EB94 – Gavin Andresen: On The Blocksize And Bitcoin’s Governance

EB94 – Gavin Andresen: On The Blocksize And Bitcoin’s Governance

As the debate about the blocksize continues to roar through the Bitcoin community, Gavin Andresen joins us to take a step back and ask the big questions: How should these decisions be made in the first place? What does the governance of Bitcoin look like now and what do we want it to look like in the future?

In a challenging time for Bitcoin, it’s a critical discussion to have with the Chief Scientist of the Bitcoin Foundation and successor of Satoshi. We cover everything from the current blocksize debate to the nature of forks to how decisions will be made in Bitcoin XT.

Topics covered included:
– MIT Digital Currency Initiative
– The way Gavin thinks about Bitcoin
– How were decisions made throughout Bitcoin’s history
– What the Nakamoto/market consensus is
– Forking the software vs a fork of the blockchain
– Who should make decisions in Bitcoin and how the interest of different stakeholders should be reconciled
– Why the desirable state is to move towards many different implementations
– How decisions will be made for the Bitcoin XT code base

 

 

EB93 – Simon Dixon: How Bank To The Future Is Rethinking Finance

EB93 – Simon Dixon: How Bank To The Future Is Rethinking Finance

Ever since the financial system collapsed in 2007, the call for alternatives has grown louder. Bitcoin itself can be seen as such an alternative. Simon Dixon’s search for a way to put capitalism on a sounder financial footing began before Bitcoin with a focus on equity crowdfunding. Since then he has built Bank to the Future into an innovative crowdfunding business that takes an aggressive contrarian stance. He has also launched an investment fund focused on cryptocurrencies together with Max Keiser called Bitcoin Capital.

He joined us for a fascinating discussion about the flaws of the banking system, Bitcoin and the search for alternatives.

Topics covered included:
– Why capitalism is built on a broken banking system
– The problems Bitcoin solves
– The flawed ways banks approach blockchain technology
– How Bank to the Future is a contrarian bet on the financial system
– Bitcoin Capital, the fund he started with Max Keiser
– How Bitcoin Capital and BnkToTheFuture work together

Note:
Our sponsor Vaultoro is raising an equity crowdfunding round on Bank to the Future. Read about the details and invest here: http://bit.ly/1ER5gIo

 

EB92 – Stefan Thomas: Understanding Ripple

EB92 – Stefan Thomas: Understanding Ripple

In a long-overdue episode, we finally had the chance to dive into one of the most known but poorly understood cryptocurrency/blockchain project: Ripple. Reviled by many in the Bitcoin space, we put aside any prejudices and sat down for a fascinating conversation with Ripple Labs CTO Stefan Thomas.

We talked about his early days in the Bitcoin space, how Ripple came about, what the Ripple network looks like today and how its consensus protocol works.

Topics covered included:
– ‘ early experiences in the Bitcoin space
– How Ripple was created
– The problem Ripple is trying to solve
– How the Ripple consensus algorithm works
– Whether Ripple is decentralized or not
– What the correspondent banking system is and how Ripple wants to disrupt it
– The recent FinCen fine and what it means for Ripple

 

EB91 – Vitalik Buterin: Ethereum Frontier Launch, Scalability And The Road Ahead

EB91 – Vitalik Buterin: Ethereum Frontier Launch, Scalability And The Road Ahead

Close to two years after the initial whitepaper, the revolutionary Ethereum network has finally launched. The decentralized smart contract platform is, without a doubt, the most exciting cryptocurrency project since Bitcoin. The versatile platform with its turing-complete scripting language aspires to power the distributed applications of the future.

Ethereum Founder Vitalik Buterin joined us for the second time to discuss the Frontier Launch, future plans for scalability, governance and the road ahead for the organization and the protocol.

Topics covered included:
– Ethereum’s frontier launch and the upcoming development stages
– The plans for how to create a scalable blockchain architecture
– The thinking around transitioning to proof-of-stake
– The state and new board of the Ethereum Foundation
– How Ethereum’s development will be funded in the longer term
– His thoughts on the governance of Ethereum and Bitcoin
– When private blockchains make sense and if Ethereum
– What mistakes were made during the development of Ethereum

 

EB90 – Dave Hudson: Insights From The Data Mine And Other Adventures Around The Block

EB90 – Dave Hudson: Insights From The Data Mine And Other Adventures Around The Block

Bitcoin mining and the intricate game theory that surround it is a topic that we’ve visited many times. Difficult to grasp in its complexity, it is these dynamics that determine the security of Bitcoin in the short and in the longer term. This time we were joined by none other than Dave Hudson. He is the author of the leading mining blog hashingit.com, VP of Software at PeerNova and had a long career in chip manufacturing including at Qualcomm.

We talked about dynamics in the mining market, security issues with Bitcoin’s design and his data-informed views on the blocksize debate.

Topics covered included:
– How he became interested in mining and what metrics he finds most interesting
– How miners would be affected by a blocksize increase
– The flaws in Satoshi’s design of the reward scheme
– Why transaction fees will not make up for the block reward decrease in 2016 and why that will lessen the security of Bitcoin
– The long-term role of Bitcoin as a settlement network
– The problem with accepting 0-conf transactions
– The future of mining and why 21 Inc’s plans seem nonsensical

 

EB89 – Greg Slepak: The Turtle Crawl Towards Internet Decentralization

EB89 – Greg Slepak: The Turtle Crawl Towards Internet Decentralization

Amidst all the discussion of alternative uses of blockchains, it is often forgotten that the very first fork of Bitcoin, Namecoin, pursued a daring vision for a decentralized, censorship-resistant internet. Greg Slepak, co-founder of the okTurtles Foundation joined us for an interesting discussion of DNS, Namecoin and how blockchains can be used to decentralize the internet.

Topics covered included:
– What DNS is and the role it plays in the architecture of the internet
– What man-in-the-middle attacks are and why certificate authorities offer poor protection
– How certificate authorities, SSL, IP routing and VPNs work
– Why the current model is broken from a privacy and security perspective
– How Namecoin and the blockchain could enable a decentralized and more secure internet
– The security risks when online identity is tied to a private key and how they could be mitigated
– What DNSChain is and what projects okTurtles is working on

EB88 – Siân Jones: Bitlicense And The Regulatory Straitjacket

EB88 – Siân Jones: Bitlicense And The Regulatory Straitjacket

In this episode, we revisited the perennial topic of digital currency regulation with Siân Jones, our regulatory correspondent and founder of the regulation-focused virtual currency consultancy COINSULT. With the final version of the BitLicense, what may turn out to be the most influential document for digital currency regulation, is now out. Besides diving into many different aspects of the onerous BitLicense, we talked about California’s coming rules, how Bitcoin startups will be affected and the implications of Ripple’s fine.

Topics covered included:
– A brief primer on BitLicense and the process by which it emerged
– What the key aspects of BitLicense are and how they changed through the revisions
– Why BitLicense will stifle innovation by dramatically increasing the cost and bureaucratic burden of running a digital currency startups
– How different companies are responding to the rules
– Why California’s virtual currency draft bill got a lot of things right
– What Ripple got fined for and why FinCEN could go after most cryptocurrency startups for the same reasons
– The status of the European Court of Justice case on VAT

NOTE: Since the episode was recorded the advocate general at the EU Court of Justice recommended that Bitcoin be exempt from VAT.

 

EB87 – John McDonnell: How Bitcoin Will Win Online Payments

EB87 – John Mcdonnell: How Bitcoin Will Win Online Payments

Solving the pain points of online payments was the applications that garnered the most attention in Bitcoin’s early days. In recent times, as consumer adoption of Bitcoin payments has been underwhelming much of that attention has shifted elsewhere. Nevertheless, companies keep working hard on making the vision of a universal, global payment system a reality.

Among those companies, one stands out as the top contender to compete with existing payment systems: Bitnet. Funded with a heavy warchest and the company is ran by veterans of Visa and Cybersource, a company started in 1994 to help merchants accept credit cards online that was sold to Visa in 2007 for $2bn. They have been working behind the scenes to get Bitcoin to break through with merchants.

CEO John McDonnell joined us for an important discussion of how online payments work today, why they are broken and how Bitcoin will revolutionize the industry.

Topics covered included:
– The story of Cybersource and payments in the early day of the internet
– The pain points with online payments for merchants and consumers today
– The role of the different actors such as payment processors, card networks, merchants and issuing banks
– The niches where Bitcoin payments could break through first
– Why coming from inside the payment industry provides Bitnet with a huge advantage
– Why they are focusing on Payment Service Providers instead of acquiring merchants directly
– His view on BitLicense and how it will affect Bitcoin payment processors

 

EB86 – William Mougayar: The Business Of Decentralization

EB86 – William Mougayar: The Business Of Decentralization

Peter Thiel argued in his book ‘Zero to One’ that the way to build a great and highly profitable company is to build a monopoly. But with decentralized technologies, there is a real question whether these monopolies can be built or whether the monopolies will end up being publicly owned goods (like Bitcoin) that can’t be monetized directly.

William Mougayar, who is an experienced tech executive and angel investor, has been writing extensively about these issues and was one of the investors in OB1, the venture-backed company launched by the founders of the decentralized market place Open Bazaar. He joined us for a discussion of the cryptocurrency space, Ethereum, Open Bazaar and monetizing decentralized technologies.

Topics covered included:
– Bitcoin as the new, thin cloud
– His long-term predictions about where the space is going
– What kind of business models are the most promising
– Why he chose to invest in OB1, the company behind Open Bazaar
– What the state of Venture Capital in the cryptocurrency space is

 

 

EB85 – Adam Draper: Accelerating 100 Bitcoin Startups With Boost VC

EB85 – Adam Draper: Accelerating 100 Bitcoin Startups With Boost VC

Revolutionary progress doesn’t happen without lots of work and in the case of Bitcoin that requires many different startups building technology. Few have contributed to this as much as Silicon Valley based startup accelerator Boost VC, which has been focusing on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency startups since 2013. Focusing exclusively on Bitcoin for an extended time, they’ve invested in companies such as Blockcypher, Coinprism, Coinjar, Mirror, Snapcard, Zapchain and many others.

Boost VC Founder Adam Draper joined us to discuss running an accelerator, their investment thesis and why they’ve chosen to add Virtual / Augmented Reality startups to the program.

NOTE: Applications to join the next tribe of Boost startups can be submitted until Wednesday July 1. If you’re interested in applying go here: http://bit.ly/1IG49MQ

Topics covered included:
– The qualities they look for in companies (8:50)
– What the overarching Boost VC investement thesis is (14:40)
– His view on the BitLicense rules and how they affect cryptocurrency startups (38:14)
– How regulatory concerns have risen among their startups (41:40)
– Why they chose to add Virtual / Augmented Reality to the program (47:50)