Medha Parlikar & Niamh O’Connell, CasperLabs: Enterprise adoption in blockchain

Fin is a former junior editor at TechForge.

CasperLabs is the overseer of the Casper blockchain, a proof-of-stake network optimised for enterprise and developer adoption that launched in early 2021.

The Zug-based company provides engineering and professional services to enterprise clients looking to migrate key business processes to a secure and scalable blockchain.

Following a recent partnership with Amazon Web Services and expansion into the Chinese market, The Block caught up with CasperLabs’ CTO and co-founder Medha Parlikar along with senior business development manager Niamh O’Connell.

The Block: From partnerships with AWS and IBM to being the preferred blockchain of a Chinese city, CasperLabs seems to be realising its goals as a leading blockchain for enterprise adoption. How has the journey been since starting in 2018?

Medha Parlikar: It’s been a wild ride to be sure! As I look back on our journey, I see similarities between CasperLabs and other start-up stories. We are determined to succeed, and it’s been great to learn from other founders and their journeys to success.

TB: Mainstream adoption of blockchain technologies really took off in 2021 – why are businesses now taking blockchain seriously and where are they applying it into their business processes?

Niamh O’Connell: Businesses really started to take it more seriously in 2018/2019 with their strategic mandates to do more with data and I think this has really played a part with the rise of Web3 in this context.

Enterprises have become more educated and open to exploring how to best uncover new revenue opportunities, better reach and engage consumers, and what business model is possible to unlock new value and services using blockchain.

IPWe, one of our customers for example, wanted to transform intellectual property, an underutilised balance sheet asset, into a revenue generating asset that could be easily verified, stored, traded and licensed, using the Casper NFT technology which is live.

It’s really exciting to see how consumers are playing a more influential role, further enabled by the blockchain infrastructure, so it’s absolutely critical that companies design the right incentive structures from the get go so that their products and services can evolve and scale over time in this new era.

TB: What are some of the pain points that are still stalling the adoption of blockchain technologies amongst enterprises?

Medha: Blockchain realises its value proposition when providing a trust layer between parties that do not trust each other. That’s really where the magic happens.

The problem is that industries are still working out the governance models where entities that used to compete now collaborate to unlock powerful new value propositions.

Regulation around customer data and the sharing of this data also has a role to play. We have been working with organisations to help them design innovative use cases that maintain regulatory compliance and still provide value to the bottom line.

TB: A number of industries have taken big strides in terms of adoption in recent years, so it’s exciting to think about the future. What lies in store for blockchain in enterprise over the next five years?

Niamh: I think we’ll see NFT in-app purchases in the next three years that incorporate wearable technology and artificial intelligence. NFTs have the potential to run the economy and so it’s going to be a race to the top.

Saying NFTs are a fad would be like calling the iPhone a fad in 2007. Both have a tonne of utility but with NFTs these have just not been fully unlocked yet.

I’m excited to help businesses think differently about their consumers and products in the context of iNFTs – smart liveable assets that evolve and change over time.

TB: And it’s not just businesses, be it for administrative purposes or CBDCs, governments are investing more and more into blockchain. How is CasperLabs working with government agencies?

Medha: We have relationships with several governments to provide them with blockchain infrastructure that gives them the unique features they need for open permissioned blockchain systems.

Even with governmental agencies, governance collaboration challenges still exist, so working closely with them in a top down approach helps to reduce any friction to adoption.

We are very excited to be partnering with China’s Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN) for their open permissioned blockchain initiative, and CasperLabs has staff in China to work onboarding organisations onto the Casper network.

TB: Recent turbulence in the cryptocurrency space will be having an impact on businesses and consumers’ perceptions of blockchain. Do you think blockchain can detach itself from its symbiotic association with cryptocurrency and does the relationship have an effect on enterprise adoption?

Niamh: Well, we’re already seeing this being explored with tokenless protocols today. Built to track and enable access to government and social services related schemes, this approach remains very much in its infancy.

Personally, I believe if companies are looking to succeed in this new era, they need to adopt a Web3 mindset and design an incentive scheme that fits with this new way of operating to survive. This means it’s paramount to think about both blockchain and cryptocurrency in unison since, in proof-of-stake systems, cryptocurrency not only helps secure the network from attacks but it also provides the ability to reward and maintain an ecosystem.

Blockchain Expo World Series

Medha and Niamh will be speaking at Blockchain Expo North America in Santa Clara, CA from 5-6 October on the blockchain scalability challenge and the future of digital assets.

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