WEF’s Sheila Warren: Mass Adoption Depends on Bridging Digital Divide

The Head of Blockchain at the World Economic Forum says people excluded from traditional financial systems will help drive mass adoption.

The World Economic Forum’s head of blockchain and data policy, Sheila Warren, says that people who have turned away, or been excluded, from traditional financial systems are the ones most likely to drive mass adoption. 

Warren spoke at the Unitize conference on July 8 on the path to mass adoption with moderator Shira Frank. She said bridging the digital divide is the key to making blockchain mainstream. 

Screen capture from Unitize

Screen capture from Unitize

According to Warren, many powerful financial institutions aren’t really benefitting society so much as serving a “small section” of it. She said that someone from the blockchain industry told her they believed that 20% of the population will never be able to access digital currency. But the WEF official said addressing this percentage as well as the others who comprise the 80% was the key to mass adoption:

“We have to look at what is actually the lowest hanging fruit there. Well, oddly enough, it’s people who have been excluded from traditional systems for whatever reason. They’re the hardest to build for in many ways but they’re the people most willing to accommodate or try something new [...] if you’re not plugging those people in, then you’re not aware of what’s needed.”

Moving forward

As for the path towards adoption of blockstream, Warren said she thinks it’s unlikely there will be a “silver bullet killer app” on the road to mass adoption, but hopes there will be enough coalition building within ecosystems to create incremental changes. 

“Change takes a lot of time,” she said, comparing the journey towards mass adoption to the social justice movement in the United States. “It’s one step forward, two steps back a lot of the time.”

Publication date: 
07/09/2020 - 05:23
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