Can you tell us a little about yourself, Philip?
I grew up in Cape Town South Africa and after school attended the University of Stellenbosch where I obtained with master’s and bachelor’s degrees in electronic engineering as well as a certificate in strategic management from the University of Stellenbosch Business School.
After University I spent 18 years at Naspers, an international media group, headquartered in South Africa and worked in a variety of positions ranging from industrial specialist to chief executive, IT and new media. In the late 90’s I was relocated to Beijing as CEO of Mweb (China), to develop and launch a Mandarin language internet portal for the group.
In 2000 I joined the uc Group, an ecommerce dot com in London as director and COO and in 2006 I founded Transact24 Ltd. an internet ecommerce company in Hong Kong.
In 2016, I sold Transact24 Ltd. to Nasdaq-listed Net 1 UEPS Technologies Inc. where I served as Group CEO of Ceevo, responsible for overseeing operations across the entity’s international payment subsidiaries including Masterpayment Ltd Germany, Ceevo Financial Services Ltd., a Malta-based E Money Institution and the Transact24 Ltd. Group that had entities , Hong Kong, China, Australia, Singapore, USA, UK, Austria and South Africa.
In April 2021 I co-founded Vaultavo Inc., a global digital asset custody infrastructure provider, where I serve as Chairman and CEO.
I live in Hong Kong with my wife, Grace and my youngest son Jasper, but spend quite a bit of time in London and Cape Town as well. In my free time Ipilot a private helicopter.
How did technology drive the use and growth of crypto blockchain and DLT?
One definition of DLT is that it is the technology blockchains are created from, and that the infrastructure allows users to view any changes and who made them. It reduces the need to audit data, ensures data is reliable, and only provides access to those that need it.
It is claimed that DLT has its earliest history in the Roman Empire, which hosted a banking system that allowed people to participate in transactions across other regions belonging to the empire.
But the use of DLT was held back due to a dilemma that became known as the Byzantine Generals Problem (BGP). This is the scenario: Multiple generals leading their respective armies are strategically positioned outside enemy territory. Generals must communicate with messengers to form a common agreement. But what if a corrupt general conspires against the others to prevent them from reaching a common goal?
The dilemma was described by Leslie Lamport, Robert Shostak, and Marshall Pease in their 1982 paper entitled “The Byzantine Generals Problem.”
Bitcoin provided a convincing consensus protocol, called proof of work, to solve the Byzantine Generals Problem.
“The BGP is the main hurdle to massive distributed processing, which is the key foundation for distributed ledger where everyone must work individually — without coordination or communication — to maintain a synchronized and distributed ledger,” said Kai-Lung Hui, chair professor at Hong Kong University in 2018. “Bitcoin came up with a convincing — and now proven — solution to build such a distributed ledger on the Internet.”
Could you explain a bit the tech terminologies “biometrics” and “private keys”?
Biometrics are unique physical characteristics, such as fingerprints, that can be used for automated recognition. While there are many types of biometrics for authentication, the five most common types of biometric identifiers are: fingerprints, facial, voice, iris, and palm or finger vein patterns.
A private key is an alphanumeric code used in cryptography, similar to a password. In cryptocurrency, private keys are used to authorize transactions and prove ownership of a blockchain asset.
In the case of the Vaultavo Digital Asset Custody Solution, we create the private key by using fingerprint biometrics, so your fingerprint becomes your key, so to speak.
Could you tell our readers about the “white label system” and how does it operates?
White labeling is the process by which third-party producers make identical products that are sold by multiple retailers under different brand names. In some cases, white label products undergo a degree of differentiation before they’re sold to consumers.
Vaultavo can white label our Digital Asset Custody solution, but branding the Vaultavo Card and well as the Vaultavo Portals with the logo of our customers so that they can provide a custom branded product to their clients
Digital assets are here to stay. Could you please elaborate a bit on this?
Digital assets are broadly defined as any digital representation of value which is recorded on a cryptographically secured distributed ledger or any similar technology. Digital assets include (but are not limited to): Convertible virtual currency and cryptocurrency.
Michael Demissie, the head of digital assets at Bank of New York Mellon (BNY Mellon), is adamant that the cryptocurrency market crash in 2022 won’t waver institutional interest in digital assets.
At a conference run by Afore Consulting, Demissie said in February 2023, that the digital asset industry is “here to stay” as institutional investors have a strong interest in crypto.
“What we see is clients are absolutely interested in digital assets, broadly,” he said, according to a report from Reuters.
Demissie backed up his thoughts by referencing a survey conducted by BNY Mellon in October 2022, which found that 91% of custodian bank clients are interested in investing in blockchain-based tokenized products.
The survey also found that 86% of institutional players are adopting a “buy and hold” strategy, which may suggest that they see the cryptocurrency market as a long-term play.
Of those surveyed, 88% also said that the severe cryptocurrency market turndown in 2022 hasn’t changed their plans to invest in the digital asset sector over the long term.
Demissie did however state that more work needed to be done in Washington D.C., so that industry players can move forward with more regulatory clarity.
So it is clear based on the research done by the influential BNY Mellon, that digital assets are here to stay.
Which is your favorite digital asset?
Bitcoin is dubbed “digital gold” because it has a low correlation with all other assets, particularly stocks, making it useful for storing value and hedging inflation. This statement did not seem true in 2022 when the so called Crypto winter struck, but the amazing recovery of Bitcoin (and Ethereum) over the last 2 plus months, amidst the centralized banking meltdown, certainly gives food for thought!
For long term investment (buy and Hold) I choose Bitcoin. For the Central Bank Digital Currency World Ripple. And Ethereum as it is the chain most commonly used for NFT’s and tokenization.
What are some of your thoughts on blockchain, how do you see the demand for this change with time. Would you encourage investments in this space?
The following research probably says it all:
THE BLOCKCHAIN TECHNOLOGY MARKET WAS VALUED AT USD 5.7 BILLION IN 2021 AND IS EXPECTED TO EXCEED USD 1.59 TRILLION BY 2030, WITH A CAGR OF 87.1% FROM 2022 TO 2030 – GLOBENEWSWIRE REPORT.
This has resulted in a greater demand for blockchain developers and this demand is expected to skyrocket in the coming years.
Distributed ledger technology (DLT) and blockchain are among the hottest trends in business, finance, and many other industries. Their introduction to the mainstream following the rise in popularity of cryptocurrencies has created new investment vehicles, opportunities, and new sectors. Additionally, new business models using these advancements are emerging that improve workflows, data security, e-commerce, government processes, and much more.
So, it is not about investing in crypto currencies, but investing in the companies that provide infrastructure for the Blockchain/DLT/Digital asset space such as Vaultavo the provide a custody infrastructure product.
As the saying goes: ‘The people that made the most money in the gold rush were selling shovels, not digging gold’.
What advice would you like to give to our 420 million crypto investors?
Crypto is an extremely exciting field and is rapidly evolving into a significant portion of our digital experiences.
I think Crypto should be part of everyone’s investment portfolio.
Because of the relative newness of the sector, it still suffers from high volatility and therefore participants should appreciate the related risks.
What is your prediction for the crypto domain for 2023-2025?
I am of the opinion that we have not seen the end of growth in this market by a long way. Asset tokenization is by far the front runner in terms of growth prediction as any asset can be tokenized and put on a blockchain. And asset tokenization is still in its infancy!
For example, if you look at private asset tokenization, then there are three numbers; USD50 Trillion in private equity, USD160 Trillion in public/private debt and USD 333 Trillion in private property hands. Currently USD77 Billion of the above had been monetized through tokenization. That represents effective 0.01% of the potential expansion in creating liquidity in the private market.
Your favorite crypto quote.
The long tail of crypto will not fully trust this industry, until an easy to use, affordable and secure decentralized custody solution is available!
Not your Keys, not your coins.
Probably because I co-founded a Digital Asset Custody Infrastructure Startup.