Sramana Mitra: Given that is your high level hypothesis, where are the investment opportunities for venture investment that you are particularly excited about?
Brock Pierce: We’re about 10 years in where the internet was in the mid to late 90’s. Keep in mind that internet wasn’t useful until you had a sufficient amount of infrastructure. You need the bridges, the roads, the tunnels. The internet wasn’t useful to most people until you had internet browsers, email clients, and a sufficient amount of content to consume. Blockchain is now entering that phase where we have the infrastructure that can help begin to scale.
The first 10 years has really been about infrastructure. Not that infrastructure is not an important category but we’re now entering the phase where consumer applications are becoming possible for the first time. I’m going to separate the world into two buckets. You have the developed world. In the developed world, we have a lot of things. We have a lot of stuff that makes our life convenient, most of which we take for granted. The developing world is the other bucket.
In the developing world, we have about three billion people on the planet that don’t have access to any financial services whatsoever. We have another two to three billion people on the planet with limited access to financial services. In the developing world, the most interesting opportunity right now is in the category of financial inclusion. Two-thirds of the population of the planet have limited access to financial services. It’s about Latin America. It’s about Africa. It’s about Southeast Asia. It’s really fintech. It’s financial technology that’s bringing about financial inclusion.
In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in this day and age, what should be on that list? Consistent access to internet or data. Call it basic human right at this point; almost as important as clean drinking water. Also, basic financial tools. The entire developing world is going to leapfrog over what we use today in the same way that Africa leapfrogged wired telecommunications and went straight to wireless. The developing world will be getting access to financial tools that brings them to where we are today.
In the developed world, it’s less about financial inclusion because most of us do have access to the basic financial services that are needed to go about living the lives we live. In these areas, it’s more about the enterprise. You don’t need to know all of the technologies that go into making your cellphone work to benefit from it. Most of what’s going to happen in the developed world is using these technologies to bring about faster and better settlement, greater security, and more efficiency. It’s going to be in the plumbing of the product.
You don’t need to understand that Blockchain is what’s making it possible. You just need to know that it’s going to be better, faster, cheaper, or more secure. Those are the macro thesis that I have. For the developing world, applications will be bringing about financial inclusion. In the developed world, everything we use today is just going to be upgraded.