As part of the Digital Currency Council’s Continuing Education partnership with Inside Bitcoins, DCC interviewed thought leaders who will be speaking at the Inside Bitcoins Conference in Seoul on December 9-11, 2015. Today, we share an interview with Alireza Beikverdi, Founder of Bitholla and Co-Organizer of the Seoul Bitcoin Meetup.
Tell us about how and why you got involved in Bitcoin and digital currencies.
I was a cryptography and cyber security researcher and master candidate working on payment systems and I was focused in payment systems specifically in Korea. I came across Bitcoin during my research multiple times and decided to give it a shot. After reading the original white paper I was stunned and immediately realized its importance for our future societies as well as its great potential. Bitcoin not only creates a trustless monetary system but it also is able to handle global instant settlements, micropayments with negligible fees and a lot more. The technology and its great future potential was the real driving force behind my motivations in Bitcoin. Additionally, its proven decentralized nature can be expanded to other industries to improve security and increase transparency, which would be beneficial for all humans.
What led to the genesis of Bitholla? What makes Bitholla unique?
Bitcoin due to its nature is quite technical at them moment and it has a lack of user friendliness and usability for general public. Although the technology has a great potential in the future to simplify our daily payments, all the services around bitcoin have failed to connect to the mainstream and public by creating technical, secure and difficult-to-use services. Bitcoin puts the responsibility of security on the client side and therefore these services such as Bitcoin wallets have no other options to make secure services and there is obviously a tradeoff between security and usability. Thus we realized that we can fill this gap by adding a layer between bitcoin wallets and users and that was the initial trigger to start this project.
Bitholla is a payment service utilizing Bitcoin that both greatly simplifies mobile payments in general and pares down the sequence involved in making a simple bitcoin transaction. Users are able to quickly select payment recipients from their physical surroundings and their contacts without needing to resort to cumbersome methods for obtaining correct inputs (such as scanning QR Codes or NFC signals).
The service is unique in the sense that it is a not a bitcoin wallet and it interoperates with any of user’s preferred wallets. In addition to offering a streamlined payment method, Bitholla also enables users to share locations, send messages, make requests for payment, and split bills. This solves real use/life use cases of people making payments to their social contacts.
What are you most excited about in digital currencies and blockchain technology right now?
Sidechains and lightning networks are definitely two of the most interesting projects right now. Both of these projects can solve the current scalability problem in bitcoin. Lightning network by creating off blockchain transactions in a trustless manner could reduce a massive amount of traffic to the bitcoin’s blockchain. Sidechains are great for cryptocurrency experiments, new projects and are great alternatives to creating new altcoins, which fragments bitcoin users and its community.
What do you see as the greatest challenge facing the industry?
Bitcoin is really sweet once you understand it and it is definitely one of to top innovations in this century. However, its potentials are only comprehensible by technical people and its lack of user-friendliness and usability for general public is quite challenging. The whole space requires more simplified services for typical users to get mass adoption.
What do you hope to achieve with Bitholla in 2016?
We are trying to simplify bitcoin and make it more usable by adding more social interactions to the platform. With Bitholla people can send and receive money as easily as any other interactions and that is what we will be building on in the coming years.
We have a list of upcoming features such as smart bill sharing as well as more efficient and localized payments and requests use cases; we aim to make it much easier for people to get adopted and use bitcoin in real life. Additionally we are also aiming to help merchants by adding them to our map we are trying to make it easier for people to find the places where they can easily spend their bitcoins and feel it in their daily lives.