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Key Talks: Interview with Medha Parlikar

The balance between transparency, security, and privacy, regulatory cooperation, the potential of tokenization, and the importance of collaboration in the blockchain community.

Mark Galkevich
October 17, 2023
Key Talks
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Medha Parlikar, CTO Casper Labs AG

What are your thoughts on striking the right balance between transparency, security, and data privacy in blockchain systems, and how can the industry implement robust privacy solutions while maintaining trust in the technology?

A blockchain is supposed to deliver security above all else. That is the goal. With respect to data privacy in blockchain systems, user accounts on these chains are already pseudonymous - they aren’t tied to an owner’s name. In fact, governments and regulators are looking for less privacy for on-chain systems - their goal is to track all transactions on the blockchain back to the owner’s address. Privacy is a big issue here in my opinion. Data can be made private using trivial technology like 1 way hashing, which is very efficient. This is not new technology, it’s easy to use today, and it can provide guarantees that data has not been tampered with - a huge source of audit and compliance complexity. It’s easy to put a hash of a document on the blockchain - and by doing so, the originator of the document can easily validate by hashing it again, that the document is unchanged. However, on the blockchain, the hash is meaningless to observers - they cannot decode the source of the hash. That’s how you balance the dual (and often conflicting) goals of ensuring security and maintaining privacy.

From your perspective, what steps should regulators take to create a conducive environment for blockchain innovation, and how can blockchain projects engage constructively with regulators to help shape fair and effective regulatory frameworks?

Regulators need to take time to understand the underlying technology first and foremost. They also need to provide sensible guidelines that allow for innovation to take place. Blockchain projects need to understand that regulation is imminent, and that there is no way these decentralized projects are going to ‘upend the system’. We need to come to the table and work with regulators, as opposed to the “beg forgiveness” approach that draws outsized ire and hinders innovation efforts.

Tokenization of assets has gained significant attention. In your opinion, what are the most promising and transformative use cases for tokenization, and what challenges should entrepreneurs and developers anticipate as they explore these opportunities?

I am seeing trends of using tokenization to make illiquid assets liquid. I find this incredibly exciting!  Tokenization provides the necessary infrastructure to make new markets possible for assets that couldn’t be traded or even owned fractionally. I would love to see tokenization platforms make fractional investing available to a much wider demographic than what we see today.

Could you share your perspective on the importance of fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing within the blockchain community, and how can stakeholders encourage a spirit of cooperation to collectively tackle industry-wide challenges and drive innovation?

My focus has been enterprise adoption of blockchain technology - and I can tell you, standards matter. Collaboration within the blockchain ecosystem is really important when it comes to standards development. Stakeholders in the blockchain ecosystem should come together to develop the on chain standards that enterprise will need in the future.There’s a deliberate reason that Casper has embraced open programming standards from day one. We’re committed to making this technology more accessible and inclusive; this isn’t a one-horse race. Our ultimate success as an industry will be defined by how well – or not – we’re able to work together and prove the efficacy of blockchain across a diverse set of industries.

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