In Conversation With Debajani Mohanty Bestselling Blockchain Author
We had the pleasure of interviewing Debajani Mohanty. She is an author of Amazon bestseller “BlockChain from Concept to Execution”, “Ethereum for Architects and Developers”, “R3 Corda for Architect and Developers” and now “Ripple and Stablecoins: Building Banks of Tomorrow” is a Solution Architect with close to two decades of experience in the industry. Her books in Blockchain are translated to German and Chinese to reach the wider mass. Debajani is a keynote speaker at Philadelphia PACT, NASSCOM, IIM, Delhi University, WomenWhoCode, Unicom, Amity, India International Centre, Cafit Reboot and many similar national and international tech events. Pioneer Blockchain solutions designed and developed by Debajani are highly appreciated in India as well as abroad. Debajani is Honorary Faculty with Amity University, independent consultant, advisor & mentor to numerous reputed organizations in India and abroad.
- Can you tell us what inspired you to pursue this career path? What do you want others to take from your story?
I have been into the IT industry since 1997; however, my involvement in Blockchain is pretty recent, which is my current career path. It all started back in 2017 when during a business trip to a client site in Philadelphia, USA; a colleague briefed me on Blockchain which is considered to be the backbone of cryptocurrencyBitcoin all over a cup of coffee. The same night I kept browsing the internet for more information in the form of books or Journals but was unable to find much. As a result, I started collecting materials from hundreds of websites and all the different sources that I could and created my own documentation.
Finally when my document was informative enough, I thought of sharing this knowledge and guiding other learners which is why I uploaded this PDF as a self-published book on Amazon and surprisingly it came out as a bestseller in few days.
Later BPB publications, who are the biggest tech publisher in Asia republished it and got it translated to German and Chinese to reach the local readers. I wrote few other books on Blockchain afterwards published by one of the world’s biggest tech publisher Springer Nature on different Blockchain protocols like Ethereum, R3 Corda and Ripple some of which are adopted as official academic books by well-known Universities and purchased largely by largest tech libraries in the world.
There was also this bigger challenge awaiting me when at workplace we did not have real and exciting projects to work at the Blockchain CoE. Market was not mature for Blockchain and like most organizations struggling to find clients in this space, all the work we did ended up in PoCs.
That was the time I got some good three months contractual opportunities from a Fintech inSwitzerland. I really liked the Money Market Intraday project which is a pioneer solution in its space. Ignoring criticism and cautions by many, I took this up as a challenge. Quitting my permanent role with previous organization I started working as an independent consultant which is not a lucrative option in India.
“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly”, remember Richard Bach? My decision backed by an immense passion for emerging technologies rewarded me at multiple dimensions. Working from home saved my traveling time, I got greater opportunity to get associated with startups, banks, Fintechs, and universities helping them with exciting Blockchain solutions. I also could share my knowledge in the form of books, blogs or live sessions without the need for approval from authorities. My earnings too got much higher and that too really fast. My timely decision, in fact, transformed me to the free butterfly that I am today.
- Could you tell us about any of the interesting projects that you are working on currently?
In my 2 decades long career, I have been fortunate enough to be part of many interesting projects in India, Europe and North America. However I’ll mention the ones in Blockchain space as it would be more relevant for this interview.
So far I have worked in 5 Blockchain projects from concept to execution. The first project I did was a Claims Management decentralized application in Insurance domain for the automobile industry which is a product offering in market space now. Later I worked in 2 Fintech projects for my clients in Switzerland, one of which (Instimatch Global AG) was a Swiss Money Market project where we built instant settlement solution in Money Market Intraday first time globally using R3 Corda and Ripple. In past 2-3 months I have worked in Enterprise Corda released in May 2019 where only a handful people in the industry have worked so far.
I have also worked for 2 projects in the southern state of Kerala, first one for Government of India which would move to production pretty soon and would be used by millions. This project perhaps would be one early example of mass adoption of Blockchain in India and beyond. The other one is an Edutech project where Universities, Colleges, and Employers would collaborate to share information on academic degrees, certificates and work experiences.
- Is there a particular person who you would like to credit with helping you get to where you are? Can you share an anecdote about that?
There are many. But today I would take this opportunity to give the credit to my late grandfather Mr S. S. Das, who was a brilliant Electrical Engineer of early independent India and also my first teacher in life. Since in my early years he educated me on the enigma of money i.e. how money and currency has taken different forms in the last 10000 years, how the value of money is never stable in whatever form you secure it.
He cautioned me on the flaws in different financial instruments and guided me to save and invest my earliest earnings to get the maximum benefit later on. Gradually I came to know that not just me, but many scholars in the world before me researched and came up with their theories over this puzzle i.e. how to secure our money so that it does not get stolen or devalued over time. This inquisitiveness decades later led me to the whitepaper by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, founder of Bitcoin and Blockchain. And well, rest is history.
- What are the 5 things that you think are most fascinating about blockchain and crypto? Why?
Blockchain is adopted by organizations to remove friction in transactions; hence needs unity, integrity, and collaboration among all participants. Once parties agree to share data on a global decentralized ledger they can control wastages by cutting down on cost, time, and efforts in complex business processes bringing automation to the next level. As organizations would move from pilot to production we would experience many benefits in coming days; let me restrict myself to five.
- Innovation in payment systems through Blockchain would improve global GDP manifolds. Be it B2B, B2C or P2P transaction, Blockchain can help to save a fortune.
- Clearing and settlement processes can be largely benefitted. Intraday trading would increase manifolds especially in the international domain which was impossible before. Banks and central banks would be the ones benefiting the most as that’s the area where we have most of our assets.
- Trade Finance and any form of global trading would be accentuated bringing a lot of automation and transparency to the entire trade life cycle.
- More attempts would be made for a secure, regulated, and easily available global currency to boost ease of business reducing friction in existing processes.
- Today the estimated amount of money laundered globally 2-5% of global GDP per annum, terrorism impacts GDP 12.4% per annum, cost of corruption to GDP is at least 5% per annum. KYC and AML solutions would be on Blockchain to offer better regulation of black money and control terrorism.
If we can use this technology to its true potential, I am sure that it can change the business models and in fact change the world to be a better place for everyone.
- What are the 5 things that concern you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
As per my experience the biggest concerns in the order of their impact are :
- Regularity concerns and understanding of legal and compliance issues
- Parties unwilling to work together and even not trusting each other to share data in a common network
- Blockchain’s inability to scale, though we are working very hard here and pretty close to industry expectation.
- The learning curve is high and there is a serious lack of efficient mentors in this space.
- Maturity of Enterprise Blockchain is a concern for example data back-up, archiving of stale data, backward compatibility, and deployment on cloud. So in my view, there are more political issues than technical ones. Especially clients in financial space would not like to run their bread and butter systems on this less tried technology. Many even if reached the pilot and are even happy with the performance as well as scalability, do not wish to be the first in production. Hence we techies do not get enough exposure to the issues that are to be experienced in production. It’s a chicken and egg problem.
- How have you used your success to bring positive change to the world? Can you share a story?
My success is, in fact, an outcome of a positive impact on others. Since the beginning of my Blockchain career, I have tried to share my learning through books, blogs, videos, live session in Universities and participating in numerous Blockchain summits in India and abroad. I think propagating our knowledge especially to business leaders and decision-makers is the need of the hour as they have the authority to carry forward this Blockchain journey to the next level.
- What are the 3 things that you would advise someone who aspires to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
Everyone under the sun has their personal paths to success. Some target the sky, some reach the moon and a lucky few can travel as far as the stars. However certain virtues are common among most achievers. They have to be self-starters, lifelong learners and brave enough never to quit under any condition be it external pressure, the threat of job loss or even under any self-doubt.
- What is the one “Life Lesson Quote” that you stand by? Can you tell us how that had relevance to your own life?
Creation in any form is an inevitable outcome of massive degree of pain and ferocious resolution; being a mother of two I have experienced this myself. Also, no major revolution in human history happened overnight. Such reformations and transformations in existing dated and flawed systems come with a lot of dedication and always backed by the mass of the people. Hence I would request all Blockchain experts to keep evangelizing disruptive technologies and guiding thousands of professionals relentlessly and passionately.
- Who would be one person in the world that you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?
Well, there are many whom I follow on a day to day basis. However if I must choose one, it would be none other than honorable Prime Minister of India Mr. Narendra Modi. In my view, the strategic adoption of innovations in emerging technologies such as Blockchain and crypto can help India at multiple levels. As the man at highest authority, Mr. Modi can help us fulfilling our crypto dream sooner than anticipation.
- Where can our readers find you on social media?
I pretty active on Social Media, always open for questions or any other engagement.
- Twitter – @debimr75