As part of the Digital Currency Council’s Continuing Education partnership with Inside Bitcoins, the DCC’s Vice President, Sarah Martin, had the opportunity to interview the thought leaders that will be speaking at the Inside Bitcoins Conference in New York City on April 27-29, 2015. Today, we share an interview with Michael Sonnenshein of Grayscale.
Sarah: Tell me about how and why you got into Bitcoin and digital currencies.
Michael: Before joining Grayscale, I worked at several different bulge-bracket banks. I had followed bitcoin from the sidelines, reading an occasional headline or viewing a segment about bitcoin on CNBC. When I began to look for a new role, I ended up connecting and interviewing with our founder, Barry Silbert. He and I share the same alma mater and his enthusiasm for bitcoin’s potential instantly rubbed off on me. Since then, I haven’t looked back.
Sarah: Investors are increasingly exploring digital currencies. What do you plan to discuss during your panel?
Michael: I’d like to share some of the recognizable schools of thought that investors are adopting as they decide to commit capital to digital currencies. These range from long-standing gold investors recognizing the overlapping attributes between gold and bitcoin to those that are fascinated and inspired by the potential embedded in blockchain technology and its ability to transform various industries.
Sarah: InsideBitcoins NYC has brought together many of the best minds in the industry. What do you hope to hear from others at the conference?
Michael: I am looking forward to hearing from my peers about which areas of growth and development they’re seeing/experiencing at their respective firms. The bitcoin community is small, but growing, and what is good for other businesses in the space is likely good for us as well.
Sarah: As digital currencies evolve, what are you looking forward to seeing develop this year, or in the next 5-10 years?
Michael: I am eager to see Wall Street and larger financial institutions get involved in the space. All of the major banks and broker-dealers have task forces assigned to understanding bitcoin and determining the best ways for their organizations to get involved. Some firm have begun investing in bitcoin companies, publishing bitcoin research, and even trading bitcoin. I hope to see these initiatives deepen over the coming years as bitcoin and blockchain technology can be transformative to these companies and the broader financial services industry.
Sarah: What do you see as the greatest immediate challenge facing the industry?
Michael: Branding. Unfortunately, the media hasn’t been the friendliest to bitcoin, painting a picture that bitcoin is for nefarious activities and criminals. This couldn’t be further from the truth as the blockchain records all bitcoin movement, making it the least intelligent means of transferring value for those who don’t want their movements traced. As bigger players, be them merchants, service providers, or financial institutions continue to get involved in the space, I am confident that this perception will be overcome and the broader public will come to understand the value-add that bitcoin and the blockchain provide.
Sarah: What’s your advice for growing the industry? How do we engage more people in digital currencies?
Michael: We have to continue to educate people about bitcoin and digital currencies. I think that Digital Currency Council is doing an excellent job of closing the educational gap, but everyone involved in the space needs to broaden their educational efforts as well.
Sarah: Thanks very much for your thoughts, Michael. Looking forward to a great conference.