As a certified bitcoin professional (CBP) and Founding Member of Indonesian Blockchain Network (IBN), Kenneth Tali is someone who is familiar with the blockchain technology and the implementation of the technology in the financial industry. As one of the speakers at Mobiliari Group's Fintech Festival (FinFest) 2018, we caught up with him to benefit from his wisdom on blockchain and cryptocurrency development in Indonesia.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I have an academic background in Actuarial Studies, but I have been an entrepreneur for the past six years. I have been fortunate to be involved in many industries from F&B to property to money transfer and technology.
How do you get involved in blockchain technology?
I was involved in developing a product for money transfers back in 2015 to 2016. We were looking for a solution to improve the payment infrastructure in Indonesia. Creating, moving, and storing money essentially means creating, moving, and storing data in this digital age, so we focused on looking at how we could potentially build a more efficient infrastructure for our financial data, and blockchain was one of the technologies we were looking at. I started reading white papers, research papers, and basically whatever sources I could find on the Internet about blockchain technology, and I have been going down the rabbit hole since then.
Do you think that blockchain technology will threaten the existence of banks?
My view is that blockchain technology is one of the tools for humans to create digital protocols with which we can interact, coordinate, and collaborate globally without intermediate parties. We are in the phase of exploring its potential in many different industries, not only in banking and finance. Both banks and blockchain work by the same principles: to build and work on trust. So I don’t believe it will threaten the banking industry. I believe it will complement it as they both work by the same principles. On the other end, blockchain should empower us as end consumers to have options in terms of who we want to trust.
What are the challenges faced by blockchain technology that prevents it from growing in Indonesia?
There is too much hype around the price and speculative nature of cryptoassets; this can be misleading for people who do not understand what they are investing in. Second is the lack of communication between each individual, organisation, and government that is involved in the industry. We need a forum to sit down together and to really figure out our approach to this technology. Third is the lack of willingness when it comes to collaboration between organisations.
What is the biggest misconception about blockchain?
The misconception that blockchain is a silver bullet to our society’s problems; that it is a magic wand that can solve most of our issues in businesses and trust. There is also the misconception that cryptoassets are complete scams. We have made it our mission at Indonesian Blockchain Network to provide perspective to see blockchain as a piece of technology and that, like every other technology, it has its own internal logic. To understand the moral application of technology is really up to us.
What do you think about financial inclusion in Indonesia?
It is estimated that only 40-50 per cent of Indonesian adults are financially included. When it comes to financial inclusion, obtaining and proving identity is one of the main issues to be financially included. Many Indonesians do not have full-enough documents to prove their identities, and incumbents/data-holders (banks, financial institutions, and apps) are reluctant to share their customer data with each other. Users need to apply and fill up new applications form every time they want to be financially included. In the digital era, I think we need to look at identity from many different perspectives. Identity is no longer about owning a KTP or passport.
What is the potential for blockchain when it comes to the financial industry?
Blockchain potential really needs to come from a place where it will be a solution to a problem. As I have mentioned above, proof of identity is not limited to KTP ownership or a passport but can come from digital traces, attachment with kin or with surrounding communal society, as well as users’ engagement with certain types of mobile apps and engagement with all kinds of financial or government institutions. I believe that this data should be taken into consideration in the digital era as our proof of identity. We can then create a digital protocol that incentivises incumbents/customer data-holders to safely store and share their customer data. As an end user, we can also have full control and ownership of our digital identity. Even our identity, to me personally, should be an asset in the digital era. This is technically possible with the help of blockchain technology.
What kind of competition will we see when it comes to cryptocurrencies?
There are more than 1500 cryptoassets out there right now, each with a different approach to innovating and competing in many types of industry. Scalability and interoperability remain a major challenge in the crypto space, so I expect more projects to focus on these areas.
As a certified bitcoin professional, what do you think can be done more to increase the awareness of blockchain in Indonesia?
At IBN, one of our goals is to connect entrepreneurs, builders, and investors so that a healthy blockchain and crypto ecosystem can be built. Money/returns tend to be the driving force. There should be more initiatives going into the industry. Grants, funds, and research institutions need to be incentivised to contribute to the space. We also need to learn from overseas experts all the time— I think a large-scale event to which we can invite and learn from experts abroad can also be very informative and at the same time increase awareness. We always look forward to contributing to this sort of opportunity.
For more information, go to Indonesian Blockchain Network website here