This interview is the long-form version of a conversation about the potential of blockchain, cryptocurrencies, and smart contracts with Rik Willard, Founder and Managing Director, Agentic Group.

Clips from the interview

“We have the technology to help the entire human race. We can do it, but will we do it?”

Getting into blockchain
“I got into blockchain through bitcoin. I got introduced to it in 2012 and it took me a few months to wrap my head around it. We had a think tank and found out that it meant more than just another digital currency. It became influential in our thinking. A profound shift in how the Internet could be used to create new forms of value, include people in global finance.”

Being part of a movement
“Some communities make things, others write things. They are on the internet. Borders matter less and nations, but communities and humans matter more. This for me was the point of no return. It’s an issue of humanity moving forward in the 21st century, I felt I needed to be a part of this.”

Moving the value needle forward
“We talked to CXOs about blockchain and listened. We got disturbing responses because we attacked the notion what value means to an individual or corporation or corporate culture. It’s hard to move the internal needle forward from a visceral level. We’re used to the way the system is. We can’t visualize any other way of doing things. The long-tail of recessions that we are now involved in as the world restructures itself will make it obvious that moving value online is where we need to go.”

Blockchain and trust
“Blockchains don’t cure cancer, but allow the Internet to act in a way that is beneficial. They solve basic needs to finance, e.g. trust. We can build trust networks and have assurance that the person they are dealing with has a good reputation. Information won’t be tampered with on the blockchain. This matters for identity. We can have a trust relationship without having met each other. Blockchains have never been hacked, only at the point of entry (wallet, browser). The blockchain itself is very secure.”

At the edge of something glorious
“We have to make a choice how we want to live. We’re at the edge of something glorious, not a world where everybody is a nemesis. We’re all just one people, so why do we need banks (and nation states)? Who I deal with or like as a person that should have no border. Yes, we have to deal with AML and KYC because there are people blowing things up, people move cash around for bad things. Nothing’s changed that way. Digital value is not some monster that unleashed all this stuff. Digital currencies end the days of gatekeepers who charge rent for using money. Those days need to be over.”

The banking system is broken well beyond reason
“Most of the banks who have the most to loose out of all of this have tried to make their own processes more effieicnt throught blockchain. That’s fine but it doesn’t adress the real issue of the banking system that is broken well beyond all reason. Some banks are starting to get it and pivot. We should embrace this for what it is and step away and add value somewhere else. These banks will win in several years, the others will find themselves in a position that is less tenable. A trade finance institution can benefit right away. Retail banks and commercial banks will have a hard time. It will be a question of when are you going to do it because it’s your livelihood at stake here.”

The end of scarcity
“There are three billion unbanked people with dumb phones. Soon smart phones will cost less than $5 which is around the corner. That is game changing. With digital wallets and the ability to trade assets we will answer the question “what happens if everybody has money?” What happens when money is not scarce. Some countries already have a guaranteed income. We don’t have to have people who are poor and hungry. It’s unnecessary. There’s too much in the world to live like that. Certain countries and corporations understand that. Blockchain is the technology underpinning of that mindset. We’re at the point where we can do it. I’m high on humanity right now. We have shared interest in better climate, clean water, working with people across borders. We’re growing up, most of up anyway.”

Changing the world
“We need to stop talking about what can be done and build what can be done but implement it. Once we get to the stage of action, that’s what I hope for all of us that we won’t keep this on the shelf. Capital as we’ve known it over the past 800 years doesn’t like competition and egalitarianism. The world will be sharing resources, I hope we can get over ourselves and actually make a change for once.”