This interview has been edited and condensed.
Ameer Rosic, serial entrepreneur and founder of online blockchain hub Blockgeeks, goes into why he thinks investing in crypto should be open to the masses and what it will take to induce widespread blockchain adoption during an interview at this year’s BlockShow Europe 2018.
Molly Jane: First off, how did you get interested in the crypto and blockchain space?
Ameer Rosic: I’ve been a serial entrepreneur for my all life. I’ve been involved in the blockchain space way before any of this ICO craze, for the last four or five years. In the last two years, I’ve been focusing on building Blockgeeks. And what Blockgeeks does is [that] we train developers online. It’s an agnostic platform, we do C++ training, we do Cosmos, we do Rootstock, we do EOS, we do everything pretty much. We help you, as a developer, to get on board in the blockchain space.
MJ: Blockchain has become a bit of a buzzword recently. How do you think you can keep real blockchain adoption moving forward?
AR: I don’t think an individual can keep it real or stop what’s going to go.
There’s a Buddha saying, “It is how it should be.” There’s no right or wrong.
There’s two, there’s actually three, different worlds in here. You have the open-source ethos, the cypherpunks — the original ones, who care about cryptography, who care about actually creating something that’s truly decentralized. And then you have the Ethereum (ETH) crowd. Well, they’re still cypherpunks and they care about decentralization, but they’re quicker to break things, experiment. And then you have all the above. We have the ICOs, then you have the private chains. These are permissioned blockchains, whether it’s used for enterprise, for supply chain, etc. For us to say this is good or bad — I think it is how it is. I think the more people involved, it creates more entropy, more feedback-loop systems, and through this process we’ll figure out what works, what doesn’t work. Who knows where we’ll be in the next couple of years.
MJ: Do you think that some cryptocurrencies will now be classified as securities due to their ICOs in this current environment of developing crypto regulation?
AR: Yes, the SEC coming out with their statements… you know, there’s statements and there’s legislation — these are two different things. Since the last meeting, it was actually quite a positive note they left off on: it’s not that black and white whether they're going to be securities or non-securities. It could be variable where, at one point, a security turns into a non-security, or vice versa. I think they’re trying to figure out the new hybrid variation of the Howey Test — the original security test — because this isn’t applicable in today’s world.
But I think we will hear — or we will get a real legal ruling — within the next year.
I think that the SEC will actually come out and state their final judgement on what they deem a token “to be or not to be.”
MJ: Since you’ve been in the crypto space for a long time, how have you seen the space, players and public interest evolve over time?
AR: Pre-circa 2017, it was very focused on ‘real’ businesses. There was a focus on cryptography, technologies, a focus on the true ethos of blockchain. After — or during — the ICO craze, that fell through, because they were assuming people were building on these platforms — which is a big assumption — and which is not the case, because there’s a very limited [number of] people building on their protocols.
I think, right now, greed is a hell of a thing and a lot of people see an opportunity to raise money that they couldn’t raise before.
My stance on ICO as a short-term – I’m not a big fan of them long-term – I am a fan of them.
You have a technological hurdle you’ve got to solve, you’ve got the legal hurdle you’ve got to solve. What I mean by ‘legal’ is that the whole point of blockchain is to democratize investing.
MJ: Then, do you think that cryptocurrency investments should be open to everyone?
AR: I hate the fact that my mother can go and spend millions of dollars in a casino which is originally token-based, she can go to buy a lottery ticket, she can buy a million dollars worth of lottery tickets, but — God forbid! — They say she’s too dumb to invest in a company.
When the securitized tokens come out again, or they want to take the blockchain and make it securitized, it fits the whole purpose of it. Once again, I’m an accredited investor, I hate that role. I absolutely hate it that only I’m allowed to invest.
Everyone is smart enough to lose money or make money.
So what we’ll see in the next two or three years is still a focus on the technology. You could have all the regulations up here, but the fundamental issue is that the technology is still naïve, right? It’s still very new. We have a couple of years to build the protocols, whether it’s Ethereum, EOS, Rootstock, Cosmos, Polkadot coming out next year, etc. These are all big theories. And theories haven’t been shipped out of the market yet and they haven’t been under a stress test yet, to a big degree.
Think about it, the whole market cap of about less $400 billion is nothing. What happens when we have trillions of dollars and multiple smart contracts and actual people’s pension plans on this — that’s a serious deal. So, we have a long way to go before we actually see legitimate use cases of this technology for the broader audiences.
MJ: What concrete steps need to be taken in order for that to happen? Does it involve regulation?
AR: No, I think it has nothing to do with regulation, it has to do purely with the technology. Baby steps.
You’re an ICO, let’s say hypothetically your token does make sense, like one of the rare ones out of millions. Ok, cool. Can you do 14 transactions a second? You know what I mean? You can’t even feasibly build a scalable company. You are at the mercy of the protocol, regardless if you go here or there, with all these different platforms [there are] today. I think that a lot of people today, who want to build the startups, they need to focus on the reality that the technology is still not here, yet.
MJ: In terms of making the technology more scalable, are you referring to second layer solutions like the Lightning Network?
AR: Yes, the second layer is needed, whether it’s the Lightning Network, whether it’s Plasma, whether it’s proof-of-stake (PoS), whether it’s delegated proof-of-stake — for EOS — whatever may be, it doesn’t really matter. I think the more, the better to see what works and what doesn’t work, but this scale of solutions are needed.
And even though there are people out there who state that on paper it works, I can point out a lot of things on paper, but in reality, in the market place it doesn’t work.
Communism on paper is perfect; we all know where that heads, right?
And so I think we really need to still focus on building actual technology. Once the foundation is there, you can actually scale.
MJ: All right! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on blockchain and crypto, and for coming to Blockshow Europe.
AR: My pleasure. Thanks so much!