NYC needs more start-up culture reporting

I think blockchain has gotten a bad reputation in the NYC financial community. It is a mistake.

I have worked on Wall Street for over 20 years, but I cover crypto and blockchain start-ups as a writer. I have managed two large blockchain proofs-of-concept projects.

When the term carried weight and hype, everyone wanted to get in on the action. It was sexy. People liked the sound; they called themselves blockchain thought-leaders, crypto-enthusiasts, and change-the-world leaders. Remember when old companies, e.g., Kodak, used blockchain as a media boost? Very few people understood the technology, and fewer understood the industries they were trying to reform. There was a flood of people who wanted to work for blockchain projects.

And now what?

At the end of October 2019, when the leaves fall to the ground, and New York City starts to settle into a holiday mood, I become reflective on time passed.

Banks have reduced DLT proof-of-concept spending. The hype machine has moved on to other topics like big data, or machine learning, etc. Enterprise adoption of blockchain has not happened yet. Financial services are still the obvious choice for blockchain adoption. However, banks are inherently unsupportive of public ledgers for security reasons. There is no universal standard to use.

Some of my colleagues in the banking industry say that DLT and the blockchain promise has failed. It is over, and we should all move on. Many want to show where the risks are too significant and expensive to integrate. There is some resistance among investors when we hear the words crypto or DLT or blockchain.


People in the industry want to experiment with blockchain solutions but can’t find an immediately profitable way to implement the technology. A lack of standards or examples beyond proofs-of-concept projects adds to the problem.

Where the error exists

The bankers I know don’t spend much time speaking to new start-ups. Bankers are interested in their innovative ideas. This is not necessarily a negative view. Our industry is complicated. It appears seamless because of the maturity and infrastructure interconnected and supported by thousands of people. What this self-interest also creates is a limited conversation where innovation can occur. When you only know about one or two ideas, you miss out on all the other designs around you.

News sources and media coverage need to do a better job of reporting on smaller companies making new technology. Here in NYC, there are dozens of blockchain companies. We never read about them unless you consistently attend venture capital forums.

How do you find examples to apply to your business if you do not know what models exist?

The error is not where blockchain can fit into existing legacy infrastructure.

The error is not enough time is spent speaking and reporting on small blockchain business in NYC.

What is the next step?

There are a lot of smart people working to create crypto models and DLT solutions. Sometimes blockchain entrepreneurs get coverage in sources like Coindesk, Forbes, and other sources. Much of the coverage focus on the larger implementations, like custody or Bitcoin speculation. Social media is the start-up go-to solution to help drive their message to news sources. However, I think coverage on the small and new players is far too light. Blockchain start-ups are working and building momentum. It is time we pay more attention.

If the public and professionals alike understood what blockchain start-ups are trying to achieve, adoption, like Internet 1.0 and 2.0, would become a reality.

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Robert Anzalone
I report on start-ups who create innovation through data science, cryptocurrency, collateralized tokens and stable coins by banks and enterprises. My coverage includes blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) technology adoption across financial institutions using different platforms. My stories include use-cases about payment systems, transfer payments, and other use-cases that implement DLT innovations to transform finance. I have managed blockchain adoption projects for the banking sector for several years. I am also a data scientist working with Stevens University in Hoboken, NJ as well as a business adjunct professor teaching entrepreneurship. My business experience has been with Wall Street Investment banks for over 20 years in securities and trading operations.


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