Dr Jane Thomason– Embrace Technology, it is your Future.
Chief Inspiration Officer and Co-founder of Fintech.TV Former CEO Fintech Worldwide
Dr Jane Thomason is Chief Inspiration Officer and Co-founder of Fintech.TV and former CEO Fintech Worldwide, Dr Jane has been recognised in Forbes Magazine (2018) as Blockchain’s Leading Social Development Thought Leader. She is a well known author and blogger, in 2019 she published “Blockchain Technologies for Global Social Change” (IGI Global).
She is a Co-Founder of the British Blockchain and Frontier Technologies Industry Association, Industry Associate, University College London Blockchain Centre and Section Chief Co-Editor Blockchain for Good: for Frontiers in Blockchain. She is a successful entrepreneur (having founded and grown a $250m revenue business) and an advocate for women’s empowerment globally.
HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO REACH WHERE YOU ARE TODAY?
I have worked at all levels for governments, international agencies, NGOs and successfully grew and exited my own company. Key success factors for me are:
- Having a clear set of values that you live by are vital, because they engender trust, define who you work with and how you approach problems. Mine have always been around respect, trust, integrity and pursuit of excellence.
- Resilience is a critical success factor for people in business. You will fail, you will have knock backs, what matters is how you learn from that, and how fast you are able to re-frame and start again.
- It’s easy to get distracted by small things – always keep your eye on the big picture and what you are trying to achieve.
- Strategic agility is critical in CEOs of today more than ever before, the world is changing fast and your business will be impacted and you need to be constantly scanning the horizon and preparing for changes that are coming, while managing the problems of today.
- Show leadership – be a leader who is going somewhere that people want to follow.
- Finally – never give up. Be persistent, if you don’t succeed at first, try another strategy, until you find one that works.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE BLOCKCHAIN
I have spent my life working on problems of poverty and inequality, in the developing world.
I realise that Blockchain if deployed and scaled could solve some of
the global problems of our time like climate change and poverty.
So my focus for the past few years has been on trying to demystify the technology and explain the many ways that it can help us solve problems we have grappled with for decades.
I believe that we are all able to be agents of impact in the world. Since realising the transformative potential of Fintech, Blockchain and Frontier Technologies for social impact in 2016, I have set about to use my experience, networks and influence to envision the world on the power of digital transformation, and to be part of the movement to make it happen at scale. My focus has been on emerging economies and social impact. All of my work is focussed on how digital technologies can create a social impact and be an enabler of achieving the SDGs.
HOW DO YOU SEE SOCIETY AND SOCIAL IMPACT OF BLOCKCHAIN
I am continually inspired by the benefits that Blockchain and
frontier technologies can bring to the bottom billion “invisible” people on this planet.
Think of a poor woman who today does not have electricity, a bank account, or an ID and lives in a remote location. If she wants to get money (sent from a relative) – she has to walk or take public transport to the nearest town (which costs money), Western Union takes 15%, and there is a bus ride home. The reality of the situation could be that she is sent $200 and has to spend $120 on transport and $25 for Western Union and has spent 3 or 4 days to access only $65.
Think of the promise of technology – with only a 2G mobile phone – poor women can have access to: money, identity, micro grid solar power, direct access to sell produce and handicrafts globally, crowd funding money for projects, information on antenatal care visits, access to subsidies from government and a democracy platform to improve citizen engagement with the government. That is inspiring!
“To Empower a Woman is to Empower a Nation.”
A woman will invest in her family and her community.
Educated women are more likely to contribute to economic growth.
I want to be a driving force to collaborate and make the promise
of technology real for poor women and girls around the world.
We know that mobile phone ownership can transform the lives of women in the developing world, see 2010 report by the GSMA and the Cherie Blair Foundation. In a recent study in developing countries, Intel’s Women and the Web , 77 percent of the women surveyed used the internet to further their education . The same report found that with $150 million, girls and women online could create a market opportunity of between US$50 Billion and US$70 Billion, and could contribute to an estimated US$13 Billion to US$18 Billion annually to developing countries’ GDP.
For the first time in human history we have the technological tools that will enable us to connect the bottom billion unbanked to the global economy to provide digital identity to stateless people and to direct benefits to the poor and vulnerable. Fintech and Blockchains offer us, for the first time, the technical capability to resolve complex structural problems affordably. Because blockchains increase efficiency, reduce costs, and promote transparency it has the potential to transform systems that can enable solutions that have previously been thought to be impossible.
There are many social impact use cases being implemented globally
including digital identity, remittances, traceability, management,
transaction and storage of cash transfers, identity, provenance,
voting, supply chain, health care, micro-grid distributed green energy,
education and gender equality.
Many of these are in emerging markets, where there is an opportunity to impact on the lives of the disadvantaged by improving economic opportunity and access to services. There are 70 million displaced people globally and humanitarian settings are an area for tremendous social impact, including remittances, digital identity and digital workforce applications.
WHAT SHOULD TODAY’S PROFESSIONALS DO TO GET THEMSELVES UPDATED WITH EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES TO COMPETE IN TODAY’S WORLD?
I say to young people – “embrace technology, it is your future.”
To young women – “We need to be the change we want to see! “
We have to create the enabling environment for women to work in blockchain and technology. I think that tech generally is an ideal area for women – because it allows them flexible working hours and arrangements. Blockchain is a rapidly emerging technology with new use cases emerging on a weekly basis – that means opportunity! We need to help women and girls across the world to create their own future. If we think less about what others think and more about what we can do, individually and collectively – we will succeed. The next generation of women will be better off because technology will enable flexible working conditions and even transform childcare (self-driving cars and robots will be extremely helpful to mums!).
To nurture interest in new technology we need to drive technology education and
Make coding ubiquitous; a language that all children learn from the start of their education.
Schools should integrate analytical thinking, digital technologies, and
Coding into their curricula from the first day all children (boys and girls) start school.
This will help overcome gender biases, as it is part of the core curriculum- ensuring that all girls learn it.