Last week’s episode of Metaverse brought an inspiring conversation with financial blockchain expert Katharina Gehra, co-founder and CEO of Immutable Insight. Founded in 2018, the advisory uses scientific analysis to advise and service companies in the blockchain and crypto industries. Appointed to the role in 2019, Katharina manages the first BaFin registered crypto hedge fund in Germany, ‘Blockchainfonds,’ and serves on the board of the Fürstlich Castell’sche Bank. Named as one of Capital magazine’s ‘Top 40 Under 40,’ she was also nominated as a blockchain “expert” for parliamentary hearings at the previous German Bundestag. Katharina also hosts the popular blockchain podcast ‘Block52,’ which has thousands of listeners across the globe.
Katharina stands as a voice of reason and authority for blockchain technology, which often has been relegated to a fringe audience of early adopters. She had always been intrigued by monetary theory but was wary of the untethered, loopy enthusiasm she saw in the early days of cryptocurrency. When the Bitcoin bubble burst in 2018, she thought it was a good time “to clean up and professionalise the space,” and has dedicated her professional life to such work ever since. As an expert on blockchain, she’s advised the Bundestag on how a blockchain-based system would effectively eradicate money laundering, and has offered her insights on the future of monetary policy and digital currencies. With Immutable Insight, Katharina leverages the massive amount of data blockchain allows to inform sound, modern investing informed by thorough research and real-time analytics.
Katharina sees blockchain as “the next internet,” which will change not only the way we do business, but the very way we live. She believes it bridges two big discussions we’re having right now, the first concerning privacy and individual freedom, and the other concerning identity, safety and representation. Blockchain offers solutions to the age-long dichotomy between identity and safety, privacy and liberty. Of course, we are presently living under a previous paradigm of nation states, so moving towards a decentralised, cross-border globally scalable system is going to require governments to rethink the way they operate, incorporating building up their digital infrastructure as China has over the past decade.
Right now, Katharina believes those standing in the way of blockchain’s adoption are those benefiting most from our current centralised system, such as senior hedge fund managers. She compares these financial experts’ resistance to DeFi to automotive manufacturers opposing electric vehicles: in Germany, automotive companies pointed out countless reasons EVs would fail, from the lack of charging infrastructure to inefficient battery technology. It required someone outside of the automotive establishment (namely Elon Musk) to change this way of thinking, as the incumbents had “a structural principle agent problem” and wouldn’t benefit from a new system. For the same reason, Katharina believes those presently recognised as leaders in financial services would argue against decentralised finance, so we need to look towards emerging thought leaders from the newer spaces as advocates.
In the next decade or so, Katharina believes we’ll be using more tokens than we’re using email today, and that this tokenisation will change daily life, making us able to control and directly access our assets in a more straightforward and secure way. (No more two factor authentication!) She also thinks we’ll see a reduction in the importance of nation states and borders, since DeFi will redistribute power across the global market. She believes the “rule of code is more consistent and less discriminatory than the rule of law,” which are different across countries, and as a result, we will see an unleashing of great productivity and creativity, giving way to lots of incredible opportunities and business ideas.
Looking forward, Katharina is most excited about how the emerging metaverse forces us to reflect on our current status quo and how we can create new norms and policies in this space. She likens the metaverse to “when the first European settlers came to the US and were dreaming of creating a new land.” The metaverse is a new, unknown frontier, “the new white blank sheet of paper” we can define, create and evolve in a way that is far more fitting to our modern ways of life, as opposed to outmoded rules of law written into constitutions hundreds of years ago.
It was exciting to hear Katharina’s optimistic, pioneering attitude towards blockchain’s potential to create a brighter, more secure, more equitable future for us all. To hear more of our conversation, you can listen to the full episode here.