In today’s hyper-connected world, it takes mere seconds to share a snap of a lavish lunch, find out when our favourite film is showing, or even pay a pesky parking fine. Thanks to online banking, social media and Google everything, it’s hard to imagine our lives without the web.
But what comes next?
The answer suggested by today’s tech enthusiasts is ‘blockchain’: a revolutionary invention that, like the internet before it, could change the world.
Blockchain is the genius technology that underpins cryptocurrencies and has far-reaching implications for the finance sector and beyond.
In simple terms, it is a new way to record exchanges of sensitive data using a decentralised, hyper-secure method that nobody controls.
“People can be scared of it because it’s all, ‘crypto, I don’t understand’,” laughs Curtin journalism graduate Tessa Dempster, a business journalist for Perth-based startup Multiplier Media.
“But the way that people transact these days is a tap of their card, a tap of their phone and what is that? That’s digital money. It’s just another version of that, but it’s much more secure, and it’s a lot quicker.”
Coincast makes heads and tails of blockchain
Dempster now co-hosts Coincast TV, a program covering finance, technology and blockchain news produced by blockchain media and investment relations company, Coincast Media. The show’s first season premiered on Sky News Australia in 2018 and has been purchased by international streaming service DIVAN.TV and broadcast in more than 200 countries.
The team at Coincast TV includes a number of Curtin alumni including Timothy Angeles, Aleks Ozolins and Kema Johnson.
“We have such a great team,” Dempster smiles. “Most of us are under thirty, just a few years into our careers. We’re all open to learning and working in an agile way.
“We source news stories, write scripts and, put together video graphics. Every day is so different. No one does just one thing. It makes it so much easier when you can pick two people and they can go out and produce a story between them.”
The role has taken Dempster interstate and overseas to Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan.
“I went with another team member last year to Singapore to film an entire episode,” she says. “My colleague did all the filming while I researched the stories and interviewed some great talent. We also did Twitter live broadcasts.”
Dempster says live streaming is important to crypto and blockchain enthusiasts.
“People are really looking for that personal connection,” she explains. “We produced live stream coverage at Curtin-sponsored West Tech Fest and I spoke with some big players in the blockchain industry including angel investor and Bitfury Group board advisor Bill Tai, and former US government official Jim Newsome.”
Dempster credits her Curtin degree with providing a strong foundation for her current career.
“My journalism units were fantastic at preparing me for the real world,” she says.
Coincast video graphics animator Timothy Angeles says he similarly found his Curtin digital design degree an excellent stepping stone to his dream career.
“Right before I graduated, Curtin invited us to a big industry show to network with key employers in digital design,” he says.
“Shortly after the show, I received an email about an opening at Channel Nine – and was later headhunted by Coincast. I didn’t even know such a great job combining my skills and interest existed!”
From Bitcoin to Libra: blockchain on the world stage
In 2009, blockchain technology attracted worldwide attention with the launch of cryptocurrency Bitcoin.
“The story of Bitcoin is so intriguing,” says Heidi Cuthbert, Multiplier Media founder and former Bloomberg journalist.
“It was invented by somebody called Satoshi Nakamoto. But nobody knows his true identity. Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, all the large business publications want to know who he is. It’s one of the world’s greatest modern mysteries.”
Cuthbert believes that Nakamoto created Bitcoin from the fallout of the Global Financial Crisis.
“Bitcoin arose as an antithesis to the global financial system,” she says. “The global system could be considered a series of ‘centralised accounting ledgers’. Whoever controls the ledger, controls the world. But Bitcoin is completely decentralised. It’s designed to take that concentration of power away from those larger institutions that have been around for hundreds of years.”
In June 2019, technology giant Facebook announced the projected 2020 launch of its own cryptocurrency Libra. The payment system aims to bank the world’s 1.7 billion ‘unbanked’.
Cuthbert says: “It’s so cliché but money rules the world. When we start distorting the traditional ways money flows, we get a real shift in power.”
“The so-called ‘unbanked’ will now have an identity and access to finance through Facebook’s Libra system which will have a very interesting global impact. If Libra becomes a dominant payment system, why does anyone need a bank account? And if you don’t need a bank account, the influence of the central bank is diminished.
“Central banks have the power to set interest rates and create monetary policy. But if the impact of their monetary policy decisions is reduced, because people are using their own platform to manage their personal finances, then that impacts on the global finance system in ways that we don’t even understand yet.”
Tune in to Season 2 of Coincast TV to find out more about how blockchain is transforming the world.
Name: Tessa Dempster
Role: Business Journalist, Coincast Media
Studied: Bachelor of Arts (Journalism)