Leaders Series: Chris Forrester at Shyft Network
Issue 39 — March 6, 2018
Chris Forrester is the CTO of Shyft Network
She has been working in the crypto ecosystem for nearly five years, and has worked on a number of interesting projects including the popular Jaxx wallet. She’s now leading development of a project called the Shyft Network, which aims to resolve challenges around identity and reputation at the protocol layer, rather than the application layer.
How did you get into the crazy world of all things crypto?
I got into crypto performing arbitrage between Bitcoin and Litecoin across a variety of exchanges; building tools to both be aware of opportunities and capabilities of execution has been a hobby of mine since my early teens. In 2013, I was working for a company called Interaxon, and had heard about cryptocurrency from friends on the west coast of Canada.
A few years later, I had the opportunity to work with the fine folks at Decentral, which was founded by industry leader Anthony Di Iorio. I was the main programmer, and quickly took on the role of Chief Technology Officer , where I was responsible mainly for the development of the popular cryptocurrency wallet Jaxx, and the integration of the various cryptocurrencies, adding Ethereum to the wallet, and integrating with ShapeShift.io. We were quite successful, and eventually I took my leave, and within the next year founded the company BlockUnity with my partners Fredrico Nassire, Kris Coward, and Juan Aja, which focused on physical assets on the blockchain. BlockUnity entered into a joint venture with Paycase to form Shyft Network Inc., which is focusing on KYC/AML in the blockchain space from the protocol layer onwards. This is a very exciting project and we’re well underway to being an industry leader in this category!
What did you do before you got into this?
I’ve been involved in many cutting edge technologies in the gaming industry, the beginning of the user-facing internet (flash, html/css), mobile devices with iOS since early betas and Android once it was well established in the mobile industry, and of course the blockchain space focusing on users and the global industries that will benefit from this space.
What problem is Shyft solving, and why are you passionate about this?
Shyft Network Inc. is solving the glaring problem of the lack of KYC/KYB (know your customer / know your business) channels within the blockchain space connected to global industries and highly reputable jurisdictions. I’m passionate about the connective tissue supporting the growing blockchain industry, what reputation means within this space, and how we’re working as an industry to solve the great unknown problems that are only possibly in this connected world.
What’s been the most interesting experience you’ve had in the crypto space thus far?
I believe the most interesting experience was with The DAO and how that fundamentally slowed down the acceptance of peer to peer voting and crowdsourcing systems. An obfuscated management layer combined with technical glitches led to a place where the very people trusted as a last-resort peacekeeping and network management force were publicly decried by the producers of the system, while in the meantime those glitches produced a profound issue within not only their system, but to the Ethereum ecosystem as a whole. Still to this day, Ethereum developers have had issues retrieving funds locked by glitches in the upper-end of the smart-contract development cycle, and while those glitches have been rectified, there has been a large cost in the time and effort to create groundbreaking dApps within the Ethereum ecosystem.
A consensus model is only as strong as its weakest link. I believe that next-generation blockchain efforts will result in a lot more due-diligence to the basic fundamentals of how smart contracts operate on the networks at as nominal cost to the end-user as possible. I take this to heart while developing systems integral to the Shyft project, and am working with top-tier talent to make sure that errors and uncertainties in system stability can be encapsulated and rectified with as little impact to the surrounding environment as possible.
What do you think will happen in the short term with blockchain technology that will blow people’s minds?
I think the most amazing thing coming in the next five years will be the rise of personalized machine-learning assistance. From finances to scheduling to pre-emptive medical analysis these will be based on personal trends and those of your connected networks. This will lead to a place where everyone will have, in effect, a virtual personal assistant that knows what they want, when, and to what degree. This will be a breakthrough period of personal freedom and affordability.
Imagine if you always ended up getting things on sale, always had the cheapest travel, and never missed a critical appointment no matter how stressed, overwhelmed, or busy you happened to be at any given time. Imagine if you always had a heads up where the closest place to charge your phone, for the cheapest fees, while munching on preferred snacks, simply because your virtual personal assistant could see three steps ahead of your schedule and immediate needs.
For businesses, this is an unprecedented data boom as individuals are more than willing to provide their data, anonymized to their preferences of how their data can and should be used, for a marginal return compared to the gains on the marketing and sales cycle side. Blockchain is a huge part of this, as the basic financial usage data brought on by Bitcoin et al, combined with a consent driven model, allows users to trust that both the bookkeeping and the facts stay straight.
Editor’s Note: The editor of this post, Meltem Demirors, is an investor in Paycase, a parent company of Shyft.