#IGCryptoChat: the development of blockchain technology  

On Tuesday 13 March, we invited Stephan Tual, founder of Atlas Neue and Slock.it, and DailyFX cryptocurrency expert Nick Cawley to the third #IGCryptoChat. 

What’s your interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology?

Stephan Tual: The underlying technology, especially how it relates to smart contracts on the blockchain. They are autonomous, and it is now possible to transfer that autonomy principle to physical objects in the real world, or even natural resources. This gives them the ability to send and receive transactions, have an identity and execute code.

Nick Cawley: I like the trading aspect of the coins, on top of the technological change that we are having. Blockchain technology has so many uses and it is here to stay - it is going to go forward and expand. If you look at a mobile phone ten years ago, you could make a call or play snake on it, but now you can do just about everything. I see the same kind of expansion happening to the blockchain.

Where are we seeing Ethereum go?

ST: So Ethereum is in a very interesting position, it is very unique in a sense that the group of people who formed it came together from various backgrounds, with different goals and wants when they joined the project. This led to a foundation that is not a monolithic entity.

There are, in my opinion, two very specific groups that will rise. The first one will be everyone from universities learning that this stuff actually has legs and is important, and they can build something with it. The second would be the corporate angle, especially large corporates such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft that don’t want to be left out, and who could very easily roll out a chain with similar – but not identical – properties to Ethereum. These are the two dangers to Ethereum in terms of market competition.

Could Ethereum’s scalability problem cause DAPP developers look elsewhere?

ST: This is simply because people have the wrong understanding of where we are in the story of blockchain. They think they have come in too late – its four years in for Ethereum and nine years for bitcoin – but this is simply not the case. They are not too late, this is day one, minute one for the blockchain. I like to describe it as the pre-history stage of the blockchain and its development.

Scalability and privacy are leading to the creation of private chains and the development of new technologies, such as sharding, but these are just patches created for an audience who want the technology to be live today, but it is simply not ready.

Valuations of blockchain are so high compared to existing products. Twitter is used by 65% of the US population and has an $11 billion market cap, compared to Ethereum that is probably worth $30 or $40 billion. But why? Where are the users? You mention decentralised apps (DAPPS), but where are the DAPPs? They are not decentralised if they are living on a centralised web server. 

Does there need to be more education concerning the cryptocurrency space?

ST: Absolutely, my goal for the year is to focus on the education of those people who are just coming to the cryptocurrency space, there is a brand new wave of people that need to be educated. You’re not going to help them by talking about homomorphic encryptions and zero-knowledge proofs, because even though these are the hot thing right now they won’t actually be ready for five years. We need to go back to the basics, what is blockchain? Why is it useful?

NC: When investors make any financial decision that you make, you have to do your homework, you have to understand what you are getting involved in. The worry was that you were getting the situation where markets were exponentially rising, and people just starting jumping on back of them without knowing what they were really buying.

Why are there less women in blockchain and crypto, and how can they get more involved?

ST: First of all, don’t limit it to just cryptos. If I look at my Twitter feed, 95% of users are male and on my website 100% of users are male, that is quite incredible – and wrong. We have to look at where this problem stems from. Was it culture? Was it the media? Was it because of the rise of video games? Was it because some marketing department somewhere decided Barbie was for girls and Atari was for boys?

At Slock.it, for example, we were a 50% male, 50% female staff. But before the cynics say they bet all the females were secretaries, I will say no, absolutely not. They were the head of commercial development, they were lead programmers and they were able to stand on their own two feet, and why wouldn’t they be?

Watch the full video for Stephan and Nick’s discussion on the problem of trading cryptocurrencies without understanding the market, how regulations could impact cryptocurrencies, and the potential for Ethereum to surpass bitcoin.

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