There are few cryptocurrency experts who have their finger on the pulse like Rik Willard. A pioneering entrepreneur in digital media and consulting, Rik founded his consultancy firm MintCombine last year, providing solutions for companies aiming to succeed using cryptocurrencies.
Willard is also founder and CEO of Rule7Media, which helps startups gain a foothold in the digital and e-commerce sectors and provides education on cryptocurrencies.
A moderator of the ON:21 conferences, providing information about a number of digital business topics including much coverage of Bitcoin from seasoned speakers, Rik spoke to Cointelegraph this week.
CT: When and how did cryptocurrency first seriously catch your attention?
RW: Peter Vessenes of the Bitcoin Foundation first introduced me to Bitcoin in 2012. I paid for a lunch we had together and he took the opportunity to pay me back on the spot in BTC. He walked me through downloading the blockchain app and bam! I had Bitcoin. This intrigued me so I followed this small stake for a whole and educated myself on the opportunity. It didn't take long to see that digital currency was a game changer.
CT: What do you think is the best way to educate the public at large on Bitcoin's benefits and usability?
RW: No matter how one educates others on Bitcoin, education itself is the key. Early on I focused on bringing the basics to people in my circles then as my own understanding grew I started to follow an organic path to teach a larger public about branded digital currencies in general.
CT: Can you tell us a little about the ON:21 conferences?
RW: ON:21 was developed as a think tank for investors and startups for emergent thinking and investment potential in various tech verticals. Our focus on digital currencies happened rather organically. Our first event was on bioscience which explored investment opportunities in a fairly esoteric playing field. We did cybersecurity after that, followed by digital payments. That's when the light bulb switched on and we began to focus on Bitcoin and the meeting ecosystem around it – how it potentially touches everything we do in terms of commerce.
CT: What does the future have in store for MintCombine? Could you tell us a little more about it?
RW: MintCombine began as a hybrid incubator and product lab for cryptocurrencies. As we mature we're leaning much more towards the productization aspect of the business. We've looked very hard at trading platforms and exchanges but these are already tired sectors as pure plays. Trading algorithms exist in abundance so when the blockchain is finally made expedient, there will be a thousand entrenched competitors trading in nanoseconds. That will increase overall BTC stability but produce razor thin margins. That not a business we're excited about anymore. Our future is firmly rooted in specific-use altcoins that enhance and sustain brand relationships. In a way we're far beyond Bitcoin, proper.
CT: What would you say to potential Bitcoin investors now, given current volatility in its price and the community?
RW: While I am not an investment advisor, and you should always consult an expert, if I were looking for new investments, I'd invest in Bitcoin right now – right this second. It will continue to go up for a while but given the new and uncharted dynamic that Bitcoin had produced it's almost impossible to tell how long or how high. For sure it will stabilize, around the time... when the blockchain significantly reduces its lag and is tradable on open markets.