Ashley Lannquist, Project Lead for Blockchain and DLT, WEF – Top 100 Fintech for SDG Influencer

This article features an interview with Ashley Lannquist, Project Lead for Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology at the World Economic Forum, and one of our Top 100 Fintech for SDG Influencers.

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This interview is part of a series of interviews featuring Fintech influencers who are doing work that advances our efforts in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

LATTICE80, in collaboration with FinTech4Good, presents the complete list of Top 100 Fintech for SDG Influencers who are leveraging the power of fintech and blockchain technology to create a positive impact on the future. LATTICE80 is launching our accelerator programme based in Hong Kong to help SDG-focused startups build blockchain solutions. Are you a SDG-focused startup? Click here to indicate your interest.

Disclaimer: The interviews are published on a rolling basis and the order by which they are published by no means representative of any rankings.

This article features an interview with Ashley Lannquist, Project Lead for Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology at the World Economic Forum, and one of our Top 100 Fintech for SDG Influencers.

1. Tell us more about what you do and how your role or project is making an impact. How do they support the SDGs?

I’m a Project Lead for blockchain and distributed ledger technology, where I manage two projects related to the use of blockchain technology to improve society. The projects take a multi-stakeholder approach, working with the public and private sector to co-design solutions to existing policy and governance gaps that blockchain technology can address. In one project in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank, we are experimenting with the use of public blockchain networks in Latin America for increasing transparency and auditing of the public procurement process. The project supports the 16th SDG which focuses on reducing corruption in public institutions and practices, and increasing transparency and efficiency in government activities and public budgets.

2. Why do you see Fintech and/or Blockchain in particular as an important enabler in creating a social impact?

Fintech and blockchain can enable social impact if deployed in the right contexts. For contexts involving cross-border remittances and payment flows, distributed ledgers can reduce time and costs of those payments. Privacy-providing cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin can also provide a tool for citizens in oppressed regimes to save and send money to family or across borders. Further, blockchain technology’s features that enable data transparency and record censorship-resistance can serve as powerful tools in the anti-corruption context.

3. What are some challenges you face along the way?

Blockchain technology’s nascent and experimental state leads to several challenges related to education and institutional capabilities, transaction scalability, governance, security, and privacy. As we experiment with it, we can learn more about these challenges and how to design solutions that address and mitigate these risks.

4. What more do you think is needed in the ecosystem to support and facilitate creating a greater social impact?

I believe it is important for people to become more pragmatic about the use of blockchain technology and to really focus on problem identification and whether blockchain can truly address a system’s problems better than existing technologies. From there, we can start to identify truly high-potential use cases and applications for social impact.

5. What do you hope to see or achieve in 10 years’ time?

It would be wonderful if we can see blockchain technology contribute towards moving the needle to reduce corruption. Public sector corruption has massive global economic and social impact, and it is exciting to see how emerging technologies can be used to help address it. Of course we also must be realistic and recognize that every technology has limitations. Institutional investment and public policies often must accompany social impact technology interventions; this is the case for our project related to blockchain for increasing transparency and data record integrity in public procurement.