By Kelly Clark and Grace Pulliam
1. Tell me about yourself! What’s your background like?
Chris: I originally trained as an international monetary economist, which turned out to be a good background for blockchain and DLT. My first real job was working for the White House Council of Economic Advisors under Paul Krugman. After that, I spent twenty years in fintech, trading derivatives and managing risk for a major global bank. Somehow after that, I moved to Toyota’s financial services arm where I was CFO and Head of Innovation. In late 2015, I read Butarin’s Ethereum whitepaper and Szabo’s paper on smart contracts and began thinking about the applications of DLT for connected vehicles and smart cities.
2. You co-founded MOBI — what was that like? How has MOBI evolved since then?
Co-founding MOBI was really fun because it was such a complete switch from what I’d been doing. We needed to figure out how to do everything ourselves because we didn’t have a big organization supporting us. The launch was very gratifying as much of the industry joined us and it generated a lot of excitement; there were over 200 news stories about our launch in the first 48 hours! And what we’re doing is still resonating with the mobility industry; we’re still growing, picking up new members, and launching exciting new initiatives.
3. What does your current role at MOBI look like?
We’re still in startup mode, but the MOBI staff has grown, specialized, and professionalized, which means we have a lot of great help in taking the organization to the next level. I do less public speaking and traveling because of COVID, which frees up more time to focus on implementation and proving out our technology.
4. What are the most important trends in the smart mobility industry today?
The most important trends are still the ones that motivated us to start MOBI: the convergence of AI, IoT, and DLT, which gives vehicles and infrastructure the ability to transact in the New Economy of Movement.
5. MOBI just launched DRIVES and MOBI Trusted Trip — what are these programs and why are they important to the mobility industry?
For a roaming, connected entity — such as a person, vehicle, smartphone, electric vehicle (EV) battery, or package — one of the most important and valuable attributes is its location in time and space. Combining secure identity with trusted time-stamped locations creates a “Trusted Trip” and, for the first time, enables marginal cost pricing for many new classes of mobility transactions such as urban road tolling, meter-free parking, congestion management, carbon and pollution taxing, usage-based insurance, and many other usage-based Mobility as a Service (MaaS) applications. The DRIVES program is where our community is working together to demonstrate our technology in several of these use cases, using the standards we’ve created, particularly the Trusted Trip.
6. Do you anticipate that decentralized blockchain business networks will eventually become the norm?
I think so, and I sincerely hope so. Decentralized business networks are an opportunity to fix the original sin of the internet — namely the winner-take-all centralizing tendencies of big data aggregators — which feeds into market concentration and income inequality. Coopetition within blockchain business networks can be a powerful counterweight to platform monopoly. If data is the new oil, it is critical that data owners and content creators reclaim their mineral rights.