InterviewFintech Interview with Founder & CEO, Everledger – Leanne Kemp

FTB News Desk FTB News DeskMarch 24, 202120 min

Leanne Kemp from Everledger talks about the innovations Everledger has done with the help of blockchain technology and her vision for the fintech industry
Leanne Kemp Founder and CEO of Everledger

Leanne Kemp is the Founder and CEO of Everledger. In her role as CEO, she inspires and steers the team of Everlegends to increase transparency and trust with technology, in close collaboration with our industry partners. She is a prominent figure in the technology sector. Leanne co-chairs the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on the Future of Manufacturing and takes part in the Global Future Council on Blockchain. She also leads workstreams at the Global Blockchain Business Council, co-chairs the World Trade Board’s Sustainable Trade Action Group, and is on the IBM Blockchain Platform Board of Advisors.

1. Can you tell us about your role at Everledger?
I’m the Founder and CEO of Everledger and Queensland Chief Entrepreneur. We are driving transparency and trust along global supply chains using blockchain technology. By working with Everledger, stakeholders such as producers, manufacturers, certification houses and retailers can further evidence the origin, ownership and characteristics of their assets to increasingly more conscientious consumers. And consumers can have access to all this information on any device, from desktops to smartphones.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this industry?
I decided early, that I would purpose my life to bring transparency to the most opaque industries in the world, starting with diamonds. As you know, diamonds are unique by their very nature and we’re able to capture a digital twin of each stone using advanced technology.

I started Everledger in 2015 with a combination of experiences that I’ve gained working over many different industries throughout my career. When I read Satoshi Nakamoto’s whitepaper on blockchain, it was very clear to me that we could use this technology to develop solutions for enterprise.

The diamond supply chain was our first focus. We’ve embedded that process and our growth and operational mechanisms globally and I’d say our journey has been nothing short of fact-based dreaming.

We’ve built a company based on a vision of what we think the world should look like and we set upon that purpose quite rigidly so we can deliver on that challenge.

We purpose technology to answer that simple question for people all over the world so that when someone walks into a store and asks “where does that diamond come from”, we can answer it.
We’re solving a global problem and from day one we decided that we needed to open a global operation. At Everledger, we knew the problem that we were solving, and we knew that existed not only in the industries of today but for future supply chains, and we went and set out to solve those challenges.

We then moved into coloured gemstones, wine and other luxury goods. But our journey has only just begun. I’ve asked myself a big question, “if we’ve been able to solve the problems related to blood diamonds, for example, then what could be the future’s most conflicted supply chains in the world?”. If I think what that problem would be in 2030, 2040, or even 2050, it would be lithium-ion batteries. When we think about stored energy, electric vehicles, or solar panels on houses around the world and even our mobile phones and computers, they all have lithium-ion batteries. Most of those contain rare earths and materials that are sourced from places all around the world, for example, in the DR of Congo, but regular people don’t really know where it’s coming from.

3. How has application of technology empowered the insurance industry?
Everledger developed a digital platform that could be applied to multiple use cases including claims and fraud detection. It enables insurers to develop useful industry insights whilst ensuring cyber security risk reduction, the ability to demonstrate and automate compliance with competition and privacy requirements, and furthermore delivering greater cost reductions and valuable customer outcomes.

Everledger’s solution assembles best in breed technologies and capabilities, that also create real time visibility for regulators, capabilities to bake-in business rules, and the creation of immutable audit logs so that the proper use of the system by industry participants could be demonstrated at any time. The technologies used include blockchain and advanced cryptography, smart contracts, machine learning, analytics and internet of things (IoT) enablement.

The solution also accommodates reporting for auditors and regulators, enabling additional visibility such as which insurer initiated each enquiry, aggregated query results, reporting tools, and the overall principles of governance in force on the platform. For regulators too, the value of near-real-time reporting and immutable audit trails significantly enhances their ability to validate compliance at lower costs.

The solution therefore supports increased data accuracy, faster claims processing, data-enabled decisions to better identify fraud, better experiences for all customers, lower operating costs and potentially even a reduction in premiums. It also reduces the risk that an asset may be incorrectly insured or uninsured.

4. What are the benefits of Everledger’s use of Hyperledger as its core blockchain technology backbone?
We have developed a highly customised version Hyperledger for the industries that we work with. Hyperledger is an open source, enterprise-grade blockchain platform. By working with Hyperledger we give firms using our platform the ability to share data securely while also determining privacy levels. Data is divided into privacy tiers, so a stakeholder can withhold sensitive data attributes, while allowing transparency on others.

5. How do you see the diamond industry’s reaction to Everledger thus far?
We have adopted a strategy of collaboration with the industry since the very beginning. Back then, we helped open their eyes to the pressing need for all stakeholders within the diamond supply chain to improve transparency. This is a global movement that is far broader than just the diamond industry. It is largely driven by a global push for sustainability and increased consumer demand for ethical sourcing. Millennials have helped the industry come to the 21st century, in a way. So we’ve seen a positive reaction to the work we’re doing throughout the diamond industry, across the board. We were absolute pioneers in the field, talking about provenance five years ago. We’re working with the likes of ALROSA, the largest diamond miner in the world, diamond manufacturer Shairu Gems Diamonds, and retailers such as Chow Tai Fook, Brilliant Earth and Fred Meyer Jewelers, so all segments of the industry and in four continents.

6. How easy is it to explain blockchain technology to non-technologists?
We see technology as an enabler, not an end in itself. We’ve been delivering blockchain-based solutions for clients within the diamond industry since 2015.
But the narrative when we speak with customers is often not around the technology, but instead on wider priorities such as increasing sustainability and transparency, ethical mining, the circular economy, conscious consumerism, and so on. It’s important that we build on these narratives and demonstrate how blockchain can help enable change. The way that we use technology is meant to serve the industries that we collaborate with, bringing benefits along the chain, and enabling strategic shifts for them. So we strive to raise awareness around transparency, sustainability and provenance amongst the diamond trade, from miners, to manufacturers, to retailers, and demonstrating how our solution can help them easily achieve their goals. It’s a win-win solution for society.

7. Can you explain to our audience in detail about how Everledger utilizes blockchain technology?
Blockchain technology allows data to be recorded securely and unalterably as an asset (such as a diamond, an artwork, a bottle of fine wine) moves along the supply chain. By converging this record with other technologies such as AI and IoT, we can create a unique digital identity for the asset and make it available to all stakeholders in the value chain. The resulting lift in transparency, confidence and trust lays the foundation for whole industries to advance.
Everledger’s platform is built on the fundamentals of private blockchains, where firms need the ability to share data securely and apply smart contracts, while also retaining privacy Data is divided into privacy tiers, so a stakeholder can withhold sensitive data attributes, while allowing transparency on others. Our solutions are designed for enterprise, enabling them to streamline processes to provide consumers with unprecedented transparency.

Our purpose is to contribute greater clarity and confidence in the marketplaces where transparency is a strategic imperative. Everledger is working with clients across the globe and we are led by a team of experienced individuals with deep technology and industry expertise.

Across the diamond industry, for example, the Everledger blockchain platform integrates and surfaces data from miners, manufacturers, certification houses and retailers, ultimately enabling them to drive a positive social and environmental impact. Consumers have direct access to independent information of a diamond’s characteristics and ownership record via desktop or mobile.

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FTB News Desk

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