Mandeep Walia, MSAIS ’02 started his career in finance and technology traditionally enough, working for blue-chip firms including PricewaterhouseCoopers and State Street Bank. Over the years, he developed a taste for shaking up the status quo through alternative digital ventures such as PayPal and LendUp. In his latest role — chief compliance officer and head of enterprise risk management — Walia is helping to launch Facebook’s Calibra, an online wallet powered by the Libra blockchain.
I believed in cryptocurrencies and the underlying blockchain technology in their early years, as a powerful way to help improve the financial lives of people worldwide. There is a large section of the world's population that is locked out of the existing financial system, and they need a way to manage their finances. I was beyond excited about the Calibra vision, which is extremely bold and can do so much good for so many people. It was a no-brainer.
Calibra is building a mobile wallet powered by the Libra blockchain. I'm responsible for making sure that we comply with laws and regulations and protect the integrity of our business. For example, this includes stopping bad actors and other criminals from conducting illegal activity using our platform.
When I studied at Bentley, it was one of the few universities that offered a crucial blend of finance/accounting and technology programs. It gave me an excellent grounding in how technology processes can impact business risk and vice versa. This cross-functional learning has had a lasting influence on how I think and operate.
Open and Safe
Blockchain is an advanced distributed database technology that can safely process and store transaction records on a peer-to-peer network. This makes it possible to create financial services that don't rely on intermediaries, such as banks, so they're available to more people at a lower cost. A cryptocurrency is a digital currency created through blockchain technology. It offers distributed governance, which ensures that no single entity controls the network; and security through cryptography, which protects the integrity of funds.
Backed by Hard Currency
Many of the characteristics that have made other cryptocurrencies successful —such as decentralization and the ability to conduct transactions without an intermediary — will be critical to the success of the Libra blockchain. However, Libra is designed to complement the existing ecosystem by offering low price-volatility, as Libra will be fully backed by existing currencies and financial assets.
Shaping the Future
There are so many things I love about this project — getting to work closely with top-notch innovators, being front and center in influencing an emerging regulatory framework, working hands-on to manage risk through cutting-edge technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence and privacy-enhancing technologies. But I’d say the best part is having a real shot at building a better way for people to send and receive money, greatly improving their financial lives.