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 Brian Kelly of Brian Kelly Capital and CNBC. Brian is also author of The Bitcoin Big Bang.
Sarah: Tell us about how and why you got into Bitcoin and digital currencies.
Brian: When I first discovered Bitcoin I was a skeptic, I thought it was a bubble that could rival Dutch Tulipmania…so I bought some bitcoins. I wanted to speculate on the bubble and hopefully be long gone before it burst – this plan only half worked. Within in week my investment had doubled, but it only took a few days for it to half. The Chinese government had begun its restriction of bitcoin capital flows and I was left holding bitcoins…and I really had no idea what they were.
I had made the classic mistake of turning what should have been a trade into a long term investment. Now that I held a losing bitcoin positon I needed to know what I owned. When I began to research the blockchain I realized that it was revolutionary. What’s more, this revolution was occurring in my industry. I was hooked.
Sarah: Writing a book is no small endeavor. What was the impetus behind The Bitcoin Big Bang?
Brian: The Bitcoin Big Bang began as my own personal research project – it was a collection of everything I had learned about Bitcoin and the blockchain. However, the blockchain was too important to keep to myself and I set out to write an easily accessible book on the most important innovation in the history of money.
Sarah: Your book goes beyond the basic Bitcoin 101 and appeals to a diverse audience. How has it been received so far?
Brian: The reception for the book has gone way beyond my expectations…people from all walks of life have read the book and commented that they now understand why the blockchain is so important. My goal was to write a book that started the conversation about the uses of the blockchain beyond the currency and the feedback I have received suggests that I may have accomplished that goal.
2015 has already had both ups and downs. What are you most excited about this year?
Brian: Decentralized Apps!! I think this wave of so-called ‘Bitcoin 2.0’ projects have the potential to accelerate mainstream acceptance of digital currencies.
What do you see as the greatest immediate challenge for the industry?
Brian: There are two big challenges for the industry in 2015 – education and regulation. On the education front, the industry should focus on the uses of a blockchain beyond a currency. The general public still views Bitcoin and digital currencies as a something only a few hobbyists use…but in reality the investment into the space is outpacing the internet in 1995.
On the regulatory front there needs to be clarity, especially in the US. Digital currency companies still struggle to get bank accounts because the banks are unsure about the regulatory requirements. Hong Kong and London have quickly become the global leaders in digital currency FinTech because of clear regulatory treatment.
Sarah: What’s your advice for growing the industry? How do we engage more people in digital currencies?
Brian: Education. People need to know that digital currencies are not the money of drug dealers and cyber thieves – digital currencies and the blockchain technology are the most important innovation in the history of money…and everyone should want to learn about that!
Sarah: Thanks very much for your thoughts, Brian. Looking forward to a great conference.