Nooor Talks with Jim Ballingall

We know you’ve missed our Nooor talks! So here we are with another interview with one of the most remarkable members of the blockchain industry – Jim Ballingall. Jim is a good friend of Nooor and was one of our speakers during ChainPoint 19. No more details here; continue reading to know who Jim is, what his background is, about his projects, and more!

1. Tell our community about yourself, your professional experience, and how you have entered the blockchain space? 

I am the Executive Director for The Initiative for CryptoCurrencies and Contracts (IC3). IC3 is by far the world’s leading academic initiative devoted to blockchain research – with seventeen faculty spanning nine campuses at top universities in four countries (UC Berkeley, CMU, Cornell, Cornell Tech, EPFL, ETH-Zurich, the Technion, University College London, and Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign). In addition to computer science, its expertise includes finance and technology law. 

I earned a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Cornell and a BS in Engineering Physics from U.C. Berkeley. I also direct the Industry-Academia Partnership, a consortium founded by Cornell with other top universities and leading companies pursuing next-generation computer, networking, and storage solutions, as well as new implementations and applications of AI. 

I began my career as a microelectronics scientist in the aerospace industry focused on compound semiconductors for infrared sensing and RF communications. Our team at GE developed and deployed the PHEMT, a GaAs-based quantum well transistor for 60 GHz ultra-secure inter-satellite communications. The PHEMT is now used widely in the RF front end of smartphones. I held senior executive roles in the silicon CMOS industry for 15 years and then transitioned into cloud computing. Moreover, I was CEO of a Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) provider of supply chain solutions that merged with E2open.

I always worked with universities throughout my career, in fact, the PHEMT cited above came out of work GE did with the University of Illinois and Cornell. My work in blockchain grew out of collaborations with the IAP and the faculty at Cornell.

2. What is your key to success in the IT industry? And what are the most interesting projects you have worked/ are working on? 

I am fortunate to work with many exceptionally talented people. It’s like the old Chinese fortune cookie proverb, and in fact, my Ph.D. thesis advisor at Cornell told me this too (he was not Chinese, nor a maker of fortune cookies – Prof. Lester F. Eastman, another extremely talented person, born in upstate NY) – “Jim, find a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life!” Les had found that job as a prof at Cornell.

3. Which blockchain, crypto project you can consider the most promising today? 

There are so many! The Ava project (Ava Labs) came out of IC3, so I am naturally biased towards it. It offers an asset trading platform with a unique consensus protocol called Avalanche (super-fast, scalable, and reliable) that was first presented at the IC3 Spring Retreat in 2018. The company has an amazing team led by Prof. Emin Gün Sirer, who is indisputably one of the top blockchain experts in the world.

4. The buzz around the CBDCs is growing rapidly. What is your idea about this concept? What is the vision for the upcoming 3-5 years? 

CBDC is really a very exciting concept. I believe it will add value to national economies and benefit individual citizens, but I doubt CBDC’s will be deployed in the next 3 years, and I doubt the initial implementations will be based on a blockchain. There are certainly advantages, but really no absolute need for a truly distributed CBDC application on a blockchain; it simply presents too many security vulnerabilities in the near term due to the enormous number of accounts and users – each presenting a possible attack vector. A centralized DB can meet the minimal requirements and more. Our IC3 faculty is working on a white paper to elucidate the options.

5. We are all facing the challenges that the pandemic has exposed. What kind of strategies should companies apply in terms of digital transformation in the post-COVID19 world?

Some of our IC3 researchers are working on options for maintaining privacy for contact tracing. The SwissCovid App is available for download. It uses Bluetooth to share temporary identifiers, which assist in privacy-preserving contact tracing once an individual is diagnosed with COVID-19. It is the result of joint work by the Federal Office for Information Technology and Telecommunications (FOITT), the Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich (ETH) including IC3 faculty member Srdjan Čapkun, Lausanne (EPFL), and the Swiss company Ubique.

6. It’s interesting to know your thoughts about how tomorrow’s new technologies will drive change and spur innovation in our world. 

In so many ways! A few years ago, I stood on the US Civil War battlefield of Bull Run in northern Virginia with my family. There were two opposing lines of 4-inch cannons spaced about 200 meters apart – North vs. South. It struck me how primitive the technology of 1865 was when I realized that only 100 years later, we had landed a man on the moon.

7. As a 30-year IT veteran, what will be your advice to new generations? 

In terms of interactions with your fellow humans, please be kind, be gracious, be generous, love others as yourself – even if you disagree strongly with their political views. In your studies, work hard but be well rounded – study physics, math, music, literature, history, religion, not just CS or ECE. Get less involved in social media and more involved in actual social activity – such as extracurricular and volunteer work in the campus community. There is so much more to the world than coding and making money, or winning prestigious awards and titles, or otherwise becoming famous. I know billionaires and eminent scientists – many are quite miserable. Be intellectually curious about technology and the world around you. Be involved in your family, your circle of friends, your community. Make it a better place.

8. What has been a source of inspiration for you to fulfill your initiatives? 

Jesus of Nazareth. The Christ is my inspiration and salvation. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)

About IC3

The Initiative for CryptoCurrencies and Contracts (IC3) is an unrivaled center for interdisciplinary talent that uniquely meets the blockchain community’s urgent need for world-class expertise spanning cryptography, distributed systems, programming languages, game theory, and system security techniques.

IC3’s mission is to bridge the gap between academic research and industry need to distill out the technical challenges of key importance to its sponsors and the community at large and devise performant solutions grounded in science and built to last.

IC3 contributes to three pillars – scholarship, public policy, and code and leadership to the blockchain community.

Nooor talks with David Stancel

Nooor talks with David Stancel

We continue the series of our special Nooor talks with the most outstanding players in the industry. Today our guest is David Stancel, who is the co-founder of Blockchain Slovakia – an NGO focused on education, research, and policy advocacy in the area of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. David also lectures courses on cryptocurrencies at the Slovak University of Technology and the University of Economics in Bratislava. More about himself, his very promising initiatives in crypto and blockchain can be found in our interview. 

1. Tell us about David Stancel before crypto. What was the trigger to enter the blockchain space? 

Well, before crypto I was a student of Economics & International Affairs at Masaryk University. I heard of Bitcoin in 2012 and even though I liked the idea of free, decentralized, and independent money I did not pay that much attention to it at the time. In 2013 I got really excited about Bitcoin and the possibilities it brought so I started to organize first Bitcoin events at my university, and eventually decided to choose it as a topic for my thesis. In my thesis, I wrote about Bitcoin protocol extensions such as Colored Coins and Mastercoin, and even Ethereum which was getting ready for the launch of the mainnet. It was an exciting time and from that point onwards I have been falling into the rabbit hole and exploring the world of cryptocurrencies at full blast!

2. The blockchain space is growing, we see the rise of new use cases every day. What is the most exciting thing about the technology you can consider and what are the biggest challenges we still face today? 

I think that definitely one of the most exciting things, often underrated, is Bitcoin alone. Whether it’s from the technological, economical or even social view — its impact on our society is tremendous and will increase even more in the future. 

Other use cases are definitely within the so-called DeFi space. New cryptographic primitives coupled with open blockchains allow us to create a new financial system that is not based on trust, but on math and open source movement. 

While I  believe there are some other use cases on the blockchain that might increase transparency and efficiency of certain processes, I think that open finance is definitely something that may transform our society the most. 

As for the challenges, we have been facing similar obstacles for the past years — mainly scalability, UX/UI, and lack of awareness and technical understanding on the government level as well as on the user level. Progress has been made but there is still a long way to go. 

3. What is your key to success in the crypto industry and what are the most interesting projects you have worked on? 

I have been mainly just trying to dig deep into the cryptocurrency world, decompose it and connect the dots. It has been my greatest passion and it’s definitely helpful when I can use it to help other people and companies understand how they can utilize these technologies for their benefit.

I have worked on many different projects from the tokenization platform, through blockchain-based app fighting counterfeiting to DeFi apps, and they all were interesting in one way or another. But for me personally, the most interesting part is to educate people because I learn from it a lot. For instance, every single time I give lectures on cryptocurrencies at university, it amazes me that through interaction with students I always find new perspectives and angles to look at crypto and blockchain. In the book I am working on, I have been interviewing some of the smartest minds in the space and that’s been incredibly enriching for me, and I hope the readers will feel that way after reading it too. 

4. Which blockchain, crypto project you can consider the most promising today? 

 For me, it’s definitely Bitcoin and Etheruem. Bitcoin and Lightning Network are getting lots of useful protocol updates that will make it much more useful in the upcoming months. Of course, as Etherreum is going to transition to PoS it is going to face great challenges, yet it looks very promising. 

I really like also some corporate efforts in this area, more precisely the Nightfall protocol by EY that aims to make Ethereum useful for deployments in the public sector, and uses some great cryptographic techniques. 

I also curiously follow the so-called Ethereum Killers many of which launch this year. A number of them look promising f.e. Ava, Near, Solana, etc. but that may not be enough. 

5. We are all facing the challenges that the pandemic has exposed. How is the crypto market affected by the virus in general? What are the specifics in the Slovakian market? 

Covid-19 caused lots of volatility not only on the stock markets but in crypto as well. This was a great opportunity for battle-test antifragility of the infrastructure especially when it comes to the DeFi space. We saw that while the price volatility in crypto is not a big deal and users are already accustomed to that, in DeFi it can cause a chain of events that have tremendous impacts. We saw people losing millions of dollars in MakerDAO collaterals because of the combination of price volatility, congested Ethereum network, and lagging oracles that fed the smart contracts. It will be curious to watch the aftermath of this event playing out on the court in a class action against MakerDAO. 

At the same time, many investors found that their belief that Bitcoin may be a hedge against any kind of economic crisis was flawed, and Bitcoin is too vulnerable mainly because there is a lot of speculative capital in the space. Yet, it is likely that in the aftermath of all the monetary and fiscal stimuli that have been ongoing in many countries, Bitcoin may prove to be a rather safer option for storing capital.

6. How do you think Bitcoin Halving is affecting the crypto market? Do you have any predictions about the price changes for the upcoming months? 

We have been witnessing an interesting trend since halving as institutional investors have been buying up heavily all the “new” bitcoins since halving. This is a positive trend for the Bitcoin price predictions. I believe we will see some serious upward movements in the upcoming months, but I don’t dare to predict the price levels. 

7. As we know now you are working on your book (Coinstory: The Evolution of Bitcoin & Cryptocurrencies), we would like to have some more insights before it becomes a bestseller. 

That’s right, I have been working on it for the past years. My goal with the book is to map all the ideological and technological concepts that preceded the inception of Bitcoin, and that have followed after its creation. So the book will serve as a timeline of all the important things that so far happened and shaped the cryptocurrency world until today (June 2020).

Along the way, I have attended lots of conferences in the past years where I collected data, inspiration, and materials. I have been talking to many of the brightest minds in the space such as Andreas Antonopoulos, Scott Stornetta, Peter Todd, Sergio Lerner, etc. to understand different perspectives that have shaped the crypto world. 

I have been releasing interviews with them continuously in the past months as a sort of complementary material for the book at coinstory.tech. Apart from that, some other complementary materials will include an extensive list of resources on cryptocurrencies that I maintain on Github as well as my course on cryptocurrencies I teach for computer science students at Slovak University of Technology.

I hope that these sources as well the book itself will in the future become more of a collaborative joint effort from the community.

So overall, I believe people interested in the cryptocurrencies will find there a lot of useful data and information that will help them understand the whole space.

8. What has been a source of inspiration for you to fulfill your initiatives? 

I love cryptocurrencies because they are a blend of different fields such as economics, distributed systems, cryptography, and social sciences in the form of open-source code. The whole space is fascinating on so many levels, and it will have a tremendous impact on the way our world works. So it is very easy to keep falling down the rabbit hole and get constantly inspired. Also, it naturally attracts lots of really smart and interesting people, many of which have been really inspiring to me. 

9. What will be the main message you would like to share with the blockchain and crypto community. 

I wish there would be fewer clashes and less in-fighting within the crypto community. The omnipresent conflicts and divisions over minor details, in the community that is connected with the common overarching cause, have been one of the reasons why I started to write my book. I have hoped that it can help understand not only many of the cryptocurrency innovations but also the people and ideas behind them. 

So my message would be to try to strive for more tolerance, heartfulness, and understanding. 

Stay tuned for our next interview

Subscribe to our newsletter to get monthly updates on our initiatives and opportunities.  

Artur Kuczmowski answering questions for Nooor Talks

Nooor Talks with Artur Kuczmowski

As we continue our Nooor Talks series, we are excited to talk to Artur Kuczmowski, the Senior Partner at Thompson&Stein, regarding how Poland is getting over the issues resulting from the pandemic, his thoughts on stablecoins, and the biggest challenge of blockchain technology.

Nooor Talks, Artur Kuczmowski, five questions, five answers. Here we go!

1. We are all facing the challenges that the pandemic has exposed. How is the economy of Poland tackling the situation, what actions can be helpful to keep the economy on track? 

Well… Polish government has allocated 1.5 billion zlotys to help entrepreneurs during the current economic slowdown. That’s a great assistance to entrepreneurs. The government focused primarily on protecting job and maintaining liquidity. Entrepreneurs have been exempted from social security tax and can receive a subsidy (of 5 thousand zloty), fully redeemable. What’s more, Polish Development Fund in cooperation with banks created a revolutionary program. Its aim is to help companies maintain liquidity during the coronavirus pandemic. By using data from tax authorities, all data processing has been automated and the application process takes only 48 hours.

2. As you are working with blockchain related projects, please share some insights on the state of the industry in Poland and perhaps Estonia: focus, growth trends, risks. 

Many cryptocurrency exchanges and blockchain companies originate from Poland, which may give the illusion that we are leading in this industry. Well… we are not. However, Polish government is working to introduce a simple joint stock company, which will definitely facilitate the tokenization of companies. The law in Estonia, which I also specialize in, is changing as well. The policy of granting the license to trade cryptocurrency has been tightened. In the future, they want to make sure that companies, which operate in virtual space, are more involved in the Estonian society. This will lead to the disappearance of many blockchain companies from Estonia, but the ones which are the most credible will stay.

3. What can be your personal feedback regarding stablecoins? Can they possibly fix the broken economy of today? 

Personally, I’m a big fan of stablecoins. Last year, we even participated in its emission. But there is always the question of its reliability. We, as a law firm, offer stablecoin audit services to make sure that the number of tokens in circulation actually correspond to their amount expressed in fiat currencies. 

4. The blockchain space is growing, we see the rise of new use cases every day. What is the most exciting thing about the technology you can consider and what are the biggest challenges we still face today? 

From my perspective, the biggest challenge is still the turbulent relationship between traditional banking and entrepreneurs operating in the cryptocurrency industry. Rearrangement of these relations would lead to ensuring credibility of blockchain enterprises by providing them an access to reliable bank accounts. 

From my point of view, credibility is the most exciting thing about the technology. The impossibility of falsifying the information opens up the certainty of economic turnover. 

5. We are happy to see you as a part of our ChainPoint family, thank you very much for sharing your expertise last year at ChainPoint 19 in Armenia. As we are planning for the next conference, it will be great to get feedback on what you liked most about ChainPoint and where it can be improved. Also what are your expectations for the next event?  

I primarily hope that ChainPoint 2020 will take place and we have a chance to meet again. It is a great project which hosts many specialists from all over the world. It is an honor for me to be part of it. In fact, what makes your conference stand out is the participation of government representatives. I have a fondness for the ChainPoint 19, because our cooperation began there. I hope that our law firm Thompson&Stein and Nooor will undertake many new projects together.

Hope you found interesting insights from the interview with Artur Kuczmowski! In addition, stay tuned for the next interviews with the industry leaders, that will raise your awareness on the state of the blockchain and crypto space.

Ani Alexander photo

Nooor talks with Ani Alexander

Today our guest is a blockchain marketer, a startup mentor and a bestselling fiction author – Ani Alexander. Consulting a number of projects, she is currently the head of marketing at Amazix, a full-service consultancy for blockchain businesses.

We sat down with Ani to learn about her inspiring journey in the field and her views on the current trends.

– Ani, please tell us about your journey into the blockchain industry. 

I got into the industry by accident. My friend, who was a fiction author, introduced me to Steemit. I interviewed someone from the team for my podcast and later started writing there and earning crypto for that. That made me fall down the rabbit hole and learn about crypto and blockchain. Shortly after that, I landed my first job in the space. It’s been over 3 years already… 

– What was the most exciting experience throughout your career path? 

It depends on what you consider to be a career. On a personal level, having my pen name on book covers and books on bestseller’s charts was exciting. Launching and growing a podcast from scratch was a very inspiring experience too. As to the blockchain, marketing an ICO from scratch with a completely different approach from what was out there at that time was a risky but exciting experience of its own.

– How different is the marketing pattern of blockchain projects now and then? How did the market change after the meteoric rise of ICOs back in 2017 – 2018? 

Back in 2017, what projects did for ICO marketing is what I call “lazy marketing”. In fact, calling it marketing would be a stretch. It was mainly paid placements—paying for PR, paying influencers, paying ICO listing sites… which is why they mostly attracted speculators who were ready to dump their tokens at any time.

The market has matured now. These days, projects need to have way more than just a whitepaper (which in some cases read like fiction). They need to look at and deal with marketing like any other tech startup that needs to raise brand awareness and acquire users.

– The new reality of COVID-19: please outline the importance of reshaping of marketing strategies during the pandemic. 

Whatever you’d planned before COVID-19 definitely will need to be modified and, in some cases, even pushed back or forgotten completely. But that does not mean that you should disappear and do nothing. At minimum, maintaining your online presence is crucial.  

These are the times when brands need to be sensitive and relevant with their online content. The focus should be more on building relationships and engaging with your audience and communities vs pushing sales and pitching projects. 

– As you know there are lots of people in the crypto and blockchain space, who as well have Armenian roots. Who is your go-to person in the industry? 

The beauty of the blockchain community is that it unites different people from all over the world around a technology that has a true philosophy behind it. It’s a decentralized community that is beyond geography, ethnicity, and religion. I love working with many of them and would prefer not to mention names, risking to forget a few.

You are the author of a number of best-selling books, you run a series of podcasts. What is your source of inspiration? 

Life itself is the best source of inspiration. Real-life stories and real people are what I look at. There is so much one can notice if we just pay attention. 

– We have many young folks in our community who are trying to pave their way in the space. What will be your advice to them? 

Don’t get intimidated. Often, you may think that people in space are way smarter than you are, but that is not true. No one in this space knew and understood blockchain from Day 1. We all started from scratch, just like you are doing now.

– Thank you very much and looking forward to more exciting endeavors on you side, Ani!

Want to know more about projects Ani is working on or about first-hand insights from Ani’s podcast guests? Make sure to subscribe on https://anialexander.com/

Take a look at other Nooor talks with the most outstanding representatives of the blockchain industry here!

Eugene Romanenko

Nooor talks with Eugene Romanenko

Eugene Romanenko — was one of our hosts during the ChainPoint 19 Conference.

Being the #1 Crypto Emcee in the CIS area with 72 events covered in 13 cities and 6 countries since 2017, he has more than 3,000 interviews with 20 million views on YouTube. 100 articles published and 10 years of Austrian Economics studies.

By flourishing Chainpoint 19 Conference with his presence and making a set of interviews of the speakers involved, he added his own colors to the grandiose painting of the conference.

Nooor talks, 5 Questions, and Eugene Romanenko. Here we go!

1. Let’s zoom out and take a look at the bigger picture. How do you perceive blockchain in its current form, and what will it take for it to finally become a globally adopted technology?

Blockchain has been a working technology that gives us the proven opportunity to do some stuff in a decentralized way. It eliminates some crucial negative features of centralized systems which can damage people and, moreover, have “successfully” done that regularly.

Blockchain eliminates ineffective, expensive and potentially dangerous centers from the stage leaving the key functions of the systems working.

The key advantages of blockchain are obvious for developers and technological entrepreneurs. So we need some time to develop more friendly user interfaces of decentralized applications, education and social proof that blockchain-based solutions are far better in key features than the centralized ones.

2. What prompted you to delve into the blockchain industry?

I have dedicated 10 years to Austrian Economics studies. That’s why I have exactly known very well how modern banking system had been constructed more than 100 years ago, who are it’s beneficiaries, how it’s been distorting world economy recent century and provokes crises and why it will collapse inevitable. Its key essence are unsound money, fiat money. I understand clearly that humanity will inevitably return to sound money — private, commodity-based, competitive. That’s my theoretical base.

Till 2009 humanity had no technology for sound money in the conditions when the gold standard has become politically impossible (strictly speaking from the economic point of view, it would have been the best scenario if it was possible like it was in the 19th century, but we should be realistic). Satoshi’s invention — bitcoin — has returned the opportunity to have sound money to humanity. The key feature here is that this solution can neither be controlled nor prohibited by any government, because it is decentralized. The era of government-controlled unsound money fraud was over with glory-less and shame when Bitcoin came. I want to witness this great event. That’s why I am in.

3. What would be your key argument to really trust the blockchain technology and its developers today?

You don’t need to trust anyone. Including the greatest fraudsters in the history of humanity — government and banks. Educate yourself in economics, how the world works, what is the essence of exchange, money, entrepreneurship, banks, and government.

Blockchain is just technology. It’s one of the many ways we do what we do in our life. If it lets us do some things better than other technologies and it works — why should we reject it? By the way, blockchain literally requires you not to trust anyone you work with — it lets you reach your goals in the trustless environment.

4. If a good friend or acquaintance asks you what is special about the Blockchain: What do you answer him?

Imagine any centralized service you use in everyday life: bank, notary, government real estate ledger and so on. Yes, it works when you need it, not so bad, but it’s inefficient and costs a lot.

These problems exist by one reason — because acting center exists.

It’s the so-called point of failure. Then make a mental experiment: eliminate the acting center but leave the working function of the system. Money transfer — without banks and so on. How can it be possible? With blockchain. Blockchain is the technology that lets us solve usual life tasks in other architectural ways — without inefficient centers, in a decentralized way.

5. As you were a part of CP19, what can be the feedback about the Country and its potential to become a leader in the blockchain space?

I`ve been observing our borderless crypto-industry in recent years. It’s obvious that there is no country in the world with no reaction to the new technological reality. It’s obvious too, that small countries without resource diseases are much more progressive in these issues than bigger ones. Why? Because people there understand the potential economic advantages of blockchain adoption very well. While China, Russia or the USA are trying to ban crypto-industry unsuccessfully, small clever countries are competing for future blockchain-related entrepreneurs.

Armenia has been traditionally gathering the best crypto industry people recent two years and I’m totally convinced that Armenia has huge chances to become a very progressive technological blockchain-related hub in the Caucasus.

Stay tuned to our updates as we are preparing for the ChainPoint 2020.

Toufi Saliba

Nooor talks with Toufi Saliba

Toufi Saliba was one of our speakers during the ChainPoint 19 Conference. As a human being willing to make a change not only by inspiring others and dreaming about the future full of prosperity, he is actually making tons of effort every single day, pursuing and struggling to find the ideal path of development. Toufi is heavily involved with dozens of projects. Not forget to mention that he is currently doing advisory for several governments, some are the largest and most powerful ones, others the smallest and the most agile and nimble.

Toufi is also the CEO of the TODA network. It is a platform and incubator lab built on top of TODA/IP a packet-level protocol. Moreover, it is effectively enabling network packets to manage and transmit value without dependence on a ledger or any third party.

Nooor talks, 5 Questions, and Toufi Saliba. Here we go!

1. What are the major challenges in the Blockchain industry today?

Everyone would tell you Scalability and Usability. We did talk about scalability 4 years ago and nobody listened, hence the entire industry is on the verge of collapse with less than 0.2% global market penetration… not the number you’d expect from a revolutionary technology.

To answer your question: They are not SECSI

  • S for Security (Autonomous Decentralized Governance is a Security model) not a single Blockchain out there is living up to its promises with decentralization, let alone its potential
  • E for Efficiencies. If the net/net cost to run any operation at scale is larger or even comparable with the current method of accomplishing similar results, then we will not be describing a revolutionary tech. Maybe evolutionary and in some aspect regressive or at most mediocre.
  • C for confidentiality. If your Blockchain provides confidentiality with extra layers and methods to be deployed, go home. It must be by design and not a single Blockchain provides it by design, there are some added on deployment layer which of course could work but at a cost that eats up from the previous (E) point
  • S for Scalability. Of course, everyone is talking about this one, but solving it most had to compromise other elements and started a trend called trilemma. Anyone with a trilemma, should go home. They are not necessary. Trilemma is an excuse, not a solution.
  • I for Interoperability. Here’s what’s so ironic, in this p2p revolutionary technology, those with yet another layer to accomplish interoperability should go home and never come back… it’s an oxymoron at most.

2. What is your company’s mission and how far have you come in completing it?

My companies have missions but they are independent of the Protocols mission. In fact on the protocol layer we never raised any money, it’s been bootstrapped all the way through.

I’m currently involved in about a dozen companies building on TODA many raised funds from private investors, old school equity models. Mainly a company called Toda. Network Corp which the first year in business 2018 generated about $5.3M in revenue, the second year in 2019 about to close the year with $21M USD. For a startup, it’s not a bad start at all.

3. The trends in cryptocurrencies have deemed them unfavorable in most governments. Since the blockchain is the underlying technology, do you think various states, starting with Armenia, would be open to adopting the tech?

Rightfully so. I don’t blame any governments from rejecting a tech that is crippled by design. Most projects are scams and most of the remainings are failures built on failures. However, a smart nation like China, already realized by its own president and announced the marching towards the Blockchain. The question is, would they get in the real Blockchain or the faky ones out there? We don’t know.

4. Everyone is talking about the leading innovating technologies of the 21st century and the possible synergy of Blockchain, IoT and AI. What is your personal stance regarding the synergy in between of these three technologies? Should we as a world, focus more on blockchain technology rather than AI or IoT?

Not sure those 3 are of the same magnitude in the attention they are getting. I’m a lot more interested in filling the gaps that all 3 and others will suffer from if solutions haven’t commenced. It goes back to security by design. The absence of which may very well be detrimental.

5. As you were a part of CP19, what can be the feedback about Armenia and its potential to become one of the leaders in the blockchain space?

I’d like to see that, but highly doubt it would unless we see significant actions to take a lead role. Note: for example, recently Toufi Saliba became founding Global Chair Ai Standards for all humankind at IEEE TEMS. See more details here: https://www.ieee-tems.org/ai-standards-toufi-saliba/

I am getting other nations putting $100M+ to get their names on it. Armenia could participate but it will unlikely do that with money. Will it do with other aspects? I don’t know.

What I do realize is that everything in the world will be cryptofied within the next decade, we will reach global prosperity. I no longer worry about those 2. There will be no hunger and no extreme poverty. I used to worry about those, not anymore.

Where I sit right now I’m capable of seeing this reality coming together with the same way you see the sunrise every day. What keeps me up at night is AI with very little security to prevent an attack from within… I insist on what I do, not only as an author of a network protocol but as an executive and human being to focus my work and effort to benefit every single homo sapien that would like to benefit from it. No exceptions. I will continue the awareness and building organizations to provide an alternative to humanity to use.

Alejandro De La Torre

Nooor talks with Alejandro De La Torre

Alejandro De La Torre was one of our speakers during the ChainPoint 19 Conference. He is a Former VP & Co-Founder of BTC.com and VP of Poolin which is a multi-currency mining pool service launched in 2017.

With a mostly entrepreneurial background and the ability to run businesses from a young age, Alejandro has got interested in blockchain technology almost since the beginning of the development of the industry.

Having an eye on the latest trends in development and picturing all the possibilities that the technology cares, Alejandro shared his vision towards some crucial edges of mining and the development of the technology in general.

Nooor talks, 5 Questions, and Alejandro De La Torre. Here we go!

1. How blockchain will change our world and which industries will have the most influence?

I got into the blockchain world early in 2013, when it was not even called blockchain. I believed back then that having an alternative financial system based on different fundamentals from what we have now in the traditional financial world would be a nett positive for society… and I still staunchly believe in this today.

These different fundamentals, that primarily bitcoin and other prominent coins have, are non-human manipulation in the economics of the system, the deflationary aspect of it and the possibility of it being used by anyone, anywhere without the approval from anyone.

These revolutionary ideals have and will continue to change and shape the world in ways we can only begin to imagine. Bitcoin and other fair and decentralized blockchain based coins are revolutionary financial tools.

2. What is already running smoothly and well with blockchain and comparable distributed ledger technologies today?

Blockchains & DLT require security in the form of hashpower (mining) for the features inherent in them to actually work.

The blockchain is immutable if and only if there is a sufficient amount of hashpower behind each block to secure it from any form of attack.

Thus, what has been running efficiently, I say without a doubt, is the mining industry supporting the security of the blockchain and the transfer of wealth enabled by it.

3. What is one thing about mining that fascinates you the most? Why did you decide to get deeper into this aspect of the technology?

For me, the most fascinating aspect of mining is that multiple aspects of every player in this industry must be considered at all times. The mining rig market, for example, must consider the fabrication times of microchips, fierce competition, the costs of shipping and taxes when exporting, the list goes on.

Another aspect that is high on the lists of importance in mining is electricity costs. Finding cheap sources of electricity is difficult. It might be that the cheap electricity is on the other side of the world for example, or that the electricity from the hydropower plant is seasonal, so you must consider perhaps moving to another location half of the year.

These are just two aspects of mining that require a lot of understanding and hard work for players to crack the code and be bitcoin profitable.

4. The Achilles’ heel of the technology, 50 +1% Attack. What is your stance regarding the possibility of hacking the system?

This is a known attack vector in bitcoin, however, I highly doubt it will ever occur. The reason being is that once a pool or mining farm (although it would most likely have to be a pool) does a 51% attack, the network would lose ALL of its incredible features which would, in turn, affect the price negatively and drastically.

A pool that makes money on bitcoin would not want this, no one that is mining wants this, thus it is in every player’s self-interest to maintain the power of pools and farms to much less than 51%.

5. As you were a part of CP19, what can be the feedback about Armenia and its potential to become one of the leaders in the blockchain space?

There are multiple opportunities in this industry. I would bet on things that have been working for the last 10 years and not try to recreate a database with the word “blockchain” as that will only lead to nowhere.

The potential of Armenia is huge. The country has agreeable weather which would save costs for cooling. Armenia is a stable country and the government wants to provide incentives such as the tech city to help bring in companies. Political stability and a government willing to listen and help a blossoming industry like crypto mining are very important. This allows miners to continue their business and forecast into the future with confidence. I foresee Armenia playing an important role in the future with both blockchain development and crypto mining.


Nooor talks with Robert Schwertner

Robby Schwertner, also known as CryptoRobby is active in the blockchain domain: he serves as a business development manager focusing on blockchain-based use cases in mobility, real estates, and energy supporting large European and Asian companies.

Robby is a frequent speaker at international blockchain-related conferences, was the expert speaker at the British Parliament, held a TEDxTalk and was a speaker at the OECD Global Blockchain Policy Forum. He holds a master’s degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Vienna. Previously Robby managed R&D funds for Smart City and Urban Technology projects and has many years of industry experience including nanotech and sustainable energy services, alternating frequently between Europe and Asia.

Nooor talks, 5 Questions, and Robert Schwertner. Here we go!

1. In which industry blockchain will have the best application and what companies/ projects are already trying to make a change?

Whereas the internet´s strength was to bring information to our computers, to our smartphones, it has a major weakness: it is not possible to transfer value over the internet. Always a bank or a notary or a governmental institution has to confirm transactions. With blockchain, one can solve this problem of the internet. Blockchain will firstly make payment transfers faster, cheaper and safer. But we will see a lot of different applications of blockchain e.g. in the real estate sector, for energy, for mobility. The governments will also use blockchain widely And blockchain will make digital versions of national currencies possible.

2. What fascinates you the most in the blockchain industry?

I am so excited about blockchain technology because I see it as a new life form. We do not have the slightest idea for the moment what will be possible, but the potential of this technology is enormous. Just to give you 2 examples. Bank accounts will in the quite near future not be at banks, there won’t be a necessity. We will have our “bank” accounts on our smartphones, on our laptops. Second example: cars will also have a wallet included, they will pay for services themselves, for parking, road tolling, even insurance, and tax. And this is necessary because we will have a lot more autonomous cars without drivers. Autonomous cars MUST pay for their services themselves!

3. The trends in cryptocurrencies have deemed them unfavorable in most governments. Since blockchain is the underlying technology, do you think various states, starting with Armenia would be open to adopting the technology?

Cryptocurrencies are seen as critical by many governments and central banks. Why? Because it could lead to a loss of power. Take Bitcoin: nobody manages this cryptocurrency, no government, no bank in charge. This thought frightens many people. However, Bitcoin is working quite well, it is not a means of payment but definitely a store of value. But in the near future, we will also see alternative cryptocurrencies which will also not be linked to a government or a company but will be independent and decentralized and just serve the people. Isn’t it a wonderful thought that we have a new organism, a new life form which is a currency, not controlled by anyone.

4. Tell us more about CryptoRobby. When did it have its first appearance and become your second name?

My father, grandfather and great grandfather all are named Robert, so I was always called Robby. I started with CryptoRobby in 2016, I used it as a username in chat groups, and later it became popular on LinkedIn. My focus is to support blockchain use cases with added value to the society, to people. I call this initiative #ReturnonSociety and it became widely used in social media.

5. As you were in Armenia in 2001, what differences have you noticed in the country? And of course, as you were a part of CP19, what can be the feedback about Armenia and its potential to become one of the leaders in the blockchain space?

I was in Armenia for humanitarian relief projects and construction project for houses after the Earthquake in Gyumri and also projects in Yerevan and Vanadzor. Armenia has changed a lot. Cities are modern, the internet is fast (almost faster than in Austria and Germany!). People speak more English than it used to be the case back 20 years ago when I needed to speak Russian all the time. I see modern cars in the street. What makes me very happy, is seeing the new government which obviously tries hard to open up the country, to fight corruption and to ensure that the income gap becomes closer. One thing has not changed: the food is as good as 20 years ago!

I see that it is necessary to have coders for blockchain applications. In Austria there are 80–100 coders which can realize projects on the most popular Blockchain Ethereum, there is a lack of excellent programmers. And Armenian brains are as good as the ones in the rest of the world, the internet is fast here in Yerevan and computers are available. And one big advantage: the income level is lower in Armenia, which is VERY interesting for many international companies. This means Armenians, which have a vast network of people in the Diaspora — I have many Armenian friends here in Austria — should use this network to establish business with these countries.

Hey reader! We hope you enjoyed this interview. Take a look at other Nooor talks with the most impressive representatives of the blockchain industry here.

Anton Mozgovoy at ChainPoint

Nooor talks with Anton Mozgovoy

ChainPoint 19 Conference — an international blockchain conference that we at Nooor hosted earlier in October become a platform for people involved in the industry to get acquainted with the ones who strive to make a change and share the ideas of the disruptive nature of the distributed ledger technology as much in masses as possible.

Anton Mozgovoy was one of our speakers during the ChainPoint 19 Conference. Being a really promising young man, an interesting individual, public speaker — he has the exact mindset to become the one that will catch your eye and make you wonder of how you wouldn’t think of the possibilities that the blockchain technology can serve in a synergy with other technologies and the way it possibly can change our world for the better.

Not forget to mention, Anton is currently a Head of a product called Jthereum — software that gives you an opportunity to write and deploy Ethereum smart contracts in Java (kudos to the developers here!), and is one of our lecturers during our educational course — The Blockchain Challenger vol.3!

Nooor talks, 5 Questions, and Anton Mozgovoy. Here we go!

1. How important is education in the blockchain, and what will it take to undergo a complete adoption?

That is a very contradicting question. On one hand, education is a vital part of any emerging technology adoption. On the other hand, mass adoption does not depend on people’s understanding of how blockchain works. After all, most people will resist change or the need to learn new ideas. Therefore, the more subtle the changes they have to make the more likely they will adopt new technology.

That leads us to the point that Blockchain as a consumer-oriented technology still needs to pass through numerous iterations in order to become user friendly.

2. What fascinates you personally about Distributed Ledger Technology in the context of technology, economy and society?

Unfortunately, today the majority of blockchain projects are aimed at raising funds and generating profits with meaningless products. Yet, two main areas of DLT development excites me the most are stable coins and social impact. I wrote articles on both, and you can read more about stable coins and social impact.

To me, the biggest hidden gem about Blockchain is the ability to design technology to help those in need, through joint efforts of the community, solve acute social problems and conduct non-commercial activities in the fields of ecology, health, and education.

3. If I am a 6 y/o how would you explain to me what blockchain is?

To be honest, today’s 6-year olds are so tech-savvy, that probably as they grow up DeFi will feel so natural to them, they won’t even bother. But let me try to explain what is blockchain. Remember the game when each kid writes a word on a paper, and then scrolls it and passes to the next kid so on and so on? So, in the end, we roll up the paper and read those funny gibberish sentences? Well, blockchain is a tool that will allow us to see if anyone changed their word after they already wrote it. If they did — we’ll know who exactly was that and what was the initial word. That is blockchain.

4. In which areas do developers in the community and IT industry still have to accelerate their efforts?

Regulation. The first thing that comes to my mind is regulation. To drive Blockchain adoption, the industry needs to mature. One of the ways to do that is to create a clear and precise regulatory framework. It is a joint effort from both regulators, and industry players.

5. As you were a part of ChainPoint 19 Conference, what can be the feedback about Armenia and its potential to become a leader in the blockchain space?

Blockchain is still an emerging global market. Just recently China has announced a nation-wide Blockchain development program. This move alone will create a massive race between countries. Armenia has a very strong position and an opportunity to be among the Blockchain leading countries. ChainPoint 19 Conference is exactly what Armenia needs to attract not only international leaders but also local great minds.

Many thanks to Anton Mozgovoy for this engaging interview. If you want to read our Nooor talks with other leading representatives of the blockchain industry go here.