151: Civic Ledger | Katrina Donaghy

By Dexter Cousins on 30/06/2023

It's been three years since Katrina Donaghy last joined Dexter on Fintech Chatter to talk about Civic Ledger. In this episode Katrina shares an update on Civic Ledger and how they are bringing governance to water rights through tokenisation.

"We haven't asked for permission to do this. In the 15 years since the White paper, we've built this entire digital global economy."

- Katrina Donaghy

Navigating the Blockchain Journey with Civic Ledger

In this thought-provoking interview, Dexter Cousins reconnects with Katrina Donaghy, co-founder of Civic Ledger, to discuss the evolution of the blockchain industry and the challenges and opportunities it presents.

With a focus on Civic Ledger's mission to improve transparency and accountability in government through blockchain technology, Katrina shares her insights on the journey of blockchain, the importance of contextualizing the technology within society, and the need for bottom-up governance.

She also offers advice for startups navigating the funding landscape and emphasizes the value of customer-centricity and resilience in building a successful company.

The Ever-Evolving Fintech Landscape

The world of blockchain technology has come a long way since its inception, and few individuals have witnessed its growth and transformation as closely as Katrina Donaghy, co-founder of Civic Ledger.

In this insightful interview, Katrina reflects on the past seven years of Civic Ledger's journey and shares her thoughts on the current state of the blockchain industry.

The Early Days: From Proof of Concept to Public Blockchains

Civic Ledger was founded in 2016, at a time when blockchain technology was still a relatively unknown concept. Katrina, recognised the potential of blockchain to solve efficiency problems in government transactions. She embarked on a proof of concept with the Queensland government, exploring the application of blockchain to issue community liquor licenses. This early success led them to establish Civic Ledger and focus on the civic applications of blockchain technology.

"We were interested in using blockchain to improve transparency and accountability in government transactions," Katrina explains. "We saw the frustration in dealing with paper-based processes and the need for a more efficient and secure way to transact with government."

The Challenges of Early Adoption and the ICO Craze

As pioneers in the blockchain space, Katrina and her team faced numerous challenges along the way. One of the biggest hurdles was the lack of understanding and awareness surrounding blockchain technology. They had to establish themselves as thought leaders and constantly advocate for the value and potential of blockchain beyond the hype.

"We were tired of the constant focus on 'what is blockchain?' and wanted to shift the conversation to 'why blockchain?'" Katrina recalls. "We believed in the power of public blockchains for transparency and accountability, while many others were focused on private blockchains."

Another significant challenge came in the form of the ICO (Initial Coin Offering) craze, where companies raised large sums of money on the promise of an idea or token with little to no utility. This period tested the resilience of Civic Ledger, as they struggled to secure funding and maintain momentum.

"We had a year where no one wanted to work with us," Katrina admits. "We had to weather the storm and stay true to our mission, even when the industry seemed to be moving in a different direction."

The Importance of Contextualising Blockchain within Governance

Throughout their journey, Katrina and her team remained focused on their mission to improve transparency and accountability in government. They recognised that blockchain technology could be a powerful tool for reorganising governance and reshaping how value is shared among citizens.

"I come from a background in government, and blockchain spoke to me because I understood the socioeconomics behind it," Katrina explains. "We saw the potential to transform how governments issue and manage assets, such as water rights and patents."

Civic Ledger's work in the water market sector exemplifies their commitment to using blockchain to address real-world challenges. By digitizing water rights and creating a transparent and auditable ledger, they enable more efficient allocation of water resources and empower stakeholders to make informed decisions.

"We recognized that water is a critical asset, and traditional water markets are often illiquid and inaccessible to smaller players," Katrina says. "Our goal is to democratize access to water markets and optimize the allocation of this precious resource."

Emulating Global Innovators and Fostering Collaboration

When asked about countries that Australia could learn from in terms of blockchain adoption, Katrina highlights the progress made in Asia, particularly Vietnam, India, and China. These countries have embraced blockchain technology and are investing in the development of blockchain talent and infrastructure.

"Asia is leading the way in terms of blockchain adoption," Katrina asserts. "They understand the importance of building internal capabilities and leveraging blockchain to drive economic growth."

She also emphasizes the need for collaboration within the blockchain industry, both at a national and global level. Associations like Blockchain Australia have played a crucial role in facilitating conversations with government and driving regulatory change. Katrina believes that now is the time for the industry to come together and shape the next phase of blockchain's evolution.

"We have an opportunity to solidify our collective voice and work towards a common goal," Katrina says. "By collaborating and sharing knowledge, we can drive the adoption of blockchain technology and create a more transparent and accountable society."

Navigating Funding Challenges and Building a Valuable Company

As the conversation turns to the funding landscape for blockchain startups, Katrina acknowledges the difficulties faced by many founders in securing capital. However, she emphasises the importance of building a valuable company that solves real problems and focuses on customer needs.

"Building a valuable company is not about chasing the latest trends or raising the most money," Katrina asserts. "It's about understanding your customers, doubling down on your product, and constantly listening to the industry you serve."

Civic Ledger's resilience and customer-centric approach have been key factors in their success. Despite not raising capital since 2018, they have continued to grow and deliver solutions that address critical challenges in the water market sector.

"We have stayed true to our purpose and focused on building a valuable product," Katrina explains. "Now, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel as our customers embrace our technology and recognize its transformative potential."

The Future of Blockchain and Civic Ledger's Journey

As the interview comes to a close, Katrina reflects on the future of blockchain technology and the role of Civic Ledger in driving its adoption. She remains optimistic about the industry's potential to reshape governance and create a more transparent and accountable society.

"We have come a long way in the past seven years, but there is still much work to be done," Katrina concludes. "By staying true to our mission, focusing on our customers, and collaborating with industry stakeholders, we can continue to drive the adoption of blockchain technology and create a better future for all."

As Civic Ledger enters its next phase of growth, Katrina and her team are poised to make a lasting impact in the water market sector and beyond. Their journey serves as a testament to the power of resilience, customer-centricity, and a steadfast commitment to solving real-world problems with blockchain technology.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer, or company.

About Katrina Donaghy

Through Katrina's early years as a sociologist through to her interest in entrepreneurialism, she has extensive experience in public policy and early stage commercialisation. For more than 20 years, Katrina has worked in both public and not for profit sectors with a specific focus on business development, project delivery and revenue diversification with the view to building resilient and sustainable organisations. 

In Australia, she organises Women in Blockchain events and regularly speaks on the topic of why cities and governments should be exploring blockchain technologies. Katrina's interest in blockchain technologies is driven by her curiousity of its potential for governments to create and facilitate new citizen-at-the-centre markets, organisations and economies of the future.

About Civic Ledger

Civic Ledger is a purpose-driven technology company with a mission to build multi-lateral marketplaces with blockchain capabilities to the benefit of all.

They offer a range of digital transformation products and solutions, including blockchain-based platforms for highly regulated real-world and intangible assets, the tokenisation, tracking and tracing the issuance and use of licenses, permits and rights, and secure data sharing for meeting disclosure requirements.

Civic Ledger aims to empower citizens, industries, and governments to streamline operations, reduce fraud, improve auditability, and promote accountable governance.

Article written by Dexter Cousins
Founder of Tier One People and host of the Fintech Chatter Podcast.

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