Litecoin and the Future of Cryptocurrency: An Interview with Franklyn Richards
“The driving force behind Litecoin is bringing digital payments on the blockchain to everyone.” -Franklyn Richards
While Bitcoin may be the world’s favorite cryptocurrency, few “altcoins” have as die-hard of a community and fanbase as Litecoin, and one of the key figures in that community is Franklyn Richards, a founding member and director of the Litecoin Foundation.
Among the many things that make the Litecoin Foundation unique in the cryptocurrency space (and one of Franklyn’s primary objectives as director) is a focus on expanding access to cryptocurrency for everyone, including those who’ve been conventionally marginalized from the financial system.
Since expanding access is also a central component of Zulu Republic’s mission, a partnership with Franklyn was natural, so he recently joined us as Head of Product Development for Zulu Republic’s Litecoin division. We also sat down with him for an interview on Litecoin and the cryptocurrency space as a whole.
Watch our interview with Richards below, or scroll down for the TL;DR and full transcript:
To busy to watch or read the full interview? Here are the highlights:
- He talks about his background with Litecoin and the project’s driving force
- He talks about the centralization of the Litecoin Foundation and the need to perhaps phase it out some day in the future
- He talks about what would happen if the cryptocurrency movement failed
- He talks about what inspires him about the future, specifically the secondary layers that will be built on top of blockchain technology
Read the full transcript of our interview below:
How did you get involved with Litecoin?
I got involved back in 2013 when cryptocurrency was having its first big outing. It was featured in the news all over the place and I’d heard about it a few times before then, in terms of friends telling me and other places on the internet, so I decided I was going to try it out and see how this thing actually works. The more I looked at it, the more interested I got in the topic as a whole, and I just started getting more and more involved to the point where I actually reached out to Charlie and said, “Hey I believe your product is bloody great, so I want to help you with this.” So he said, “sure”, and I just stuck with it ever since then.
What is the driving force behind Litecoin?
The driving force behind Litecoin is bringing digital payments on the blockchain to everyone. Part of that is my belief in making Litecoin invisible in how it currently works. When someone goes the the bank currently they don’t need to know all processes in the background of how that money moves across borders. They just want it to work. Litecoin and cryptocurrency improve on this situation by reducing fees and transfer speeds of money across borders. Because there are no borders; it’s decentralized network. Our goal is trying to make it as invisible to the user as possible, and that’s where we’re going to be spending a lot of time. That is our main driving force.
What makes Litecoin unique as a cryptocurrency?
Litecoin is in a rather interesting position because there is some kind of centralizing force in it, in terms of the Litecoin Foundation. This allows change in the network to be far more efficient. It’s not something that is necessarily desirable, but it certainly helps in the meantime.
Later on we may have to try and phase this out in some way, but in the meantime as we’re growing it really helps.
What does privacy mean to you in today’s context?
Privacy is kind of hard to define, but in many ways it’s a measure of one’s personal freedom. Litecoin enhances this by bringing personal freedom to finances. You don’t need to have an individual or middleman to check and approve transactions, so you can’t be muted. Of course this can be used for great evil, but also great good. Take, for example, people stuck in oppressive regimes or countries where they can’t escape. They don’t have, necessarily, access to spend their money how they want. So going into something like Litecoin allows them to regain that personal freedom to do what they want and better themselves and those around them.
How well do you think the cryptocurrency world is living up to the ideals of individual liberation and freedom?
I think it’s living up to it quite well, but the main issue it faces going forward is staying up to that level. The current issue we face is scaling the network. It’s worked fine until now, but we need to have more solutions to keep the network operating at a reasonable level so everyone can partake in the system.
Do you think the people building this space have something to prove to the world at large?
Not really, however they are proving that money does not have to be controlled or issued, or even secured or backed, by central governments or authorities. In many ways this makes cryptocurrency not just money, but also a powerful political tool against other governments. In many cases the key one currently is Venezuela, where the government has devalued its own fiat currency to such an extent where it’s effectively worthless. In places like this you’ve seen a great uptake in the amount of people using cryptocurrency as a medium of exchange.
What happens if the crypto experiment fails?
A lot of people will lose a lot of money…
Basically all that will happen is we’ll go back to the system we have in place currently. We may come back and try it again, but in many ways the system is already working as intended. It’s just keeping it working and making sure it doesn’t fall into any centralized forms of power. Because that is effectively what we have now. A bank could issue its own cryptocurrency; it’s centralized and it would be fine. But one of the key parts of Litecoin is that it is decentralized, and that’s something we have to hold on to.
What are you most inspired or hopeful about looking forward?
I’m most excited about the ideas that have yet to come into the space. When the internet was just starting out, who could have predicted it was going to be such a powerful tool for everyone to use and rely upon. It’s the backbone of the world as we know it currently. Cryptocurrency may grow into something that is as important as that, but really it’s the ideas that have yet to come into the space.
In parallel as to how the early internet looked, it was just the first layer. What came along and was built on top of it (Facebook, social media, news aggregators) really changed how that system worked. Bitcoin and Litecoin, they’re just the first layer. We’re beginning to see what these other layers may look like, in the form of the Lightning Network, which will scale and introduce decentralized trade, which is an extremely powerful tool for the system, but what will come out of that and be built on top of that, that really excites me.