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Dr Jane Thomason of Digital Transformation on Crypto Clothesline

On the Clothesline this week we had a fantastic connection chat with Dr Jane Thomason.

After only a short time of being involved in Blockchain technology, having been introduced to the concept by her son, Jane saw the incredible applications it could afford in her life-work.

At the tender age of 14 Jane attended an Oxfam tour of Indonesia together with her mother was inspired by the 4 community projects of Mary Johnson in central Java.  From then Jane decided to advocate helping people in developing countries including Indonesia after the 2004 Banda Aceh Boxing Day Tsunami, Papua New Guinea and much more.

In these countries she witnessed the difficulties local people experienced having their identities literally washed away, leading to challenges not only of identity clarification, but also of human trafficking potential, loss of contributed funds without really knowing where the money was being channelled to, ownership of land questions and so on.

She realised that in this example, Blockchain would be so useful in maintaining irrefutable evidence of people’s ID, their associated documentation and the movement of money to where it was most needed.

One of Jane’s favourite projects is ID Box, developed as a result of winning the 2017 London Hackathon.  The premise for the projects competing was: “Financial inclusion in lower economic environments.”

The project is the brainchild of Julien Bouteloup, and it allows for identification to be recorded on the blockchain using biometrics (ie. a fingerprint) and a 2G phone without the need for either electricity or the internet.

Jane loves the idea of this project as it can help so many people around the world in communities where resources are limited, and ID solutions are keenly required.  At the time of the interview, the project was being tested in a remote village in Papua New Guinea.

“It can change billions of people’s lives…”

Jane is also part of a global co-operation that launched in New York on March 8th on International Women’s Day.  There are various STGs (Sustainable Development Goals) that have been determined ranging from climate change and ocean pollution to poverty and gender inequality.  They are passionate about investing in women to create gender equality: a problem that women still face all over the world.

Another project Jane is passionate about relates to HIV Aids, especially in regards to truck drivers who are crossing borders and countries along East Africa, potentially carrying and spreading the HIV virus, especially with sex workers en route.  This service involves these drivers getting access to ARVs (antiretroviral treatments) along the way, taking necessary medicines and precautions, all the while keeping their identity confidential so as to not attract the stigma associated with having the disease.

Jane also mentioned her discussions with Leah Callon-Butler of who was our guest some months ago on the Clothesline, to see how this kind of technology could also assist sex workers’ HIV exposure and health in developed nations also.

There are three main ways Blockchain could be used effectively in this example:

  1. The ID issue – if you have no ID for government services then effectively you don’t exist and cannot access services
  2. For tracking providence of drugs and the supply chain
  3. For compliance with of completion of specified medical treatment

Jane sees that the Blockchain can be introduced to many aspects of health care, and that often, the less ‘developed’ countries and emerging markets like Mauritius and Papua New Guinea will be the first to adopt these changes, followed eventually by the slower beasts of developed governments which have a far greater resistance to change and compliance regulations.

The OECD (Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development) have formed a Global Blockchain Forum which consists of peak bodies from 15 countries responsible for the adoption of Blockchain, and creating a regulatory sandbox, experimenting with new tech and applying it in controlled conditions.

While Blockchain is considered a ‘sexy’ term Jane claims that a ‘whole bunch of frontier technology’ will be the way of the future: combinations of Blockchain together with AI (Artificial Intelligence) and IoT (Internet of Things).

Jane goes on to cite two examples of conversations and communications that have affected her deeply, making her realise that the work she has conducted over her lifetime so far, has in fact had a positive impact on people in remote communities who benefitted from it, and she goes on to list her favourite saying and why she loves it, even if she didn’t get notice of this question in advance!

Find Out More:


Leah Callon-Butler:

Julien Bouteloup: ID Box

Edith Piaf: Non, Je ne regrette rien


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