5 Questions with Mike Wise | President | Blockchain Wisedom
5 Questions with Mike Wise, President of Blockchain Wisedom and chairman for our Fintech and Regulation track day 2
- Could you define what your job role details and your day to day routine?
My focus is on the insurance industry and blockchain education, with adjacent interest in Financial Services. Insurance company leadership is extremely difficult and demanding work, with pressures from all sides – solvency, profitability, distribution, competition, innovation, technology, people, and compliance. Because of this, it becomes problematic for an executive to keep up, especially with the ever-increasing pace of technological change. Therefore, a premium is placed on boardroom education for the leadership team. I have been delivering that education since 2010, first on Social Technologies, or Web 2.0, and now on Blockchain/DLT, Web 3.0.
As for a “day to day routine”, if only that were the case! When I’m not delivering content, I’m researching for the next group – researching their current environment and the most pressing issues therein, because every insurance company is unique. Therefore, the impacts and applications of new technologies are unique. So, you never know what the day will bring.
- How is your organisation applying blockchain?
As a facilitator of blockchain education for insurance executives, I see applications of blockchain across the spectrum of insurance operations. Because of compliance with operational regulations and the latency thereof, most of the blockchain work is back-office data-sharing between companies, reinsurance operations, subrogation, and the like. Blockchain development commonly starts with identifying current pain points within the company’s ecosystem around data – accuracy, reconciliations, sharing, more reconciliations, and information security. Pilot projects are then developed in parallel with live operations and comparisons are measured and assessed. One recent 4-month reinsurance pilot in health insurance for multi-national corporate clients whose employees are insured by various regional insurance subsidiaries experienced a 40-50% reduction on time spent on data processing and even more on reporting consolidation. In fact, “60% of the current processes can be eliminated and/or simplified/automated by Blockchain.” It’s important to note that very few insurance DLT applications are leveraging #CryptoCurrency for settlements, instead opting to finalize transactions using Fiat currency. This tactical element of a pilot project greatly simplifies the testing process by removing the greatest point of uncertainty in the blockchain spectrum – cryptocurrency. That said, tokenization is a big piece of the business of blockchain.
- What were the biggest challenges in using this technology?
The biggest challenges in implementing DLT typically center on leadership awareness, technological latency, and opaque legal and regulatory guidance as of 2019. Because insurance company environments are typically hierarchical, and because new technology implementations require budget and resource approval, when leadership has inaccurate information about new technologies, especially ones that see a lot of hype in the general news media, funding and resources are generally hard to get. This is especially true with DLT in insurance, with the majority of insurance executives currently associating blockchain with cryptocurrency only, and that being used for nefarious activities, with volatile pricing, the hype-bubble, etc. The further obstacle is the current demand on the IT department, including M&A systems and data integrations, cyber security trials and tribulations, current technology upgrades and changes, a tidal wave of #Insurtech start-ups vying for attention, difficulties in finding and keeping talent, etc. Therefore, the vast majority of pilot projects in blockchain in insurance are collaborative with external tech consultants like Accenture on the high end and mid-market players like ChainThat, DataArt and Luxoft doing the scoping, architecture, development, project management, and assessment. But it all starts with EEE – effective executive education. This can’t be stressed enough. Cliché’s about blockchain in the C-Suite are the biggest barriers, circa 2019.
- What can we expect from your team in the next 12 months?
2020 is going to be an amazing beginning to an amazing decade. My team, an ecosystem of tech consultants, DLT developers, and blockchain protocol and adjacent companies, all focused on the insurtech and fintech spaces, will continue to develop new, bespoke applications that solve the most pressing industry and corporate challenges. Meanwhile, we will be following the leading voices, hashtag conversations and threaded discussions in the DLT space via Twitter, Linkedin, Medium, ForbesCrypto, various podcasts like InsureBlocks, and other industry and blockchain outlets. Caitlin Long on the legal and regulatory side is a must-follow.
Expect to see increasing innovation around Smart Contracts, formerly stored procedures in the traditional e-Commerce world, especially when combined with BigData Oracles, IoT, and AI which together show great promise for automating much of the traditionally paper-based, redundant, and tedious processes of insurance. It’s safe to say that all industries will see a hockey-stick trendline relative to the impact of DLT in the 2020’s. It is no surprise that the #BlockchainExpo in Silicon Valley as we close out the decade will be SRO – standing room only. People will look back at this event and say, “Yep, I was there at the beginning of it all.”
- What are you most looking forward to at the show?
As with any major industry event, my answer is “e. All of the Above” – Education, Networking, Vendor awareness, and Inspiration. It’s often said that when you get a lot of really smart people in one place, good things happen.
#BlockchainExpo – it’s a sure thing. Don’t miss out.
Register for your tickets: https://gateway.blockchain-expo.com/northamerica/central-grid/register/