We ask buidlers in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sectors for their thoughts on the industry … and we throw in a few random zingers to keep them busy!
This week our 6 questions go to Harumi Urata-Thompson, CFO and Chief Investment Officer at Celsius
Harumi Urata-Thompson is the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Investment Officer of Celsius. She is also the founder of Hut Consulting and former Chief Operating Officer of the CFA Society New York, for which she completed a successful turnaround during her tenure. Urata-Thompson held a number of senior positions at Thomson Reuters and worked in investment banking at Morgan Stanley and CitiGroup. Her expertise lies in leading and advising organizations in innovative ways in order to achieve strategic, operational and marketing success. In her full work schedule, Harumi finds herself on various interesting topics, including blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, big data, and space.
1 – How do people react when you tell them you are in the blockchain industry?
I get contrasting answers from two different groups of people. If they are already involved with blockchain in one way or another, and in particular already know the company I work for, I get “this is so cool!” every time. From the other group, and unfortunately there are more people in this group, I either get a blank look or a question: “What is Bitcoin good for?” or worse, “Oh, and you support the criminals.” Regarding the first group, I agree with them – I still wake up excited every day. For the second group, this can be approached with education. Financial literacy, including cryptocurrency, is a big part of me. I am a career financial services company and a CFA charter holder. I like to share my knowledge and experience, so regardless of the venue, I am asked to present. I always like to do that.
2 – What do you think will be the biggest trend in blockchain for the next 12 months?
I’m not sure if I can call this the “Biggest Trend” or even the “Trend” and it will certainly not be limited to the next 12 months, but rather question the use case of the blockchain as we passed the initial got excited about “what is blockchain?” That or billions of dollars raised by ICOs came and went is definitely something that we absolutely need to look at as we move forward.
I’ve been in the startup and product management world for a while, and there’s always one question to ask myself: Whose problem am I (you) solving?? The applicability of blockchain technology is endless. This is just an enabler and was developed for different needs of several industries. I don’t think we have heard the statement “It will definitely be definitively adopted by the masses”. So whose problem should we solve that opens up the path of mass adoption? I would like to answer this question from the perspective of whether I would invest in a blockchain-based company in the next 12 months, which I could be looking for in the solution. First, let’s think through some of the issues that are preventing us from mainstreaming these technology-based solutions. Regulatory uncertainty. This is really a biased thing and if I invest in a company I will try to see if I can find a solution that doesn’t have to deal with so many regulations or on the side of influencing or working with the regulators to avoid this problem. Performance. It’s not yet what it can be, and it will likely take a while, so I’m likely avoiding solutions that require extremely fast transactions or requests to handle millions of transactions at once. Blockchain is not the face of the solution. Unless we can find a way to use blockchain “Intel Inside”, I will not choose a solution whose marketing point # 1 is “We are a blockchain company”. If I combine these thoughts and invest in just one company again, I would choose a solution that solves a government problem – i.e. the regulator – where we actually have a known problem that can be solved by using the blockchain -Nature like immutability, transparency and security. How about we solve the problem of the government having to send massive checks like business stimulus checks, benefits, tax credits, etc.? I would study this type of solution provider business. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we’ve recently started focusing on the central bank’s digital currency and talking a lot about blockchain fintech [industries] is about this topic.
3 – What’s the most unlikely thing on your bucket list?
“500 places to see before you die” has become a thing. The more places I visit, the more places I add to the list, and I think my list could be 5,000 if not 50,000. I can maybe take a vacation or two a year? I try to turn off multiple places every time I go away, but my ever-growing list makes it a challenge to make the “visit any place I want to go” bucket list a very challenging one. But I always take up the challenge and my glass is always half full so I’m sure I haven’t given up on the idea yet!
4 – What’s the most innovative blockchain use case you’ve ever seen? It may not be the one who is most likely to succeed!
Diamond supply chain. In the case of expensive goods like diamonds (or these can be incorporated into other gemstones, vintage wines or works of art by famous artists from centuries), it is extremely difficult to determine the origin and authenticity, especially diamonds that even gemstone amateurs like me think of where the ” Blood diamond ‘could circulate in the economy, although personally I have no way of knowing for myself. Of course, this opaque supply chain has prevented diamonds from becoming an important commodity in the financial services industry or from having more derivatives than someone’s necklace or ring, among other things. For the industry whose latest innovation was to claim “a diamond is forever” (and so should your love be when you get into it), adopting this technology to do the job has been an amazing innovation Connect the entire supply chain from mining to retail by fingerprinting diamonds and a vinyl record and putting them on the blockchain. While I’m not sure why the commodities market turned out this way, there is no reason why there is a market for palladium, weather, or diamonds. Are gemstones hard to come by at a solid price? None of that. The regulators and finance professionals did not want to manufacture a product from conflict products? Blockchain can solve that now. Although uses may be limited to jewelry, there is considerable demand for this gemstone. Although the mass adoption of this technology remains to be seen, this is an interesting development that I would like to address later.
5 – What are your parents / significant other / friends / children telling you for? Feel free to offer more than one answer.
I like to work and I like to do things. This means that there are times when I “ignore” some of the needs in life and my significant other will likely get the worst end of it. He’s the most patient on the planet, but at some point he comes around and tries to take away my laptop and belongings – while I’m writing this, I’ve put dinner on the table and I’m still writing it!
6 – What’s the stupidest conspiracy theory out there … and which one makes you pause for a moment?
The earth is flat! When science isn’t by my side and tells me otherwise, it feels flat, it looks flat, it smells flat, so why not ??? What makes me pause is things like Area 51. Do we really have something that is completely hidden in this society?