Digital Wealth News is pleased to bring you our “Fintech” series – featuring thought leaders within the blockchain and digital currency space. For the next feature in this series, we’d like you to meet Lori Jo Underhill of LJU & Associates, a worldwide collaborative consultancy advisory offering expertise in Technology, Business, Digital Economy, Construction, and Media.
NAME: Lori Jo Underhill
TITLE: Digital Economist and Consultant
COMPANY: LJU and Associates
WEB ADDRESS: https://www.ljuassociates.com
How did you personally become involved in blockchain?
This journey has been a surprise to me. I did not start on a plan to become a “Digital Economist”. A colleague (Josh Madsen) approached me in late 2017 to help him evaluate the nature of exchange traded Digital Assets then known as “Crypto-Currency”. His call to action was to help him decipher the similarities and distinctions between exchange traded assets for his personal investment strategy. My law education provided the experience to do this work. Josh was frustrated looking at exchanges and not having any contextual understanding what each “Crypto” was or what the underlying value proposition for the investment (if any existed) would be. He said he spent a lot of time in deep search over the entire web for fundamental information about the investments and couldn’t find anything. He wanted to create a way to create context, index, and visualize the data by economic sector. It took me four months and a very deep dive into whitepapers of over 250 Digital Assets for the construct to materialize.
Many initial attempts to classify and categorize the Digital Assets failed, as other taxonomies have also failed focused on technology or utility; and by applying those characteristics, one cannot get very far down the list before the construct completely falls apart. The enlightenment happened after 4 months when I started to define and compare the fundamental nature of the asset characteristics that I evaluated. Every single Digital Asset falls into one of the four Digital Asset classes I defined through almost 12 months of research between late 2017 and October 2018. The construct is based on the foundational characteristic nature of the Digital Assets. This provided the basis for the reproducible extensible construct: the DASH-Digital Asset Sector Hierarchy – Identifies Four Digital Asset Classes and one Digital Unit (no economic value), 23 Economic Sectors, and over 250 Economic Subsectors; which was created out of the deep evaluation of over 2500 exchange traded Digital Assets. The DASH is the Digital Asset “GICS ™”(Global Industry Classification Standard created by Morgan Stanley and Standard and Poors in 1999). The DASH is a Digital Asset classification system which identifies the economic sector where an asset’s primary purpose or function operates. A paper called “Defining the Digital Economy” that is a deep dive into the academics behind my methods is currently under review for an economic journal pending publication.
What does your firm do/offer within the blockchain sector?
I am involved in two companies.
LJU and Associates Consulting https://www.ljuassociates.com is a firm I started early on in my professional career that provides business consultancy and advisory in operations, start-up launches, structure, strategy. My professional background is in technology startups and business operations. I have had one exit from a technology hardware integration company and transitioned into two other technology software startups still operating. My consultancy is now expanded to offer academic Digital Economy economic advisory offering insights to clients and jurisdictions worldwide in the Digital Economy from expertise based on my experience and research in creating the DASH construct. I collaborate with licensed professionals around the world to offer insights, framing use cases, applications, and regulatory structure.
Coinsector.io is the platform that currently visualizes the DASH construct. Josh Madsen coded the project and my work and analysis provides the academic basis for the work you see on the site. https://www.coinsector.io. The site offers a nexus of Digital Asset technical market data combined with the DASH (Digital Asset Sector Hierarchy) fundamental construct and economic sector evaluation. In addition to applying the DASH construct, I created the first Digital Asset market index (includes over 1800 Digital Assets worldwide) with the consideration to the nature of decentralized markets. Incumbent constructs and indices in tightly regulated and timed markets don’t work in the 24-7/365 world of decentralized Digital Asset markets. The UMI is the first Digital Asset market index and is the mvp for the first total market index in the world. The Underhill-Madsen Indices UMI-DASH offers indices in 23 economic sectors and over 250 economic subsectors for over 1800 Digital Assets and provides unique insights about market movements by economic sector. Sound equity investments consider both technical and fundamental information and until the DASH, the UMI-DASH indices, and Coinsector.io, the fundamentals were missing from Digital Asset investing. The next step is to further develop market data and insights to institutional investors and retail investors and offer economic sector indices that can serve as the basis for Digital Asset financial products worldwide.
What is your role within your firm and what do you do there on any given day?
I am an author about Digital Asset economics, so I am always working on engaging with people around the world to receive feedback and learn whatever I can about the quickly changing ecosystem. I spend time refining, and creating content to communicate insights from my research. I engage with people all over the world every day to offer insights about the Digital Economy, something I am very passionate about. I work with technology dev teams, strategic partners, and users on both coinsector.io and my other start-up in sports technology about varying issues that arise.
What area/s of blockchain do you believe will grow the most in the coming 5 years?
Identity and Authentication (for unique non-fungible assets and security assets) protocols and Regulatory Technology will have an enormous impact on the space, as it will open up many avenues for real use cases in digitizing many parts of the world economy in all sectors, and for digitizing unique assets and financial services products worldwide.
What do you believe the next major innovation in financial technology will be and why?
Innovation will happen through the opening of opportunities now thwarted by the uncertain regulatory environment. The developed world is deeply invested in the incumbent ecosystem of third and counter party relationships processing, custody, and regulated markets. Open peer to peer transactioning and the further adoption and development of widely adopted micro economies throughout the world that are not bound by geo-political borders will break through and change the world’s financial landscape.
Regtech is the next step that will respond to regulatory directives. It is difficult to develop what is yet to be determined. Once the regulatory environment is in place; authentication, identity, regulatory technology will all respond to provide the needed next steps in digitizing assets that meet standards.
What are the biggest problems facing the blockchain industry in the future?
Technological limitations of the infrastructure: connectivity, hardware, and data compression technology limitations will slow innovation and adoption.
What has been the biggest success in your firm to date?
The launch of the DASH construct visualization was a major accomplishment to test the success of the academics in an executed platform. Not only did it work, the insights far exceed our wildest expectations for offering useful market insights. The next step is to partner to provide insights and market data to all financial services entities and institutions.
What has been the biggest failure in your firm and how did you adapt?
The coinsector.io site is undergoing a user experience upgrade to better communicate the functional value proposition of the visualizations and search opportunities offered there. It was originally implemented to test the academic theories of the DASH framework and designed for industry insiders who understand fundamental economic analysis, but many lay people have a difficult time understanding it. Our challenge is similar to trying to explain fire to one who has never seen fire. The message requires context and clear visualizations. We will be launching an update to the site with the new design very soon.
What blockchain leader do you admire the most and why?
I think it is important to distinguish between the value of the technology versus the value of use cases that create amazing propositions for the industry. Satoshi Nakamoto (the person, persons, or entity) comes to mind as the leading visionary who executed the vision. There are so many entrepreneurs both now known and unknown who are developing remarkable use cases for blockchain and DL technologies. I had the fortunate opportunity to read thousands of whitepapers. It is rather remarkable the number of innovative ideas now being executed in the Digital Economy. Some took several reads for me to wrap my mind around. It is an exciting time to be involved in this space, and I feel fortunate to be a part of the journey.
How do you feel consumers (or if more relevant for your firm – businesses) are adapting to the facet of blockchain that your company operates within?
I believe the work I have done is a leap beyond the next step for consumer understanding. First is the task focused on communicating the insights from my research about the worldwide structure for the Digital Economy to regulators, institutions, and entities. My work offers a contextual root taxonomy that will define the future of how digital ledger technologies will be evaluated from a legal, regulatory, and a functional/utilitarian perspective. The first step is to take the discussion out beyond industry to educate regulators, governments, and financial institutions about the depth and breadth of the offerings now operating in the Digital Economy. Once these stakeholders are properly educated, embrace the concepts, and possibilities for use cases; they will be the catalysts for developing consumer products and services around the structure.
If you were to personally invest in just one blockchain firm (other than yours), which one would it be and why?
Unfortunately, I cannot and do not make investment recommendations. My work requires complete neutrality and objectivity. The objective insights my work offers now allows enterprise, institutional, and individual investors to research and do fundamental diligence about exchange traded Digital Assets. We look forward to expanding the scope to include projects not traded on third party exchanges. Stay Tuned!
Lori Jo Underhill B.S., J.D. is a Digital Economy Analyst, “Digital Economist”, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, and Juris Doctor from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, California. She currently works as an Executive Consultant with over 30 years’ experience in hardware and software technology and media. https://www.ljuassociates.com.