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 J. Bradley Hall of Icon Capital.
Sarah: Tell us about how and why you got involved in Bitcoin and digital currencies.
Brad: Hi Sarah it is a pleasure to be chatting with you. We at ICON may be sort of late bloomers, as our interest in Bitcoin and digital currencies started to manifest in 2013 when one of my colleagues, John Gainor attended an event in San Jose and persuaded me to have a closer look at the opportunity, which I did at an event in Buenos Aries in late 2013. We were attracted in part by the energy and enthusiasm in the space and the decentralized architecture, which seemed to be particularly well suited to some creative things we were doing to remove friction in physical gold trading.
Sarah: Attention is increasingly turning toward the block chain as the real disruptor. What do you plan to discuss during your panel?
Brad: Sarah, we agree with the sentiment that the blockchain is where the magic is and in fact continue to hold the view that the BTC tokens act as sort of a claim check with nothing to claim. They have however validated that the blockchain works and I will be discussing some of the emerging use cases for the distributed ledger system, including AUREALS™ (now launching as we speak) which are a digital currency that use gold as a numerairre.
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?
Brad: We are really excited by the caliber of finance, tech and capital markets people who are diving headfirst into the space and I’m looking forward to learning more about some of the clever companies being launched with real world use cases built on top of the block chain.
Sarah: As block chain technology advances, what are you looking forward to seeing develop this year, or in the next 5-10 years?
Brad: Well Sarah, I see the narrative continuing to shift from the price of BTC tokens to a couple of breakthrough applications that can deliver the proverbial hockey stick growth in users, revenue and earnings. Over the next few years, with a little luck, the discussion will not include the blockchain at all and instead focus on the compelling applications sitting on top of the blockchain, which will be ubiquitous and for the most part invisible to users.
Sarah: What do you see as the greatest challenge facing the industry?
Brad: Sarah, I think one of the biggest challenges and certainly one that will be top of mind at this event is the regulatory capture. Regulation and innovation, as a general rule do not happily co-exist. There certainly need to be ground rules but a light touch approach is favored at this point. Innovation does tend to flow like water and I think smart regulators and by extension the governments that provide their mandates have an opportunity to create an environment where that water will flow to.
Sarah: What’s your advice for growing the industry? How do we engage more people in digital currencies?
Brad: Sarah it seems that the industry is moving at a very good pace and although 6 years in it still feels like early days. Initial funding has helped to provide the plumbing and by that I mean the payment processors, wallets and even exchanges, which are being commoditized at light speed. The next wave will be applications and history suggests that the digital currency version of the browser or e-mail may lead the charge to significant growth in users. At ICON, we believe that one or more digital currencies that are intuitive, easy to use, offer a store of value and a medium of exchange could accelerate the terminal decline of BTC tokens, while setting overall user growth on fire. Also, we don’t see that initially being driven in the US but rather the BRICS markets with China leading the way.
Sarah: Thanks very much for your thoughts, Brad. Looking forward to a great conference.
Brad: Thank you Sarah, I enjoyed our chat and I am really looking forward to the conference.