Ask Shivendu Shivendu what he’s most passionate about and you will get a master class lesson about blockchain, cryptocurrencies, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and token economics.
Those terms — and the technology behind it —may be new and confusing to the average layperson. The USF Muma College of Business associate professor is a leading voice in academics and research in this revolutionary and evolving field.
As an expert on blockchain technology and emerging business models around it, he says these technologies may completely change the face of commerce and information systems within the next few years. This change will create a cost-effective and efficient architecture of Internet of Value Transfer — an online space where people can instantly transfer value between each other — on the top of existing Internet of Information Transfer.
This will make the trade and transfer of value across non-trusting parties easier, smarter, and faster without intermediation by trusted third parties. In turn, these technologies will be rapidly adopted because of reduction in the transaction costs in value transfer across business networks.
He has a few main research projects that use the digital anonymity and versatility of blockchain technology to solve everyday problems. Having real-world applications is at the crux of his research.
“Our focus is to solve problems, create value for society and for entrepreneurs,” he said.
Shivendu is working with researchers in the USF Department of Mathematics and the School of Public Health to create a digital ID on a blockchain. This would allow people to share their health information, like vaccination records, with others without revealing their identity.
Blockchain is a kind of distributed ledger technology, a record keeping system where the record of transactions is distributed among a network of computers. It’s a chain of blocks: a “chain” because everything is recorded in chronological order. And “blocks” because the transactions are added to the chain in groups rather than individually.
Shivendu is also researching the creation of a blockchain-based wallet. This project with a Tampa-based startup would create a virtual blockchain-enabled wallet where people could store their healthcare records and give permission to healthcare providers to access some or all these records.
A third blockchain project, relating to health insurance, harnesses the technologies of blockchain to allow someone to go see a healthcare provider with complete anonymity. One of the challenges is that some people don’t seek healthcare because of privacy issues.
“The potential is that we will be increasing the engagement with the at-risk population by using blockchain technology to make the interaction anonymous without the risk of any fraud,” he said.
The possible applications for blockchain-based technology are wide-ranging.
Say someone gets vaccinated and needs to show proof of vaccination to dine in a restaurant. This digital ID project would allow people to share a verified vaccination certificate without disclosing any identifying personal information, like a name. The restaurant would simply scan a QR code to see the vaccination certificate.
This revolutionary technology is unique. It is secure. It is hard to change or destroy blockchains because of their distributed nature.
“Blockchain and cryptocurrency could have a bigger impact on our world than the Internet because these technologies create Internet of Value Transfer of the Internet” he said.
As is often the case, there is a tendency to put a clamp on new evolving technologies due to associated uncertainties. In spring 2021, the Indian government considered banning Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
As an academic advisor to India’s blockchain initiative since 2019, Shivendu had a hand in encouraging government leaders to take a measured approach and to regulate, not ban cryptocurrency.
“Everything is a mix of good and bad,” Shivendu explained. “So don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater! If you ban it, then you not only stop the bad things, but you also stop the good things. It’s all about balance. You regulate it thoughtfully so that the bad things can be stopped, but the good things can still happen.”
When Shivendu is not researching ways to use blockchain technology to solve everyday problems, or advising governments on the advantages of blockchain and cryptocurrency, he is taking a big picture look at the economic health of the Tampa Bay region.
STATE OF THE REGION
He helped craft USF’s Economic Impact Report, which determined that the university generates an annual $6.02 billion. He is also the co-organizer of the annual “State of the Region” conference, an event that draws business, government, and nonprofit leaders together to learn how the Tampa Bay region compares to other metropolitan areas in key economic areas, such as unemployment and income inequality, innovation, and public health.
This year’s event takes a broader view by including healthcare, innovation and entrepreneurship, education, and the impact of Covid-19 on the Tampa Bay region.
“This year is very different,” he said. “For the first time, we are adding noneconomic factors. This year we have included a lot of healthcare indicators. What are the things that Tampa Bay needs to change to get better outcomes?”
Shivendu is an associate professor of information systems in the School of Information Systems and Management. He has created and taught undergraduate, MBA, master’s and doctoral courses in areas related to economics of information systems, business analytics, econometrics, blockchain technology, IT strategy and the design of information systems.
He earned a PhD and master’s degree in economics from the University of Southern California.
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