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Q&A: Genevieve Leveille, Principal Founder & CEO, AgriLedger

Wed 4 Mar 2020 | Genevieve Leveille

Genevieve Leveille is the Principal Founder of AgriLedger, a UK blockchain outfit aiming to ensure farmers receive adequate pay for crops. The company is working with the Haiti Ministry of Commerce and Industry and ESIH on a DLT Pilot, which is also sponsored by the World Bank.
Genevieve has been nominated in the UK list of the top 100 BAME in Technology of 2019 by the Financial Times and is taking part in three sessions at this year’s Blockchain Technology World, 11-12 March, ExCeL London.
Ahead of her appearance(s), we picked Genevieve’s brains about blockchain successes, failures and her childhood ambitions…


What was your earliest ambition?

I don’t know that I really had so much ambition. As much as I have always wanted to do the best at whatever I do, I loved doing everything. So, I have over 16 years in music. I’m an art appreciator, and actually have a minor in comparative law, music and art with my degree in biochemistry. So, it’s never been about an ambition to do something in particular, rather an ambition to be the best that I can be at whatever I do.

What is your current ambition?

I would say my current ambition is the same. I was very glad the other day to hear about Forbes’s 50 over 50. That’s something I’d like to get into or at least is something I aspire to, because I believe that I am now at the point in my career where I can start looking at making a difference. 

And what is different from when I was young, is that I can make a difference without having to be part of an organisation or a big, large corporation. As an individual, we can make a difference and also take others along our journey with us, something that we couldn’t do previously. 

My ambition, therefore, is to really look at creating the mechanism and education for others to understand what the distributed ledger and blockchain technology can bring us, and how these can be an integral part of the fabric that makes our lives better. Disruptive technologies such as AI have created many fears, especially around machine learning and how the technology might lead to job displacement.

I think that there’s an opportunity to really help educate others about what the possibility of life holds for them. And also bring those who have been left behind into the digital realm and really remove that divide that exists. 

If you were to tokenize one of your assets what would it be?

I don’t know what I would tokenize. In terms of assets, I have very few. I think that, I would actually look at ways of tokenizing, effectively, companies, because that’s the asset that I have right now. I guess that’s what the ICO tried to do: to get the crowd to actually fund. The only fundamental problem is usually the crowd doesn’t know what it wants. I still think that the whole asset class is still a bit out of whack, and I’m not sure I understand very clearly what I possess that others would want to have a fractionalization of. Maybe my brain. 

Which use case perfectly encapsulates the potential of the blockchain?

I’ve always seen the supply chain as a very good opportunity to then help extend the other use cases. Obviously, everyone is aware of the largest and the most successful use case which has been Bitcoin. But the fundamental problem with Bitcoin is that it is not all-inclusive, even though we believe that everyone can actually participate — it also does not have the right UI or UX.

What we do find is that in the supply chain they are defined processes and usually a pretty good understanding of what the user experience should be about, or not about. And we can work easily, much more easily, in getting people to accept that.

Now, what that also does is allow for better financial outcomes. Because you’re not spending time checking and double checking what has happened, which means you have less waste and faster, and what we would call straight through processing.

What is one blockchain myth that frustrates you?

What frustrates me is this idea of all blockchains being the same. The use case will drive what data should be captured. However, a lot of the solutions do not actually let you know that actually, the data is not being completely captured on the blockchain. Rather some portion, such as the hash, is the data that is captured, which means that the other data is not available to give you a true picture of what has happened.

Also, people don’t understand that you actually need to have some sort of user experience or some GUI in front of the blockchain or you don’t really have access to the database, so it’s very technical. And it belies the usability or accessibility for many. That is why it’s important for people to start the process by looking at their processes, understanding what needs to be captured, what does not need to be captured and also more than anything else, what are the human interactions that will be part of this solution.

What is the biggest challenge facing blockchain supply chain applications?

The supply chain demands the interaction of many parties and the of design an environment or system whereby the participants are engaged or feel that there is a benefit to them. That can be difficult to achieve.

It demands having not only the private sector, but also government at the table, and it really needs to be a collaboration of the kind where fear of losing control is not there. Some of the issue has to do with people not understanding that not all data needs to be there and the transparency does not mean that all of the data is reasonable. It just means that all data is there when it’s needed and those with the right key can have access to it.

We are still in the beginning of this journey and it’s going to be a long journey of discovery. It’s great to see so much R&D research and development going on the field, but also the concern is that they’ve been many who have jumped onto the bandwagon and do not really understand the technology, and have actually more than anything else, honed on the part that allows you to make fast money.

A lot of people sometimes wonder if blockchain is nothing else but snake oil medicine, where in the Old West, you had all these guys travelling all the time, and swindling people. That didn’t mean that some of them did not end up being very successful. The Coca Cola flavour or formula came out of one of those events. But that’s one of my biggest fears about the blockchain and I think the challenge is to gain back the trust, of not only the industry, but those who would benefit from the applications.

Experts featured:

Genevieve Leveille


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