ABR Interviews Laura Takenaka, Interim Secretary of NEM

Asia Blockchain Review
July 28, 2019

Asia Blockchain Review recently talked to Laura Takenaka, Interim Secretary of NEM Foundation, a foundation endorsed by an international network with an ethos to provide its blockchain platform to enhance enterprise. Our discussion covered new tech updates, partners, and leadership teams, as well as plans for this year and going forward.

NEM’s permissioned blockchain platform was designed and coded from the ground up for both scale and speed, delivering industry-leading transaction rates for internal ledgers. Additionally, its consensus mechanism and the Supernode program ensure uncompromised and stable growth. The network endorsing the foundation also brings a wealth of experience in IT, entrepreneurship, business processes, trading, property and asset development, international management, and academia.

Asia Blockchain Review: Please tell us a bit about your background & your current position at NEM Foundation.

Laura Takenaka: Well, I’m originally from Canada but have been in Asia for around 14 years. I’ve worked in various capacities in a lot of different industries.  I started out at the provincial government in my home province of Nova Scotia. I was there for five years before I started to learn Japanese and eventually moved to Japan to study Japanese full time at a university. In Japan, I worked in the education industry and as a professional translator. 

I moved to Thailand in 2012 with my daughter and worked for the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand, first as an editorial volunteer and later as the Manager of the Association. My last job before NEM Foundation was with Partnerships and Resource Mobilization at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Bangkok Regional Hub. During all this, I was also pursuing my Master’s Degree in International Development Studies at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok and am currently finishing my thesis. I’ve been involved in the blockchain space for about three years overall.

I was the Head of NEM Thailand and now the Interim Secretary of NEM Foundation. I am also part of the communications team as lead.


ABR: How would you describe the overall market for the XEM token at present?

LT: Well as you know, we are finally seeing the thawing of the ‘crypto winter’. XEM took a hit, as did most altcoins, but is now starting to rebound. The Foundation doesn’t like to speculate on price, as it can be construed in various ways. What I can say is that with our latest technology update, Catapult, launching in Q3/Q4, XEM looks to be a very strong and capable competitor in the market.


ABR: What are the benefits of keeping the amount of XEM tokens in the ecosystem fixed in order to ensure zero inflation? How does this work with scalability?

LT: Well, the token supply and scalability are not related, as one is token economics, and the other is technological making sure the system can handle high throughput. As for the fixed token amount,  Catapult allows more and more assets to be created of different kinds, i.e. more mosaics (other than XEM). As for XEM, Catapult does have an inflationary plugin for those that don’t want a fixed supply if they are creating their own chain, and that is something they choose to have for their project.


ABR: Earlier this year, the Foundation released its plan for financial and organizational restructuring.  Can you update us on that front?

LT: I can say that we are definitely on the right track with our organizational and financial restructuring. We were successful with our audit and are progressing forward as planned. 

We have completely overhauled the way the Foundation is run and have put highly competent teams in place. We have plans for a learning portal to build brand dominance in the educational sector and to spread our tech across the world to interested developers. This does two things. First, it scales out our educational offerings, helping with easy onboarding for new projects as well as offering options to community developers to build their skill levels. 

Second, the portal would also be part of our larger ecosystem that includes NEM Ventures and the launch of NEM Studios which is an integral part of our larger plan for the launch of Catapult in Q3/Q4 2019.

ABR: What can you tell us about the new partnerships currently in place?

LT: Partnerships are always exciting and everyone always wants to know who we are working with. Some we cannot disclose at this juncture, as there are NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) in play.


ABR: The latest Catapult update has been called the start of NEM 2.0. What does Catapult bring to NEM as the platform’s core engine?

LT: Catapult brings so many new features and possibilities to NEM as the core engine. It uniquely positions us to be *the* blockchain of choice, especially for STOs (security token offerings). Aggregate transactions, Atomic Swaps, and Multi-Layer Multi-Signature client support where you can create custom signature requirements that allow different combinations of approvals for use with account recovery or business logic. All of these features and more can be found on NEM Catapult’s all-in-one platform. We published the “Foundations Catapult Roadmap” at the end of Q1 to outline the Foundation’s support for the upcoming Catapult release. 

With these features and many, many more, Catapult will be a force to reckon with and will establish NEM as one of the premier blockchain projects in the industry, ready for the next phase of blockchain adoption.


ABR: What can you tell us about the new leadership team and the implications it will have for NEM going forward?

LT: Our new leadership team is absolutely amazing. We are so lucky to have such passionate professionals. Our Council members all work together very well, and you couldn’t ask for a better bunch of professionals to work alongside. I’m especially excited to see NEM Studios who, together with the Foundation, will implement a professional go-to-market strategy for the launch of Catapult.

Our BD team is top notch and already has partnerships and revenue streams in place that is bringing in annualized profits, and our technical leads are building unparalleled training materials and products for NEM. The Blockchain Centre in KL has turned around completely into a profit-making enterprise, while our RFP portal Bonfire is up and running and has already completed a successful contract awarding. We have accomplished so much, but it would take pages to write it all out. 


ABR: What are your targets for 2019?

LT: Releasing Catapult! Joking, but not really. Our target for 2019 is to support the release of the Catapult Mainnet as much as we can, with the Foundation taking on frontend development of things like SDKs (software development kits), Wrappers, Wallets, and Explorers, as well as supporting the transition of our existing projects and partners over to Catapult. We have contracted NEM Studios to create the Go-To-Market strategy for Catapult, and we plan to have sustainable revenue streams as well as an online learning portal up and running before Catapult releases. Everything points towards the launch of Catapult mainnet, and our job is to support and promote.


ABR: What additional governance structures are being introduced to enhance operations?

LT: The new Foundation has completely turned around the running of the Foundation. Where processes were lacking, we created them with an eye to transparency and solid governance in mind. We have created policies and procedures where they didn’t exist before, and clear reporting lines and verticals that make working together straightforward and simple. Gone are the regional silos and we have cross-specialty teams and groups that work together across regions. We have clear financial audits, strict budgeting guidelines, and KPIs/OKRs (key performance indicators/objectives & key results) to adhere to. We will be embarking upon further governance measures as the year progresses. 

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