As part of the Digital Currency Council’s Continuing Education partnership with Inside Bitcoins, the DCC’s Director of Curriculum Dan McArdle, 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 Daniel Gallancy, CEO of SolidX Partners.
Dan: Can you tell us a little about why you got involved in Bitcoin and digital currencies?
Daniel: At heart, I have always been a tech aficionado. Career-wise, I spent a long time as an investment analyst. So when I first heard about bitcoin in 2011 I was immediately enamored: it’s a fascinating marriage of tech and finance. I read Satoshi’s whitepaper and began to research bitcoin and the blockchain in depth. I felt like I was entering a new corner of the world that I never would have imagined before. But, of course, when I spoke to friends and colleagues about these topics a few years back, everybody was dismissive: “Hey Daniel, can you stop yapping about that nerd monopoly money and get back to talking about stocks?” Now that people are learning more, they are beginning to understand that we have been handed a once-in-a-generation technology, and the opportunities are tremendous.
Dan: How is SolidX approaching the task of helping to integrate Bitcoin into the traditional financial infrastructure? What are the major challenges and how are you solving them?
Daniel: Education is incredibly important. Bitcoin falls outside of the universe of items that traditional institutional investors evaluate and understand. I’ve seen a lot of incredulity and dismissiveness. But here is the good news: as people take the time to learn more, I find they almost always go from skeptical to interested. Beyond education, but we have to conquer all the negative publicity and misinformation they’ve heard about bitcoin the past couple of years. Once we clear those hurdles, we’re then able to have a broader dialogue about the integration of the blockchain into the financial infrastructure as well as mechanisms of gaining exposure to bitcoin.
Dan: Where are Wall St. firms in their understanding of Bitcoin and blockchain-technologies more generally? Are you seeing markedly deeper levels of understanding than a year or two ago, or is it still very early days, so to speak?
Daniel: It depends on the firm, but it is fair to say most of the Wall St. firms are doing their homework on the subject matter. And we certainly are seeing deeper levels of understanding than a year ago. That is undeniable.
Dan: Inside Bitcoins has brought together many of the best minds in the industry. What do you hope to learn, discuss, or accomplish at Inside Bitcoins New York this year?
Daniel: My goal is to continue both to learn and to educate. Bitcoin and the blockchain are still novel concepts that are in their infancy. As more and more people from different walks of life understand how bitcoin and the blockchain work, the entire ecosystem will continue to mature. I also welcome the chance to learn about what others are working on. There is a wealth of intellectual capital in the space and innovative applications being developed.
Dan: As digital currency technology evolves, what are you looking forward to seeing develop in the next 1-3 years? And what’s your long-term (5-10yr) outlook?
Daniel: It’s amazing to think that the next three years will represent 1/3 of the lifespan of bitcoin. I believe we’ll see significant inroads in terms of research, education, and early adopter testing and implementation of both bitcoin and blockchain-related (bitcoin 2.0) applications. Within 10 years I suspect virtually everyone will be utilizing the blockchain in one way or another. I also expect that people will change their thinking about bitcoin and the blockchain. The words “digital currency” are a bit of a misnomer for bitcoin. People use those words for lack of a better description, but the truth is that bitcoin is a brand new asset class with unique characteristics – some of which are currency-like and others are not. Similarly, the blockchain is a unique technology that people are still trying to wrap their heads around by using comparisons. Eventually we won’t need comparisons: bitcoin and the blockchain will exist as understandable concepts on their own.
Dan: What do you see as the greatest challenge for the industry as a whole?
Daniel: I see two challenges of equal size. The first is a lack of understanding by folks outside of the bitcoin ecosystem. That’s why I think education is so important. The second is incumbency. There are plenty of companies with business models that can be disrupted by usage of the blockchain. In financial services, incumbents can be very well entrenched. The status quo isn’t going away overnight.
Dan: What’s your best advice for growing the ecosystem? How can we educate more people as to the benefits of digital currency and better serve users overall?
Daniel: I’m repeating myself a bit but I don’t think it can be said enough — continued education. There’s been a lot of evangelizing over the past few years. Educating is quite different from evangelizing. The latter might grab more headlines – and that has been important – but the former is a more powerful tool for changing minds. Messages about bitcoin need to be fair, balanced and thoughtful. Bitcoin and the blockchain are good for certain things, but not everything. Once the message is more balanced, more intellectual capital will enter the ecosystem to help it grow, and more people outside the ecosystem will then understand its benefits.
Dan: Thanks very much for your thoughts, Daniel. Looking forward to a great conference.