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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 Ruben Somsen, Founder of the Seoul Bitcoin Meetup.

Tell us about how and why you got involved in Bitcoin and digital currencies.

Technology has always fascinated me. It is not often that a breakthrough technology like bitcoin comes into existence. From the moment I realized just how big its potential for disruption was, it has had my constant attention. To me it’s just as big of a deal as the Internet was in the 90s. It will still take quite a bit of effort for bitcoin to reach mass adoption, and I’m glad to be part of that process.

Describe the cryptocurrency ecosystem in Seoul. What is the community like and how has it evolved since you founded Seoul Bitcoin?

Bitcoin could potentially really take off in Seoul. Everyone, including the old generation, uses smart phones and the Internet is blazingly fast. However, a lot still needs to happen to bridge the gap to mass adoption. The Seoul Bitcoin Meetup was founded with the idea of bringing bitcoin enthusiasts together and teaching newcomers who are curious to learn more. Other than the growth of the community, I think we’ve seen the bitcoin exchanges in Seoul evolve at a healthy pace. The volume isn’t quite there yet, but I think that’s just a matter of time.

What are you most excited about in digital currencies and blockchain technology right now?

There are a lot of new innovations on the horizon, but the ones that we’ll have a good chance to see in the future and will have the biggest impact are micropayment channels (Lightning Network, bip 65, etc., enabling off-chain transactions), sidechains (enabling blockchains with different rules that still utilize bitcoin as the underlying asset) and Confidential Transactions (achieving a high level of privacy, especially when combined with Coinjoin).

What do you see as the greatest challenge facing the industry?

I think the greatest challenge will be keeping bitcoin decentralized, because without decentralization, bitcoin is essentially no better than PayPal. Some of the centralization threats are quite technical, making it difficult for the general audience to form an educated opinion. And we also can’t blindly trust the core developers to make the right decision, since that in itself is also a form of centralization. That being said, I do think we are heading in the right direction. Bitcoin has attracted some of the smartest technical minds in the world, so I’m confident bitcoin will continue to grow.

What’s on the horizon for you? What are you looking forward to hearing about at Inside Bitcoins Seoul?

I’m planning to continue keeping a close eye on bitcoin developments and help the community grow by spreading information and bringing people together. I also wish to put more emphasis on helping the technical community in order to encourage the creation of more bitcoin startups in Korea. I’ll mainly be attending the conference for networking purposes.

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