July 18, 2014
We’ve come together because we believe in the potential of this technology to have a significant, positive social impact
– Austin Hill, co-founder Blockstream (FPV’s newest portfolio company)
I founded Future\Perfect Ventures earlier this year because I believe that technology’s potential for positive social impact is still in formative stages. The combination of mobile technology, sensors, robotics, and data analytics will create businesses that can empower billions of people around the world through decentralized and distributed networks where the “middlemen” are no longer required. These gatekeepers have, until now, decided who gets access to information and services (which equates to opportunity).
No where is this more apparent than in financial services. Banks have decided who they will serve, most often looking at short term profitability over long term value. They have had a near monopoly on how people store and spend their money. Even in the United States, one in five households are underbanked. The 2008 financial crisis is still being felt in this country. Globally, there are 2.5 billion unbanked individuals and many more underbanked. Traditional banks are hampering global GDP growth by not providing financial services such as loans to people who can expand their livelihoods through those services.
One only needs to look at the example of M-Pesa in Kenya to see how digital currency can impact the underserved. On my many trips to the country where I was born, I hear stories of how entrepreneurs were able to expand their businesses by accepting mobile payments (instead of traveling days to collect cash), of mothers who were able to pay school tuition directly instead of relying on middlemen who were sometimes corrupt and resulted in children missing days of school.
Now expand this to a cross border world. Add onto it a “trusted trustless” global infrastructure that is “smart” – where you can put certain conditions on the transfer of any asset (including currency, property, stock certificates, etc) and know that the transfer won’t be tampered with, and fees are kept to a minimum.
When I first learned of Bitcoin, I thought of M-Pesa and how it had empowered so much of Kenya’s population. And then I started contemplating the broader blockchain infrastructure and how it had the potential to provide stores of value for the most underserved, including billions of girls and women who do not have property rights or a path to financial freedom. Contrary to the headlines in the media, this infrastructure can reduce fraud and weed out “bad actors”.
Then I met the Blockstream team with their vision for sidechains, to create a more robust and scaleable blockchain infrastructure which would enable these new applications and services to be developed and tested. Most importantly, they shared my vision for social impact through this technology and gathered a group of stellar investors committed to this vision. I look forward to working with them to turn this vision into reality and look forward to the day when every individual is connected and empowered through this global network.