We ask builders 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 Lyn Alden Schwartzer, founder of Lyn Alden Investment Strategy, an investment research service for private and institutional investors.
Lyn Alden began her engineering career. After doing an internship in the automation industry, she graduated from college and started as a junior electronics technician for a flight simulation system. Over the course of a decade, Lyn Alden worked her way up to the facility’s chief engineer overseeing the project teams, contract staff, and technical finances.
On the side, Lyn Alden also had a small investment research firm that she enjoyed. Although she was fond of engineering and management, when her research business got very large, her research business began to overshadow her earlier work and she left to pursue her research business full time. Lyn Alden deals with macroeconomic trends and has done a lot of research, particularly on Bitcoin, since 2020.
1 – What’s the most innovative blockchain use case you’ve ever seen? It may not be the recipe for success!
The unmistakably innovative use case for blockchain is Solution to the double spending problemwhich enables people to make transactions and store values without a central third party.
Everyone is looking for “the next thing” to apply blockchains to, but I think people underestimate how big this overall addressable market is from the first real application of blockchains: a peer-to-peer e-cash system .
The whole world has a store of value problem. Interest rates in all developed countries are below the rate of inflation. For lack of good money, we have monetized everything else, like stocks, houses, luxury goods, and other things. In other words, we are storing a monetary premium in otherwise non-monetary assets in excess of their use value because we don’t want to hold anything but cash. This is a problem that results in cash rewards worth tens of millions or even over a hundred trillion dollars being stored in non-monetary assets.
And what’s more, a significant part of the world has a payment problem. International payments are costly and inefficient – they are subject to capital controls, they do not have good access to cheap micropayments, they can be sanctioned, they can be monitored, they can be confiscated, and so on. The ability to send censorship-resistant payments is enormous, and many people in developed markets don’t think about them too often, but they are a big deal for them Emerging markets certain.
2- What are the Top Five Crypto Twitter Feeds You Can’t Do Without and Why?
That’s a tough question because I like dozens of them. There are a lot of resources that I like from different platforms (e.g. podcasts, interviews, books, articles, etc.), but specifically for Twitter, I guess I have to @PrestonPysh, @Gladstein, @ Adam3us, @Skwp, and @Blitz.
I also like to follow people I disagree with or broad crypto newsfeeds so that my feed is always filled with multiple viewpoints.
3 – When the world gets a new currency, will it be led by CBDCs, a permissionless blockchain like Bitcoin, or a permission chain like Diem?
I think for a while we will have all of these.
Some countries like China is following heavily the CBDC route which gives them more surveillance and control over their economy and population. You will have more options to monitor transactions, block transactions, automatically charge people’s accounts for violations or social creditworthiness, and program money so that it can only be used in certain places or at certain times. It will also give them the ability to bypass the SWIFT system to give them more control over their international trade with some of their trading partners.
Most other central banks haven’t researched CBDCs for as many years as China and are unable to switch to a new monetary system anytime soon. I think what we’re likely to see in the United States is an increase in the use of regulated and approved stablecoins, including entities like USD Coin, Diem, and others. This can to some extent be seen as a public-private partnership as these technologies become more integrated into the banking system.
Meanwhile, Bitcoin has been in operation for nearly 13 years with increasing adoption and is the digital asset that can be considered sufficiently decentralized, with the battle scars to prove it. I expect that over time they will continue to grow and become an increasingly attractive form of global collateral and money. I think the world will maintain different currencies in different ways, but I expect Bitcoin to increase its market share significantly from its current low level. I certainly wouldn’t bet against it, and unlike CBDCs and stablecoins, which depreciate over time, Bitcoin represents a way for anyone to have inflation- and confiscation-resistant savings that they can keep wherever they want.
I compared that to game of Thrones. All political leaders and their kingdoms struggle for power and status as an exponentially growing army of White Walkers builds beyond the walls without respecting the plans and schemes of human politicians. Politicians have plans for their currencies, but Bitcoin is a better way to save and possibly pay for many people – and those benefits could thwart politicians’ plans.
4 – What talent are you lacking but would like to have it? How would you use it if you had it?
I lack musical talent. There are some things I’ve learned – I’ve had a knack for doing math and science. I’m also decent in some creative areas like writing and storytelling. But music is a big weakness for me. Every time I tried to learn instruments it was a slow process and never really clicked for me. As a kid I had a dream to play in a rock band, but I didn’t know how to do it. Other dreams were those for which I had concrete opportunities to realize them.
My husband can hear a song and then reconstruct it in his head and play it on the piano. He wasn’t taught that, as a talent it is simply a matter of course for him. I don’t even know where to start – it’s like hieroglyphics to me.
5 – What do your parents / important other / friends / children advise you to do?
That I’m a workaholic.
I’m not as social as I should be, and I tend to prioritize work over relationships. I tend to get immersed in my work and not show enough appreciation for the wonderful accomplishments, interests, and activities of my loved ones in my life. It’s something I consciously try to improve and I think I’ve gotten better over time, but it’s a challenge for me.
Many people have difficulty getting started on a project or worrying about what to do. They have ideas, but lack initiative or implementation. I have the opposite problem where there are a ton of things I want to do and then I actually start them and work towards completing them – which is a good thing on the surface, but it comes at a price. I usually feel nervous when I’m not pursuing a goal and I’m not good at just “being”.
There’s a healthy balance out there, and I haven’t quite got there yet.
6 – What is the future of social media?
I hope it will become more decentralized over time. When social networks buy other social networks to become networks of networks, I don’t find that healthy for society.
Pendulums tend to swing too far in one direction and then eventually get pushed back hard in the other. On the one hand, providing a platform for everyone at a time has resulted in incredible innovation and connectivity and has weakened the gatekeepers. On the other hand, algorithms and pick-your-own-news sources tend to pull people into echo chambers and contribute to polarization in society.
Much of the rise of mega-corporations over the past decade has been the result of leveraging user data and the fact that users are becoming the product, not the customer. Google and Facebook have done this abundantly by offering free software in exchange for collecting a lot of information from them. Amazon also collects vast amounts of data from retail companies on its platform and then uses this data to develop its own products in-house.
It seems to me that people are waking up and wanting to take their data back. Hopefully there will be better browsers, better search capabilities, and better networks where people become more actively aware of the data that is being extracted from them and begin to take it back.
A wish to the blockchain community:
I would like the blockchain community to lengthen their time preference and focus more on what can be built over 12 years and less on what can be hyped in 12 months. There is a tremendous opportunity here to focus on developing solutions that will make the world both more connected and more private by giving individuals more control over their money and data. The more successful this is, the more boundaries that people cannot control are reduced while allowing them to set boundaries that they want.