By @SimonCocking. Great in depth interview with Dinis Guarda CEOFounder @BlockchainAge http://openbusinesscouncil.org @HedgeThink @tradersdna @ztudium

What are you working on right now, and if it all goes to plan, what might happen?

At the moment I manage my company Ztudium.com that publishes intelligenthq.com, openbusinesscouncil.org, tradersdna.com and hedgethink.com. Ztudium is a multi-media engine and technology and communications specialist that builds businesses and brands. Our biggest project is intelligenthq.com – a digital, innovation social business network that provides intelligence, education for professionals businesses startups and Universities. IntelligentHQ.com is a platform that provides digital business insights, growth, executive education and change through the social media innovation lens to business – both startups and corporations.

I am as well working in the project BlockchainAge.com – a blockchain research and tech – digital / influencer platform, book and film – with Derin Cag, Jochen Heussner and Romain Witonski. BlockchainAge -is a collectively crowd sourced produced research big data tech platform, book, documentary, website, and conference. By and for researchers in new Fintech, banking, economics, legal / compliance – Blockchain Experts in tech, payment, legal, business professionals and FinTech industry.

More than 100 personalities, entrepreneurs, and leading industry players reflect and research about the present and future of Blockchain technologies, legal set up and its multiple industries applications.
Decentralised Thought leadership big data Research centre for Blockchain
The project offers research and practical uses done by a team of banking / financial / legal / compliances experts.

I am a guest lecturer at Group INSEEC – Monaco University, where I leads the digital courses in London, and mentor the Master in digital. I am an active speaker and author in conferences and other educational events and workshops. I am also involved as shareholders and leading strategy for the fintech social money transfer app Moneymailme . On my spare time I lead the children’s education and math initiative.

I write regularly in industry websites about the future of business, IOT special in the angle of the database of everything, tech infrastructure and big data and blockchain. I am finishing 2 books about Blockchain, Innovation, and Fintech dynamics. I am involved in banking, investing, trading, investing and how disruptive Innovation, big data, social media, and technology are disrupting and opening new opportunities for the education, business, and financial world.

I published the books How To Map Who You are  and Innovating in a Forever Recession

In the banking / innovation / fintech & blockchain world, what are you excited about?

I am excited special enthusiastic with innovation, AI, Algorithm economy, IOT, Blockchain, cyber security, the overall Fintech flux and financial education and inclusion. I have been very passionate with the blockchain revolution, circular economy / sharing economy concepts and how to apply from theory to the practice. Part of my research and practice work is focus on how to contextualise the permanent shifts and challenges that the Internet (and consequently the world) will be facing in a near future in what regards reverse engineering ideas, technology, finance and society development. My work and writing is focus on how technology, innovation and special goood progressive ideas and ideas and technologies such as Blockchain can change the works and comes profoundly mixed with the Internet of Everything, and how these novel technologies impact and shape new models of economics, social dynamics such as the circular economy and the improvement on the present and future of finance. I am specially driven how to implement and reflect how these technologies provoke social changes operating a holistic shift.

A big problem and challenge and of course opportunity is how to manage IoT for business strategy, technical set up, security, plus blockchain. This is a natural marriage that has yet to properly consummate.

Can traditional banks successfully innovate to deal with the rise of FinTech banking disrupters?

Yes. And banks, in general, are innovating but is an ongoing process and much more needs to be done. Like in any development of evolution some will stay some will go. The best banks will be the ones that manage to think big and small at the same time and adopt a startup approach within their organisations and be driven by technological adoption and best ideas to create and manage value.

People need bankers whether they like it or not. The new industry that facilitates personal finances, trading and investment has immense potential for growth and with 2 billion people unbanked much more needs to be done. People are looking for alternative ways of managing their money, savings and portfolio and digital is creating new value. So the banks need to be able to shift towards digital value and reputation, value creation essentially based in Peer to Peer and understanding what matters. Therefore if banks offer products that create value and add new features they will get bigger and better and people will trust them and will be innovating.

The inception of a new smart, connected world with digital currencies, digital reputation, AI driven products and servcies require that companies build an entirely new mindset and technology adoption and infrastructure. This “technology stack” is made up of multiple layers, including embedded software, connectivity, product clouds consisting of software running on remote servers, a suite of security tools, a gateway for external information sources, and integration with enterprise business systems.

Building and supporting the technology stack requires a range of new skills in software development, systems engineering, data analytics, and online security. Expertise in systems engineering and in agile software development is critical and essential to integrate a product’s hardware, electronics, software, operating system, and connectivity components – expertise that is not well developed in many manufacturing companies.

The gold rush is all about how to manage all of this while creating value measuring data, right location, full analytics on financial behaviour and instant responses, through social media mediation and engagement.

On this some ideas for the banking and financial industry:

Don’t forget the basics: in a random scenario don’t forget trust, customers, transparency and value creation + web pro-activity.

The present and Future of the Finance is to look at the right tools to get people to engage with a brand / products / services both online and offline. As a way of helping investors to regain trust give them a good reason to do so, i.e. with quality products and services and trading conditions which guarantee integrity, stability, safety, neutrality and transparency. Ultimately the key is to create value for the entire chain.

Customers should be the kings of the financial, trading and investment industry. One of the reasons the global financial markets experienced the worst shake-up in recent history is because the markets forgot this premise.

Looking to the future entails ensuring that you stay ahead of the game by adapting your strategy to make the most of the emerging opportunities and providing your customers with better services.

I would finish with this great quote from antiquity:

Do today what others only think of doing tomorrow, for only change is constant
– Heraclitus of Ephesus, philosopher (540 – 475 B.C.)

If you could make everyone in Banking do what you told them, what would you command them to do?

Firstly I would highlight education and ethics. Finance is about trust and creation and conservation of value above anything. The biggest asset of any industry is definitely trust. This is even more relevant in the case of the financial and trading industry. As history has shown, the economy goes through bear and bull cycles. Currently, there is an overwhelming need to promote stability. In this fragile environment, the financial and trading industry needs to put all its efforts into building trust in order to develop and improve its performance and results.Then about continuous innovation and technology. I believe that innovating the digital financial system in a way to include everyone to financial services.
The financial industry must also focus its energies on managing and facilitating strong relations with customers, providing the best services and creating a long-term solid relationship with the economy. The industry likewise needs to focus on an online environment, promoting the best Internet tools and technology resources to serve and engage customers.

The real economy and the future of the financial, trading and investment industry has to focus on helping people manage their personal finances, trading and investments through service solutions, budgeting, and spending trackers, among other features, while offering stability, safety, neutrality and complete transparency. There is no way around this. On this trend, financial inclusion is critical as a means for creating channels of financial support during times when people need it the most.

The focus on financial inclusion or inclusive financing is the most powerful rule for achieving a broader delivery of financial services at affordable costs to sections of disadvantaged and low-income segments of society, in contrast to financial exclusion where those services are not available or affordable. This would improve global economy and change all the parallel areas of the shadow economy.

How soon will Blockchain achieve wider adoption?

There is still some work but the fundamentals are starting to be in place. Blockchain has a technological DNA and an idelogical streamline. Blockchain technology, there will be a lot of variation of this will make a big shift but I believe will be gradual. With Blockchain and its decentralised evangelisation and also centralised (as big players are working in that variation) the global technological infrastructure and the financial industry and other industries will change fundamentally, and things such as fees can be removed, reducing the global cost of conducting financial transactions. However, we need a big reality check. In this vision, we have to deal with local / global regulators, forces for good, parallel / shadow economy, and different political fragmented and complex driven systems. Human progress is based on balances and agreements, technology is part of that and what normally happens is that everything ends up being changed with the help of middlemen and intermediaries. Once you change the middlemen other types of middlemen come, to replace that function. However blockchain and concepst such as P2P, the circular economy can make a big change but there is a lot of work to do and a lot of mentalities to change.

I believe the good driver for change and a master evolutionary in intermediary can be the blockchain driven technology. Not everyone agrees that removing the middleman entirely is feasible or scalable in a world with so many differences: political, economic, social, technical and religious. A report published by the SWIFT Institute argued that the Blockchain technology does not entirely remove the need for third parties, even if it demands a “substantial re-engineering of business processes across multiple securities market firms.” However, this should be put in context since SWIFT itself provides a network for secure and reliable financial transactions.Moreover, there is another burning challenge for the blockchain technological driven industry, which is, that there are two main types of blockchains:
A public blockchain, in which everyone can read or write data ( please notice that some public blockchains limit the access to just reading or writing).

A private blockchain, in which all the participants are known and trusted. These kinds of blockchains are useful when the blockchain is used between companies that belong to the same legal mother entity.
William Mougayar is an author to have in consideration here. In one of his articles entitled The Theory of a Blockchain Circular Economy he provides us with examples of some sound solutions emerging from a Blockchain-Based Circular Economy Market Place that can create a system that can reward the various users and players in a healthy way.

The question is how can this be done effectively? In a highly centralised world, that is driven by few companies / corporations, how to manage the transition without falling into some kind of new digital technological dictatorship, or chaotic Ponzi scheme?

Some authors believe that with blockchain technological platforms, there are some new ways to generate economic value and transparency, in a system that has too many third party players that delete value and dilute trust. Of course, this can only succeed once the blockchain technology gets enough scalability and the right roots, that take into consideration that our technology landscape is driven by cloud computing, apps and algorithm machine learning AI.These two complex and dynamic systems have to gain a bigger scale and balance between each other as any massive adoption of any technology only happens once the balance is established between both systems.
And change systems and infrastructures is a big task both technological, educational and political.

Which thought leaders do you like to read / follow?

I had the privilege to have worked / collaborated with people such as David Bowie, Patti Smith, Depeche Mode, Michel Gondry, Steen Jakobsen, Brian Solis and many others. My life references are classics such as Homer, Virgil, Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Medici Family. Modern ones I admire a lot of authors and writers.

I admire personalities such as Tony Robbins, Chris Anderson, Nassim Taleb, Tim Ferriss, Tim O’Reilly, Marc Andreessen, Ben Horowitz, Reid Hoffman, Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Seth Godin, Christopher Nolan.

Also, people I work or have worked such as Kostas Peric, Andy Chen, Jamie Burke, Paul Mears, Derin Cag, Jochen Heussner, Romain Witomschi. Regarding fintech and blockchain you guys are doiung great work and other great people like: Don Tapscott, Brett King, Oliver Bussmann, Chris Skinner, Simon Cocking, Sebastian Meunier, Melanie Swan and many others.

How do you manage online / offline, work/life challenges?

Online and offline are part of the same ecosystem. there are less and less, differences. We are already cyborgs. As we sleep and wake up with machines. So to me is about ideas and special people, dear ones, family.

I build my life about these two concepts the iconoclast and somehow mindfulness ideas that are radical but close concepts. At least I try. Mindfulness is a powerful breaker of noise, a sound mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, it is about being able to clear what is not relevant, while calmly take a breath, acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. Iiconoclast in the other hand goes in a new direction close to the concept of a visionary and a fast-forward thinker that is not afraid of breaking concepts, ideas or preconceptions to achieve bold achievements and disruptive innovation or actions.

I try to manage my life remembering these concepts and how it is imperative to do things I love and to be able to get out of the confort zone and question. And what to question? Life is a process of negotiating and partly you negotiate questioning. When one questions we have to find deep answers. To better develop these questions, first of all, we should try to remember and think in the wise words of Voltaire: Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.

I try to drive my life with creativity, innovation, education and Art as that is what distinguishes me as part of the society. Life always rushes in various directions, some we find at first difficult or painful, but somehow open new readings for our mind and senses plus instinct. Thus independent of our different questions, dilemmas or paradoxes we have a journey and the best way to live this daily destination life travel is to be open minded and able to get out of the comfort zone.

I try to make sure I drive my life focused on creating value and challenging myself and making sure I am going in the direction of your quest and happiness. There are no problems in life, just challenges!


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