cryptocurrency, roll dice
Taking chances with cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Photo credit: QuoteInspector.com / Flickr

Last week, in a much talked about Saturday Night Live comedy routine, Michael Che and Colin Jost attempted to get Elon Musk, playing the role of a financial adviser, to explain cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, and Dogecoin in simple English. The best they could do is conclude that “it’s a hustle.”

But is it? Are cryptocurrency and blockchain the future of finance? Will we soon get to a day when everything from our mortgage to our car is tokenized? Are tokens storers of value or simply a speculative instrument? 

Will decentralized currency eliminate federal regulation? Will central banks one day be a thing from the past, analogous to the way we look back at the Pony Express office?

For this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, I invited Eloisa Marchesoni, one of the world leading authorities and evangelists for blockchain and cryptocurrency to explain all this — and in English. 

Marchesoni is, at 24, an adviser to 35 startups. She has registered technology patents and has invested directly in four “fintech” (financial technology) companies. She has frequently been quoted in national publications and is considered a multimillionaire role model for aspiring entrepreneurs in the digital and cryptocurrency industry. 

She speaks to us in this podcast from her office high atop Trump Tower, where she expounds on the future of cryptocurrency and blockchain, while telling us about her recent conversation with Nigel Farage at Mar-a-Lago.

I walked away from this conversation talking to myself. I felt a lot like Michael Che trying to get that straight answer from Elon Musk.  But maybe it’s just me.  Maybe you can follow all of this. Let me know if you do. 

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Full Text Transcript:

Jeff Schechtman: Welcome to the WhoWhatWhy podcast. I’m your host Jeff Schechtman. Every day, millions of dollars are made and lost in the world of cryptocurrencies. The currencies and more specifically the tokens have come to represent far more than just Bitcoin. They’ve become a symbol for a whole new generation of financial products. A whole new vocabulary of things like NFTs, STOs, ICOs have joined up with the likes of blockchain and AI to create a brave new world of financial products, but what are they? Last week on Saturday Night Live, Michael Che and Colin Jost tried to get Elon Musk, playing financial advisor Lloyd Ostertag, to answer that question. Let’s take a listen.

Michael Che: Our viewers who may not know anything about this, what are cryptocurrencies?

Elon Musk: They are a type of digital money, but instead of being controlled by a central government, they’re decentralized using blockchain technology. Lately, prices have been soaring for cryptos like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and especially Dogecoin.

[applause]

Michael Che: Now, what is Dogecoin?

Elon Musk: It actually started as a joke based on an internet meme, but now it’s taken off in a very real way.

Michael Che: Okay. But what is Dogecoin?

Elon Musk: Well, it was created in 2013 and has a circulating supply of 117 billion coins of which 113 billion have already been mined.

Michael Che: Cool. So, what is Dogecoin?

[laughter]

Elon Musk: Like I said, it’s a digital currency.

Michael Che: For instance. This is a dollar, right? It’s real.

Elon Musk: Sort of. Sort of real, yes.

Michael Che: What is Dogecoin?

Elon Musk: About as real as that dollar.

Michael Che: Colin, are you making any sense of this?

Colin Jost: Me? Well, I’ve actually been reading a lot about it and I’m trying to diversify my investment portfolio. My question is: What is Dogecoin?

[laughter]

Elon Musk: I’m glad you asked.

Michael Che: It’s a good question.

Elon Musk: It’s the future of currency. It’s an unstoppable financial vehicle that’s going to take over the world.

Colin Jost: I get that, but what is it, man?

Elon Musk: I keep telling you, it’s a cryptocurrency you can trade for conventional money.

Michael Che: Oh, so it’s a hustle.

Elon Musk: Yeah, it’s a hustle.

Jeff Schechtman: A hustle, or really the future of money? To try and get our answer, I’ve invited Eloisa Marchesoni, one of the world’s leading experts on crypto and blockchain to help us out. Eloisa Marchesoni is a tokenomics expert and a tech business angel. At only 24 years of age, she’s already advised over 35 startups, she has registered technology patents and invested directly into four fintech companies. She’s cited as a branding and marketing expert at Forbes and has been a quoted source for many national publications.

She has already established herself as a multimillionaire role model for many aspiring entrepreneurs of the digital industry. In the last two quarters of 2019, she was nominated as the number one blockchain influencer by several financial media outlets. It is my pleasure to welcome Eloisa Marchesoni to the WhoWhatWhy podcast. Eloisa, thanks so much for joining us.

Eloisa Marchesoni: Thank you for having me.

Jeff Schechtman: First of all, before we get into all of this, and there’s so much I want to talk to you about, talk a little bit about how you got into this business.

Eloisa Marchesoni: Actually, I got into this business funnily enough right after the ICO bubble popped. I was a straight-A+ university student at Bocconi University, equivalent of American Ivy League college. I was starting to get my hands on tech startups, going to any tech event taking place in Milan and around Europe. I was starting to notice how a lot of the ideas were so marvelous at the time, but they don’t really have concrete application.

I also started realizing that all of these tokens failed because there were no economic models behind them actually explaining the creation and sharing of value and then the appreciation and depreciation on the market. What I decided to do was to become a tokenomics expert, a ‘token model architect’, so they call me on the web. This completely new role of someone that could actually study the token-based ecosystem from a micro and macroeconomic point of view.

That’s how I wanted to prove to the disruptive tech ecosystem that all the good lessons could be learned from the bubble that had just popped and that what was needed was just a new rational and a new economic paradigm to be applied to these startup ideas, which then, of course, proved to be successful, at least some of them. And that’s how we got up until now, still talking about crypto, now talking about decentralized finance and NFTs in particular.

Jeff Schechtman: Talk a little bit about tokenization. What is it? What does it represent? A lot of people hear it, a lot of people understand it having some relationship to things like Bitcoin. Explain what it is.

Eloisa Marchesoni: Bitcoin, as I like to describe it, is the electronic goals of the future and it will become a risk-free asset in all of our investment portfolios where we will have a mixed variety of classic coins, as I like to call them, such as the Ether, Bitcoin, which will serve the function of the precious metals right now, and then we will have alternative coins of second and third layer in decentralized finance and NFTs.

Bitcoin is basically how it all started, I’d like to say. But now that decoupling has officially happened, it is not anymore much of an indicator, whereas a month ago, it would have been still the main indicator of the market trends. Now, it’s a whole different story because what’s changed is that basically we’ve officially hit the decentralization of finance, meaning that the price and trends of Ethereum and the related decentralized finance coins are not anymore as much dependent on the market trends of Bitcoin. Also, the Bitcoin dominance has been going down, meaning that a lot has been, say, converted to Ethereum and then from Ether to the other altcoins. They’re basically moving more so independently now.

Jeff Schechtman: Talk a little bit about this idea of decentralized finance and what it means in today’s financial framework.

Eloisa Marchesoni: What it means it’s clear because of all the challenging moves that we have seen made from tech giants like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, et cetera, against or we can just say toward the traditional finance. It means that, especially now after the pandemic, which has just accelerated a process that was already there, where we’re literally going toward a cashless society where people finally regain ownership of their capital, of their savings.

With some more educational tools, which are now being set out on the web for anyone’s disposal, the people will know best how to invest those and basically decide for their own future. That’s what crypto does. That’s what the initial purpose was, and that’s what decentralized finance is. It is basically replicating the financial models that we have seen until now, but with the paradigm of decentralization, meaning that there’s no central authority having all the power and that we are not anymore in the hands of authorities which in the end, they’re just other people appointed by us, but we’re now in the hands of the technology itself.

I wouldn’t say it is a trustless ecosystem like a lot of people have been describing it, but rather that there has been a transition of trust from the authorities to the technologies and, in particular, the smart contracts built upon the Ethereum blockchain, which is why decentralized finance and NFTs are so popular.

Jeff Schechtman: Talk a little bit about blockchain, upon which all of this is built, and why you think it’s so important.

Eloisa Marchesoni: Blockchain is not to be confused with Bitcoin in the financial applications. Blockchain is just a specific distributed ledger which basically permits

a creation and sharing of data entries which you cannot corrupt, you cannot modify, and which is at any time at anyone’s disposal to be checked and to be synched with any action that is to take place in your daily life. Which is why blockchain is perfect, or just DLT is perfect to communicate with the smart devices in your home. Which in the future will automatically basically, read your actions of course, with your permission, and maybe send out some recurring payments or be connected to insurance and function in a sharing economy model. Which is where, actually, NFTs are representative of fractionalized property, will express their full potential.

Blockchain is that new HTML standard that hopefully, my kids will not even notice that they’re using.

Jeff Schechtman: Is there a danger today that too many things are being tokenized, that we are in danger to the tokenization of everything? Explain that.

Eloisa Marchesoni: Yes, it is true that we are in the era of tokenization, but we’re also in the era of over-tokenization so it’s a bubble, of course. A bubble happens any time that a new, really interesting technology comes around, like the internet in the ’90s and early 2000s. When it pops it’s going to be a hard reality check, but as I said already, the good lessons are going to be learned.

Tokenization is there to stay forever now because it is a milestone that we have reached. What it is, it is basically that we are recognizing just different units of value. What is the meaning of the cash that we have been using up until now? It’s just paper instead of the digital tokens. We’re now understanding the different mechanisms and protocols and technologies that the digital units of value run upon, and that’s where the speculation comes in because we don’t really understand how to appreciate these units of value on the market.

When the bubble is going to pop, they’re going to stay. Also, now a lot of stable coins are surging. After digital yuan has come out and digital USD will have to come out just because of geopolitical reasons. It is part of this data and tech cold war between, especially, China and the US. Also then, as I was saying, NFTs are going to represent fractionalized property in a sharing economy paradigm that is going to be there just like we always have had multi-properties, like sharing vacation homes.

Those contracts are not going to be on paper anymore, they’re going to be represented by NFTs already tied to insurance taxation, paid into stable coins, or in the crypto equivalent of the fiat currency, et cetera.

As I said we’re not even going to notice that we’re using the tokens or whatever, and we’re going to have integrated wallets in our phones that are going to automatically swap these tokens from one ecosystem to another depending on whether we’re grocery shopping, buying at, I don’t know, Best Buy or at the Prada store, or paying taxes.

We’re going to it with our phone, different tokens, we’re not going to notice. We’re going to have better and better exchanges. They’re going to make the conversion almost instant, hopefully, with very little delay. Also, I believe that our smart appliances are going to be tied to that. It’s going to be cool.

We’re going to need to be careful about privacy and data because blockchain itself does not guarantee for anonymity, it guarantees for pseudonymity. We’re going to have to see new protocols come out, which, hopefully, are going to be almost 100 percent anonymized, and we’re going to have to see more regulation, especially on privacy and on big data control.

Jeff Schechtman: One of the things that I think confuses people is this difference between tokenization as a storage vehicle for value, which is very much what you’re talking about, versus the speculation that’s going on with it, and how those two things can coexist.

Eloisa Marchesoni: I’m both a fixed income, passive investor in crypto and a consultant project, so I could totally answer that. And the answer is that they cannot coexist, because I’m seeing crazy stuff on both sides of the world and I’m seeing projects being killed by speculation. I’m seeing speculation just killed the financial markets that these good projects should be thriving in.

Honestly, I’m already preparing for the pop of this bubble and I can’t wait for it to happen. I don’t want to live in these crazy times where the financial markets are just not predictable and just easily controllable by anyone that has huge capital. It’s so just as much in the crypto market as it is in the traditional finance market because Elon Musk has been basically joking with the market. They cannot coexist.

I’m doing my best being an insider in both worlds, the investor world, and the startup world, to advise my project to what smart moves, based on this speculation, I can expect. Also, I am trying to speculate on the basis of the projects that I’m looking at and trying to see where the founding team members intend their tokens to go and the function of their projects to be in the next few weeks.

It is hard to consolidate the two things, I’m not going to lie, and it’s just that huge capital is being accumulated. It’s inevitable that the speculation is stronger and actually overriding the actual real-life applications and utility of any of the tokens that are out there. A lot of the alternative coins in decentralized finance that I have even invested into are just, I like to define them the ‘LOL’ of the crypto market. I guess I got to close my eyes and ears and mouth and just follow the trend without being, of course, then drowned by the wave.

Jeff Schechtman: What is the difference, if any, in terms of the way global markets are dealing with all this? Is there a difference with respect to how the US is dealing with it versus how Europe is dealing with it versus how China’s dealing with it, for example?

Eloisa Marchesoni: Of course, there are a lot of differences and that’s part of why China was able to actually release a digital yuan before the US was able to release a digital USD. It’s because China has always been working, working, and working without investing in promotion and in all the blah, blah, blahs. They have been very carefully curating a wide network of geopolitical relations, very strong relationships.

Only when all of that framework was ready, they have officially announced the digital yuan, not before. Whereas the US has been just talking so much about having new regulation, and having a digital USD that they have actually missed the work, and now they don’t have anything. That’s the difference. Same with Europe, we’ve just been talking so much, and not really doing anything, but at least the Europeans don’t have such strong regulatory framework that is, instead, hindering the US from doing any kind of stable coin, because there are stable coins coming out of Europe especially, one, it’s called EURST, so E-U-R-S-T. ST stands for Stablecoin of course, which is a Stablecoin pegged to euro. It is the first one that has been officially announced. A friend of mine, Simone Mazzuca, is the founder. They’re really doing their thing. I know that there’s also a Stablecoin pegged to the pound; it’s going to come out.

I was actually talking to Farage last weekend in Mar-a-Lago Club. He confirms that of course crypto is going to be a big part of this new program after the Brexit. Still, in Europe, we’re growing so slow compared to China. I’d say the difference is that China does not do the blah, blah, blah, and instead just works from day zero.

Jeff Schechtman: Talk about where AI fits into this equation?

Eloisa Marchesoni: AI is just a way of managing the big data which can be more easily managed thanks to DLT and blockchain. It’s going to be integrated in this 5.0 world, especially in a smart-city environment. It may or may not collect data that, thanks to the smart contract, trigger payment transactions. That’s how it’s going to come into the token and crypto payment equation, but that’s it really. It’s just going to manage the data stored on the blockchain and basically learn from that.

One other application in the token ecosystem is that of course in a deployment phase it could work for the, let’s say, automatic correction of any mistakes that have been made in the token economics before the deployment, making sure that when there is something that doesn’t work in the economics it’s basically automatically corrected based on past trends. Then of course, AI for trading on crypto, yes, but it’s been there since a long time, not just for crypto, also for forex so it’s no biggie.

Jeff Schechtman: What are the things people should be watching and keeping an eye on in order to understand where this world is going?

Eloisa Marchesoni: People just need to read, read, read a lot of news. There’s no textbook you can buy, no MasterClass you can buy. There is no specific influencer you can listen to. You need to be in all Telegram groups, Discord, Clubhouse, Medium, and just listening to the media. I myself, as an expert, I’m doing my best to talk to the media, talk to influential media outlets like your channel to demystify topics.

You need to be on Twitter a lot. That’s what anyone needs to do right now if they want to be at the center of all trends, and then it’s going to be really easy from there. There’s step-to-step guides, or you can just contact all the experts on social media. Now that everyone’s available on social media, I would say totally make good use of that. Even myself, I’m available. Just chat me whenever and ask questions and experts like myself will guide you to make the right choices.

Do not listen to just one news and decide based on that and make big investments based on that, because you’re going to get burned. Anyway, also keep in mind that getting burned is part of the game and that I myself, since 2016 or even 2014, when I was just pursuing the fields, just looking at coins, buying here and there, I have made so many mistakes that it’s probably the only reason that now I’m such a big expert.

Jeff Schechtman: Eloisa Marchesoni, I thank you so much for spending time with us today.

Eloisa Marchesoni: Thank you, actually. Gracias.

Jeff Schechtman: Thank you for listening and joining us here on the WhoWhatWhy podcast. I hope you join us next week for another radio WhoWhatWhy podcast. I’m Jeff Schechtman. If you like this podcast, please feel free to share and help others find it by rating and reviewing it on iTunes. You can also support this podcast and all the work we do by going to www.whowhatwhy.org/donate


Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Saturday Night Live / YouTube.

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