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 Ben McDonald, Developer at SmartLottery and Organizer of the Seoul Bitcoin Meetup.
Tell us about how and why you got involved in Bitcoin and digital currencies.
At first I was skeptical of a decentralised currency and did not read more about them. But I continued having trouble moving money and getting paid internationally. I kept on getting directed to Bitcoin as an economical and fast way to move money so I finally looked into it more. Once I understood how revolutionary the technology was I invested as much time as I had free to learn all the details of the algorithms and to understand how it worked.
You’re involved with two unique startups – Bitholla and SmartLottery. Tell us a little about each and your role in bringing them to market.
Bitholla is a social payment platform. It was created because there was no good way to send payments to your social contacts for things like paying for dinner or collecting money for a birthday gift. People take the path of least resistance as they are busy and don’t want to spend time counting coins to pay for dinner. Social payments are clumsy even with the advanced Bitcoin network. You have to load up a QR code or copy and paste an address. With Bitholla we made payments fun and easy. I have helped with the business, interface design and software development of Bitholla.
SmartLottery is an international lottery started here in Korea with a partnership between a local Korean startup and the Marshall Islands’ Embassy in Korea. Marshall Islands is a great host for an international lottery. They are a democratic and transparent government welcoming to business. I developed the protocol to make the SmartLottery provably fair and software to run the lottery.
What are you most excited about in digital currencies and blockchain technology right now?
I’m most excited about the Bitcoin ecosystem currently being created. It is still hard to pay someone, wherever they live or whatever currency their bank account is in. This should be a simple task. But payments are getting easier all the time because of the Bitcoin companies solving problems. Bitcoin being an open network and technology means any group or company can build on Bitcoin. Many startups are using the technology to solve problems that people have in their day to day lives.
What do you see as the greatest challenge facing the industry?
Heavy handed government regulations with good or bad intentions stifling innovation in cryptocurrencies. No one person, or government, can predict the future or where the technology will head. I hope that the industry will be uninhibited in creatively exploring different paths.
What’s ahead for you, and Bitholla and SmartLottery, in 2016?
I’m very excited about Bithollla being presented to the public this December. It’s a fun app that I enjoy using with my friends. It makes the business of payment effortless and fast. We have put a lot of thought into making the interface quick and fluid to use. Bitholla will make paying people you know much easier.
SmartLottery is exploring using different technology and next level cryptocurrencies. There will be some exciting announcements with SmartLottery in the future.