Pat White Of Bitwave On The Future Of Money and Banking
An Interview With David Liu
Understanding of Macroeconomics and Monetary policy.
The way we bank has changed dramatically over the last decade. It was not too long ago when you had to wait in line in a bank to deposit money. Today things are totally different. You can do your banking without ever walking into a bank. In addition, the whole concept of money has changed. In the recent past, money usually meant bills and coins. But today, the concept of money has expanded to include digital currency and NFTs. What other innovations should we expect to see in banking in the short and medium term?
In the coming years, I’m expecting to see increased decentralization and democratization of financial institutions and assets.
Our current financial system was designed by and for those that are financially privileged — essentially, a small fraction of the population. As millions continue to be affected by the shortcomings of contemporary banking, we’re seeing increased calls for more access, accountability and decentralization of financial institutions.
We’re already seeing this with cryptocurrencies and its emphasis on decentralization. As interest continues to build, I believe we’ll see a similar trend across all aspects of banking and finance, including credit, loans, personal banking accounts and more.
To address this, we are talking to leaders in the banking, finance, and fintech worlds, to discuss the future of banking and money over the next few years. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Pat White.
Pat White is the co-founder and CEO of Bitwave, a software platform that provides cryptocurrency accounting, tax tracking, bookkeeping, DeFi ROI monitoring, and crypto AR/AP services for enterprise businesses. With over ten years of experience building enterprise software at companies such as Intuit, Microsoft, Five9, and Fortify Software (now HP Security). In 2009, Pat launched Ally Software, an enterprise software consulting firm, which he ran for three years before creating Synata, an enterprise search engine in 2012. In 2016, Synata was acquired by Cisco.
Pat has contributed code to Bitcoin, Ethereum, and several other cryptocurrency projects. He is a co-host of The DeFi Daily podcast and a graduate of the University of Southern California.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started in this industry?
I think of Bitwave as being at the intersection of two different industries — first, cryptocurrency and digital assets, and second, enterprise software. I’ve been interested in crypto since I read Satoshi’s whitepaper back in 2010, and I got into it by playing around with mining back in the day. My second passion, and where I’ve spent most of my career, is Enterprise Software. My first job out of school was with Microsoft, and I’ve worked for Intuit, Cisco, Fortify, and other enterprise software firms. I knew at some point that digital assets and enterprise software would come together, so I was basically waiting for that to happen.
I tend to think the best startups come from people that have a unique insight into how two different industries, technologies, or groups of people will interact in new and meaningful ways. We saw businesses using digital assets before most people out there and have built a great business leaning into that.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
When I interned at Microsoft, one of the activities they planned for their interns was a BBQ at Bill Gate’s house! So, I got to go to his house, have some good food, and saw the library with the DaVinci codex — super fun all around!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My aunt had a great saying — “We are where we are:” Everything in life goes sideways at some point, whether it’s professional, personal, whatever. It’s always worth looking back and trying to learn from past actions, but at the end of the day, dwelling on the past hurts the future. Take your learnings, but move forward from where you are as quickly as possible. Don’t spend time on blame. Good leaders assess a situation and spend time making it right — not obsessing on failures.
Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell our readers about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
My company, Bitwave, is at the intersection of fintech, finance, and digital assets, and it is such a fun and interesting project. At a high level, Bitwave is a back-office solution for businesses working with digital assets. We help companies account for, track taxes, and transact in cryptocurrencies and NFTs. I’ve never been in a more exciting or diverse industry; it’s absolutely a joy.
How do you think this might change the world?
When people talk about the potential of digital assets, the conversation is typically one-sided, focusing on benefits for individuals and the unbanked. But in my view, the adoption of digital assets will be just as transformative for businesses. Stay with me for a second.
The transfer of goods and services is a fundamental component of society and part of the social contract. It’s not a stretch to say that conflicts arise when the systems that enable that transfer — or trust — break down. And for me, that is the biggest potential for the organizations and the blockchain. It will be a firmware update for how we conduct business. It will create a system that is trustless while operating faster, more reliably, and securely than ever before. Bonus points because the system is borderless and can connect everyone at any time. In a way, it’s an business model revolution as much as much as anything, which is really exciting.
What most excites you about the banking or payments industry as it is today? Can you explain what you mean?
The pandemic accelerated the trend towards digitalization for many industries — particularly for banking and payments. I’ve enjoyed watching how this has directly resulted in the empowerment of small businesses.
And when we take a step back to look at the organizations that are enabling this like BLOK, PayPal (and by extension Venmo), they all share one thing in common. They are investing in digital assets and the blockchain. I see this creating a butterfly effect, or “trickle-sideways” mechanism where everyone wins. The flow of money is easier for everyone; small businesses have more avenues to become financially self-empowered; and as a result, the grip that the financial services industry puts on us all begins to loosen.
What most concerns you about the banking or payments industry as it is today? What would you suggest needs to be done to address that?
The example I always give here is about borrowing money — the prime interest rate in America right now is around 1%, but if you as an individual go to Bank of America and borrow money, you’re probably paying 6%.
How would you articulate how the concept of money has changed in recent times? Is it really a change? How is it still the same? Can you explain what you mean?
More than ever it is obvious that money doesn’t really exist. Money fundamentally is a social contract between people, and sometimes their government. However, digital assets have shown that the government is not a necessary part of that equation, and that is very exciting. The other exciting aspect of digital assets is the idea of programable money. Up to this point money has been static with the only programing hooks at the government or bank level. Now, digital assets let anyone code in money.
Based on your vantage point as an insider in the finance industry, what innovations should we expect to see in banking in the short and medium-term?
You should expect to see more and more banking and finance function move in house at companies as things move to the blockcahin and to decentralized platforms. We already see people issuing bonds on the blockchain and I think this is a trend that will continue.
How has the pandemic changed the way banks interact and engage with their customers?
Durning the pandemic the digital asset space, crypto, DeFI and NFTs, boomed! I know banks are taking notice and trying to figure out how they can be a part of this industry. Durning the pandemic my company Bitwave grew expontntially, we make a full software platform for digital asset finance and infrastructure tools like ours help the space mature, making it more accessible to enterprises and financial institution.
In your particular experience, how has the pandemic changed the way you interact with, and engage your customers?
We are a fully remote company, everyone works from home, so we end up being on Zooms all day, now that the pandemic is wrapping up we are able to meet customers at conferences like the Enterprise Digital Asset Summit this June in Austin.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Modern Finance, Banking and Fintech industries?
1 Analitical Skills
2 Ability to Program (even simple stuff like Excel or SQL)
3 Understanding of Macroeconomics and Monetary policy
4 Understanding of Geopolitics
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
Like I mentioned above, I am really passionate about blockchain and digital assets’ potential to improve on our existing financial systems by creating a borderless, trustless system that operates faster and more reliably, than ever before. Outside of digital assets I am also passionate about marine biology and love to support organization that help protect our oceans and wildlife.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
I regularly write blog posts for Bitwave’s blog, I recently wrote one called, “Blockchain, Video Games, and The Ethics of Attention” all about GameFI and adding NFTs to video games and also wrote one about the tax and accounting implications of last month’s Wormhole Hack. So check out Bitwave’s blog for read more of my content.
Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.
Thank you for having me, David. It’s been a pleasure sharing how we can use finance to bring about positive change across our nation.