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Web3 Big Data, Blockchain Forensics, and Financial Inclusion

[Lecture Series Spring’23]


Blockchains, DeFi, and Web3, innovations for greater financial inclusion and democratization, currently fall short of the advocated benefits and present new risks and challenges. For example, while cryptocurrencies and digital assets hold promise for offering cheap, quick, and secure transfer of value, they also create payment channels for cybercrimes. The lack of disclosure and regulation also lead to vertical integration of centralized intermediaries that manipulate the market and commit frauds, as seen in the collapse of FTX. I discuss several projects assembling diverse sets of public, proprietary, and hand-collected data, and using large-scale computation and big data, both on-chain and off-chain, to investigate issues including wash trading, tax manipulation, ransomware, scams, mining concentration, network wealth inequality, and financial exclusion. Whereas blanket restrictions may prove ineffective and hinder innovations, blockchain forensics, statistical and behavioral principles, and appropriate tokenomics policies potentially enable the tracking, monitoring, and penalizing cybercriminals, market manipulators, and facilitate digital inclusion.

The paper the speaker focus on is:

and two related papers are


Prof. Lin William Cong

Will Cong is the Rudd Family Professor of Management, a tenured Professor of Finance, and the founding director of FinTech at Cornell Initiative. He is also a Finance editor at the Management Science, Research Associate at the NBER, cofounder of two international research forums (ABFR and CBER), and was formerly a Kauffman Junior Fellow, Poets & Quants World Best Business School Professor, George P. Shultz Scholar, and Lieberman Fellow. He previously taught at the University of Chicago after earning his Finance Ph.D. and MS in Statistics from Stanford, and A.M. in Physics jointly with A.B. in Math and Physics from Harvard. He studies applied theory, asset pricing, corporate finance, entrepreneurship, and information economics. He pioneered interdisciplinary research on tokenomics, crypto asset pricing, AI for finance, blockchain forensics and design, and how digitization and big data interact with competition, growth, and entrepreneurship. His work has been recognized with numerous best paper prizes and grants and has been widely circulated and adopted in the industry. A highly sought-after keynote speaker at various international conferences and world forums, he advises leading FinTech firms and quant funds, as well as government and regulatory agencies around the globe.