Chris Robinson, ex-CTO American Express, joins V-ID advisory board

A short Q&A with a heavy weight in tech and business. Chris will help V-ID set up their internal business processes to be as efficient as possible and ready to scale up.

V-ID: Can you give us a short introduction about yourself?

Chris: I’m a technology professional who has 25+ years in the industry, most recently holding roles such as CTO of American Express, Global Head of Technology Innovation at KPMG and Group CIO at Provident & IPF Digital. For the last 12 months I’ve been advising boards and large organisations on blockchain and am the founder and CEO of LendSend, a new private blockchain remittance and lending company launching in 2019.

V: How did you get involved in blockchain technology?

C: I started looking at use cases for blockchain technology back in 2011 with KPMG. By 2015, I was at Amex and we explored blockchain solutions in both the payment verification and member rewards spaces. In 2017 I started to focus more exclusively on blockchain solutions in the remittance and the lending space, first through IPF, working at HCL’s FinTech lab in London and then launching my own blockchain-based business LendSend.

V: You have a vast experience at major financial companies, most notably as CTO of American Express. What kind of lessons, that you have learned during those years, are you applying to the world of blockchain and crypto?

C: All the big financial services players are pouring money into exploring blockchain solutions. Whilst they have the large-scale funding to do some interesting things, they are hampered by 2 key issues:

One, the technical debt of their legacy systems, which means inserting blockchain solutions into their tech stack, is extremely difficult. Secondly, the reluctance of their boards and senior management to disrupt their existing, highly profitable (for now) models. This gives smaller and newer companies a crucial advantage in exploring blockchain solutions from a greenfield position — all the interesting ideas are coming from new players.

On crypto, my view is that until your get wide-scale adoption you will continue to have price volatility that undermines cryptocurrencies as viable units of day-to-day transactional exchange. It’s a classic chicken and egg problem — you need large-scale adoption before volatility reduces but volatility will not reduce without large-scale adoption! For now therefore, I think the really interesting projects are those, like V-ID, that utilise blockchain technology without a direct dependence on crypto and those like LendSend that harness traditional cash with blockchain services.

V: Which parts of V-ID in particular made you decide to join the advisory board?

C: V-ID is a rare combination of 3 things — A great idea in a large and almost greenspace market. A company with a proven track record and real-world customers already. And, finally, an exceptionally high quality team and advisors.

V: If you could look 5 years ahead, how much do you think blockchain technologies will be part of our everyday lives, and in what ways?

C: Blockchain may be 10 years old but we need to remember it took nearly 30 years from the introduction of TCP/IP to the internet being mainstream. The internet became part of everyday lives when a combination of things, developed over time, were in place, notably WWW, cable/fibre bandwidth, simple to use search etc. Blockchain needs to have simpler to use interfaces and applications and more killer-apps for it to become mainstream, but these will come soon in the worlds of financial transactions, identity, gaming and of course fraud protection. It will increasingly touch people’s lives, whether they realise it or not!

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For more information, please visit v-id.org.