Interview With Sterlingcoin Developer Spencer Lievens: Why Merchants And Services Are Key To Altcoin Survival
What does an altcoin need to survive these trying times? Sterlingcoin is betting it is merchant adoption.
There are an insane number of altcoins coming out everyday. Most of them are absolute garbage, have terrible developer support and are instantly dumped if they are ever put onto an exchange with any kind of volume.
To say the altcoin market is overcrowded is like saying Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has a drug problem or Nickleback is a horrible band: you are correct, but you aren't telling anyone something they don't already know.
For the most part, I avoid talking about new coins. “Call me when you have something unique, and finished, to show me” is my general response to new coin developers offering themselves up for an interview. Even after a coin is launched, there needs to be something significant there, it can't just be a clone. And what you have has to be more than a bag of empty promises, the proof is in what I can do with your coin now, or at least very soon.
Sterlingcoin is something else entirely. It has a dedicated development team, but they aren't promising to be the first coin out there with the latest Bitcoin 2.0 project. They aren't going to issue assets and smart contracts are likely a way off. What they are focused on, and what they appear to have done an amazing job at, is getting merchants on board and having all the basic services in place.
Sterlingcoin launches tonight at 10pm GMT/ 5pm EST, and it already has four physical merchants set up in the U.K. that ship internationally, BitSMS support so it canused to send text messages anonymously, LiteBit.eu/LitePaid.eu, and a fairly robust community for a coin that won't exist for another couple of hours. 74 miners are registered for the official pool and nine additional pools are set to go at launch.
Perhaps most impressive is that SatoshiPoint Bitcoin ATMs will be able to support Sterlingcoin shortly after launch (dependent on the developers being able to demonstrate the software's security).
The list is so impressive, that many users doubted the developers claims. However, we were able to independently verify most of Sterlingcoin's claims and developer Spencer Lievens showed us concrete evidence of the rest. It pays to be skeptical in the cryptocurrency world, but when someone passes that test, it behooves you to pay attention.
In five years, all the shitcoins will have died out. Many of the legitimate, honest and powerful coins of today will be gone by then too. We are in a period of excessive imitation, and until pumping a coin until it gets on an exchange and then dropping it, isn't profitable, that issue is only going to get worse.
For coins with long term aspirations, surviving this time period will be difficult. The instinctive reaction is that the coins with the most powerful feature sets will survive, but new features have rarely come with sustainable increases in price. Many dedicated developers teams with their life savings in their coin will work their fingers to the bone trying to code their alt through this dark age, very few will ever make it out the other side.
It is interesting to see Sterlingcoin take a different approach. For a currency to be relevant, it needs to be used. So, it is going to launch with everything the coin needs to be spent for actual products, a development team that is transparent about their identities and available to help merchants adopt, and a focus on getting the coin adopted, rather than talked about.
Sterlingcoin developer Spencer Lievens, who you may remember from his work on Donationcoin, took some time to answer our questions, although he wanted us to stress that the rest of the also gave input on the questions I sent after our Skype chat.
Cointelegraph: You now have two coins you are working on, Donationcoin and now Sterlingcoin, how do you plan to juggle both, and are there any plans to make donationcoin more attractive to charities?
Spencer Lievens: In terms of juggling two coins we still fully support Donationcoin and will be maintaining seeds, keeping the wallet software up-to-date with the latest fixes etc.
Donationcoin was launched at the start of 2014 as a dedicated charity coin with the hope that charities would adopt the coin for donation from the crypto community.
We contacted all the leading charitable organisations with an offer of 250,000 Donationcoin from the 'Instamine' of 18,000,000 Donationcoin. Sadly it soon became apparent that the larger charities were not interested in crypto currency and just FIAT.
What we have seen is Donationcoin being used a lot on the whitepuma.net Facebook Multicoin Tipping App for tipping other users for good comments or other posts or acts.
We have been asked what we are going to do to push Donationcoin forward as developers and we believe that as a charity coin it should be the charitable nature and will of the community that in fact pushes the currency and its use.
Currently Donationcoin can be traded on the Swisscex & Bleutrade exchange platforms.
What is your short and long term vision for Sterlingcoin?
With Sterlingcoin our vision is adoption. We are firm believers of implementation over innovation and will be concentrating our efforts on gaining merchants. The major benefit to Sterlingcoin is it launching with systems in place to enable it to be used as a currency from launch. With Bittrex, LitePaid, LiteBit and SatoshiPoint we can provide services which are trusted and well known for users to trade, to purchase SLG with FIAT, merchants to get a fixed rate at 'Point of Sale' from customers and also ATMs within the UK to start with.
We have observed other altcoins launch with wallets, no merchants or even a block explorer. Then, when they gain these services and systems they announce them to their communities as if it were an achievement or news worth announcing. Also the coin "developers" a lot of the time are not in fact developers and simply pay people bounties to complete these systems and services with no knowledge of how to maintain and support their users with technical issues, normally paying more bounties to fix issues.
Sterlingcoin believes that any crypto currency that launches and actually wants to be considered a functional currency should have the base systems in place from launch, a competent development team, publicly known, contactable and have all the systems built by the development team in-house.
We hope that the Sterlingcoin launch is the new benchmark for all future crypto currencies.
You guys are coming out with this coin completely out in front, with your faces and social media pages linked to the home page. How important do you think that transparency is to an altcoins success, especially considering Satoshi's own anonymity?
We believe transparency is key to the success of any crypto currency in the future. With the emergence of so many different coins and the constant worry that many of these coins are actually being made or generated by single users makes transparency even more paramount.
Satoshi Nakamoto we believe is the only developer who should have anonymity as Bitcoin is the big bang of all crypto currencies and like the big bang it is masked in mystery.
You have a focus on merchants, with some already signed up to accept the coin before it has even launched. How have you accomplished this? Did you also get those merchants to accept Bitcoin, or are they only accepting Sterlingcoin?
Understanding what merchants want and want to know is crucial in getting them to accept crypto currencies. They do not care for ToR based transactions, algorithms, hashes, pools or mining. They simply want to make money and nothing more. To simplify the process for our merchants they get a fixed rate at the POS (Point of Sale) via LitePaid and don't have to touch any crypto currency and get FIAT paid to their bank account or PayPal account.
Flawless in Brighton was the first merchant who confirmed accepting Sterlingcoin followed by Mr-Snappy's and Aerosoul Ltd in London. Also more recently BitSMS.eu have confirmed Sterlingcoin to their anonymous worldwide text (sms) service. Currently we are in talks with 2 further merchants in the UK.
What about the various services you have lined up? I'm particularly interested in Satoshi Point. They don't appear to support any other altcoins, how did you get them to support Sterlingcoin, and how exactly will that work?
The SLG/BTC market on Bittrex will go live very soon after launch on the 20th (Bittrex cannot give exact launch window times of markets) and CoinWarz will then list the coin on their service. LitePaid and LiteBit will be available immediately after launch.
SatoshiPoint and Sterlingcoin met at Flawless as they had installed an ATM and we had been invited to the launch event. We had heard that they had been talking about Sterlingcoin with Flawless and had some interest in the coin and we certainly had and still have an interest in ATMs. Upon meeting we got on very well on a personal level as people and soon began talking business. We are now in direct contact with the Lamassu software developer in New Hampshire in America and have the software which we will be working on once we launch.
The ATMs were never planned for and was a chance encounter and we would like to stress that SatoshiPoint will only approve our software and install to their machines after it has been rigorously tested and met the same standard as their existing software.
We were talking earlier about the current state of the altcoin market, can you explain to our readers how you plan to survive the overcrowded market and general altcoin downtrend?
We believe that with the services in place and the rate of merchant adoption we will sidestep this downtrend being seen in a lot of other crypto currencies. Implementation and general use of Sterlingcoin as a currency and not solely as a crypto currency traded on exchanges will also play a large part in Sterlingcoin going from strength to strength. We believe that for a crypto currency to truly be just that, a currency, it must be able to be used as one.
Can you explain how the Spacedrop will work and how the 1% instamine will be utilised?
The Spacedrop is a form of Airdrop as it guarantees a set amount of 50 Sterlingcoin per application unlike a faucet where pay-out amounts are not guaranteed. There are limits in place on the Spacedrop such as proxy blocking, ToR blocking and one entry per IP. We believe the limitations in place are only in place on the Spacedrop to ensure fair distribution. 90% of the 'Instamine' will supply the Spacedrop until the entire amount is paid out to 11,500 entries or the 6 month time period ends. If the time period of 6 months ends and there are still funds in the Spacedrop we will move these to the 'Faucet'. The 'Faucet' ill open once the 'Spacedrop' finishes.
1% Instamine / 639,000 coins
(90% of the Instamine) 575,000 for Spacedrop to Everyone
(6% of the Instamine) 39,000 for giveaways and bounties
(4% of the Instamine) 25,000 for Sterlingcoin development, support and servers.
Anything else you want to let our readers know about?
The mining pool for Sterlingcoin is now open for pre-registration here and you can come and join us in IRC to ask us whatever else we may have not answered here at #Sterlingcoin on the Freenode network. You can also find our Bitcointalk thread here