By Kathy Chu, TruthDAO
Sheila Warren, chief executive of the Crypto Council for Innovation, believes cryptocurrency -- and the blockchain technology underpinning it -- is powering the fourth industrial revolution, an era defined by the lines blurring between the physical, digital and biological worlds.
Warren believes regulators can speed the pace of change, and in the process, help innovators safeguard their technology.
“I think that this industry is ready for regulation and wants regulation,” said Warren, whose council serves as the voice on digital-asset policy for major players like Coinbase, Fidelity Digital Assets and Block.
Sums Warren: “Nobody is interested in having this innovation that a lot of us have put a lot of time into, that we care a lot about, being used by bad actors.”
The key, according to Warren, is to have "flexible" regulation that doesn't stifle innovation. Her point of view is informed by her former position as the World Economic Forum’s Deputy Global Head of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
To date, there have been three industrial revolutions that transformed the world in profound ways. They are: water and steam power, electric power, and electronics. The fourth revolution that’s underway is marked by artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles and blockchain technology.
During an interview on TruthDAO's "Crypto DeFined" show, available exclusively on Fireside, Warren talked about how the crypto industry is on the cusp of explosive growth, and why she cringes when people ask her about the price of crypto assets.
Warren's top five points:
Biggest threat to the crypto industry: "The biggest risk is actually misguided regulation — regulation that's certainly well intended ... but that really cuts off avenues for innovation.”
“Regulation is not generally known for being very flexible and forward thinking. So what we're looking at, in conjunction and in collaboration with policy makers, is: What does a more flexible model look like? How do we contemplate things that are coming down the pipeline? If we cut off some of those avenues of exploration, I think we really risk creating an exclusionary model."
Market manipulation goes through cycles: "I do think we're seeing some stabilization. It's definitely something to be cautious about and to be mindful of, but I don't think that's the biggest risk (to the industry). I think we've been through enough cycles of this that everyone spots it for what it is."
Crypto pricing: "I always roll my eyes a bit when people say, 'What do you think about the price of blah, blah?' That is the least interesting thing that you could ask me. What we're building here, and what we're seeing, is the beginning of a brand new way of interacting with each other. This has cultural implications, social implications, political implications, governance implications, legal implications.”
“What you're kind of betting on with any of these coins and these tokens (is) . . . that, over time, that ecosystem will prove to have a lot of other value if it's going to justify the value of the token."
NFTs are critical to crypto world: "I do think they're a little frothy right now. We're at that stage of the hype cycle in NFTs, where everyone wants to mint something and have something, and not all these are going to prove to be Bored Apes. But I think the core value proposition of NFTs is extremely significant. It is going to be much more about credentialing and accessing these kinds of things, as opposed to kind of the luxury-ownership model, which is kind of what we're in right now.”
That said, she adds: “I do think that (the luxury-ownership model) has merit and value. NFT-like concepts are going to be critical to the development of a very robust crypto-like economy.''
Looking ahead: “Assuming that we have sound policy and a healthy enabling environment in the policy space, I think this industry is poised for a massive explosion, like supernova-type explosion. The job market alone -- people are leaving in droves to come to this industry.”
“In five years, I think we're going to see crypto as ubiquitous. I think that we're going to see a crypto economy that spans our digital online world. I do think that regulation can put a very big barrier and kind of a ring fence on what we've already built, and prevent us from going further. In my mind, that's one of the biggest challenges and one of the biggest opportunities."