Andrea Tinianow: “Blockchain Is Going To Touch Everyone”

Blockchain, FinTech, Innovation, Investing, News, Regulation | January 2, 2018 By:

Andrea Tinianow is the former head of Global Delaware, an international marketing arm for the state of Delaware. While there, she conceived the Delaware Blockchain Initiative (DBI), launched by then-Governor Jack Markell in May 2016 to demonstrate the state’s support for distributed ledger technology and commitment to using it in government.

She recently segued to become the chief innovation officer and SVP at Global Kompass, a management consulting firm focused on global business development, corporate governance, risk management and emerging technology issues.

In December, she talked with Block Tribune about her work with the state and predicted what 2018 may bring for the blockchain community.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Delaware has always had a business friendly climate. When did the Blockchain Initiative start and who was behind pushing it for the state?

ANDREA TINIANOW: Well, the Blockchain Initiative started about two a half years ago. And it came from my office. I had been brought on. I’m a Delaware lawyer. And I was brought into the state of Delaware to help them develop strategies to drive new revenue to the state. And they had wanted me to do this to see how we could leverage our position, our leadership position with respect to corporations and formations. And the Delaware Blockchain Initiative was a direct outgrowth of my role in my department to drive this economic opportunity to the state.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: How has it been received by the business community down there? How much progress have you made? What sort of penetration are you seeing?

ANDREA TINIANOW: Well, I think on the one hand, as you know, the state passed legislation in August that was enacted to expressly authorize shares to be issued on a blockchain. To make that happen, the state really required a broad appeal and support. The Corporation Law Council had done research and they drafted the amendments, and those amendments were reviewed and vetted, and then eventually voted upon by the entire state legislature and then enacted into law. So with respect to the regulatory framework, the results speak for themselves.

I think the leadership of the state and the private industry is fairly galvanized to figure out what comes next and how to put it together. I know there are a lot of conversations happening and people are coding and planning, and I think there’s a lot of excitement.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Well, what does come next?  

ANDREA TINIANOW: The legislation is enabling, so companies right now who wish to incorporate and put their stock ledger on a blockchain can do so, and I think the state had partnered with Symbiont to provide the technology. And I know that they’re also in the process of building out applications and there are folks who are putting it all together. But I suspect that there are companies already that have incorporated and have their shares on a stock ledger, which is on a blockchain.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Okay. What lessons can companies draw from what happened in Delaware, and legislatures for that matter? What was it about the process that, looking back, might be improved if people go forward? What can companies do to get on board and initiate these movements in their own states?

ANDREA TINIANOW: The legislation passed pretty quickly. The governor, then-Governor Jack Markell, launched the initiative in the spring of 2016. Right after he launched that initiative and asked the Corporation Law Council to consider amending the law, they got to work, and just a year later, they had an amendment that was getting passed. That’s pretty quick.

The reason why I think that everyone was able to act so quickly, especially with respect to the law, is that we have a sitting council of lawyers who review the law and amend the law every year. In states where that type of organization does not exist, it would be a really long and, I think, laborious process to gather the support necessary to make these kind of changes. I think having the right infrastructure in place is critical. And that’s why I think we were able to move so quickly.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: You have to be somewhat of an evangelist for blockchain in your position. What are some of the questions that are being asked of you by companies that are looking to get on the train and haven’t seriously investigated it?

ANDREA TINIANOW:  Many, many businesses somehow associate blockchain with bitcoin or cryptocurrency. And here at the state, and I think an institutional use, that’s really just not really a part of the nomenclature and it’s not part of the process. So what they’re asking me about is how does it work? How can they use it? What should they be worried about? They want to understand the security, and that it’s so secure, and why it is so secure. They really want to understand that. I think that they really want to understand the basics about the technology.

I was actually speaking to a group of women directors on public boards. I was on a panel. And these were some of the questions. How can we start using it? What should we be worried about? What should we be thinking about? How is it gonna disrupt my industry, and how can it disrupt my industry? And how can I get started thinking about it now? And who should I be talking to?

BLOCK TRIBUNE: What sort of disruption do you foresee blockchain achieving in 2018? There are certain industries that definitely will be superseded by its advent. What do you foresee in 2018? Is a one-year timeline too short a period for actual disruption, or not really?

ANDREA TINIANOW: I think incursions. The folks who could be disrupted by blockchain are the intermediaries, people who make their living by connecting groups of people and groups passing information around. They’re the hub through which information travels. I think we will start seeing incursions so that we’ll see what the threats are. It may not happen all at once. It may very well happen all at once.

And what I think about these folks, these intermediaries that are most vulnerable, I think that if they get out ahead of the technology and leverage what they’ve got, their assets –  meaning relationships and subject matter expertise – then they can use blockchain technology to their advantage. But if they don’t, then the industry will pass them by.

So I can’t speak to a specific industry, but I think we will start seeing incursions, whether it’s in the financial market, whether it’s in insurance,  whether it’s in health care, we’ll start seeing people and businesses taking steps and demonstrating success, and then others will join in, and then there’ll be a tipping point. 

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Obviously the initial coin offering market has boomed this year. Yet, we’re starting to see the SEC take a greater interest in it. What’s your position as a government entity on ICOs and what do you see happening broadly in 2018?

ANDREA TINIANOW:  Well here’s the thing, I work for the state, but I only work for the state for two more weeks. I’m actually leaving state government, and I’ll be an adviser to companies interested in breakthrough opportunities, whether it’s with blockchain or other technologies. So these opinions are my own, and they don’t represent the state of Delaware. The other thing is, I’m not a regulator. My job is to create economic opportunities. I obviously have a view on what’s happening with the SEC and what’s happening with ICOs and I can speak to that, but not as a regulator, just as I’m more of a business development professional than a regulator. 

With respect to ICOs, the SEC has laid out rules and guidelines that have been around for a while of what is or what is not a security. I think with this new technology, it creates a lot of gray. And they’re looking for the SEC. And I think the SEC is engaged in providing guidance, and I think they’ll continue to provide guidance.

As with respect to ICOs, one thing that businesses need to keep in mind is that if there are coins or tokens that are being issued and they were imbued with certain qualities that impact corporate governance, because a token can take on all sorts of qualities and be used in all sorts of ways. So if a specific token is imbued with, let’s say, certain rights of equity or that provide certain rights to make decisions about the corporate governance, the issuers, the owners need to consider, really consider state law and rules of corporate law as well. And I know the focus has been almost entirely on, and the questions have been swirling around securities law. But state law is equally important, and that’s just something for people to keep in mind.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: So what’s going to happen in the world of blockchain in 2018? Any major predictions as to what we’ll see?

ANDREA TINIANOW: Well, I think more states are going to get on board. I think you’re going to see more states providing legislation around blockchain, authorizing it, authorizing the exploration. And I think that they’ll also, just like the state of Delaware, recognize the value of the technology and how it could be used to unlock the value and create better services, more efficient services. I think other states are going to be doing the same thing, and not just states, but cities and counties. Because I think the states, the cities, the counties, the municipalities, they’re sitting on a treasure trove of data. And blockchain technology can help unlock that, not just to create revenue streams, but to create better services, more efficient services, for not just corporations, but individuals.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: I know you don’t want to give away your future business, but can you point out just a handful of ways that that data could be mined and turned into opportunity?

ANDREA TINIANOW:  Well, frankly, I think every sector. Imagine birth certificate data being available in a digital format, or marriage data. I think so many companies would be interested to know if people were getting married or someone was dying or someone was born. And I’m not saying that the states would give it away. 

I think if that information was in digital format, that it could be, and it was integrated with various business processes, I think that it could be a real boon. I think the states, of course, would have to adhere to all the privacy and all the other rules that they have to. They would release it in the same way. But I think individuals would probably make that available, provide the permission to let that data be available. But I think there’s a real opportunity there. I think almost in every scenario when you think about how business and industry works, that there’s data that could be helpful to the business. And if individuals were willing to share that for a fee, perhaps, or the states and the individuals together would make decisions about it.

Think about titling cars. That’s an example that people talk about all the time, how you track the provenance of a car, right? Well, that provenance of the car is tracked through the title. And the states all have the title. The states know what’s being titled. So you can imagine if that titling data were shared with the car companies and folks who are keeping track of titles, you could have a magnificent provenance and ensure that cars that are in accidents, that all the information is aggregated and accurate and people know what they’re buying when they buy a used car. That’s just an example.  

BLOCK TRIBUNE: How many states have someone like you in place right now that are looking for those opportunities?

ANDREA TINIANOW: Well, I think most states have economic development officers. The question is whether or not they’re focusing on blockchain.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Sure. I suspect that most of them are not.

ANDREA TINIANOW:  I don’t know. I know Illinois has a project and Wyoming just announced something. And I know that there are several other states that are looking into this.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: But not in the focused way that Delaware has, correct?

ANDREA TINIANOW: I don’t know. I don’t know. I think more and more are going to be doing this, frankly.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: It only makes sense in this revenue hungry era, right?

ANDREA TINIANOW:  Yes. Many states have reached out to me and others that I’m working with. People get it. People really get it that there’s an opportunity here.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Obviously we’re in a moment now where bitcoin is inflating wildly. Other cryptocurrencies are going up as well. What effect will that have on business in 2018? Will that spawn more startups if this sort of steady rise continues, and is this good for business in general?

ANDREA TINIANOW: Here’s what I’m hearing on the street, okay?  You’ve got a lot of very smart, innovative people, technologically savvy people, who own bitcoin and now their bitcoin is worth a lot of money. And I think these people who own bitcoin, they’re not just going to take their bitcoin and go on vacation. They’re going to do stuff with it. And they’re going to innovate. And I think we’re going to see a lot of innovation from folks who bought bitcoin and who are now very wealthy because of it. I suspect that these are developers, these are people in the industry. And they’re going to be looking for opportunities to disrupt and take the technology and deploy the technology to create new services and try to disrupt what’s out there in a very decentralized way.

BLOCK TRIBUNE: Any other predictions for 2018?

ANDREA TINIANOW: I think blockchain is going to touch everyone. I think we’re going to see a lot of very interesting bedfellows. That’s what the blockchain is going to do. It’s going to bring people together on a blockchain who will collaborate and integrate and create new value that never existed before. And I think we’re going to start seeing that in 2018.