Bloomberg Markets with Carol Massar and Jason Kelly.
Casey was live on air (05:58 in) on Bloomberg Markets Radio, discussing how Monax has built a universal blockchain platform on which anyone can construct their own secure apps.
Read the full transcript below.
Interviewer: Putting blockchain to use for managing legal contracts: Monax is doing just that, this company has offices in New York and Edinburgh. For a better handle on what they’re up to, let’s bring in Casey Kuhlman, he’s the CEO at Monax, nice to have you here Casey.
Casey: Thank you for having me.
Q: Tell me a bit more about what you guys are doing, of course we’ve all been talking lot about Bitcoin and other digital currencies and blockchain more specifically over the last year or so, but you guys have been doing this for a few years?
A: Yes, as Monax we are kind of a dinosaur in the blockchain space. We have been at the forefront of this technology for quite a few years since 2014, we were the first to market with what’s called a permissionable blockchain which has kick-started the entire blockchain for business becoming an industry. Now we were the first to market with what’s called accelerator packages which could help companies really quickly spin up their use cases, and then we started to work our way up the stack into a more vertically integrated solution, and when we were analysing the use cases that we had experienced, and what we were excited about, one really stood out which was leveraging the technology to track what companies have agreed to do, what is actually happening in the real world in order to service the risk that comes in the Delta between those two things
Q: You are a recovering lawyer I guess, and you’ve had some experience all over the world, specifically both East and West Africa, and we were talking a little bit before you came on about the idea that when you were a lawyer that’s where this idea bubbled up. How did that happen?
A: Sure, as a practising attorney, I was really interested in how could I make my own practice more efficient and effective and this was incredibly important because I was practicing at the time in one of the poorest countries on Earth. Most of my clients didn’t have tons of money that they could pay me, so I needed to do things like turn around documents for them, provide them with advice, really really efficient, but as a lawyer you want to provide effective advice as well. One of the things that I had really been exploring was how can the computers help us by running the contracts and historically, in early ways of technology this is been a real challenge, because if you and I are in a contract and we want the computers to run the contract, then the question becomes on whose computer does the contract run? I don’t want it running on yours, you don’t want it running on mine, and one of the advantages of blockchain technologies is a collaborative infrastructure on which we can co-manage these contracts that are running.
Q: So give us an example of a company in industry that’s using it.
A: Sure, at this point we’re still pre-product, so we’re still in the test nets of the agreements network which is what we are building, and one of the key use cases they we’re very excited about is a little bit more futuristic but it’s fun to pass out, a lot of our business models are moving towards this idea of fleet leasing, so if you think about industrial robotics or you think about commercial drones, or autonomous cars, the business models for the manufacturing companies is going to migrate from being an OEM to being more of a fleet management company and this requires two big changes in how we would traditionally do contracting. First change is that you have a lot more dynamism in what is happening within the contractual instruments and second off you have you have quite a few more players that need to have the information around this particular contract or instrument.
Q: Is it like renting a car?
A: It’s not exactly like renting a car when you’re talking about a huge fleet of, let’s see, thousands of commercial drones or thousands of autonomous cars, you have some of the dynamics that you would have when you have a car rental situation on the one hand, on the other hand you have a whole range of more long-term dynamics, in other words what’s the maintenance schedule? What is the delivery schedule? How do we change and adapt the amount of robotics or drones or vehicles to reflect what actually needs to be accomplished in a particular place?
Q: So you have this contract on blockchain, all the parties involved can see it, it’s in a secure place we would assume, correct? So there’s a lot of transparency.
A: Yes and I’ve often said and some people leverage the fact that blockchains utilize cryptography to think that blockchains are heavily private and I always say that blockchains are transparency machines rather than privacy machines, and I think what we will start to see very quickly is the movement of legal processes onto blockchain technologies.
Q: Are you a little early though?
A: Yes we’re very early
Q: When do you think this could become more the norm?
A: I think we would be looking at before this would impact a lot of people’s lives, probably a three year time horizon.
Q: What other industries do you think of right for this because it feels like there’s been so much hype certainly for bitcoin and cryptocurrency, but the underlying blockchain technology, what are the areas beyond the law in your estimation that really could use this this?
A: It’s funny, name the vertical and the top ten companies in that vertical will have blockchain exploration.
Q: Like patents and so on? Or that’s I guess still legal?
A: Yes that’s legal but energy, healthcare, banking of course has been way out in front of this, insurance, on and on, all of those verticals have at least explored the technology in proof of concept, some have moved towards pilot phase and across a whole range of big companies there’s a big exploration, and the real value here is that this enables a collaborative infrastructure on which to solve problems of coordination across big companies.
Q: What will you do in that space? I mean do you guys think you’ll stay in the legal arena or will you expand across some of those other verticals?
A: We’ll see how the ecosystem evolves, in our world view, the root of all commercial activities is contracts. Pretty much everything that happens within a specific domain or a subject matter within that domain, for example the accounting system of a company, what the accounting department does is they do because of legal contracts underneath, and so this is one of the reasons why we think if we can start with the root of commercial relationships being contracts that we can over time let things evolve in a very natural way.
Q: I think it’s another example of emerging markets because out of need and necessity in lot of money and resources that you come up with a different way of doing things we see this over and over again. Casey Kuhlman let us know how things are going.
A: Thank you very much