Blockchain strategist and advisor Susana Esteban says she has always been “open to and interested in new technologies which can bring more efficiency to enterprise.
She first stumbled on Bitcoin around 2012/3 and was curious about the technology behind it. When Ethereum came on the scene she says: “My eyes were glowing seeing the almost limitless opportunities that smart contracts can bring to the business world.”
It became clear, she says, that it will be part of the future. She’s focusing on blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology and advises and educates established companies about the potential of the technology as well as helping embryonic companies “set their feet on the floor.”
Inspired by thought leaders such as Satoshi and Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, she also admires those who get inspired in seeing new projects coming it that will have “a very positive effect on the world in the medium to long-term.”
Once blockchain enters the mainstream in business whoever embraces this will be “improving lives, relationships, providing transparency, trust and clarity in environments which are currently not known as being trustworthy,” she says.
Working with numerous not-for-profit organisations such as the Government Blockchain Association and governments, it allows them to be ahead of the curve in real estate – where more than half of legal disputes in India are over land ownership. “Blockchain refreshes this and sets the record straight for the future,” she says. In emerging countries, it can guarantee entitlement of land “even after a catastrophe like Haiti,” she says.
With healthcare – it has important use cases with prescriptions, medical records or ownership of your own patient data – which she says is currently more valuable to the black market than credit card numbers.
Initially, she found it a struggle to monetise her time and research and it took two years to get to a place “where our work was appreciated and we took on paid project work,” she says. “Today, we are still early in terms of working with blockchain technology before it goes mainstream.” They are fortunate, however, to be able to choose who they work with.
She’s inspired by “a cocktail of hard work, learning from mistakes, plenty of travel, working with some of the world’s best thought leaders, the use of business acumen and, of course, altruism, has inspired myself and our partners.”
Addressing the issue of why there aren’t enough women in blockchain, she says: “We women have to fight double to get recognition in this area. There are very few people who are currently earning a living from blockchain today, because it’s still in the growth stage.” She hopes as it becomes mainstream, more women might decide “it is a way for them.”
Education, education and education
There are three things to correct the gender imbalance, she adds: “Education, education and education!”
Her organisation is creating education workshops and regular meet-ups for women. “We need to challenge men and I want to ask all women to take this on and just do it,” she adds. “We know the potential women can bring into this.
She predicts a “lot of disappearance” this year in the space after the wild fluctuations in the price of cryptocurrency.
“The bear market benefits and strengthens the whole market taking in the first instance the scammers and the speculators out. We all remember the dotcom bubble. Every market needs to be healthy.” She urges people to look behind the projects at the team as a good and solid team “will lead to success.”
She’s certain blockchain will go mainstream as banks are already adopting it – but it doesn’t mean every single business will need blockchain. “But if we see banks or certain governments, we know it will go mainstream and it will be soon. We need it in order to guarantee transparency within the public sector,” she says.
The coming year will bring “more and more application after the PoC of last year. “More companies are having pilots, even if they don’t publicise it. Companies like Microsoft and IBM are investing heavily in blockchain and I really believe at the end of 2019 we will see a lot of big companies publishing their trials,” she adds.
She calls upon “fair regulations” and not over-regulation which “leads to confusion and takes away the freedom.”
“Satoshi had a fantastic vision and blockchain is driving there to give trust and transparency to the people, but we need to see that even though the vision is amazing, the use of this vision needs to be protected. Not everyone is ‘good’ and uses a technology for ‘good’ activities and goals. We need to separate the technology per se from the use of the technology. The use of the technology needs regulation,” she says.
Currently working on projects in industries like healthcare, she’s also visited schools in London to see how improvements can be made using DLT. Last June, they were in the rainforest in the Amazon with working groups.
The unsung heroes are those who have invested their own time “into learning and embracing the technology”, she believes, as they are “investing in themselves and have enriched their knowledge” as they “can see the gaps in the current system and try to solve this problem.”
She says the technology needs more time to mature before there’s mass adoption, but believes blockchain can “change the world to a better, more fairer place.”
She points out citizens of emerging countries can have opportunities to “actively participate and improve their lives without the need of any middlemen. They will finally have a chance and we are happy to participate in any project that improves the life of people and saves nature.”
“This is how I see blockchain in the future,” she adds. “But we cannot just see blockchain as a technology alone. In connection with AI its potential is indescribable. Time will tell us!”