Barry James on blockchain and how the UK can take lead

Founding Chairman of the British Blockchain Industry Association, Barry James is one of the best-known UK names in crowdfunding, citizen entrepreneurship and the collaborative economy, and a pioneer of Blockchain, Token and Crowdfunding ecosystems. He’s also the founder of TokenIntelligence.io and ICOrad.io, and creator of The Crowd Data Center.

We sat down with him and asked a few questions on what the future holds for the blockchain technology.

Barry, what do you think is the future of blockchain in the next 5-10 years?

Think back, if you can remember that far, to the days before mobile phones, email and websites. It's only 20 years. Those things together revolutionised not just the ways we work but also the way we live - i.e. our entire environment. Expect that to happen all over again in ways that are now impossible to predict. The internet we have is the Ford model T. What we have are toll roads owned and operated by the incumbents for their own benefit - in the banking system and elsewhere, this may be swept away and replaced with proper 'highways'. But if not, it will be transformed in some other way. Blockchain will also provide the infrastructure in which AI and IoT will flourish - and it's all happening fast.

What would it take for the UK to be leading the blockchain revolution?

Proper support for innovation, Fintech and especially blockchain innovation. Removal of the barriers being put in the way of entrepreneurs funded though crypto. Better understanding of this paradigm shift in government and by regulators. Greater public understanding and debate - starting in government. A blockchain enabling bill (there's currently a petition to Parliament on this which we should all support). A plan to create shared public infrastructure that serves us all. Pick any three from the above and then... do them all!

How do you think a collaboration between startups, regulators and banks could be fostered?

Tough one! Their objectives and interest are so different. Regulators have to be arms-length, for obvious reasons. I would think that the FCA’s “Innovation Unit” is a good thing of course, because it was my idea - back in 2012 (learn more here). It should now be fully implemented. Banks will predate and push DLT. Startups will continue to innovate and disrupt. 

One last question. Initial Coin Offering vs Security Token Offering: who wins?

Everyone. Provided we get this half right. They are different animals (who wins, Zebra or Whales?). They each have their place in helping create new ecosystems. STOs in recognisably familiar ways (ala shares and equity) for reasonably established ventures with a proven market and revenues. Utility coin offerings have wider uses sometimes from earlier in the timeline of a company. More flavours too as they can be engineered to provide incentives in so many different ways. Putting the two in opposition makes a good headline but nothing more productive. We've only just started to explore the potential of tokenization - there lots more to discover and explore. Not least in the field of fractionalisation and crypto assets. I was going to say 'watch this space', but don’t just do that - get out there, get your head around this and get exploring!

** To learn more about ICOs and STOs, and how they differ, visit here