We are proud to continue our series of exclusive interviews with this great talk — give it up for Franklyn Richards, director of Litecoin Foundation.
Franklyn Richards, Director of Litecoin Foundation
- We met Charlie Lee couple months ago at the Blockchain Cruise, and talked to him about Litecoin being the digital silver to bitcoin’s gold. How does Litecoin meet the SOUND MONEY model, in your opinion? Which necessary features does it have?
SIlver to gold — it’s not a phrase that I like to use, as it kind of suggests that Litecoin needs Bitcoin in order to be relevant, which is completely untrue. Litecoin stands tall purely by itself as very sound money, as Charlie describes. It has huge amount of liquidity and volume on the market. Tens of thousands of transactions are being made across the network daily, and tens of millions of dollars run through the network daily. It is fantastic in a form of money, because it serves and does this few things very well. It is not an attempt to go to smart-contracts built in directly into thing, like Ethereum does. We can see that it can lead to a disaster, end up slowing the network down, dropping nodes off the network. Litecoin sound money is focused on doing one thing, and does it very well. And it is more of a compliment to Bitcoin than a competitor.
- Is Litecoin aimed at becoming a massively adopted payment system, and how can that be achieved?
Yes, it is aimed at becoming a payment solution globally, and in many ways is already is. It is doing so many transactions all over the world daily. People understand how powerful this technology is, and are adopting it. There are only a handful of cryptocurrencies which are listed on every single major exchange out there, and those three are Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum. Out of those two are sound money — Bitcoin and Litecoin, and people understand that. And of course you have institutions such as the NYSE and their parent company ICE markets, which are launching Bakkt, which is an institutional platform purely for being a custodian and service for digital currencies. It hasn’t said which it’s going to be listing, but I think it is very safe to say that Bitcoin and Litecoin are going to be on that list. And they’re not the first, there’s many of us joining them: Gemini and Coinbase are doing something similar. And it will keep growing in that fashion. I know many people from Switzerland, there are banks out there which are trying to work with the authorities to become a custodian of people’s digital assets. They understand there’s a huge need and interest from those who want to use this technology and move money globally. And Bitcoin and Litecoin do that really well.
- Do you work with governments?
I don’t, but I have some connections with people who are close with advisors within governments. For example, the UK has recently started a cryptocurrency task force. It’s not as powerful as it sounds. Since we have the budget recently, it’s just a group of people set up to kind of question the public and businesses in the space about what they want to see happen with this technology, in order to better facilitate it, to make the UK a place for this to thrive. I know people who are wanting to reach out to them, and I would love to work with them, trying to influence that for a positive way.
- Bitcoin Foundation as we know failed, despite everything. What makes Litecoin foundation different from Bitcoin Foundation — in terms of structure, of its goals?
The problem with the Bitcoin Foundation is that it is not the same foundation that we’re seeing now. The original one was set back in 2013, when people became astronomically rich very quickly, because people donated thousands of Bitcoins to this entity. And when they got a load of money in it — it all goes up. They spent it very recklessly. When they brought in Bruce Fenton, who became the executive of the Bitcoin Foundation, he cleaned it up a lot. But Bitcoin foundation is not that important. The Litecoin Foundation is more important to Litecoin, but it shouldn’t be. Which is set up as something to support and push adoption of a technology within institutions and businesses at all levels and advocate for it. Litecoin should exist completely separately of it. We don’t control development, don’t do anything like that. We sponsor people to work on core Litecoin code, but we don’t direct them, don’t tell them what to do. We’re not investors banging on the door, saying «Where’s out return, why isn’t Litecoin going up in price?»
- What’s the connection between the foundation and Litecoin core (development)?
Litecoin core is a completely separate team. There is some overlap of course. For example, Xinxi Wang is a director of Litecoin foundation, but he also does in his free time contribute some code to Litecoin core. So does some person called Lotion, he is an anonymous developer, he’s also a sponsor, and he works on some Litecoin foundation products as well. But we never force him or tell him what to do. And then we have the final one who actually leads the development of Litecoin core, he is called Adrian Gallagher. He is based in Australia, and he doesn’t do anything for foundation. We just pay him donation and money to sponsor him to keep working on the products. The better we can distance ourselves in many respects, the stronger Litecoin will be. If a foundation goes off it will be completely fine, there’s always someone developing it. Charlie does not code Litecoin, he hasn’t done so for a while. It’s been Adrian and his team of people who are separate from this. So people can be very confident — if we were to disappear, we are not that entitled to Litecoin.
- How did you get involved in Litecoin in the first place?
I got involved in a way many people did — the price, back in 2013. It was actually with bitcoin, as it just was breaking past $1000 for the first time. I’ve heard about it before, when it was $40 or around that. But it was being featured more in publications of the news, which is a fantastic way to drive awareness of this stuff. So I mainly got involved because this asset sounded very interesting, it was going up in price. But unlike most people I stuck around, began teaching myself a lot about what this is, and why it’s very important. And part of it was me making videos on Youtube in the early days. So I had an entire section of educational videos that I made just to break down all the stuff that is fascinating about the technology, trying to explain why is it so good.
- Do you still do the videos?
I don’t have a time. I wish I did.
- Would you do that again?
I would, if somebody wants to do the editing. That where all the time takes. It’s fine to sit in front of the camera, but you’ve got to write a script, get it onto a computer. Filming myself — I didn’t have a tripod, I just put it on some books. Then you have to edit it, color correct it, it takes ages. And when someone comes along, sitting in that bedroom saying «Bitcoin’s going catastrophic, you need to buy now!» — 10 thousand times as many views. It was a passion project, but I simply don’t have time anymore. And in many ways it’s much better to promote cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and Litecoin, like this. With all the people.
- Do you think that the crypto community needs to educate governments and public more about how does blockchain technology work, about its benefits, and how do we do that?
I think that governments need to be paying a lot more attention to people involved in cryptocurrency, as opposed to hedge funds and banks and certain businesses like we see in the news. But then again, we also need to be focused on the right people in cryptocurrency. There’s a lot of people who are ver dubious, and there’s a lot of people who are very notable and trustworthy in the space, of course. Andreas Antonopoulos — I’ve unanimously say he’s a fantastic role model and speaker for cryptocurrencies, and we should listening to him as he understands this technology.
- Which challenges does blockchain industry is facing right now, which are the main challenges the we have to overcome?
I think the main challenge is a lot of in-fighting, just in cryptocurrency. A lot of people want to fight and promote. And it’s completely fine, it’s a free market, if they want to fight they can do whatever they want, I disagree would like to stand out of it. I treat it very jovially, make fun with people like that, do not take it too serious. I don’t think there’s any serious issue, I think we’re going to be completely fine.
- How do you see people using digital assets, let’s say, 15 or 20 years from now, what is the ideal scenario?
Ideally I think it will be seamless and almost invisible. For example, I’m in Lisbon right now, and my bank card is sterling. If I want to go out and buy something from one of the food truck stations out there — I can do so. I don’t have to hold euros. It’s invisible. I don’t care how it works, these are just instruments of value to me. I really think that the adoption is going to come from the institutions realising that this makes their business far more attractive to their customers. It’s mass-driven by competition, we get ICE Markets and Bakkt, Gemini and all these people trying to race to be the first to do this. Because they understand that if you can give your customer globally settled payments — like that! — for pennies, they don’t care what it’s using, they just care they can do it. I don’t think most people care to stick around within cryptocurrency, beyond just a speculation. People like to get rich quick and that is completely fine. But I believe that the real adoption is going to come from an invisible usage of it. I’m not going to know if I’m using a cryptocurrency necessarily. But the average user, say my mother, she would be able to say: look, I’m going to send my family on the other side of the world in Australia some money and bank would set it like that, the institution would set it for me like that. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with institutions being involved in this way. People like to rally against them and say, oh, it’s about about being decentralised. But the currency is decentralised. The services built on top of that, they don’t have to be decentralised. This is what matters, the layer 1. On top of it — can be whatever. And again, it’s permissionless, no one’s forcing them if want to be the institutions. But I think out of the free will and choice a lot of the people will. That’s where we’re going to see a lot of adoption in this technology. It can be invisible, built-in by these people to better run companies.
- Speaking of adoption. Which smart-contract applications do you see as the most perspective, other than cryptocurrencies? Digital identity, supply chains, voting, healthcare, maybe?
If you put health projects on blockchain they are pointless. Supply chains — pointless. Supply chains — who verifies this data is is real? Am I going to go to the organisation where they, I don’t know, pick weed, and they’re going to verify myself putting it onto a blockchain? Or is it a company to verify and put it onto a blockchain? If you or any person don’t validate it and can’t tell me it is real, it’s just a database. And they made it a worst database. That’s why people doing supply chains, saying «we’re going to revolutionise this and that with blockchain» — they don’t really know what they are doing. A lot of people are caught with that hype, and think they are going to revolutionise all these industries, but they’re not. Because ultimately it’s pointless. There are only two reasons I see as needing blockchains: money and identity. The identity factor is actually one of the reasons I joined Zulu Republic as they are creating an identity solution. If there’s an incentive method for it to be secure, so it does work. If I want to verify something about a person, say, if things are going to be automated in the future, if I go to a checkout and it says, hang on, you’re trying to buy some alcohol, are you over 18? If I can scan a digital passport with my identity, that knows I’m over 18, and it can be validated — then that’s very powerful. I go to this machine — it doesn’t have to know how old I am! — it just returns: valid. You’re not doing anything illegal in this country, this person is reasonable to serve. You don’t need to hire these people. It’s kinda scary, of course, the automated future. But digital identity will make a huge step in pushing automation to a whole another level. I gave another example of say, insurance. I can put all those companies that are centralised on this blockchain, and put out a request onto the network and say, hey, these requirements requested by people, return to me an offer, for a car insurance, for example. And within a second — it goes automatically — there are these, and within 5 seconds I can say, okay I’ll go you. And it’s done. The forms filling out, the people, all the stuff to check and verify — it’s gone. The money save for these companies would be astronomical. It’s kind of scary for the job aspects. But identity is really the next big thing for me, besides money. Even the with a health data, you can attach it to identity. People wanting to attach art to blockchain — it’s identity. If I want to sell it and prove it’s a real thing — it’s been verified. I was the owner, it then went from this owner to that owner, it’s not hidden on the black market — it’s real. And it all falls into identity. Two things: money, identity. Nothing else. For now. Unless someone proves me there’s some other reason to go to blockchain.
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