The Big Interview

Valerius Coppens: More collaboration will help speed up mass adoption of technology

Valerius Coppens explains how Obyte aims to solve issues of unpredictability of fees and scalability as the technology moves towards mass adoption

Valerius Coppens says Obyte was established because blockchain’s data ledger technology has a lot of different bugs that were “not very apparent” initially when it was introduced.

Obyte’s use of a Directed Acyclical Graph (DAG) means problems association with blockchain, such as scalability and cost are eliminated. Data is stored in the platform in a DAG-patterned structure rather than in the chain of blocks.

He says it makes the technology accessible to people who are not developers and don’t need to understand code.

Voluntarily

The platform has been live since Christmas 2016 and he joined the organisation working voluntarily, at first, the following year in April 2017. The small team is based in Lichtenstein, which is a hub for technology.

His current challenge is to make the Obyte technology “cross the chasm from early adopters to mass adoption.” He says he has been interested in distributed ledger technology and crpytocurrencies as a hobby for eight years.

The company tries to identify use cases for the technology and they hold use case contests at universities to try and encourage this.

Students

He says one of the most interesting use cases was a donation use case in Venezuela for students, who can’t afford to pay their tuition fees due to the hyper-inflation. The university posts the students’ grades and they only receive donations once they’ve passed their exams.

A similar scheme in Venezuela helps chicken farmers by only paying once suppliers have confirmed the supply of chickens and chicken food.

Other use cases include flight delay insurance and peer-to-peer sports betting, he says.

Tower of Babel

He describes the landscape of the cryptocurrency space as being “like the Tower of Babel in the Bible. There are like 1,600 projects that have come out and each are totally counter-productive.”

He urges individuals and organisations to work collaboratively instead, to help speed up mass adoption.

“Eventually people will come to their senses,” he adds. “But it does take a long time.” Unlike the development of the internet, where people can learn html in a relatively short time, blockchain technology is much more complicated to learn and people can afford to make mistakes.

Mass adoption is slower for developed countries, because they have “grown up using intermediaries in the legal system and have had no problems with trust. Why would they move to organisations that are not proven, difficult to understand and hard to work with?”

“It’s a far worse user experience and there’s no incentive to use it.” But for countries like Venezuela, where there is no trust in intermediaries or government, they are “prepared to use something new which will improve their situation.”

“Most early adoption is coming from countries like that,” he adds.

Slower journey

For developed countries, it is a slower journey and even “ten years on, nobody has found a killer app,” he concedes.

“Yet, I think it will take as long as the next generation, but I am 100% sure that it will happen,” he adds. “The innovation will happen with the graduates or the kids who are still in school.”

He admits he can be a “little bit frustrated” by the slow pace of adoption, but believes it will speed up. And he is also disappointed by the lack of collaboration, including the academic world.

Additionally, the lack of mainstream media attention on anything other than “price crashes, bugs and scams” is another peeve.

“People do not see the benefits of what it can bring and I’d urge people to shine a light on it,” he urges.

With the recent chaotic cryptocurrency markets, he says it has been a good thing as it’s removed the “get rich quick” scammers and now people can focus on developing things and working collaboratively.

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