’s share price?

Today, most cryptocurrencies rise and fall together like a herd. The lack of discrimination between good and bad coins exists because there is too much dumb money in the system that is chasing momentum. People are not looking at real usage metrics for tokens. In theory, smart money will find the better coins, because their information signals are better. But when the majority of investors are from the dumb money category and generating a disproportionate amount of trade activity, the supply/demand dynamics are messed up.

The decoupling of altcoins’ performance from Bitcoin will happen when two factors come into play: firstly, when smarter investors take an interest, and secondly, when visible metrics from these projects become available.

Blockchain mentor

A founder of various IT start-ups, William Mougayar immersed himself in blockchain technology starting in 2013. He is the author of best-selling book The Business Blockchain, published in 2016. As a blogger, conference speaker and advisor, he has an excellent international reputation in the industry. His expertise is also appreciated on Twitter, where he has more than 25,000 followers. Mougayar is currently based in Toronto, and planning to live in Geneva. He is the Managing Partner and Chief Investment Officer at JM3 Capital, part of a division of Jabre Capital Partners SA.