Oasis Pro CEO Pat LaVecchia's Advice to Execs: Consider Blockchain's Potential Separate From Crypto
In this video podcast interview recorded during the Institutional Digital Assets Forum event in Boston on December 4th, 2023, Blockchain Journal editor-in-chief David Berlind and Oasis Pro CEO Pat LaVecchia discuss the challenges enterprise executives face when it comes to understanding and implementing blockchain technology. LaVecchia talks about how CxOs will often inextricably conflate cryptocurrency with blockchain in a way that often belies the unique value proposition of blockchain as a platform (beyond the most well-known application; cryptocurrency-based transfer of value).
LaVecchia emphasizes that while crypto relies on blockchain, blockchain is a separate technology with various other use cases that can be transformative to organizations. He notes that large enterprises often invest millions in blockchain without much success, and the negative headlines surrounding crypto further complicate the understanding of blockchain at the C-suite level.
LaVecchia also explains how distributed ledger technologies have applications in trade, finance, stock trades, royalty streams, and the provenance of luxury goods. He distinguishes between blockchain and crypto, stating that while crypto could be a commodity, utility, or security, it, like other applications relies on blockchain to function.
On the payments front, the interview delves into the potential benefits of blockchain over traditional finance (TradFi) such as dramatic cost reduction, 24/7 access, and dramatically improved settlement times (particularly in cross-border remittance and trading environments). LaVecchia acknowledges some of the challenges when it comes to integrating blockchain into existing financial workflows but anticipates blockchain adoption will skyrocket once organizations begin to recognize the potential for cost savings over legacy mainframe approaches that are still in place today.
By David BerlindPublished:December 12, 2023
David Berlind: Today is December 4th, 2023. I'm David Berlind. This is the Blockchain Journal podcast coming to you from Boston, MA. Right now, the Boston Institutional Digital Assets Forum is holding its end-of-year event.
Standing with me, and one of the speakers at the event, is Pat LaVecchia. He is the CEO of Oasis Pro. Pat, thanks very much for joining me on the podcast.
Pat LaVecchia: Thank you for inviting me, David.
Berlind: Yeah, it's great to have you. So you were speaking rather eloquently about one of the challenges in enterprises when it comes to educating the executive ranks about blockchain and cryptocurrency. You mentioned a disconnect that happens at the CEO level and you talked about blockchains, not necessarily crypto. Crypto is not necessarily blockchain, so could you expand on that a little bit?
LaVecchia: Sure. Well, crypto needs blockchain in order to succeed. But blockchain is its own technology, at the end of the day, that has numerous amount of use cases. Ledger Technology, DLT is what it's called, and what's happened is we deal with very large firms, enterprise firms, and global finance firms. And the disconnect is that at the C-level suite, this is a very small piece of their focus right now. They see it coming, but they really don't focus on exactly what blockchain is and it's getting completely conflated with crypto, and crypto is all bad news. There's Binance, there's FTX, there's Three Arrows [Capital], there's Luna. So at the C-Suite level, what we've seen is millions of dollars have been invested in it without much success, overall. Now that's a broad generalization. And then they see all this bad news come out about crypto and they view blockchain and crypto as one and the same.
Berlind: Yeah. So that's definitely a problem because they're not necessarily one in the same. When somebody asks you the question, well, how are they different, what's your answer?
LaVecchia: So great. Well, blockchain... I'll focus on blockchain. Blockchain is just technology. So what we do is digital assets, real-world assets, digital securities. And when you press the button today and you trade a stock, do you really know what's happening behind the scenes? There are all these going back decades processes in place. Well, eventually blockchain can handle all that. And blockchain is is mentioned because of crypto today. But at the end of the day, blockchain is going to be part of all our lives because it's really a ledger, and if you think about anything with a ledger trade, finance, stock trades, a whole... royalty streams, provenance on luxury goods, that can only utilize the blockchain. So that's really what blockchain is crypto. Depending on what it is it could be a commodity, [it] could be a utility, it could be a security. So crypto is completely separate but utilizes blockchain in order to function.
Berlind: I have this theory that if you talk to CEOs and executives in terms of dollars and cents, they'll get their attention if you could improve the bottom line in some dramatic way. So, when I think about the role that blockchain can play, particularly when it comes to the trading of or cross-border payments or something like that, you think about the traditional finance rails out there and the volume of activity and the cost of that activity. You scale it, it goes to some crazy number because it is a crazy number if you think about international activity. You're talking about billions, trillions of dollars just on the cost alone. Never mind the fact that it's not 24/7. It's whenever the institution is open and, never mind the fact the settlement times. Typically two or three days or something like that.
LaVecchia: Longer. It's longer internationally. Swift can be two weeks. With utilizing blockchain using stablecoins, which is like the currency piece it could be seconds.
Berlind: So why don't we just shift the conversation? When you're talking to a CEO and say, "OK, here, what this is it's a way to dramatically reduce our costs, increase our speed, provide better customer service. And at the end of the day, probably save trillions of dollars. That seems to be the sort of thing that would get the CEO's attention.
LaVecchia: Exactly. Yeah, Absolutely. But there's an there's a[n] integration cost tied to that to move from legacy mainframes – which we all know about go back to the 70s or 60s – to blockchain. Blockchain doesn't need legacy mainframes, everything's in the cloud. So that transition, it is somewhat time-consuming. That [is] expensive as well to basically completely move off of legacy.
So what I see is there's gonna be a mirroring. So there's going to be blockchain verticals within a large organization and as those use cases and beyond that – and I'm not talking about proof of concepts beyond that commercializations – as those cost savings you refer to start being realized, then it will be quickly rolled out to all the other verticals.
Berlind: For sure. So you think about, you know, in general? The reduction of that cost and the integration, which I know is a more of a front-end thing, you spoke about integration. When you're on the panel, we're definitely seeing that too. What I mean by "we" – at Blockchain Journal – you see [that] there's no easy button, you can't get one solution. There's no turnkey solution. So your enterprises in particular are forced.... It's just kind of – build their own thing.
I think you talked about the Monetary Authority of Singapore and Project Guardian. And when you look at that, it's really a patchwork quilt of a lot of different technologies that had to be brought together. You need a lot of people at those companies who know what the heck they're doing, what blockchain is about, to make it work and make securely. What do you tell companies when they're embracing those technologies, [and] how to best manage the risk?
What I'm thinking of is, what standards right now matter? I think about... I'll give you one: The EVM. Generally speaking, I think the you know chains that are EVM compatible offer the the best risk management in terms of portability. "Oh... my code! I became dissatisfied with this one chain. I have all this investment in code. How do how do I move to another chain that I think is better?" OK, well, if you're on Solidity and EVM, you can move more easily. So there are standard all sorts of standards that could matter. What is what comes to the top of your mind?
LaVecchia: Well, I don't think that's going to be a bit as big of an issue in the future, the Project Guardian, we were involved with with J.P. Morgan and Apollo involved the Onyx blockchain, a bridge – Axelar – to a Rust/Move based blockchain, Provenance. So I think they're going to be multiple chains available and then eventually – and Wormhole is doing this – interoperability amongst all of them. So I agree today the risk is mitigated with the EVM, but over time, there's going to be interoperability amongst all of them.
Berlind: OK. Well, Pat LaVecchia, CEO of Oasis Pro, thank you very much for joining me here on the Blockchain Journal podcast.
LaVecchia: Thank you again, Nice talking to you. [I] appreciate it.