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 Andrew Beal, an associate at Crowley Corporate Attorneys.
Sarah: Tell us about how and why you got involved in Bitcoin and digital currencies.
Andrew: The day I got my bar exam results back, I attended a Startup Weekend in Santa Monica, CA and was on a team with a guy that would eventually start the virtual currency exchange CoinMKT. We became great friends and by osmosis I learned a lot about bitcoin. As a startup attorney, I naturally get excited about new technology. After the run up in March of 2013, I dedicated the next 6 months to doing nothing but learning about the technology and the regulatory environment.
Sarah: Blockchain technology is developing at lightspeed. What are you most excited about right now?
Andrew: I’m most excited about the blockchain being used as a recording system – I think one of the best use cases for that is online identity management. I’m also interested in distributed applications built on top of blockchains. You could theoretically have a distributed organization that generates millions of dollars a year in revenue with no employees, office space, etc.
Sarah: What do you see as the greatest challenge facing the industry?
Andrew: Figuring out how to apply this wonderful technology in a way that maximizes its effectiveness. People always talk about the awesome potential of distributed consensus technology; it’s up to the entrepreneurs to build the platforms and applications that realize that potential. Getting there is a challenge, but it is inevitable.
Sarah: To put a fine point on it, how do you provide legal advice to start ups when bitcoin laws and regulations are so uncertain?
Andrew: My job is to navigate the uncertainty by making them aware of, and helping them minimize, the risks of doing business in this space. Doing this well means keeping my finger on the pulse.
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?
Andrew: The reason I attend events like InsideBitcoins is the same reason why I encourage others to attend – being around entrepreneurs and thought-leaders for 48-72 hours straight is intoxicating and you can’t help but walk away having learned something and feeling inspired.
Sarah: What’s your advice for growing the industry? How do we engage more people in digital currencies?
Andrew: Everyone that is involved in the industry had an “ah hah” moment in the last few years that was the catalyst for their excitement and participation. But different things resonate with different people, and the only way to guarantee growth is to continue building great technology. Each step forward will attract a new segment of the market, and eventually, you have a “tipping point”.
Sarah: Thanks very much for your thoughts, Andrew. Looking forward to a great conference.