I also did a TV interview (forthcoming) and spoke with Elisaveta Vereshchagina of CoinFox, on making bitcoin and blockchain growth accessible to everyone. That interview is copied below.
Вы, Москва, для вашего хлебосольства!
CoinFox: Let’s start from the very beginning. Could you elaborate on what has led you to the industry?
The economic downturn in the United States in 2008-2009 made me and many of my peers re-examine what we were doing with work and finance. At this time I discovered the sharing economy, collaborative economy, a lot of peer-to-peer types of interactions and the work around that. That is how I discovered bitcoin. Bitcoin is completely peer-to-peer, decentralized, and it’s worldwide. Before, when our world was smaller, I could exchange some goods, say, clothing, with my neighbours only. Now I can exchange things on a larger scale.
And I like the opportunity bitcoin offers to the people who don’t have money, who don’t have bank accounts or IDs. In the US, we have a lot of immigrants from other countries. Some arrive legally, some “not legally”, but they are all there and they’re all working. And those working don’t have access to bank accounts or any other services, as they are considered “illegal”. With something like bitcoin anybody can do financial transactions and use these kinds of services. It is an equalizer, in fact. And that’s what was very appealing to me.
CoinFox: So you decided to dedicate yourself to promoting this kind of technology...
My personal background is in education, teaching children, so when I realized I could understand the technology and teach it to more people, I went that way. My last position was with a company called SWARM which is doing peer-to-peer crowdfunding using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. My title was the Community Manager, so it was all about communication and education. As our community was worldwide, I was travelling everywhere to meet people and to talk to people.
CoinFox: Do you then see bitcoin as something which is more about people and their ability to rely on each other than just about money? Not long ago a prominent Russian economist called cryptocurrencies “the material embodiment of mutual trust”…
CoinFox: How do you assess the emerging cooperation between the companies which specialize in cryptocurrencies and some governmental bodies, specifically in the field of what is called national security?
CoinFox: So the technologies are being used much broader than just for the purposes directly related to money, aren’t they?
Yes, absolutely yes, they have been used for many purposes now. There are social interactive networks; there is a company called Lazooz which is similar to Uber, with people driving cars and taking passengers, but it is all built on blockchain and they are using cryptocurrencies. It is peer-to-peer, there is no corporation making money out of this.
CoinFox: Though it does sound quite inspiring, both bitcoin and blockchain are still too far from getting really widespread. What do you think can be done to promote the technology to a wider audience?
I’m optimistic. I think, education, which I am trying to do, is essential. But in general it is all very technologically complicated, and it really needs to be simplified. Now there are many software engineers working on the technology. They are a minority of the world but they are the ones who know the most. So we need to translate what they are doing for the rest of the world, for everyone who does not speak computer languages. The thing is to make it accessible for an average person, to make it easy to use.
We also have to involve more people in the process of creating these different uses for the technology. We need to involve philosophers; we need to involve artists, lawyers, teachers and everyone. If there is only a software engineer designing something, then it will look like a software engineer’s screen. But if we have an artist in there or we have an architect, then it is more likely to look like something that other people can also use.