Each week we ask the buidlers in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector for their thoughts on the industry… and we throw in a few random zingers to keep them on their toes!
This week our 6 Questions go to Michelle O’Connor, VP of Marketing at Uphold
Michelle is passionate about building the future of inclusive finance through emerging technologies to both streamline and empower businesses and consumers through transparency and financial inclusion. She has spoken on FinTech, blockchain and digital financial services and community building efforts, and was recently recognized as one of the ‘Most Inspirational Women in Tech 2019.’
Earlier in her career, she founded a hybrid marketing agency bridging the gap between traditional media, public relations, social media, and community marketing. In this role she focused on lifestyle brands, providing strategic and lean marketing strategies along with social media, public relations, and community programs.
1 — Which two superpowers would you most want to have, and how would you combine them for good… or evil?
Without a doubt, I’d choose the ability to time travel and freeze time. How amazing would it be to wake up one day, think to yourself, I want to go back to meet Ada Lovelace, a renowned mathematician who is widely considered to be the first computer programmer way back in the mid-1800s?! To experience the world alongside Ada, knowing the world as it is now (in large part a result of her early work) — would be utterly inspiring.
My fascination with freezing time may be a direct result of growing up watching Evie Garland on the 1980’s show Out of This World freeze time, and how those scenarios played out. Now, more than ever, I’d love to have the ability to freeze things as they are, and in parallel fast-track the vaccine for coronavirus, then unfreeze time — and go back to before this all started.
2 — If you were investing in startup companies right now, what kind of blockchain-based business opportunity would catch your eye?
Blockchain companies working in healthcare are especially interesting; specifically those that improving medical record-keeping. This is important to me, as we need to ameliorate the level of care and democratize access for people who are under-insured or not insured.
Identifying trends across medical history, including family history, medication, allergies, and have it owned by the patient and accessible anytime, anywhere, regardless of their insurance status — game-changing.
3 — What’s the unlikeliest-to-happen thing on your bucket list?
Sadly, the thing that I would love most to do, is the most unlikely. Unplug from all social media and sail around the world with my family.
4 — If there is a future for cryptocurrencies, what is the main hurdle the industry needs to overcome. And if not, what does the future of money look like to you?
If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s the need for alternatives to the legacy financial system.
Cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, and digital assets face two main challenges as it stands now — established and consistent regulation to nurture mainstream adoption, and a reduction in speculation. At the moment if you look up Bitcoin, or any of the top cryptos — everyone’s writing about their price, rather than the applications. (Editor’s note: Well, not everyone…)
As a real-world digital alternative to fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies need to shift from speculation to everyday use. Those changes have already taken place in countries where inflation and currency devaluation is more prevalent like Venezuela and Argentina. There, the need for stability and ease of use has driven acceptance of Bitcoin and other digital assets. In the U.S. we’re seeing currency debasement as the stimulus prints trillions of dollars — heading toward an inevitable devolution of the USD and piquing interest in alternative currencies like cryptocurrencies.
The bridge from old to new money systems used to be a long one, and you couldn’t quite see the other side — we’re closer than ever today.
5 — Tell us about a hidden talent – and give us a link to prove it!
Is gardening a talent? Not sure, but I love gardening and this year has taken it to the next level with three raised beds growing 20 different fruits and vegetables.
6 — From smart contracts, to DAPPs, to NFTs, to DeFi we have seen so many of the next “killer apps” for crypto, but none have really taken off quite yet. What will stick?
That’s the billion-dollar question…
What if it’s not the next killer app — but the next wave of use? If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s the need to expect the unexpected. What you’ve planned for can be upended overnight.
The winning solutions have to be designed around a real-world need or problem. Is there a need for something, what is the market fit? Companies that succeed need to design with their potential customer in mind. If they need what you’re building — especially now, being strategic and focused on improving what’s already been introduced.