The Actionable Futurist™ Podcast

S1 Episode 14: The Future of Cryptocurrency with Jeremy Epstein

November 18, 2019 Andrew Grill Season 1 Episode 14
The Actionable Futurist™ Podcast
S1 Episode 14: The Future of Cryptocurrency with Jeremy Epstein
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Cryptocurrency and especially bitcoin has been one of the most over-hyped technologies this decade. To better understand the opportunity for cryptocurrencies and blockchain, I spoke with Jeremy Epstein, CEO of Never Stop Marketing, who has 20 years of international marketing experience.

Most recently, Jeremy was VP, Marketing at Sprinklr which grew from a $20 million valuation and 30 people to $1.8 billion valuation and 1400 people in 4 years.

Today, Jeremy is a highly sought-after marketing advisor in the crypto/blockchain industry and has worked with some of the leading and most innovative projects including OpenBazaar, Zcash, and DCorp.

He's spent the last 4 years deeply understanding the world of crypto and blockchain and his insights in this episode should help you better understand what lies ahead for this much discussed technology,

In this episode we covered:

  • What interested you about cryptocurrencies?
  • Why is cryptocurrency so misunderstood?
  • Why crypto represents the next evolution of the internet
  • The value transfer revolution
  • Re-engineering Blockchain in 2019?
  • Is Blockchain always the best solution?
  • The open public blockchain
  • Helping the 2Bn unbanked people
  • Creating a global trust layer
  • Stakeholder capitalism
  • The problem with bitcoin - humans are greedy
  • What does it feel like to own crypto?
  • Facebook's crypto ambition - Libra
  • The rise of surveillance capitalism
  • The problem with Facebook launching Libra
  • How holding bitcoin increases its value
  • Participatory capital
  • Who is responsible for promoting the benefits of crypto?
  • Blockchain can help with insurance policies
  • Rapid insurance payments using smart contracts
  • Sending donations using bitcoin
  • Three things for next week

1. Read the bitcoin whitepaper
2. Buy some bitcoin
3. Send someone some bitcoin

For more on Andrew - what he speaks about and replays of recent talks, please visit ActionableFuturist.com follow @AndrewGrill on Twitter or @andrew.grill on Instagram.

spk_0:   0:02
Welcome to the Practical Futurist Podcast, a bi weekly show all about the near term future with practical advice from a range of global experts to help you stay ahead of the curve. Every episode answers the question. What's the future ofthe with voices and opinions that need to be heard? Your host is international keynote speaker on Practical Futurist and You Grill. Welcome to Episode 14 off the Practical Futurist podcast. My guest today is Jeremy Epstein, CEO Off. Never Stop marketing, and he's got 20 years of international marketing experience. Most recently during was VP marketing. It Sprinkle, which grew from a $20 million valuation and 30 people. The 1.8 billion valuation and 1400 people in four years, which is pretty remarkable today. Jeremy's a sought after marketing advisor in the crypto and Blockchain industry and work with some of the leading and most innovative projects, including Open Bazaar and Deco. Welcome, Jeremy.

spk_1:   0:58
Thank you so much for having me,

spk_0:   1:00
General. We've known each other for a while. I think most of the guests we should start off with how we've known each other. We came across each other. What sprinkler? I think ours other IBM or create. And you were running marketing there, a sprinkler. So back then we were very, very focused on social media and analytics. But now you're in this crypt again. Tell me, what was the reason for the pivot?

spk_1:   1:19
Yeah, Well, as you said in a previous podcast, one of the most important things that you advocate for people is to be digitally curious. And I have lived that mantra of my entire life. And so as I was finishing sort of my mission at Sprinkler, I started to think About what? What should I be curious about next? And I have been exposed to Bitcoin in 2013. Didn't buy enough and all of that problem. But I was curious. What exactly are these Bitcoin and why do people think they're a big deal? So I spent a couple of months doing a deep dive and emerge convinced that crypto and the crypto economic systems that they're going to bring with them represent, um, 1/3 alternative to the stark choices that we currently face. Ah, on the global stage. And I've spent the last four years as a student and advocate, consultant, speaker, writer and investor Ah, in the crypto space, trying to bring about what I call the crypto future.

spk_0:   2:25
So a crypto I think, in many ways is misunderstood. And I have no skin in the game I own, I think £20 worth of Bitcoin. So I'm never gonna be a millionaire. Where do you think is the most misunderstood part of the technology and the application?

spk_1:   2:40
Well, I think it's That's a great question. I think it's misunderstood in many ways. I think people, I don't even know where to start to answer that question because there's so many areas where is misunderstood. The first thing is it's not on ly used for money laundering and criminal activities, so I think that's number one. Ah, and number two is I don't think crypto by itself is going to be the cause of significant climate, climate, climate, disaster, ecological breakdown. So I think those are important things. But I think the big thing that walk away with this if you think about it ah, you and I have been in the Internet and social media game for a long time. But there is no native currency to the Internet. We have an information superhighway, which you goes all the way back to the late nineties. But we don't have an economic system and a way of transferring value that is as equally as efficient. Ah, low cost, um, and and fast as ah, as as the information transfer. So ah, what crypto ah represents, I believe, is the next logical step in the evolution of the Internet. And it's really the flips. The second side to the coin are pun intended around the information revolution at the Internet brought. This is the value transfer revolution component that can only be built once the infant, the information infrastructure has been built out, which we've obviously seen over the last 20 years. I think what most people don't understand is this is a natural complement to thie seismic change in information technology that we've seen over the last 20 years, and it just extends it and makes it even more powerful and more accessible to billions of people around the world.

spk_0:   4:27
So it was 10 plus years ago that this anonymous Satori, Nakamoto, whoever he or she is, and there being that we could talk about that at length as well rode the famous white paper. That's 10 years ago, and back then cloud computing was in its infancy. Broadband is in its infancy. Do you think if they were to develop it again in 2019 they would do it differently? Knowing what we know now you're you're a scholar of this space. If you were charged with redeveloping the Blockchain technology and Bitcoin out things on top of that, what would you do differently 10 years on?

spk_1:   5:01
That's a great question. Well, it's interesting because a lot of people are trying to do exactly that. I mean, there are, ah, hundreds, if not thousands of different Blockchain ah, implementations and and networks being experimented with currently. I think right now it's hard to say that there's a better way of doing it because the the beautiful thing, in my opinion of the elegant thing behind Bitcoin, is that the way that security is provided to this network. And remember, at the end of the day, all the Blockchain is is a ledger that has global concensus Ah, or agreement about who owns what at what time and the way that the participants ah, who provide the security to the network, demonstrate their investment is through something called Proof of work. Well, proof of work is nothing more than having demonstrated three. Things are one thing, which is I've solved this particular puzzle or prop math problem at this time, and the only way to solve that problem is by actually investing electricity and computing power. But that is you mentioned the word skin in the game, and that's the essence of Of, Ah, the Bitcoin Blockchain, which is you demonstrate that you have contributed some. You put some skin in the game, and that in aggregate is what provides the security to the network to provide this global layer of trust around Ah, who owns what at what time, property rights, financial, Ah, allocations. And what have you

spk_0:   6:33
understand that Blockchain and Bitcoin has developed because there was a lack of trust and so it was solving the trust problem. But if I have a trusted relationship with the supplier, if at the moment we have a P, I ease with each other, we have a commercial agreement could be not just use a distributed database, and this again, the cynic in me doesn't always need to be a Blockchain solution or Can it be a hybrid or other areas where Blockchain is? Maybe not the most efficient technology used because of the overhead off the trust factor? As you know, proof of work is statistically and cute, computational, very, very complex and drones on a pair and everything else. But if you have that trusting relationship, is blocked shine always the right solution.

spk_1:   7:12
Oh, definitely not. I mean, there is certainly plenty of situations where it may not be the best fit, and that's totally fine. I mean, ah, you. If you do have a totally trusting relationship or you want to keep a network that's closed, there's no reason to make all the investments on open public Blockchain. I mean, the analogy I attended Teo to use well is that if you remember back to the late nineties, when the Internet, the commercial Internet started to pick up steam, um, there were sort of two reactions. The first reaction is the one that's most typical. And as new technologies come on the scene, which is Hey, how can we use this technology to do what we already do? Better, faster, cheaper. Which is why you know, in 98 99. If you recall there was a good year where everyone talked about corporate intranet Internets, where all the range and don't get me wrong. Internets have a tonne of value and you should do it. You save money, save time, all that kind of stuff. And distributed ledger technology could do that. But as we both know and everybody listening knows, the real value is created on open public Internet. So I think the same thing's gonna happen with block change. You'll have a couple they call in private Blockchain is to me it's just calling it a distributed ledger. Like you said, if you have a trust relationship, you don't need the computational overhead, whether you is proof of work or proof of steak or any of the other proofs systems that they have there. But it's the open public, Ah, blockades where I believe that trillions of dollars worth of value, all powered by these various crypto assets, are going to exist. It's, you know, this is where you can handle micro payments that you cannot do it with. The existing financial system is where it's a muchmore, potentially a much more cost effective way of allocating risk. Ah, and capital. It's uniquely suited. I think when the engineering part gets resolved for solving some of these large scale global problems that we're facing. And ultimately I think there's a really improved cost. Ah, and risk structure. You know, I think right now we're in a very interesting time in history where we're sort of faced with ease. Um, two choices of of, of societies and governments, you know, have sort of the Chinese model that sort of going off in its own direction, looking strong. And then we have the Western model, which is obviously I don't need to tell me the one who lives in the UK Ah, how much Ah, stress that's under right now you think about the economy and the way that our governments and our economies are built are built for the industrial era. They're built for the world of things and material items. Well, the last 15 20 years have shown us Al, it's it's software. Eating the world is becoming a more intangible. We need to de materialise. We need to integrate all these sensors you need toe pay for access to, you know, some remote i ot device somewhere, will. You can't swipe a credit card to do that. You also knew to solve these problems around global poverty and migration and all the two billion people in the world who don't have bank accounts. You know, there there's all these issues that are facing us, which I just don't believe can be effectively addressed by the centralised institutions that we currently have because they're sort of built on a previous paradigm of of, you know, industrial age. Ah, economies. And we have to I'm create a global trust layer, especially when our leaders don't seem to be stepping up to create. You know, they're putting up walls instead of continuing to reduce the walls and allow people to improve their lives through trade and through, ah, you know, feeling like their Their voice matters. And I think that's what crypto guy. We're expecting property rights and, ah, you know, the fancy word. People use a self sovereignty. Um, I think that it offers the potential to ameliorate many of these issues. It's not perfect. Don't get me wrong. We're gonna have a whole new slew of problems. Just like I didn't see fake news coming when I was evangelising for social media. I'm sure there are plenty of things I don't see fundamentally, particularly in industries that require a high degree of consumer trust like insurance or Remittances and even social media. As these calls for stakeholder capitalism as sort of the next level of or the next generation of capitalism are intensifying. I think when these crypto economic networks start, too, um, mature from a technology perspective that values gonna migrate to them because they're just gonna be better, faster, cheaper and also, most importantly, significantly lower risk. Totally

spk_0:   12:01
agree with you. And I think fundamentally the social impact question is something that can be solved. Over time. We'll talk about the elf on the room Libre and second guess that leads under something you've said. But I think the issue is that I haven't seen a technology get adopted so quickly and reached the headline so quickly as crypt out. So I was probably only a doctor. I had a website in 1990 for I've been on the Internet since 1993 or dial up on everything else. I had my first mobile phone, E 94. I am the poster child for nearly a doctor. I tried this new technology And so you look at how quickly the friends around me and my family got mobile phones. It took years, Not not months. I think the problem, if you like with Blockchain Bitcoin is it is about money. And humans are fundamentally Grady. And so when people think they can make money very quickly, it reaches the front page. So here in the UK, back in November 2017. So two years ago, Bitcoin was on the front page of all the newspapers because it was news because one minute it was worth £5000 than it was £10,000 I actually bought some Bitcoin. I think the day it was at its peak and I talk about this two clients that I bought Bitcoin not to get rich. I bought £20 worth three coin bites. I bought it for two reasons. One is to find out what it felt like. Toe own Cryptocurrency. Toehold on Remember, refreshing corn based nap in the afternoon wearing border and £20 became 22 than it was 23. 26 21. I thought, This is crazy. I'm doing nothing. I'm not doing anything to improve the value of this currency if you could call the currency, but it's going up and down. And then when I tried to convert it back into feed it back into Pound, that took me four weeks into banks. But I think the reason it's got such quick press is that it's about money, and every wants to get rich quick. And if you can sit there and sit on a nap and refresher and value goes up and down, I think that's that's exciting for some people. But then we're recording this in November 2019 for reference. So recently, Mr Zuckerberg's being before Congress again absense of leader to talk about his crypto platform liberal. But essentially, they wanted to groom him about everything else. What's your view on liberal? Will it succeed? Wasn't put together right way? And does Facebook have the right ambition, unethical ambition to to lead this? Do you think?

spk_1:   14:18
Well, before we get the Facebook, I guess I would I would maybe challenge what you said are just I'm not sure. I accept that it's entirely about money, and I'm okay with that. I mean, if you. You know, every ah new technology goes through these initial booms. I mean, this is the gardener hype cycle all over again, and we're just kind of in that semi trough of disillusionment phase right now, and that's fine. I mean, you remember Internet in the 2000 and 2000 for era it was, It had been on the front pages, and then it disappeared for a couple years only for face look to be launched in 2000 Foreign Twitter in 2007 and in some around there also so, like that's the natural flow of these technologies. So while the massive evaluate increase in value, um, you know, certainly garnered headlines like, I don't think that's what it's what it's all about. The same way the Internet's not just about making money. I mean, it's certainly a money to be made. Um, I'm in there, but I think it's it's It's much more about, um, you know, giving people more control over. Ah, there. I mean, at a high level of their lives, but really more control over their their value, the value they have their money, more control over their their data and their information and being able to have a little bit. Mohr You know, um, agency in, um, how their lives are lived. You know, we have these sort of interesting sort of juxtapositions of of life right now. On the one hand, you know, we're seeing this massive increase in bandwidth and wireless coverage and computing power, but at the same time, we're having this ridiculous destruction of trust in traditional institutions. You know, income and wealth inequality on one hand. And it's just gonna get exacerbated. As you know, Maur Mohr gets pushed into these. You know, few smaller organisations are smaller organisations that ah, Crume or more value in the central eyes like we're seeing with the fang stocks or what have you? Um you know so and what? You know, you have more information in your hands. It's like the, you know, the classic about the more power than the rocket going in the room kind of thing. But surveillance, capitalism or total just surveillance state is becoming, ah, commonplace. So we're having these tensions that are affecting our current system. And I think that's what this movement is really about, which is we can have the benefits of a globally interconnected ah, world where people's lives are improved through trade, without having to compromise on our personal privacy on our rights, on the things that allow us to feel some degree of safety. Ah, as we go about our daily lives and have more, Ah, say and what we're doing. So I think that's what it's all about coming to Libera. You know, I've never been a big fan of LIBRA. I mean, I understand why Facebook's doing it, because it's basically free money for them and they have massive distribution. But to me you're replacing one problem with another, which is, in general, centralised currencies. And I don't want to get, like, two crazy here. But centralised Fiat currencies are ultimately, um, you know, they're a risky proposition for for the for the people who hold the currencies, you know, and inflation is the symbol is thie is the erosion ery process that eats away at our value. So that all comes back to the fact by holding Bitcoin, you said you weren't doing anything to add value to the network. And I actually don't agree with you By holding on to Bitcoin you are putting skin in the game. You are saying I'm gonna hold this. Remember, there's a fixed supply. A Bitcoin. They're 21 million. So if you hold on it and other people increase, you know, they're interesting. It that increases the value of it. Whereas if you sell with the decrease that I used to simply by holding it and saying I'm in this for the long term you are, you know, contributing in some small way to the network. So I think what's challenging right now? Here I read a great article recently that talked about Thie, the offering of railroad stock in the 18 fifties in the UK And it was the first time, I mean, really where anyone could access have shares in the company and most people just could not get their head around it. Just like, Well, I can't use this share to actually travel on the railroad. I can't actually do anything with it. I'm just supposed to hold it. Well, now you'd be an idiot for not holding shares. And I think we're just seeing this emergence of a new type of participatory capitalism that previously didn't exist. And I understand it's a new paradigm, and it is difficult to get our heads around. But this is how history evolves is that we have these new innovations allowing more people to more access to create more wealth and improve lives. And to me, um, that's what crypto economic systems supported by decentralised Blockchain based infrastructure, are going to AA afford us. And hopefully we can leverage them to ah, you know, distribute wealth a little bit more equally and saw some of these issues in a way that actually represents the public. Ah, common good.

spk_0:   19:24
So you make a little sense in all your points, and I I can see a lot of stuff you're saying, and you know, you've bean looking this closely and playing with it for the last four plus years and podcast like this all one way to get that message out. But we can't get into everyone's ears. Whose responsibility is it to talk up? The benefits that you've said? Is it Obviously it's a bit of an echo chamber, bit like social media. All the social media gigs talk about social media. But how do we talk about the positive benefits and whose rollers is that government is that Facebook is that you was at me. How do we get the message out there? Because there's so many actors in the game and some, ah, good actors and some are bad actors.

spk_1:   20:00
What's beautiful in my mind about krypto is it's not 11 person's responsibility. It's anyone who's a member who's an owner of the network by having one Bitcoin er, one ether, ether, one whatever took. And you are Ah ah ah, an owner of that organisation. So I think it's a decent one of the books I've written on this top is called a decentralised marketing organisation. It's that everybody is part of the market, the organisation right now, simply by being a token order. But I think as the technology matures and you talked about, you know, you're an early adopter and I say, Look, we're at, like the 14 4 you know, dial up modem D's. Maybe 28 8 28 and I'm coming to you. And I'm saying, Andrew, one day ah, you're gonna be ableto watch any episode of friends that you want at any point at any time, and you're gonna be able to do it in your car And you're like, Jeremy, you are smoke and way too much stuff. There is no way that's gonna happen. And I'm like, No, no, Andrew, the innovation parts not It's the engineering part thou that has to be addressed. It will get addressed. But the innovation of how do you transfer data? We've We've saw that. And I think with crypto we're seeing that I'll give you, like, a couple of storeys that really sorry. I get super excited about stuff. You know, I heard I heard I heard a phenomenal storey coming out of SriLanka Where, um you know, in Sri Lanka there are, ah, farmers who are living right on the edge of poverty and do especially, they're at risk to climate related Ah, you know, ah, challenges or destruction of their crop. Well, there's no cost effective way for an insurance company because 30% of our insurance premiums now just goto overhead. For insurance companies, there's no of cost effective way for them to provide an insurance policy to a rice farmer in SriLanka who's living on the edge of poverty. However, there is a decentralised insurance platform called ether risky. Um, e T H E R I c I'm basically they've created a smart, contract based AH insurance policy that is triggered. Ah, based on a couple of inputs. Say, you know, if there's X amount of rain and a given district, it automatically pays out the premium to that farmer. Now, the difference of unsure of rapid fire insurance or rapidly distributed insurance payment to a farmer on the edge of poverty, poverty and Sri Lanka is basically and I might be slightly dramatic here. But it's basically the difference between having to, like, sell a child into, like the sex trade versus, you know, being able to make until the next planting season. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but, like that's how you're fragile. Many of these lives are. You cannot make that contract work. In a traditional system, it is literally impossible. I sent the donation to a nonprofit in Venezuela with Bitcoin, and I sent the donation for like, a fraction of a cent. How you cannot do that with the current system. You know these. You know all of these people who are underserved, who then abandoned their cities and towns and villages and then make their way up to the global North. You know, part of it is because we can't, um, provide them access to the financial good services that all of us in sort of the West and the Western world take for granted. XYZ Remittance fees. If you're you know, all the money that's going back to these countries, like you know, 18% fees, why should we? Why should we penalising the poorest people on the planet? We shouldn't. And that's what these types of technologies can now do to cost effectively, provide insurance that cost effectively, deliver Remittances and to give more people access to credit and lending services that you know the rest of us take for granted because we know those were the building blocks of of wealth and security that we want everybody to have, and there's no other way to do it. This technology and yes, it's early and it's immature. And they're all types of reasons why it's not ready for primetime. And it's frustrating for me because I wish he was here yesterday. Um, you know, it can deliver it, and the current system just can't simply is not able to do it from a technology So

spk_0:   24:17
as this is the practical futures podcast, I want to give my listeners three things they could do next week, not next month. So is that education is an investment. What three things should they be doing next week?

spk_1:   24:29
I think everybody should read the Bitcoin white paper. It's like 14 pages. It's my kids have read it. So it's not challenging. You can get it. I mean, granted, my kids are, of course, incredibly brilliant. But, you know, I think anyone can can get that. So the Bitcoin white paper, It's free. Download it. Read it once or twice. You you'll already be way ahead. Number two is. I think you alluded to it before. Which is you just need to go buy some. Not you don't put as much, but £20.100 pounds. Whatever money you can afford to lose, for sure, But once you have it, I would encourage you to sort of find something you could do with it, whether it just send it to someone else. I mean, I had one storey, I'd like to tell people is I had two clients want. They told me about $1000 worth of expenses. One was in Switzerland. What was in the UK? The Swiss ones wanted to do everything with the traditional financial system. It took three weeks, three rejections and $71 in fees. The ones in the UK sent me in crypto. It took 10 seconds and four cents in fees. So I would encourage people to a start experimenting with these, um, this technology and play around with it. Um and I'd say so I'd say those are the three is Go read the white paper, get a little crypto and then find one way to transact in it, if only to understand and get your head around that I think you could do all of that and about, you know, an hour next week. But at least you'll start to get your hands dirty. And I know you as a digitally curious Ah, veteran. Ah encouraged and believe in that because that's the best way to understand the tech is just get your hands a little bit dirty.

spk_0:   26:04
How can people find out more about union

spk_1:   26:06
Twitter's Always Good, Jr? 979 Jared 979 And I blogged five days a week. Ah, on blogged dot Never stopped marketing, Doc. Come Ah, wide range of topics. Ah, emerging technology, but definitely heavily focused on

spk_0:   26:24
Jeremy's. Thank you so much free time. I've learned a lot tonight. Thank you, Andrew. I preach. I'm grateful for the opportunity. Thank you for listening to the practical Futurist podcast. You confined all of our previous shows at Futurist stopped London on DH. If you like what you heard on the show, please consider subscribing via your favourite podcast app. So you never miss an episode. You can find out more about Andrew and how he helps corporate Navigator disruptive digital world with keynote speeches and see sweet workshops at futurists dot London until next time. This has Bean, the practical futurist podcast.

What interested you about cryptocurrencies?
Why is cryptocurrency so misunderstood?
Crypto represents the next evolution of the internet
The value transfer revolution
How would you re-engineer Blockchain in 2019?
Is Blockchain always the best solution?
The open public blockchain
Helping the 2Bn unbanked people
Creating a global trust layer
The calls for stakeholder capitalism
The problem with bitcoin - humans are greedy
What does it feel like to own crypto?
Facebook's crypto ambition - Libra
The rise of surveillance capitalism
The problem with Facebook launching Libra
Holding bitcoin increases its value
Participatory capital
Who is responsible for promoting the benefits of crypto?
Blockchain can help with insurance policies
Rapid insurance payments using smart contracts
Sending donations using bitcoin
Three things for next week
3. Send someone some bitcoin