Become a Blockchain Expert Founder & Main Lecturer, Cem Goksel Ozargun, answered questions of Craftchain team in an interview. Here is the transcript of the conversation.
How did your interest on blockchain begin?
I had been actively trading in the stock market for a long time when I noticed that several cryptocurrencies had brought extremely high ROI in the past. Even though I was late to discover the potential, at that time, unfortunately no one around me was aware of bitcoin to tell me earlier, so I learned more about it searching on the internet. After researching for best altcoins and trading for a few months, I really got interested in the technology behind it. That’s when I got involved in blockchain technology and I haven’t let it go again.
What is the principle on which blockchain technology is based on?
Blockchain is based on several principles. Firstly, it aims to be trustless, eliminating the need for authorities and organizations. Secondly, it makes use of decentralization which actually paves the way for a trustless network. Decentralization enables the management of network from multiple computers, instead of giving the power to a selected few. Thirdly, blockchain is irreversible which means that any data recorded on the ledger cannot be altered afterwards. This is very beneficial if there is sensitive data that you don’t want anyone to manipulate. As an example, blockchain could be useful in the presidential elections in your country, in order to prevent authorities from altering the data. Fourthly, another principle of blockchain was being public (open for participation of anyone) when it first came out but later private blockchains have appeared as well.
What are the different types of blockchains?
There are public, private and federated/consortium blockchains. A public blockchain is open and visible to anyone. You can check if a transaction ever took place or even can see the funds on an account address. A private blockchain, on the other hand, is one that an authority grants clearance to a participant that wants to join the network. It usually is the property of and is run by an organization. Also, if the blockchain consists of miners, they are selected by this organization unlike public blockchains in which everyone can become a miner.
The other type of blockchain is called consortium/federated blockchain. It is similar to private blockchains but instead of having one ruler, it is managed by several authorities.
Examples to these blockchain types are given below.
- Public: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin
- Private: Ripple
- Consortium/federated: R3, Corda
In addition, blockchains are also divided into two other categories: permissionless and permissioned. These are interconnected with the terms ‘public’ and ‘private’ but are not the same thing.
A permissionless blockchain is one that anyone can participate and read or write on the blockchain. With this type of blockchain, no authority exists to grant specific permissions to a node. Every node has the same authorization.
A permissioned blockchain is one that an authority requires nodes to have permission to read or write on the blockchain and defines the roles of the participants. Nodes are authorized with only certain abilities.
Why is blockchain a trusted approach?
Public, permissionless and open-source blockchains can be trusted because they actually remove the need for trust. Think of a bank transfer you initiate from your bank account. How can you trust that your bank will send the funds to the other bank? If that went well, how can you know that the recipient bank won’t say it didn’t receive your money? In addition, how can you be sure that these banks cannot be shut down one day or your money cannot be seized by the governments? The answer is: You never know. In fact, banking business is run by trust but it is also easy to be fooled by them. There are unfortunate examples in the past financial crises in which banks got bankrupt and shut down their branches, governments seized citizens’ money, or limited their withdraw amounts. However, with a blockchain that is run by hundreds of thousands of computers that is not controlled by powerful authorities, you can feel more relaxed as they will try to be honest due to rewarding mechanism and also it is impossible to shut down all of them simultaneously.
Can you name some popular platforms for developing blockchain applications? How important are these platforms to reach blockchain agencies?
Today, the most important platform for developing dApps is most certainly Ethereum. Almost everyone interested in cryptocurrencies have already heard of it so I won’t to go into details. However, I just want to say that it is very important for a blockchain to be fast and scalable in order to get mainstream adoption and Ethereum cannot provide that. On the other hand, it is good news that Ethereum team is working to solve these problems in the future.
In addition, there are other important blockchains that have found a solution to speed and scalability as well. Although it is centralized, the one I favor the most is Stellar Network and another one to name could be Zilliqa.
What are your 5 tips for blockchain agencies?
It is important to name the platforms that have high chances of gaining mainstream adoption. Even if a blockchain can reach 1 million tx/sec, it doesn’t mean that people will use it. For example, Zilliqa blockchain adopts sharding and will probably increase its transaction speed greatly in the future but it needs to provide good incentives to project teams so that they would spend time to learn their programming language and then develop their product on Zilliqa platform.
In addition, it is always necessary to learn more and more. You can take online courses from Udemy, Coursera, Bitdegree or from similar sites. I have taken several courses from these websites and definitely they can help for beginners. However, they are never enough for intermediate or advanced level blockchain experts. For them, there are so many text-based sources on the internet to study. Actually, I’m currently preparing the most comprehensive online video course for blockchain that will aid everyone from beginners to advanced level but there is still time for it be ready.
Anyway, it is also necessary for agencies to follow-up the blockchain industry every day. So, I recommend checking the news, and following twitter accounts and telegram channels of key people and organizations.
Next, I believe it is important to partner up with other organizations in the field, such as consortiums, research groups, educational institutes, blockchain-based projects, ICO platforms, etc.
Finally, as we are in the early adoption phase of blockchain, we really need to teach others what blockchain can do and what we can do for them using blockchain. This is crucial because most of the companies you will be approaching will probably not be familiar with blockchain and they won’t understand how you can benefit their businesses. Therefore, firstly, we should make them pass through the same phases we have went through, beginning with awareness of blockchain, and continuing with curiosity for it, consuming information about it and lastly, having confidence in it.
In summary, five tips are as below.
- Choose fast and scalable platforms to focus on; better if the platform can run blockchain-specific functions via familiar languages such as Java, C#, etc.
- Pay attention to continuous learning
- Follow-up the news
- Partner up with key players in blockchain industry
- Teach others what you know
Do you have channel suggestions to young people who want to learn about blockchain?
There are cool online courses available for beginners on learning platforms such as Udemy. Moreover, there is also a recently founded, blockchain-based platform called Bitdegree which has several online blockchain courses as well.
However, some things can only be learned on your own. For example, you can try opening up an account on an exchange, buying bitcoin, then transferring it to another account and using it to buy something physical. You can then try to understand how this transaction worked by searching through online resources. You can also learn many things by following forums like bitcointalk, steemit and reddit, or following key people on twitter. In addition, you can try mining bitcoin with your GPU, checking out whitepapers/onepagers of some of the recent projects, buying a book on blockchain, or asking someone more knowledgeable around you to explain you the confusing points. In fact, ways of learning are limitless.
What do you think about future of the blockchain technologies?
I see cryptocurrencies as a way for people to take the power back to themselves. Thanks to cryptocurrencies, we are now able to send money abroad quickly and at low costs, or safely store and share our health records, or let out unused storage space on our computer, or rent other computers’ computing power. The things we can do are limitless and it is up to our imagination. In my opinion, we will see much more increased adoption of blockchain technologies in our daily life within 10 years, bringing attention to privacy, freedom and value.
Well, of course the adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrencies will not be quick and easy, just like the adoption of internet. I believe that currently the most important obstacle is regulations. However, I don’t think that regulation is just bad. They are necessary and there is no way of avoiding it. Governments will regulate cryptocurrencies someday if they haven’t already. So, I think the sooner they get regulated the better because there is an uncertainty now and it prevents some investment funds and large companies from entering into crypto.
On the other hand, I also believe that overregulation is the worst thing that can happen to us. Overregulation includes banning of cryptocurrencies or ICOs by some countries and this kind of decisions totally disrupts the whole crypto world. I hope all governments can find a way to allow cryptocurrencies, at least in a limited extent.
Also, today’s popular blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum cannot provide us the required scalability and in this way, it is not possible to use them for regular tasks such as buying a latte from a coffee store. However, in the future, we will be converting to faster blockchains, and most of the payments and money transfer will be made with cryptocurrencies (probably via smartphones, smartwatches or credit cards) on these blockchains at lower costs and higher speeds. Then, governments of emerging markets will speed up the issuing of their own cryptocurrencies. However, adoption will not come until the markets are hit by a cryptocurrency is issued by either of the USA, EU or China. Even a better scenario would be for G-20 countries to issue a globally-accepted, stable cryptocurrency. That will definitely dominate the market, killing today’s fiat money, and gaining adoption throughout the world.