FACES OF WEB3: Sean White, XDC Network

FACES OF WEB3: Sean White, XDC Network
February 15, 2024

In the second instalment of our blog series, Faces of Web3, we talk to Sean White, National Business Development Manager and Ecosystem Manager, XDC Network.

The XDC Network sets a benchmark for digitising trade finance by enabling the tokenisation of diverse TradFi instruments and assets. Now a globally recognised top 50 blockchain network, XDC Network is one to watch. We get to know its National Business Development Manager and Ecosystem Manager, Sean White, as he shares his Web3 journey and what’s next for the XDC Network.

Hi, Sean! Share a little about yourself and your journey in the Web3 space.

Aside from being a devoted family man, my work background is pretty unusual. Medical scientist, visual artist, holistic therapist, business owner – and now you can add National BDM and Ecosystem Manager for a top 50 blockchain network. Go figure! 

I started my journey into blockchain very late in 2018, in finance and fintech, as an investor in precious metals. I was then drawn into digital via a gentleman deep in Ethereum, who I had the chance to meet through work. XDC Network was the sixth coin I ever bought into, and currently it is the biggest holding I have, and one of the few DAs I actually own. The XDC community, the mission and ethics are what drew me in early and kept my attention. After being a committed contributor in the socials in local networks for a couple of years, the already established members of the XDC Network community must have liked what they saw and one of the original Founders reached out after a while and said, “let’s do something together in Australia”.  

Outside the Web3 world, what are we likely to find you doing? 

I love to travel! This is something my wife particularly encourages, as I can be a hermit and a workaholic at times if left to my own devices. In fact, she’s a great encourager of anything social, such as going out to dinner, catching a gig, walking the dogs on the local beach… I also like watching football, preferably live and pitch-side – it’s a sacred experience that I needn’t ever be asked twice to consider. 

My health is also super important, as is balance. So, I go through phases of exercise, yoga and meditation, not necessarily all at the same time; these things come and go like the seasons. I’ve also just joined a coding group using Python and an ESP32 microcontroller. Lifelong learning is something that works for me, too.

The term ‘Web3’ is constantly evolving. How do you define Web3, and how do you see it shaping the future of the internet?

Web3 or Web3.0! [laughs]. I like a good buzzword. If your browser has the ability to work on multiple devices, with security and tracking of activity, I guess we are getting close to a Web3 world. If you can access a wallet and link that securely custodying accounts, that settles in real-time, yeah I guess that is what I consider ‘Web3’. If a business can fractionalise a real-world asset, or a real-world process, and make it impossible to duplicate and only transferrable – then we are there.

What do you believe are the most significant opportunities and obstacles facing the Web3 community today, and how can we overcome these?

Significant opportunities would be reducing barriers of entry to asset classes. A simple example is purchasing audited tokenised representations of vaulted precious metals. Just about every chain has dApp businesses that do this, instead of traditional ounces in a bullion exchange, one can easily pick up grams and liquidate grams; often with no storage or fabrication fees. Physical redemption of tokenised gold from ComTech (built on XDC), for instance, is possible as well. What is the obstacle here? For clients to find trust in such tokenisations – trusting in the standards and regulations of these sorts of Web3 applications.  

Precious metals are one thing… How about houses? And legal document-related NFTs like land titles? Wills? Well, you can see how this might take some time; incidentally, law blocks on XDC Network are developing these services on-chain. So the obstacle is time to develop trust, which is one of the better problems to have.

What are some of your career highlights from 2023?

In hindsight it was remarkable – seemingly out of nowhere – a community member of a little known EVM, which was outside the top 100 DAs by market capitalisation, fronts up as a speaker, panelist – with this world class Protocol team putting on a dev workshop – and does Blockchain Week 2023 like the Bosses we were [laughs].

XDC Network was a major sponsor of Blockchain Week 2023, which was held around the same time the UK passed the Electronic Transferable Document Act. Now, over half (by GDP) of the G7 now accepts paperless trade. With the emergence of XDC Trade Network dApps on the XDC Network, we are able to service these exports very simply; with existing trade financing solutions already established through TradeFinex platform, XDC is in the right groove. 

If that was not already awesome timing, SBI Group (via SBI VC Trade) – one of the most embedded FinTech goliaths of the world – announced that Japan was allowing XDC as a tradeable and stakeable asset. You can say I was in the right place at the right time with these two big developments. It made for a very easy sell wherever I went. Being on that wave at BW2023 was fun, and yes, a little bit of a vindication giving some heavy lashings of pride!

At the end of 2023 we cemented subnet functionality and now just about completed our security audit of the Protocol Upgrade – and we are about to unleash our evolutionary DAOFin, increasing representative governance.

And what’s next for you and XDC Network in 2024? 

Over Christmas and the New Year, SBI Group further joined hands with XDC Network and they are already piloting the XDC coin as the core settlement of the R3 Corda Network – using Impel (an XDC dApp) to tokenise Fiat in the international clearing activities of the Corda platform. 

You could say that the official SBI relationship opened up a lot of eyes and further consolidated XDC Network as a top 50 Blockchain per market cap. That makes me proud because it is the classic ugly duckling story. XDC is a swan – always was. I am looking forward to our phoenix moment, but I reckon it will be more like an eagle moment. We are about to hit some juicy thermals – just let go and enjoy the ride.

What inspires you to stay actively involved in Web3?

Goals and unfinished business. Broadly – equanimity.

The potential of immutability and traceability is what appeals to me in a technical way; fractionalisation and tokenising RWPs and RWAs obviously has many benefits for increasing efficiencies and democratising broad participation, as well. This is a technology that has the potential, if applied to all, to ultimately remove the oxygen from illicit activities in all quarters of society. From governments to corporates and black markets. Maybe we aren’t there yet, but it’s the journey… There may be some halfway measures we might have to compromise in that window, but that is my utopian vision.

Looking ahead, what are your predictions for the future of Web3 and blockchain, and how do you plan to contribute to its advancement?

It may come to a surprise to some that I am not innately bullish by nature, despite my sanguine personality; I am actually deep-down, quite unfairly saturnine. Unfairly I say, because it is seemingly a cruel joke of my personality that I can see the hope, optimism and potential of many a situation, yet I am fully cognisant of the effort and inspiration required to bring through these types of successes and joy. These levels of best-case scenarios are not always forthcoming to be made manifest in the general population, which can be vexing. So, I am mostly cautiously optimistic on Web3, and beyond. 

What’s next? I see more DAOs and pressures to ‘optimise’ governance of various networks. Also, more patient acceptance of a Web2 to Web3 transition from blockchain advocates and evangelists. 

From a tech and tech-adoption macro perspective I can definitely see the vanguards of nations consolidating their positions and making efforts to on-board the rest of the world. That means bringing developing countries, even the likes of Australia, into digital while retaining the best bits of Web2. Tech is meant to support humanity, not direct – lets see it start to really do so in our lifetimes.

We are only at the beginning. We have a journey of more iterations or progressions of Web3; and I can definitely see XDC being in that ongoing conversation. 

Connect with Sean on LinkedIn and on X

Interview: Shanice Desilva

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