Women in the blockchain driver’s seat
While it’s traditionally been a ‘man’s world’ when it comes to a career in IT, its female entrepreneurs who are making the biggest noise in the blockchain space. For the uninitiated, blockchain is the distributed ledge technology – originally developed to support Bitcoin – which is now promising to take over from where the Internet left off.
Included within the growing number of Australian women who are trailblazing blockchain technology is Queensland-based Leanne Kemp. Earlier this year the World Economic Forum recognised Kemp’s blockchain start-up Everledger – which now has 60 staff, almost half of which are women – as one of the most promising technology pioneers of 2018.
Everledger uses the blockchain to track the origin and ownership history of 2.2 million diamonds, from mine to retailer, and Kemp is using the technology to do similar within other sectors, including wine and jewellery. Having raised over $10 million in venture capital earlier this year, Kemp has added Mumbai to the offices she already has in Brisbane, Singapore, the US and Sydney.
Other Australian women who are making a name for themselves with blockchain technology include Katrina Donaghy’s public-sector blockchain start-up Civic Ledger – which offers digital tools for people to engage with government – which took top honours in this year’s fintechs industry awards.
While women don’t figure prominently in the companies that have made initial coin offerings (ICOs), the opposite is true, claims Donaghy when it comes the quality end of the blockchain. She suspects that most of the truly successful blockchain start-ups in Australia – built on sales and real customer valuations – have been co-founded by women.
Since establishing Brisbane Women in Blockchain last year, Donaghy now has over 400 people in her network. “We’re building really powerful businesses and we work on problems that are suitable for blockchain, and that’s why we’re successful,” Donaghy told Australia Financial Review earlier this week.
Other women heavily involved in Australia’s blockchain community include Emma Watson, co-founder of supply chain finance blockchain start-up, AgriDigital, Dr Jemma Green who co-founded blockchain energy trading pioneer, Power Ledger which raised $34 million in an ICO last year.
Last year Ruth Hatherley’s blockchain start-up Moneycatcha landed a deal with HSBC to trial its two products, Homechain a home loan processing platform, and Regchain, a tool for regulatory compliance. Then there’s Grace Wong, who along with her brother William in 2014 co-founded Liven.
A lifestyle loyalty payment app, Liven lets customers pay for their restaurant bill on their phone, with 25 percent of the value then credited back into their account, which can then be used at any other participating restaurant. This year the Wong’s expanded into the blockchain with LivenCoin token, and expect it to be used late in 2018 to pay for food and drinks at popular restaurants.