In the lead up to De/Centralize 2018, we are proud to kick start this Speaker Spotlight series. It is a privilege to sit down with my friends & thought leaders in Asia & Beyond as part of the series. The idea is to discuss what drives their involvement in decentralization, their hopes for the event and their ideas around digital assets and blockchain technology.
This week we sit down with Michael Smith Jr, Partner at Seedplus, a Singapore-based seed stage venture capital firm aiming to invest in and partner with the best and brightest to build global disruptive start-ups.
Michael has helmed technology-led expansions across the region from HOOQ (SingTel), Spuul, Yahoo! and BEA Systems (later acquired by Oracle). Michael is a WebLogic alumnus who currently calls Singapore home and is excited to be a part of the startup ecosystem in Southeast Asia.
A: Hi Michael, and thank you for sitting down with us. We’re excited to hear from you as we are a few weeks out from De/Centralize 2018, Singapore’s premier blockchain conference.
M: Hi Adi, it’s a pleasure, and always good to chat with you. Very much looking forward to De/Centralize 2018.
A: What are you looking forward to most at De/Centralize 2018?
M: I’m most looking forward to being part of an event focused on more of the core things happening in the space, such as the potential, real-life applications of such technology and less focused on the hype cycles that come with such innovations.
A: My sentiments exactly. There is so much potential to be had with this technology, the possibilities are endless.
M:Yes, will be exciting to watch the space!
A: Could you briefly share with us what you will be speaking at De/Centralize?
M: I am on a panel with some peers in the Venture Capital scene, and we’re going to discuss the transformative potential that blockchain technology has, and what exactly we look out for when investing in companies that operate in that space.
A: Definitely Michael. According to analyst firm KPMG, blockchain investments worldwide hit a record $512 million in 2017. Singapore has been active in the blockchain space, and the local government and regulators have been keenly supporting blockchain initiatives. Three Asian banks and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) recently worked together to develop a blockchain proof-of-concept (PoC) aimed at streamlining know-your-customer (KYC) processes.
M: Indeed, the finance sector is one such industry that stands to be disrupted by the advent of blockchain.
A: What are your predictions for blockchain in the year ahead? Both around its technology aspect and also with regards to cryptocurrency prices?
M: I’m afraid I don’t make predictions Adi. I’m keeping my cards close to my chest [chuckles].
A: Alright Michael, I’ll let you off the hook. According to you, where does Singapore fit within the global blockchain ecosystem?
M: I feel that Singapore is right at the heart of it. Singapore is startup central for lots of Asian entrepreneurs these days. The MAS is also supportive of the applications of such innovations in Singapore, and has laws and regulations in place that tend to favour developing innovations for regional use right here in Singapore.
A: The blockchain and startup communities have benefitted greatly from the country’s forward looking stance on such technologies, and will only continue to grow. What would be your ideal application of blockchain technology to reshape existing business models?
M: I don’t have a single, specific application. However, I feel that blockchain technology has the potential to disrupt major industries, like finance. I’m personally excited to see what’s about to unfold.
A: As are we all Michael. Could you give us a brief rundown of your history and involvement in the blockchain and cryptocurrency scene?
M: Seedplus’s core focus is not in the realm of cryptocurrency and blockchain. However, we have seen that a lot of the local companies have spent time looking at the space both in Singapore and the wider Asian region, looking to see how they can also be a part of this revolution.
A: As the old saying goes, you snooze you lose. The market is right there waiting to be capitalised upon. Michael, one final question for you before we let you go. Tell our readers what inspired you to get involved in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space?
M: I believe they are foundational technologies for the future of the internet and commerce, and the possible outcomes are limitless.
The next interview in our speaker series is with Pavel Bains of Bluzelle