Lost within a fleeting thought, his deep eyes catch the view from his office window as he unburdens himself of a long-held sigh. Michael Messele is troubled by the question, and his irritation at some sections of the human race is betrayed by the mild despair etched upon face.
He’s been asked if he can change the thinking in what is a largely materialistic blockchain community.
Then comes the sharp intake of breath. Almost the antithesis of that sigh a few seconds ago. He has the answer.
“You know,” he begins softly, “the mentality of some people in terms of sharing leaves us living within something like a Big Brother house.”
His words are inarguable, and even the most hard-line protagonist of data mining can’t contest that the amount of personal digital information we expose to the world is out of control.
It’s that very notion which has been the driving force behind his latest mission – the Pillar Project.
Using blockchain technology, the Pillar Project is acutely focused on creating a digital wallet that could bring a safe crypto space to the masses.
Using an open-source wallet, the project’s aim is to evolve the ‘Pillar Wallet’ into a decentralised personal data-management platform with the end goal of returning personal data control to the user – not the provider.
“Right now, our digital info is owned by many different organisations who own it all,” laments Michael.
“They own all our data, they sell it, and they make money from it. Then they lose it – every three months there’s story about a big company losing our private data.
“Using blockchain, we are protecting our data.”
The Pillar Project could be described simply as a crypto platform which dispenses with apps and multiple log-ins – with no switching about to process your currency. It’ll be a fully-functioning dashboard which a select few have seen in action as a beta release for the first time this week during the spectacular ‘#PillarUnconference’ in Vilnius, Lithuania.
“It’s an important step for us, as we will be guided by the results of penetration testing – after the beta release,” explained the 46-year-old.
“But it should be an exciting moment as well in terms of testing functionality as we are looking at a simple way forward which is secure and also allows you to send messages within the transaction – signal protocol.”
Michael’s devotion to the Pillar Project has brought him a long way from humble beginnings as a software developer, but you can understand how his path crossed with blockchain when you see the route his career has taken into fintech via technology business banking.
“I used to create software systems all the time and when you work with banks you have to understand how these things work,” he smiles.
“I’ve been around this sort of thing all my career and have learnt that it’s about knowledge sharing and learning from direct experiences.”
Now, however, he’s thrown his lot into developing something which is totally dedicated to using blockchain for good, with many of the people behind the Pillar Project volunteering their time and expertise.
“The purpose is about making us the controller of our own information because biometric data-mining is coming – and is a dangerous thing,” he explains.
“Our meta data is leaving a paper trail which is very concerning because biometric data-mining is a whole new threat level.”
As for addressing the largely materialistic nature of many blockchain usages, Michael says: “I suppose when you think about it, we are here to create an open source platform that people can build on top of.
“This is about decentralising and sharing economics – we are trying to foster this approach so we can step away from the negative reactions that come with this sector, but I feel we are already on the cusp of change.”
He adds that the project itself has also created a movement where the people involved can see the good in what blockchain can do – hence the free time being donated by experts from across the globe.
But where does he see the Pillar Project in, say, five years?
“By then, we hope to have wide acceptance of our personal data locker, as well as plenty of people running on our open source project,” he says confidently.
“The Pillar wallet will be widely used, and with this mechanism we expect to be well on our way to being the de facto wallet of choice for many, many people.”
As for handling the speed of developments within the industry, he laughs with a gentle shake of the head to betray a little awe and disbelief in how quickly technology is progressing in the field.
“Put it this way, we first started funding this 10 months ago, but in some ways it now feels like ten years because of the speed of change within this industry,” he smiles.
“Things change so quickly, but this will make a significant impact on the industry, and hopefully for the good of the world.”