S3T May 8: The Mother's Day Edition

S3T May 8: The Mother's Day Edition
Flower Mandala - Digital Art - Ralph Perrine 2021 

Crypto led innovation hints at better ways to manage capital and Mother's Day reminds me of a key lesson from my Mom: the world's problems don't come from the lack of resources, but rather the lack of proper coordination of the resources by people who work with focus because they care.    

Mothers Day

My Mom: The Standard of Care

My Mother set a high standard of what it means to take care of someone, and her example has inspired my own thinking about how healthcare ought to work. In 1996, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer and given 6-12 months to live. The odds were against him in more ways than one and the system could have just let him fall through the cracks.

But my Mother worked tirelessly to help get Dad connected with better treatments and the sources of funding to cover those treatments. Her relentlessness literally gave my Dad more time - 10 years more in fact. Think about what that meant to my Dad and our family and friends - 10 years worth of Christmases, Easters, birthdays, milestones achieved and babies born, including my own - an amazing gift.

Her tireless uncompensated work on behalf of Dad, and what she was able to achieve gave me a valuable insight about the healthcare economy (and other economies where dysfunction persists):

  • The resources are there.
  • The coordination is not.

Diffused accountability and operational silos create large cracks that people fall through. The biggest deficit in healthcare today - and the cause for its excessive waste - may just be the lack of focused coordination driven by people who care.  

A short tribute video with memories of how she inspired our family.

Maternal Health Awareness

HRSA is launching a toll-free hotline May 8 for expecting and new mothers experiencing mental health challenges. Trained counselors will offer support and referrals to community-based and telehealth providers as needed.

💡
Expecting and new mothers are invited to call or text 1-833-9-HELP4MOMS and connect with a counselor at no charge.

Why it helps: The US has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed nation. 60% of these deaths are preventable and disproportionately impact women of color. See CDC data note here, and WHO global perspective here.

Photo by Taylor Heery / Unsplash

A Plea on Behalf of Moms and Dads with small children

Companies that enact “return to office” plans for their workforce need to consider the following:

  • Childcare options are still limited: facilities have not uniformly returned to their pre-pandemic capacity.
  • Forcing a “back to office” agenda leaves the other working spouse home alone juggling a full time job while attempting to manage small children.

Important to note that “back to office” doesn’t have to be explicitly mandated: management actions or remarks implying that in office workers are the “cool kids” will have the same negative effect.

Companies making these kinds of shortsighted moves are likely contributing to the great resignation. They certainly are doing a disservice to their talent and their own interests. After years of employers laying off employees, the tables have turned: employees are laying off employers.

A group of gold cryptocurrency coins on top of black stones
Photo by Quantitatives / Unsplash

Emerging Models for Capital Management

This longer read contemplates how current learning and experimentation in crypto will drive innovation in the management and coordination of capital. This will be of particular interest to leaders who are passionate about innovating for more efficiency and impact.

Blockchain efficiency advantages

In our current way of thinking and architecting systems, we use 4 disparate functions that are usually architected and operated separately:

  1. Contracting: We encode business arrangements (contracts) into business rules driven systems.
  2. Transacting: When those rules prompt transactions - payments, reimbursements, transfers etc - those transactions are usually carried out on a different set of systems and networks.
  3. Recordkeeping: Complicating matters, the audit trails of these respective activities are also stored on different platforms (think of the data warehouses separately held by banks vs businesses) that require expensive integration and reconciliation.
  4. Interacting: End users have no ability to know or interact with the above 3 functions unless someone develops an end user app that is connected to the above functions via an API.  

To date, these categories of systems are typically built and sold separately, swelling corporate budgets with costly IT capabilities that on a compute and data level are massively duplicative.

Blockchain based architectures offer the opportunity to consolidate the first 3 functions, while simplifying the 4th.

  • In a blockchain based architecture, the first 3 functions (contract, transact, record) reside and execute on a single architecture.
  • This simplifies the 4th function of end user interaction: since all core functionality resides on chain, end users just need a "window" to view and interact with the assets or data that they have rights to.

Crypto wallets (and apps built around them) are emerging as that de- facto "window" - the end user app architecture in Web3. Wallets serve the primary purpose of holding the "keys" proving your rights to interact with contract, transact and record functions.

To summarize: All core functionality resides on chain. The wallet is your window that lets you see and interact with the on chain assets or data you have rights to.

Tokenomics brings additional advantages to blockchain architectures

Tokenomics - the practice of establishing a digital token to enable incentives, collaboration and governance - extends the advantages of blockchain based architectures by giving stakeholders (token holders) simple precise metrics to quantify their position and options relative to other participants.  

Blockchain architectures enable consolidation.

Tokenomics builds on this and enables collaboration.

If you're thinking the term "tokenomics" sounds like the design of an economy - you're exactly right! When you establish a digital token you have the opportunity to design what can be done with it:  

  • What the token represents
  • How the token is valued
  • Who gets to hold and transact with it
  • When it can be transferred from one party to another

Key point: you get to design the rules and incentives that guide how the token is used by participants - and by extension the behaviors and outcomes.

Now that we've laid this foundation, let's look at how this emerging capability will enable new models for capital coordination through token shifting and mixed asset funds.  

Token Shifting

Tokens can be shifted from one party to another as agreed upon when agreed-upon conditions are met. This token shifting can be implemented via blockchain-based architectures to reduce unnecessary transaction fees and taxable events.

Put this in the context of typical financial transactions today between parties.

  • Parties A and B enter into an arrangement whereby Party B will make payments to Party A when specific conditions are met.
  • Party A meets one of the specific conditions  
  • Party B is now obligated to make a payment to Party A
  • Parties A and B incur multiple costs associated with this transaction.

These transactions will usually incur several sets of fees.

Payment-making costs may include the cost of moving money out of an account or across a network, and the cost of recording the transactions for financial reporting and audit purposes.

Payment-recieving costs may also include transaction fees and the cost of recording the transactions.      

What if instead:

  • Parties A and B enter into an arrangement whereby Party B will shift tokens to Party A when specific conditions are met.
  • Party A meets one of the specific conditions  
  • Party B's smart contract updates the ledger to reflect that a token has been shifted from to Party A's ownership.
  • Party A has the ability to convert its tokens to other assets in the time and manner of its choosing.

This emerging pattern needs to be studied carefully because it can offer significant opportunities for better incentives and better efficiencies.

Regulators and tax policymakers likewise should consider how to incentivize those specific functions and behaviors that enable the well being of the public.

Hypothetical application to healthcare  

Today’s healthcare business arrangements and transactions are orchestrated by a very unwieldy apparatus that attempts to encode detailed rules into legacy systems. As rules or conditions are met, financial transactions occur via a very heavy and again unwieldy collection of integrations and protocols. Payments incur transaction fees which - given the volume - drive a significant amount of cost. The unwieldy aspect of these platforms becomes painfully clear anytime evolving customer needs require new or updated features.

Because of the multiple systems involved (remember the 4 different functions listed earlier), the encoding of healthcare business rules is error prone and rarely addresses the full set of real world healthcare treatment scenarios and activities.

Overpayments, underpayments and other mistakes are frequent; these drive clawback and litigation actions - all with very expensive staffing, financial systems and networks.

An example of how it could work instead:

A simple shift on an onchain ledger notes that because of the successful recovery of a patient, a set of tokens have been shifted to the account of the provider. And, the same blockchain architecture could enable implementation of much more richly detailed, more fine grained rules with far lower cost and complexity than possible in today's healthcare enterprises.  

This same pattern applies to any pooled funds that must be managed for the needs of a set of beneficiaries.  

Let's take it a step further.

The Utility of Mixed Asset Crypto Funds


Capital allocation managers must continously balance between preserving the minimum reserves for meeting obligations vs. maximizing exposure to upside.  

Mixed crypto asset funds are being experimented with to learn how they can enable better capital coordination. This approach, when combined with token shifting, could enable better value for an intended set of beneficiaries, and more flexibility for capital managers.

Think of it as a mix of stable and non-stable assets:    

  • Non-stable assets: This category of assets is intended to leverage volatility via active trading or long term demand growth to capture gains. Assets in this category could include Bitcoin, Ethereum and other non-stable coins (as well as traditional equities).
  • Stable assets: This category of assets is intended to ensure the ability to meet obligations - for example to pay out benefits to intended beneficiaries on demand. Assets in this category include stablecoins (whose price is pegged to the dollar or other fiat currency). These assets do not experience the price fluctuations of Bitcoin or other non stable crypto assets and offer more predictable liquidity.

Assets can be quickly shifted from stable to non-stable and vice versa to ensure desired allocations.

Further Reading

Nature Notes

Rookeries

Rookeries are special locations where certain species of birds nest and raise their young as a community. I had a chance to visit several at Lake Opapka near Orlando FL this week.

Rookery at Lake Opapka, FL. Photo by Ralph Perrine 2022

The rookery above has nests from three different species:

  • Great Blue Heron - the largest nest partially obscured behind the branches (near the center of the photo).
  • Double Crested Cormorant - the highest nest in the upper left of the photo.
  • Anhinga - the rest of the birds in the lower half of the photo are either adult or fledgling Anhinga's.

(Clink the links to access the Birds of the World species information for each.)

A closeup of the Great Blue Heron nest:

Great Blue Heron nest at Lake Opapka, FL. Photo by Ralph Perrine 2022

And here is an adult Anhinga with its fledglings:

Adult Anhinga and fledglings at Lake Opapka, FL. Photo by Ralph Perrine 2022

Note the gular throat pouch (smaller version of what a pelican has) prominent on the chicks.

We are still learning about Anhingas. Little is known about the growth and development of nestlings. This paper documents what appears to be an Anhinga engaging in play behavior (link to downloadable PDF on this reference page on SORA).

Gorgeous view of Lake Hallstatt from a hotel balcony.
Photo by Hasmik Ghazaryan Olson / Unsplash

Quantifying Scenic Beauty

Chanuki Illushka Seresinhe used deep learning to quantify the beauty and value of outdoor places and learn "how we can design our future cities to be better places in which to live, while also being more symbiotic with nature." Her work surfaces indications of the link between the beauty of a place and the health and well being of the people who frequent it.

Read more of her intriguing research papers and findings at beautifulplaces.ai

Final Note

If you are a Mother, I want to say Happy Mother's Day and hope you are having a wonderful relaxing day. Thank you for all you do. And for the rest of us, let's be sure to treasure and support the Mothers who care, drive and inspire us to be our best. Thank you all for reading each week. Feel free to forward this to a friend and continue the conversation on the S3T Discord, Twitter or LinkedIn. Have a great week ahead!

Ralph

Opinions mine. Not financial advice. I may hold assets discussed.