Cryptocurrency at CES: 5 Questions With Swarm Fund CEO Philipp Pieper


Philipp Pieper, CEO Swarm.Fund

At CES 2018, cryptocurrency and blockchain leaders will gather for the inaugural CoinAgenda Summit and Digital Money Forum event at CES.

Among the speakers—Swarm Fund CEO Philipp Pieper, who runs what’s described as the world’s first cooperative ownership and investment platform. The AI-driven Swarm Fund bridges digital currency and real assets with a blockchain-based platform that enables co-ownership.

The CES event will examine the changing role of money today, everything from new payment systems to borderless eCommerce, virtual reality, biometrics and AI to crypto currencies, and the blockchain economy.

Pieper will be a featured speaker on the panel titled “Cryptocurrency: A Volatile Game of Coins” with Ripple CEO, Brad Garlinghouse; Medici Venture President Jonathan Johnson; Bittrex CEO Bill Shihara; and Civic CEO Vinnie Langham.

Philipp gave us a preview of the conversations at CES and what marketers should pay attention to in Las Vegas.

The CoinAgenda Summit and The Digital Money Forum taking place at CES 2018 is a big validation for cryptocurrency. What do you feel its role is at this year’s CES?

It’s huge. Bitcoin was the story that dominated the end of 2017, and many of us in the market see 2018 as the year that cryptocurrency and blockchain truly achieve validation and become much more part of the mainstream. Being a part of the largest consumer technology show in the world in two places, CoinAgenda and The Digital Money Forum, starts the year of crypto off with a bang. It certainly sends the message that Crypto has emerged from its niche audience and is going to be an important part of the fibre of world economies.

Can you explain how Swarm Fund works and your particular approach to the space?

Swarm is creating the AI-driven investment economy. We are creating intelligent tools and decentralized infrastructure to make it incredibly simple and efficient for people to participate in the wealth creation of alternative asset and crypto assets. Our goal is to empower anyone to find attractive investment opportunities on the Swarm network and use AI-driven tools for intelligent discovery and portfolio management.

As normally these opportunities have been restricted to the privileged investors, we are democratizing the investment landscape and creating access that has not been possible before. For Swarm’s model both cryptocurrency and blockchain are key enabling building blocks. It allows for models of ownership, governance, and eliminating gatekeeping middlemen—such as investment bankers or lawyers—in ways not possible before.

In a nutshell, we are democratizing investing by opening up high-return asset classes, to the masses.

Mark Zuckerberg is studying cryptocurrency to try to figure out growth opportunities for Facebook. What should CEOs, CMOs and brands know about cryptocurrency today?

Brands and executives should look at the specific aspects of cryptocurrency that drew Zuckerberg’s attention: decentralization and encryption. Protecting consumers’ information and putting the power in their hands, with transparency, is key. For Facebook, this will be about combatting things like fake news, fostering cross border conversations and making users safe online. This is about much more than transactions.

Established brands are beginning to realize the value of virtual currencies and are adopting them into their own business models in a variety of ways—Burger King tested WhopperCoin last year in Russia, Japan’s Peach Airlines accepts bitcoin payments. How should brands get started, and why?

If brands want to participate purely from a payments perspective, they should look at established currencies that have invested in blockchain technology and have the scale to reliably and safely serve their customers. When they have a business case that justifies the creation of their own unique cryptocurrency, that’s the time to build something.

Take Overstock for example. They’ve been a pioneer in retail, accepting payment in Bitcoin and five other cryptocurrencies. And they have created their own blockchain technology, but not in the form of a payment option. Instead they saw a market need for a distributed ledger platform, and tZERO was born.

What other developments and trends will you be watching for at this year’s CES?

The evolution of AI is top of mind, for sure. AI might be a topic that has been talked about for a while, but now it’s not just a nice concept. This year you will really see the endless capabilities of the technology at work. We recently hired Frank Taylor as Swarm’s head of AI, and it’s core to our product and the future of the financial landscape.

I’m reading everywhere that this year’s CES will have AI integrated into virtually everything, and at a level of intelligence not before seen. The smart cities and smart vehicles content should be particularly interesting from an AI perspective, because we will finally be seeing this in the consumer market. Alexa and Google Home are just an “nth” of the possibilities.

Interestingly what people are not talking about when it comes to Smart Cities are things like economic, healthcare, and other essential infrastructures—the focus has been on auto and telecom. But none of that can happen without some form of payments structure.

We believe some sort of hybrid between digital currencies and money as we know it will become the norm. And in terms of that, AI will play a big role. Imagine driving up to Starbucks, the AIs know that you want a mocha frappuccino. It’s waiting for you as you approach, and your car pays for it with whatever form of crypto/digital currency accepted.

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