This week, I had the absolute pleasure of speaking to Bitcoin entrepreneur Roger Ver about issues such as the early days of Bitcoin, the future of cryptocurrencies, new forms of capitalism, and the impact smart contracts will have on the Bitcoin Cash ecosystem in the near future.
Even though the call was at 7am and my laptop decided to play a few tricks on me, from the Bluetooth headset not connecting to the microphone not working, Roger was kind enough to put up with all my shenanigans, and always with a big smile on his face.
You can watch the full interview below.
The man behind digital cash
Roger was one of the earliest investors in Bitcoin. He supported a bunch of early Bitcoin projects like LocalBitcoins, a P2P Bitcoin exchange; Kraken and Bitstamp, two of the most popular exchanges available today; Bitpay, an awesome tool for merchants to send and receive Bitcoin; and, of course, Bitcoin Cash.
Interestingly enough, Roger understands a fundamental value I praise in network investors and entrepreneurs: he cares more about the general well-being of the cryptocurrency community (achieving increased adoption) than promoting the “one true coin”.
As he mentioned during the interview:
“Arguably, there might be other [cryptocurrencies] that are better than Bitcoin Cash [at being digital cash].”
We did not go too deep into which cryptocurrencies Roger might be referring to here. However, I praise his mindset for caring more about the future of the entire community rather than the future of one coin.
Early days and the future of blockchain
I’m always interested to read about the early days of Bitcoin and the entire cryptosphere. Since Roger joined forces with BTC in 2011, his experience in this area is invaluable, at least to understand the issues and hopes of people back then. He argues the cypherpunk ideals seem to be fading as more people join, which might be a good thing in the end, claiming: “The more people that join, the more diverse and wider the community becomes.”
He worries, though, about the role governments will play in enforcing people by force to use fiat-based systems, which is kind of the way the world works at the moment. Even if one argues currency is ruled by the people, when it comes to taxes, any government can take control by imposing barriers on how taxes are payed.
From this point, Roger explained how he views himself as a libertarian in the sense he is anti-establishment, or to be more precise, he’s against the current form of governance. When we discussed direct democracy, he was quite open to digital voting through tokens, instead of relying on a bunch of people to represent us.
Roger highlighted the importance of having a plurality of cryptocurrencies in order to give consumers a choice and to truly open the market.
“STOs, ICOs, all those new forms of financing will change how companies create value.”
He argued one of the key issues of capitalism is the lack of competition as everything works bottom-down, and there are way too many barriers to entry as companies have a tendency to get further centralised as they grow bigger in size.
Network effects and scalability
Roger has an interesting view on the importance of network effects in any monetary system. He states: “Without a huge network, it is impossible for money to be accepted globally.” Although further competition certainly weakens the original network, when it survives, it makes the entire ecosystem better, as people have more choice.
For any Bitcoin maximalists out there, why wouldn’t you want that?
He relates the scalability issues Bitcoin is facing to the fact smaller blocks are being promoted, stating: “In 2017, when the cryptocurrency community grew exponentially, Bitcoin became impossible to use due to the high fees.”
We all have to agree he has a point. However, that is the price we all must pay for true decentralisation – at least in my mind. One cannot scale and maintain security and decentralisation all at the same time, so concessions need to be made.
The central difference between Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash happens to be precisely this point. While the first is currently trying to keep its nodes and mining operations as decentralised and secure as possible by not allowing blocks to grow too big (which would put more stress on each node in terms of latency and storage requirements), the second is aiming to become the go-to cryptocurrency for use as a digital cash system by foregoing some decentralisation for scalability while keeping its security as tight as possible.
In essence, bigger blocks allow for more transactions and increased throughput by renouncing some decentralisation for scalability as storage requirements and network latency increase as well.
Bitcoin Cash smart contracts coming soon
One of the reasons I wanted to talk to Roger was to hear from him what his expectations are for Bitcoin Cash smart contracts.
Roger, like myself, believes key components for mass adoption are speed and flexibility. What Bitcoin Cash Oracles offers is a way for any user to easily deploy an “escrow” transaction that can be used to trade globally without the hassle of trusting the other party.
In essence, Bitcoin Cash will start as a validator, but other validators can be added to each individual escrow to resolve disputes between client and customer.
I personally think those “trade escrows” (Roger promised they would find a better name for it) will be key in adoption, especially for work-related tasks. In a way, they do enable milestone-based funding, which may be the new and better way of conducting ICOs – instead of simply creating an extra layer of complexity with STOs that do require KYC and accreditation, something that goes against what we should be promoting within the crypto ecosystem.
Talking to Roger was absolutely amazing. I was a bit nervous and spoke way, way too fast, however the overall experience was quite wonderful.
I do hope I have a chance to meet him face-to-face sometime and to conduct another interview.