Strings of indecipherable numbers fill Perianne Boring’s vision of the world. That’s the future she has dedicated herself to building as the founder of the Chamber of Digital Commerce, the world’s largest blockchain industry trade association. Blockchain is a secure way to mark and distribute digital information. While best known as the core technology for bitcoin and other digital currency, Boring sees a much wider role for blockchain, with her work at the center.
How did you first learn about blockchain?
I’m just a big monetary policy nerd, it’s really interesting to me to dive into. I’m also policy-driven. I worked on the Hill and led negotiations on crowdfunding for the JOBS Act, where I was briefed on [blockchain]. It didn’t end up making its way into the bill but that was my first exposure. That was it for several years until I was separately recruited into RT America where I was covering alternative finance, covering everything CNBC wasn’t covering. I went to the very first year of the bitcoin conference in San Jose. It was a tiny conference and I was the only reporter there but all of the [central bitcoin] players were there, the Winklevoss twins were there.
“Blockchain is going to take over the world.”
What made you want to get involved more directly as an advocate for blockchain?
I’m from Florida and I was personally shook up by the crash in 2008. It devastated my family and community and made me want to fight for strong economic policies. [At the bitcoin conference] I saw these young people raising millions of dollars from PowerPoint presentations and how important it will be for for future financial trajectory of the world. I like that it’s not controlled, just that idea of a currency outside of anyone’s control is powerful. Blockchain is going to take over the world.
Why does blockchain and cryptocurrency matter?
We don’t use the word cryptocurrency, it has too much negative ideas attached. But, blockchain is huge, how it is used depends on who you talk to. Every company has its own theory, but it’s much bigger than just currency. Banks have spent over a billion dollars researching blockchain, the next phase is how they actually implement it. There’s a big speed bump ahead though: regulations. I make sure that I’m leading some of those discussions with regulators.
What are some ways you and the Chamber lead those discussions?
We have several programs to teach [officials] about blockchain like the Blockchain Alliance. That’s a public and private alliance with law enforcement. I want to make sure they had the knowledge and tools they need when [an investigation] connects to blockchain so they don’t feel scared or nervous working with our members. There’s no coursework for this and they didn’t know how to get the information they needed so they would just subpoena every company with ‘bit’ or ‘coin’ in the name. And the blockchain companies were just data dumping every time, but that’s not helpful. We’ve streamlined that process so now CEOs know how to help [law enforcement] and how to check that it’s not criminals pretending to be cops.
“Becoming an entrepreneur is like jumping off a mountain with no parachute hoping someone set up trampoline at bottom.”
What moments in your life set you on the path you career is currently on.
I was studying economics at the University of Florida in 2007 and 2008. I got to study a historic collapse in real time and I wanted to know how it happened. The fiat currency we use is not sustainable and we know that we have not fixed that problem. The monetary system is going to need fixing and I want to be one of the key initiators of that debate. We need something different. Gold is archaic, but bitcoin is gold 2.0.
Who do you admire or look up to in D.C.?
Janet Yellen. I admire her, and would love to have her job. She’s doing the best job she can in a difficult situation. The U.S. is the world leader in financial services, the rest of the world looks to us to supply leadership on these issues and she supplies it.
Do you see yourself taking the job as head of the Fed someday then?
I guess I would be happy with Treasury Secretary too.
How has being a woman had an impact on your career in fintech?
There’s not a lot of women in finance, not a lot of women in tech and not a lot of women in fintech. There’s even fewer in the blockchain space, just nine percent. That’s very hard as someone who’s constantly having to fundraise because in our society white men write white men checks. It’s 10 times as hard and I have to work 10 times as hard for the same result. No one works harder than me, but it’s critical. I’ve never taken day off. Every industry is disproportionately male, though that’s beginning to change. It’s going to be another generation before we see workforce equality. And I still have privilege being white and in America. I can’t imagine how hard it would be as a woman in Afghanistan.
How do you balance working so hard with the rest of your life?
I recently started realizing where I am, that I have to think about work and life balance more. I try to be healthy and work out regularly, but I don’t have very good work life balance. I wanted to get a dog, I settled on a plant instead.
What are the best and worst parts of being an entrepreneur?
For the first six months I had no health insurance and no salary. It takes an entrepreneurial spirit to be an entrepreneur. It’s wild. The ups and the downs are insane. There were days when I could not get my face of the floor of my apartment, I actually could not get my cheek off the ground. Then there are days that are amazing, like when Microsoft and IBM became our partners. That was a major accomplishment. You have to be emotionally stable with a stomach of steel to get through challenges every day. It’s not for everybody, you need a support system. Becoming an entrepreneur is like jumping off a mountain with no parachute hoping someone set up trampoline at bottom.