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Decrypting Crypto

Jan/14/2023 / by Abhijit Masih

Expert Kinjal Shah provides the details and the potential market for the nascent industry

Women in tech are hard to find, tougher in the space of Web 3, cryptocurrency and the metaverse. Kinjal Shah is one of that rare species, a South Asian woman pioneer and a rising star in Crypto Venture Capital. She shares with SEEMA details about the new technology.

A partner in First Blockchain Funds, managing over $1 billion in assets, Shah is a co-founder of Komorebi, a fund focused on woman entrepreneurs the field. She has invested in companies like Coinbase and OpenSea from their inception. Her core strength lies in attracting investment and empowering companies and she has an exclusive female angel investor network that has inspired many female entrepreneurs.

Shah, an authority in crypto venture industry offered SEEMA a master class on the exciting and emerging field.

What is blockchain? Where is it used? Will it become mainstream? 

I think blockchain has definitely been sort of considered mysterious. But at the end of the day, a blockchain is a database. It’s quite boring when you really think about it. It’s basically a way to store information and store data. If you think about how our data is stored, we typically have servers that are centralized, meaning there’s one or a few servers that store all the information. We typically trust banks or intermediaries to make sure that information is correct. Just to make this super real, you know, you go and log into your bank account, and there’s numbers there that represent the money that you have in your bank account. Ultimately, that’s sitting in a database. The fundamental difference with a blockchain is that it’s distributed. So rather than having a database that one person can control, it’s controlled by many people. The core idea in blockchain is what does the power of decentralizing really do? In terms of the question around mainstream use and what blockchain is actually used for? I think this is a horizontal technology that can be applied to financial services, it can be applied to consumer applications. We’re seeing this with the rise of e-commerce and NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Ultimately, though, we’re still early days. You know, I think mainstream adoption is likely not going to happen for a number of years until we see more infrastructure and education happen.

What excites you most about this cutting-edge tech?

What excites me the most is the potential of the technology to help open access to markets. I think the biggest innovation here is giving financial services access to populations that might not have had it before. And the reason that you can do that is because it lowers costs and lowers barriers to entry. So I’m really excited about the potential use cases on the consumer side that allows greater financial, either empowerment and education, at an adoption level. I think a lot of that is starting to take place now.

What advice can you women who want test the waters and dive into crypto and NFTs?

I spend a lot of time thinking about how we can get more women into crypto. At the end of the day, it’s just being curious and asking a lot of questions. There’s a lot of material out there to start learning. I think there’s this assumption that you have to be technical, or you have to be financially very savvy. The reality is that anyone and everyone can learn about this industry. It’s really just about getting started. 

How do you think crypto is defining or shall we say redefining the next consumer transformation?

If we zoom out and think about consumers today and where shopping happens, we’re in this big shift of moving online. But still I think it’s something like 15% of transactions are happening online and the rest are still happening physically. I think that NFTs and crypto more broadly are going to accelerate the trend of online sales and e-commerce and what you can do within the internet. That’s something that I’m really excited about.

Metaverse is considered the next frontier. How much truth is there to that?

The metaverse is a very hyped-up term we’ve seen over the past year. But at the end of the day, I think it’s referring to more a state than anything. And the state is where we spend our time online and how much time we spend online. We’re at this sort of precipice where people are already spending a lot of time working online, but there’s going to be a shift of socializing online. That’s where I think the metaverse idea comes into play. I think it’s going to be slow but the trend might evolve. And there a number of different ways where crypto could play a role here.

You’re a founding member of Komorebi Collective, a DAO (Decentralized Automated Organization) investing exclusively in female and non-binary crypto founders. How can one be a part of the DAO and how can someone approach you for funding?

We co founded Komorebi last year to get more investment to women and non-binary founders. We have a website where you can apply for funding, which we active review. You can also reach out to me if you want to get more involved with being a part of the DAO. It’s something that we open on an ad hoc basis, and we like to welcome new members who can help sort of contribute to the mission.

What advice would you give people who want to enter the crypto space? Where can they get easy access to information?

Start with some of the new sources that are out there. So the block or coin desk. Spend time on Twitter, just learning about the most influential players are in the industry. Definitely sort of learn about the fundamentals. So learn about Bitcoin and Ethereum and kind of go back to academics there. I think those are all great starting points. Then you can jump off into one of many communities from there to help with your learning journey.

Seema

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