Interview: Jason Lee – NEM.io Foundation

LATTICE80 interviews Jason Lee, Expansion Director for Australia and New Zealand, NEM.io Foundation. NEM is an “out-of-the-box”, enterprise-grade blockchain platform, very easy to use for developers for scale, speed and security.

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Jason Lee, Expansion Director for Australia and New Zealand, NEM.io Foundation

 

Jason is the Expansion Director for Australia and New Zealand with NEM.io Foundation based in Melbourne, Australia. NEM.io Foundation is embarking on a global expansion plan and Jason will focus on driving partnerships to increase the adoption of the NEM blockchain technology.

Recently acknowledged in the Forbes 30 Under 30 2018 list, Jason also sits at a Board Member of the Blockchain Centre in Australia and is a founding member of the FinTech Association of Malaysia. Apart from that, he is the co-founder Consortio, a commercialisation consulting firm, InsurTech startup PolicyStreet (which raised USD500k) and Finnext Capital, a smart city accelerator programme based out of Cyberjaya, Malaysia.

He is a deal-maker, community-builder and entrepreneur with a background in business development, client proposition, digital enablement and innovation & commercialisation consulting. He started his career with Standard Chartered Bank’s international programme having worked in front line customer-facing roles, Wealth Management, CEO’s Office, Commercial & Retail Banking with business exposure in Singapore, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur. He has been a speaker, judge, mentor, consultant and investor in startups and is familiar with working with the private and public sector including regulators and incubator & accelerator programmes. He has a wide network in with markets in Asia-Pacific.

Jason is currently enrolled in the Emerging Leaders Development Programme with Eagles Leadership Institute and holds a Masters of International Business and Bachelor of Laws from the Australia and had attended executive programmes in strategy and management with Cambridge Judge Business School.



Based in: Melbourne, Australia

Company website: https://nem.io

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jasonleecj

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jasonleecj/



When was your first encounter with blockchain technology, Jason?

When I was in banking in 2015, a group of us founded the FinTech Association of Malaysia and we were looking at various streams and blockchain was emerging as a stream within the financial services space. As we can see now, blockchain transcends across banking and there is a myriad of non-financial services applications. After that, I moved from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne and started an advisory practice which led me to working with blockchain organisations. Since then, I’ve co-founded startups, provided consulting work and support many blockchain startups in the industry.


What about it really caught your attention?

The ability to engage in business and transactions with integrity, transparency and efficiency and the fact that some of the smartest people in the world are starting to invest more time and resources in this industry. Over the last few years we have seen large corporates, governments and well-known organisation making some form of commitment to engage in blockchain as a technology. The amount of attention captured by the media has grown by leaps and bounds. It first started with observations in cryptocurrencies and now news on blockchain technology is picking up.


The understanding we had then, and the understanding we have now… how do you reckon it has evolved?

Would you say the ‘crypto craze’ contributed to this much? Any other factors that helped bring blockchain technology to the limelight except that?

A lot has evolved from then and now. There has been an evolution with how in the past, it used to be the software engineers and developers who were exploring this technology, now, we have seen a lot of entrepreneurs jumping into this space and this has brought a lot of traction to how things are growing. The entrepreneurs came in with the mindset to solve a problem and add value to the ecosystem and we are seeing positive steps forward.

The crypto craze definitely contributed a good amount to the evolution of blockchain technology. Many have made considerable gains (and losses) from the very first application of blockchain technology, cryptocurrency. In the early days, many have heard about bitcoin before they heard about blockchain but that is changing now. Other factors that have helped bring blockchain technology in the limelight would be the growing acknowledgement from influential leaders who have made comments on this, courses by universities which had been developed to bring more understanding and awareness and just pure business sense. As organisations start to realise that the implementation of blockchain can help to, in a simple sence, make more money, save more money and become more efficient in its process –  more and more organisations will start to explore this.


Do most solutions being developed today really need blockchain technology to support it? What main features of blockchain technology make it so prevalent or relevant in your opinion?


No, we really shouldn’t see blockchain as a solution finding a problem, not everything would make business sense. At the end of the day, it has to come back to business economics. If a business can run profitable and sustainably through the adoption new technologies, it would make complete sense. If not, it shouldn’t be a consideration. Some of the main features of blockchain technology that makes it so prevalent and relevant would be the timestamping function (we call it Apostille) which notarised information on the blockchain to ensure immutability. Other features include the utilisation of tokens (in NEM lingo we call in Mosaics), that allows for the transfer of value which is represented by the token. Those are the two main features of blockchain technology.


Can you please give us a quick overview of NEM? Which use cases being built seem to be the most interesting to you on the NEM blockchain?


NEM is an “out-of-the-box”, enterprise-grade blockchain platform, very easy to use for developers for scale, speed and security. We have a USD$40 million global expansion plan are in over 40 countries in over 100 cities and we are going to launch a NEM Blockchain Hub in Australia and New Zealand. NEM’s out-of-the-box blockchain technology accelerates enterprise solutions to serve the needs of the biggest technology businesses in the world, leapfrogging other enterprise blockchains. NEM’s full-featured blockchain engine powers both public and private networks with unique smart contract plugins.


You are based in Australia, with a lot of travel around Asia. Can you please give us some insight into the local fintech and blockchain ecosystem?

One of Australia’s largest economic drivers is the financial services industry so we’re seeing a good amount of innovation in the local FinTech ecosystem.

Automation – a trend we will see is ‘less steps’ in the process flow for making a financial transactions, a lot of these processes will occur internally within the financial services industry or as customers, the concept of one-click payments or accessing your financial information with less steps might be more convenient as innovation progresses in the industry.

Less paper – we will start to see FinTech innovation where there will be less paper in circulation. Do you still receive a receipt every time you pay for something? with major retailers starting to remove usage of plastic bags, we will start to see less receipts, invoices and bills in paper format with more of these information coming through online channel.

We see regulators being more focused on empowering FinTech companies, for example ASIC has been approving licensing for crowd-sourced funding companies and AUSTRAC has been working with registration of digital currency exchanges with continuous engagement. The general view on the Australian regulators is that it is seen as more friendly compared to operating in other markets and there is a draw for Australia to continue to place itself as a leader in forward-thinking regulations in the financial technology global ecosystem.

 


The NEM community building initiative is extremely active and visible… how do you do it?

It all comes down to empowering leaders in their local city. It amazing how one can turn an opportunity to connect to enabling them to become community builders in their location. We communicate regularly on social media channels and ensure that we have standardised information we can share throughout the 40 countries and 100 cities in which we operate in. We also have made commitments towards global expansion and have been actively engaging with communities across the world to ensure that we active and visible. The ultimate is to ensure that blockchain adoption becomes mainstream where relevant and we believe that NEM will be one of the winning blockchains that will be active across the world.


Any important developments that you’ve recently noticed in terms of government support extended to understanding, adopting and regulating the technologies?

The government had definitely paid much more attention towards blockchain recently. Many governments are still in the ‘understanding’ phase which we hope will lead to engagement and later the adoption of blockchain. Most of the attention has been towards regulating cryptocurrencies, which is a good and bad thing


What are the main areas of interest for you and NEM in the next 1 year?

We are also pleased to announce the launch of the NEM Blockchain Hub in Australia and New Zealand, the hub in Melbourne will serve as a location where dedicated NEM representatives will be present to engage with the public and community members to understand the basics blockchain and cryptocurrency as well as support startups who are interested in adopting blockchain for their business.