A blogger, an author, an orator and an impactful professional, ChristineDuhaime is not short of experience and skill. Christine is the founder and CEO of the DigitalFinanceInstitute (DFI), and practices law at Duhaime Law.
She is a frequent keynote speaker in tech, AI and law, having been invited to speak before the United Nations UNICTRAL on artificial intelligence and blockchain law, the Financial Action Task Force on technology and anti-money laundering law, MilkenInstitute on technology and financial inclusion, and the Asian Development Bank on financial inclusion. She is also frequently in the media as an expert on legal issues, particularly in relation to financial crime, terrorism, financial market regulation, digital currencies, ICOs, and blockchain. Christine is consistently ranked as one of the Top 100 Women in FinTech, Top 100% Most Influential in FinTech and a Top 100 thought leaders across FinTech, AI and Blockchain.
She has specialized in counter-terrorist financing and anti-money laundering law practice. Christine is also one of the 50 founding attorneys of the Digital Currency & Ledger Defence Coalition, a global not-for-profit of leading lawyers that supports constitutional rights of blockchain ledger and ICO technology entrepreneurs. She is the author of the popular financial crime and anti-money laundering law blog “Duhaime’s Financial Crime” and the AI technology blog “Artificial Intelligence Insight.”
Being in the blockchain space and a co-founder of a digital currency exchange she is now working to turn the tide in the fentanyl and opioid crisis. Christine was aware that fentanyl is imported illegally from China and is paid for in Bitcoin through exchanges. The firm has created a way to blacklist those Bitcoin wallet addresses with a project called “The Blocklist.” It’s in beta now. The firm has located wallets and flagged them to help stop purchases of fentanyl and hope to be able to allow others to use it to do their part.
“To be a leader, a true leader, you have to be able to do what’s right and ethical all the time”
DFI is the first think tank to address the field of FinTech. They also cover financial inclusion; artificial intelligence; youth and balanced regulation; digital finance policy and regulation; and women in financial technology. The firm has also launched a Blockchain Financial Crime Center last month.
The firm was founded in 2013 and is based in Toronto. The organization is doing justice to their mission statement- ‘A think tank for digital finance, FinTech, Blockchain, and AI’. DFI has been active in organizing and holding some of the first FinTech Conferences in Africa, the Middle East, and Canada, as well as the AI World Forum on March 4-5, 2019, in Toronto for a global gathering of thought leaders. Christine was instrumental in having the DFI join, as a founding member of the Global Banking Education Standards Board, an industry-led initiative founded by banking institutions to develop international standards for the education of bankers around the world. DFI has also launched the successful Canadian FinTech & AI Awards, now in its 4th year.
As a part of their mandate, DFI is youth-driven and promotes women in fintech. DFI comprises of a management team that is 100% women, hired right out of university. The team thus tends to think outside the box without holding entrenched views thus making them a more inclusive organization.
Keeping one’s nerve
Looking back Christine recollects encountering instances of being treated differently and sometimes disappointingly less favorably. Being a leading institute for women led to difficulties in finding funding and financial support. “We would request grants or support for a conference or for research, or to hire for a project and be denied under federal programs while similar applications led by men in Canada obtained funding”, she explained. However, she describes these ‘trivial’ incidences could never push her off and instead, they made her stronger and encouraged her to lead the charge for equality in technology financing. To her, no challenge is bigger than one’s firm determination and one’s positive outlook towards life. Christine believes people can do anything if they set their mind to it! And that is what kept her resilient during trying circumstances. “When facing challenges, I remind myself that every challenge has been faced by someone else before me and we can manage the challenge”, addresses Christine.
It is no surprise as when asked, who is a leader worth admiration to her? Christine quickly comes up with this epic reply, “To me, a leader is a person who faced or faces adversity and overcomes it. Most American women who are single mothers who hold down full-time jobs and raise children are inspiring to me and to me; they are the global women leaders that I admire”.
Go for it!
Being against the tide has always been her thing. Sharing her the life experience, Christine elucidated how she had a stuttering problem during her school days. The thought of getting humiliated could have held her back. But she never stopped believing in herself and eventually overcame her speech impediment on her own. She now speaks all over the world.
Christine urges women to learn to be risk-takers, become bold, get well educated, learn, re-learn, write articles, speak in conferences, break all ceilings and do everything to first become a leader of your domain. Be a resistance, “And then believe and invest in you, even if your organization doesn’t”, she proclaims “I think that in order to be a leader, you first need to be committed to be the leader of your career and chart your own path to greatness”. She remembers how early in her career the big law firm where she worked paid for her male partners to attend and speak at conferences but not the female associates. She then made a decision to step out of her comfort zone and take control of her own advancement. She paid her way to those events and chose to talk even if she was the only women speaking in the entire conference. This eventually helped build her resume, her confidence, her profile and helped her get ahead. Her words sum up her attitude towards life, “If you believe you can change the world, or your career or your life, you will”.