Neha Narula

Inquire About This Speaker

Foremost Expert on Digital Currencies and Blockchains; Financial Democratization Enthusiast; Director of the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab

Biography

The glue that holds society together is trust – trust in banks, governments, media, as well as each other. But trust is transforming; institutional trust is eroding while people are depending on peer-to-peer trust more than ever. Neha Narula, director of the Digital Currency Initiative at MIT, believes digital currencies and blockchains – public ledgers in which transactions between users in a network are stored in a secure, verifiable and permanent way – offer a positive path forward in an era of shifting trust by maintaining the integrity of online transactions, records and other underpinnings of commerce. While these concepts have received enormous press attention, fundamental questions remain about how these technologies work and what they mean for our future economic wellbeing.

An engaging speaker, Narula is adept at presenting the complex details of currencies and blockchains; she’s impassioned, understandable and relatable. She believes blockchains will cause the emergence of new services that are both more accessible and transparent. Beyond transparency, digital currencies hold the promise of allowing people and companies to send and receive money across borders and disintermediate banks, brokerages, and currency exchanges. While financial institutions will still play a large role, they will need to adapt to this new ecosystem, as Narula explains in “The Future of Money,” her brief yet powerful TED Talk. But blockchain technology can be applied well beyond finance, increasing accountability and credibility for businesses, media, governments and non-profits. One application area needing transparency, for example, is the food supply chain, where blockchains can provide assurance about safety, quality and provenance of food substances.

Narula’s research and insights have garnered widespread acclaim: she was named to the 2018 Thinkers50 Radar list of management thinkers most likely to shape the future of how organizations are managed and led, as well as Fortune’s The Ledger 40 Under 40 list. Narula earned a PhD in computer science at MIT, during the completion of which she built computer databases, kindling her interest and enthusiasm in the blockchains that comprise cryptocurrency transactions. Previously, she was a senior software engineer at Google, where she designed scalable storage. Narula is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Futures Council on Blockchain.

Neha Narula is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, and conference talks, and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Videos

Books & Research

Media

The Truth About Cryptocurrencies and Blockchains

October 16, 2018

Wired logo

Neha Narula and Alexis Ohanian Say It's Early Days Yet for Cryptocurrency

October 15, 2018

Building the Internet of Value

October 1, 2018

What Blockchain Means for the Value of Money (Audio)

September 28, 2018

Forbes logo

Eight Inspiring People Share Their Must-Watch TED Talks

September 28, 2018

Wired logo

The Blockchain: Boon for Bankers - or Tool for Tyrants?

September 18, 2019

Understanding the Future of Money: We Speak With Neha Narula

September 14, 2018

Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and the Future of the Internet (Audio)

September 10, 2018

MIT Digital Currency Initiative: Neha Narula, Gary Gensler, And Patrick Murck Discuss The Role Of Regulation In The Current Cryptocurrency Landscape (Video)

May 10, 2018

The How and Why of Buying Bitcoin (Video)

April 12, 2018

Inverse Culture logo

SXSW 2018: Blockchain Could Make "Netflix Curator" Future Job, Says Expert

March 16, 2018

9 Blockchain Influencers for You to Follow -- Who All Happen to Be Female

February 9, 2018

Blockchain Buzzwords, Changes and Challenges: EmTech China Blockchain Panel

January 31, 2018

Wired logo

Decentralized Social Networks Sound Great. Too Bad They'll Never Work

September 8, 2017

Cryptographic Vulnerabilities in IOTA

September 7, 2017

Harvard Business Review logo

The Blockchain Will Do to the Financial System What the Internet Did to Media

March 8, 2017

3 Big Blockchain Ideas MIT is Working on Right Now

February 7, 2017

What’s New at MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative

September 12, 2016

The MIT Media Lab and the Open Music Initiative

June 13, 2016

Gender Diversity in Tech: A Conversation about Responsibility

February 7, 2015

Intro Video

Video Thumbnail

A-Z Name

Narula, Neha

Biography

The glue that holds society together is trust – trust in banks, governments, media, as well as each other. But trust is transforming; institutional trust is eroding while people are depending on peer-to-peer trust more than ever. Neha Narula, director of the Digital Currency Initiative at MIT, believes digital currencies and blockchains – public ledgers in which transactions between users in a network are stored in a secure, verifiable and permanent way – offer a positive path forward in an era of shifting trust by maintaining the integrity of online transactions, records and other underpinnings of commerce. While these concepts have received enormous press attention, fundamental questions remain about how these technologies work and what they mean for our future economic wellbeing.

An engaging speaker, Narula is adept at presenting the complex details of currencies and blockchains; she’s impassioned, understandable and relatable. She believes blockchains will cause the emergence of new services that are both more accessible and transparent. Beyond transparency, digital currencies hold the promise of allowing people and companies to send and receive money across borders and disintermediate banks, brokerages, and currency exchanges. While financial institutions will still play a large role, they will need to adapt to this new ecosystem, as Narula explains in “The Future of Money,” her brief yet powerful TED Talk. But blockchain technology can be applied well beyond finance, increasing accountability and credibility for businesses, media, governments and non-profits. One application area needing transparency, for example, is the food supply chain, where blockchains can provide assurance about safety, quality and provenance of food substances.

Narula’s research and insights have garnered widespread acclaim: she was named to the 2018 Thinkers50 Radar list of management thinkers most likely to shape the future of how organizations are managed and led, as well as Fortune’s The Ledger 40 Under 40 list. Narula earned a PhD in computer science at MIT, during the completion of which she built computer databases, kindling her interest and enthusiasm in the blockchains that comprise cryptocurrency transactions. Previously, she was a senior software engineer at Google, where she designed scalable storage. Narula is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Futures Council on Blockchain.

Neha Narula is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, and conference talks, and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

The Future of Money

Who really controls “our” money? Personal bank accounts and information are regulated by governments and administered through financial institutions that have the power to freeze them or deny access. While banks play a valuable role in ensuring the integrity of the payments system, they have largely been insulated from new disruptive technologies that may well upend their monopoly on providing financial products and services. Neha Narula argues that digital currencies and blockchain technology have the potential to do for value what the Internet did for information: individuals and companies can transact peer-to-peer and instantly, bypassing the inflexible and onerous financial system. While these digital currencies are in their infancy and the technology, support structure and legal conventions need to be worked out, Narula pulls us out of those details to look at the big picture: how companies, policymakers and entrepreneurs will shape the future of money to make world better and more efficient – and unleash a tide of innovation and financial freedom.

Beyond Finance: The Revolutionary Potential of Blockchain

Blockchains are empowering people and companies to bypass financial institutions to control and monitor their own money. But that’s only one application of a technology – essentially a public, verifiable and immutable accounting ledger – that promises to revolutionize the world, says Neha Narula. In general, the decline of trust in institutions – banks, governments, media and tech giants included – is pervasive, and demands we rethink the fundamentals of an economy and society built on institutional trust. Blockchain technology can play a key role in shoring up the sense of accountability that is fundamental to how institutions operate, and perhaps at a lower cost. For example, blockchains can be used to establish shared, verifiable records so that users can own their own digital data like healthcare records, digital identities, and more. Blockchains can also be used to audit major government institutions and corporations, and help ethical, sustainability-conscious businesses validate the integrity of their dealings and supply chains. In this presentation, which can be customized to audiences in various industries, Narula unveils the potential of blockchains to both restoring trust in institutions and circumventing those who have not done enough to keep public faith.

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