Cointelegraph correspondent Dan Simon had the opportunity to speak with David Berger, CEO and founder of the Digital Currency Council. They discussed the challenges facing Bitcoin, the importance of the people building businesses atop the blockchain, and the critical nature of trust in a maturing ecosystem.
Cointelegraph: Thanks for joining me today. With the recent troubles at the Bitcoin Foundation, it seems everyone in Bitcoin is talking about your organization as the new standard bearer for the industry. Could you tell us more about the Digital Currency Council? How is its mission different from that of the Bitcoin Foundation?
David Berger: The Digital Currency Council (DCC) is the leading association of professionals in the digital currency economy. Today the DCC membership includes 1500 professionals across 90 countries. The DCC’s acutely focused aim is to support its members in their respective careers.
We’re quite different from and complementary to the Bitcoin Foundation. In simple terms, the Bitcoin Foundation is focused on the technology. The DCC is focused on the human beings building careers atop the technology. I’m not so sure about the DCC or any organization being a standard bearer. Our members, the digital currency professionals, are the true standard bearers for the ecosystem.
“We’re quite different from and complementary to the Bitcoin Foundation. In simple terms, the Bitcoin Foundation is focused on the technology. The DCC is focused on the human beings building careers atop the technology.”
CT: Most would agree that Bitcoin has had its ups and downs over the past couple years. What do you see as the cause of these issues?
DB: Let me clarify your question. Bitcoin the technology has not had ups and down. The technology has remained robust and steady. There has been volatility in the price and the public perception. There are plenty of others speculating on price, so let me focus my response on the public perception.
Bitcoin, the ecosystem, suffers from two primary challenges: a lack of understanding and a lack of trust. The popular media has fueled the lack of understanding. The few bad actors that have called the ecosystem home have fueled the lack of trust.
To address the lack of understanding, the DCC has launched a free resource for journalists. This “media hub” includes independent, objective, and easily digestible facts about the Bitcoin economy. We’ve also launched free courses tailored specifically to lawyers, accountants, and financial professionals.
“While the Bitcoin technology decentralizes trust, consumers will engage with applications built atop the technology only if they have confidence in the professionals and businesses administering those applications.”
To address the lack of trust, the DCC, through its certification exam, has set a high bar for professional expertise across a broad set of core competencies. The exam is a hurdle. It won’t eliminate bad actors, but it will make it harder for them to participate.
While the Bitcoin technology decentralizes trust, consumers will engage with applications built atop the technology only if they have confidence in the professionals and businesses administering those applications. As is often said, trust can take a lifetime to build and a minute to lose — so I don’t expect our efforts to be an overnight success in the effort to establish trust in the ecosystem. But, given our organization’s global reach, we have and will continue to make a measurable impact.
CT: You mentioned a set of core competencies. How did you develop these?
DB: Most of our members come to the organization with a specific expertise, perhaps they are a compliance professional or a cryptographer or a trader, but they recognize that professional participation in the digital currency economy requires a broad range of knowledge. This new economy is complex and requires professionals across a broad spectrum of disciplines to speak a common language. The DCC developed the core competencies with the support of a distinguished curriculum committee and excellent community input on GitHub. Of course, nothing is static, so these core competencies may be adjusted as the economy develops. Our GitHub repo remains open and we are always welcoming of input into these core competencies.
CT: But what is this broad knowledge set? And why is it important?
DB: Today, employers across the Bitcoin economy are looking for hires with an in-depth knowledge of these six core competencies and the DCC Certification has become the way many employers identify qualified candidates for roles in their organizations.
“The 1500 plus DCC members are sharing insights, referring business, and generally helping each other as peers in this fast growing marketplace. I don’t see a lot of competition between the members, but I do see lots of collaboration.”
CT: Are your members more focused on supporting the Bitcoin economy or building their own businesses?
DB: I can’t speak for all our members, but my experience with many of them is that they recognize that their individual professional outcomes are completely intertwined with the Bitcoin economy as a whole. Our members are supporting each other by sharing insights and referring business opportunities. They are building the economy while building their respective careers.
It’s really exciting to be a part of. The 1500 plus DCC members are sharing insights, referring business, and generally helping each other as peers in this fast growing marketplace. I don’t see a lot of competition between the members, but I do see lots of collaboration. The impact this network is having on its members respective businesses is demonstrable. It seems every day one of our members tells me how another member helped him or her avoid a costly mistake or capture an exciting opportunity.
“The technology may not rely on trust, but our members must foster trust with their clients and peers to be successful.”
CT: Satoshi Nakamoto launched this “system of electronic transactions without relying on trust,” yet you’re talking about a network of trust.
DB: Our members sit atop the technology. The technology may not rely on trust, but our members must foster trust with their clients and peers to be successful. The technology works, and amazing applications are being built atop it. It’s robust and every technical trend line is going up. We’re focused on the people — supporting them as they step up from “Bitcoiner” to Digital Currency Professional.
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