George Siosi, Founder Faiā Corp and Bitcoin SV Ambassador to the Pacific (Part 2)
By Damian Kelly
Part 2: Blockchain as a Solution to Uniquely Pacific Challenges
George Siosi is the founder of Faiā Corp, which is well underway towards conducting one of the world’s most ambitious digital transformation projects – moving Pacific Islanders (and other communities around the Pacific Rim) towards a world of continuous interconnectivity, using modern tools such as blockchain.
Part 1 of this interview is available here.
Q. The Pacific Islands are known collectively as the Blue Pacific Continent. Why is blockchain technology so important for the Blue Pacific Continent?
Blockchain as a solution for the problems faced by the South Pacific
The rise in blockchain interest goes hand-in-hand with the digital transformation efforts of the Pacific region. The founder of the Internet, Tim Berners Lee, always had the vision of a native digital currency, but it's taken a few decades before we were ready to implement it. Up until now, we’ve been transitioning a lot of our physical lives over into the digital world. As a result, we’ve now hit a point where the concept of “data ownership” is becoming increasingly important as tech giants exploit the data we are willingly giving away on their platforms every day. The Pacific has some rather interesting geopolitics where data is concerned. Take for example the fight over the installation of submarine cables across the Pacific Islands. The US has very real concerns about the Chinese in this regard from a spying perspective. They fear that if the Chinese install their cables, they’ll have more ways to intercept communications and spy on the US. Whether true or false, it’s a concern by one of the largest superpowers. Blockchain technology makes data more transparent - so if it is increasingly used in the future, even by governments, it may make it easier for people to “call each other out.” The irony, however, is that governments thrive on keeping certain information secret - so whoever is able to leverage a public blockchain, while still maintaining privacy, will be the true leader.
In regards to climate change, you may have recently heard about El Salvador making Bitcoin (BTC) legal tender. Although a bold move, the practicalities of making it usable in the country is still to be seen. Culturally and mentally, people all over the world still think in terms of dollars. Until prices are fixed in Bitcoin, the reverse will have a hard time sticking, especially if the technology doesn’t scale. (BTC without off-chain solutions can only handle 7 transactions per second).
The reason why the Tuvalu’s National Digital Ledger (TNDL) project is different, is because it is moving the use of the technology beyond just currency. It’s looking to make data useful first. The currency part will naturally come as a result of its usefulness. These are the fundamentals we currently see are missing beyond price speculation in the current market.
Q. Faiā has been instrumental in establishing Tuvalu’s National Digital Ledger (TNDL), a global first! What is the National Ledger and how is it transforming Tuvalu?
The TNDL project is about using blockchain technology to solve current problems for the Tuvaluan government related to identity and data management, but also to set it up for future digital economies. If you consider data as the “new oil”, then public blockchains allow users to own more of their own data; provide a more private, yet transparent, ledger for government; and leapfrog their digital transformation efforts.
With the rise in interest of government-led CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currencies), cryptocurrencies, etc., the way in which we view and value money is undergoing a major transformation. Countries who set up the right foundations now will be ready to capture the value we see coming in the not-too-distant future. This TNDL project is about moving blockchain technology beyond just currency and combining it with data storage and management use cases for eGovernment services. This is an area which few countries have yet to truly understand or fully embrace.
Q. So what else is on the horizon for Faiā and applications for blockchain tech?
Our mission is to help bridge digital divides for the small and uncommon, especially when it comes to communities and emerging technology. As a result of the work we’ve been doing since 2018, we are currently focused on helping leaders of governments and businesses build digital nations within what we call “Ring of Fire” territory. This includes South Pacific nations, but also nations along the Ring of Fire itself (see below).
We are using our network, skills, and team to connect opportunities to and from South Pacific nations to those along the Ring of Fire. We believe that the Pacific region is a dark horse waiting to unleash its unique leadership on the world. Not only does it command ownership of the Pacific Ocean, but its history is filled with stories of vast exploration and innovation - from Polynesian Wayfinding to Micronesian decentralized money - that often gets overlooked. I personally believe that the connections they made between the wind, ocean, and stars can be used to inform their potential mastery of the new digital ocean - creating a new economic, cultural, and spiritual hub for the future. With a lot of the modern world moving remote, the physical isolation of Pacific Islands need not be a barrier to global competition anymore. With our TNDL project in Tuvalu, we want to show the world how the Pacific can leverage the technology in practical ways (that work). For Faiā, we want to help clients who may be struggling with these emerging technologies, by taking into account their culture from day one. We believe that understanding culture is the key to better technology adoption.
Q. One of our most read segments, is our Small Bar Reviews, so we have to ask, do you have a favourite bar or spot in the Pacific? Where is it and why is it your favourite?
Hands down, O’Reilly’s bar in Suva, Fiji. Why? It’s the place I have the most memories whenever I used to visit Fiji in my younger years.