As part of the Digital Currency Council’s Continuing Education partnership with Inside Bitcoins, the DCC’s Director of Curriculum, Dan McArdle, has had the opportunity to interview the thought leaders that will be speaking at Inside Bitcoins Singapore on January 29-30. Today, we share insights from Oscar Darmawan, Co-Founder and CEO of Bitcoin.co.id in Indonesia.
Dan: Tell us a little about your background in Bitcoin and Digital Currencies, and how and why you got involved?
Oscar: Like anybody else, I read about Bitcoin in online community three years ago and I was fascinated by the concept, especially the Blockchain behind it run by decentralized architecture. At the time, I tried to buy Bitcoin but I learned that there was no bitcoin exchanger in Indonesia. So I always had to buy from the US or Europe market to get some Bitcoin. It was not convenient.
I believed for the Bitcoin ecosystem to grow in Indonesia, the needs to be a marketplace as a Bitcoin liquidity provider. So together with William Sutanto, we grabbed the golden opportunity by setting up the first Bitcoin marketplace in Indonesia. The market response was, like we predicted, very small. We only handle 5 BTC in the first few days. But nowadays, the Digital Currency ecosystem in Indonesia is becoming established and we are handling about 200-400 Bitcoin per day plus other cryptocurrency that also handled by Bitcoin.co.id.
Dan: What excites you the most about the long-term prospects for Bitcoin?
Oscar: To be honest, I am not Bitcoin Believer in terms of price. I am not so optimistic that the Bitcoin price will go back to $1,000 or even higher. But I really believe Blockchain technology will eventually change the way system works. Centralized architecture will soon be over and replaced by decentralized, like how the absolute monarchy has been replaced with democracy. People are getting smart and realize their own rights. The Blockchain technology can improve many things effectively like creating contracts, financial sector architecture and even the government election process.
Dan: What worries you the most about getting there? What is the biggest challenge to success?
Oscar: The status quo of the current system. Based on the history of mankind, changing the status quo always requires something huge to happen. Any revolution always comes together with big sacrifice. But I hope this is not the case for Bitcoin in this case. But if it is, then so be it. For the greater good and the future.
Dan: People often say that the Bitcoin ecosystem today is like the early internet. Do you think that’s a sensible analogy? If so, what stage would you say we’re in relative to development of the internet?
Oscar: I am quite young compared with other Bitcoin Exchange CEOs. I am not in my 30s yet. When I was in primary school, I already knew the internet. Online games and email were part of my early life. So comparing Bitcoin ecosystem today with the early internet is quite absurd for me. I have not been mature enough to understand when early internet structuring, as most of it happened before I was born. But If you ask me about venture capital investment in early internet architecture compared with Bitcoin, yes it is a sign many people and companies believe this technology will revolutionize many things in our life. The same way as email services replaced letter services. If we compare it with email, Bitcoin is just like email services without any friendly name address standardization yet (@ sign) or if we compare it with website, Bitcoin is just like internet without the domain name system yet. We are not that far from the end-customer products yet. Technology always evolves faster than we estimate.
Dan: What will it take to develop more global Bitcoin exchange liquidity, as well as more advanced tools such as options and futures?
Oscar: Derivatives are one of the reasons why conventional finance structure is now in a bubble period. Sometimes, I wonder if derivatives are good for the Bitcoin ecosystem. But please do not have the wrong idea, I am not opposing derivative platforms. I agree that derivative trading will help to bring more liquidity into the Bitcoin ecosystem and traders may trade bitcoin in higher volume that able to support Bitcoin ecosystem. But it is a double edged sword to the young Bitcoin ecosystem. I believe the keys to increase usage and volume of Bitcoin exchange liquidity are through education for unbanked people, common people (even housewife) and partnership with remittance business.
Dan: How can we in the Digital Currency profession help Bitcoin adoption in general? How do we educate the public and communicate the benefits to potential new users?
Oscar: Sometimes the easier way to help adoption bitcoin in general is through the simplest method; mouth to mouth. We often forget there are hundred of millions of people that are not always connected to the Internet. By asking the restaurant that we frequently visit if they accept Bitcoin is one way of education that is very effective. If you have a relative that studies or works abroad, ask them to send money through Bitcoin. People who get the financial benefit from Bitcoin Technology are key to establishing the Bitcoin ecosystem.
Dan: Oscar, thank you very much for your time, insight and support of the Digital Currency Council.
Oscar : No worries Dan, the pleasure is all mine. All the success of digital currency council. Long live Bitcoin!