As part of the Digital Currency Council’s Continuing Education partnership with Virtual Currency Today, the DCC’s Vice President, Sarah Martin, had the opportunity to interview the thought leaders that will be speaking at the Virtual Currency Today Summit on April 29, 2015. Today, we share insights from interviews Nikhil Joseph of Mercator Advisory Group.
Sarah: Tell me about how and why you got involved in Bitcoin and digital currencies.
Nikhil: As an Emerging Technologies Analyst for the Mercator Advisory Group, a leading payments consulting firm, it’s my job to keep our clients informed about the sources of disruptive innovation in the market. Bitcoin, obviously, very much fits that mandate. I find the whole concept intellectually fascinating and I’ve been following it closely for a few years now.
Sarah: Many are focused right now on developing the blockchain, as opposed to merchant or consumer adoption. What do you plan to discuss during your panel?
Nikhil: Some of the panelists joining me are themselves founders and technologists building Blockchain based applications that go beyond payments—I’m hoping to get them to walk me through the kinds of problems they’re hoping to solve and get a sense of how everyday consumers will find value in their products.
Sarah: Virtual Currency Today has brought together many of the best minds in the industry. What do you hope to hear from others at the conference?
Nikhil: I’m eager to hear about how people in the industry feel about the various cryptocurrency regulatory proposals that are floating around, especially the one spearheaded by the State of New York.
Sarah: As blockchain technology evolves, what are you looking forward to seeing develop this year, or in the next 5-10 years?
Nikhil: International remittances have been highlighted as ‘quick win’ for Bitcoin entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, I am yet to see a product that is truly user friendly, allows for payouts in cash, and eliminates exchange risk for the consumer. That would be something to look forward to in the near-term. In the medium to long-term, I am quite excited by the prospect of Blockchain-based identity and smart contract applications.
Sarah: What do you see as the greatest immediate challenge facing the industry?
Nikhil: Regulation—waiting to see what the final version of New York’s Bitlicense framework will look like. The challenge will be to get regulators to not see every Bitcoin company as a money transmitter, since those regulations are onerous (for good reason), and understand the potential of non-payment applications of the blockchain.
Sarah: What’s your best advice for growing the industry? How do we engage more people in digital currencies?
Nikhil: Build great products! I don’t think most people need or want to understand how the blockchain actually works or even hold on to bitcoins in their personal wallets. What they need are compelling products and services that solve real needs and just work, with bitcoin/blockchain/distributed ledgers powering the back-end.
Sarah: Thanks very much for your thoughts, Nikhil. Looking forward to a great conference.