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 San Diego on December 14-16, 2015. Today, we share an interview with Dmitry “Rassah” Murashchik, Product Manager at Mycelium.
Tell us about how and why you got involved in Bitcoin and digital currencies.
I first heard about Bitcoin when an Objectivist comic artist I followed on Twitter (http://jaynaylor.com/originallife/) mentioned it back in early 2011. By then l already had years of experience with alternative digital currencies, such as with SecondLife’s Linden Dollars, including investing in, speculating, and using it for real world purchases, so Bitcoin was a simple transition for me. At the time I was also starting to get interested in things like Sea Steading and political experimentation, plus I have had bad experiences with centrally administered currencies, so Bitcoin was a perfect and exciting fit for me.
What are you working on at Mycelium? And what makes Mycelium unique?
I am the product manager for Mycelium Wallet, currently overseeing the development of our new multi platform wallet. Mycelium Wallet is unique in that it is a Swiss army knife of bitcoin wallets, being able to handle multiple types of accounts, hardware devices, spending options, and has advanced tools like watch only addresses, spending from paper wallets, signing messages with addresses to prove ownership, etc. What makes Mycelium the company unique is that we try to focus on many different aspects of Bitcoin, not just a wallet. We have hardware devices like the paper wallet printing Entropy and the hardware wallet Mycelium Card, merchant solutions like Gear and processing apps still in development. We also have user privacy as our top goal, doing whatever we can to make sure no one has any access to our user’s information and money but the users themselves.
What are you most excited about in digital currencies and blockchain technology right now?
What excites me most personally is the way Bitcoin and decentralized technologies are breaking up monopolies we used to consider essential and inescapable. Currencies and banking are optional now, where it’s possible to opt-out of that entire system. Smart contracts are finally starting to catch on with more companies supporting multisig, escrow, and prediction markets like Augur, and OpenBazaar is finally coming out, which I am especially excited about and hope to use extensively. My dream is that some day things like countries, borders, arbitrary laws, and oppressive bureaucracies will be a thing of the past, made obsolete and irrelevant by these new technologies, and I’m happy to see progress continuing to move in that direction.
What do you see as the greatest challenge facing the industry?
Education and complacency. People in general still don’t understand what Bitcoin is, although it’s a huge improvement that they have heard of it. Within our Bitcoin community, there is also still a lot of misunderstanding about Bitcoin, with people being too concerned about fears like 51% attacks, worries about whether the “government will ban it,” and confusion about block sizes and fears about forks. With regards to complacency, the general population may not want to adopt the freedom that Bitcoin and related technologies provide simply because what they have now is “good enough.” Questions like, “Why do I need Bitcoin when I have a credit card?” are still common, and its adoption may not really catch on until either it is easier and cheaper than existing alternatives, or until the current systems create too much pain and discomfort, as they have in places like Cyprus, Greece, and Argentina.
What’s on the horizon for you and Mycelium in 2016?
The current big project I am working on at Mycelium is a rewrite of the wallet to make it compatible across multiple platforms, to break it up into smaller more manageable components, and make it completely open source. We intend to make the user experience be the same whether they use an Android, iPhone, PC, or the upcoming Windows Phones (which are rumored to run common Intel processors, making them capable of running Windows applications). This will also allow us to make the wallet more decentralized, since we will be implementing SPV mode, and hopefully come up with more privacy features while we’re at it. Unfortunately it will be a very large and long project, so we don’t expect this to be finished before the end of 2016.