Just 22-years old computer programmer, Vitalik Buterin has become one of the leading authorities on crypto currencies in the world. Crypto currencies such as Bitcoin, Namecoin, Zcash operate upon the blockchain technology where the code resides in thousands of computers around the world.
Priyanka Sahay and Harsimran Julka
Just 22-years old computer programmer, Vitalik Buterin has become one of the leading authorities on crypto currencies in the world. Crypto currencies such as Bitcoin, Namecoin, Zcash operate upon the blockchain technology where the code resides in thousands of computers around the world. These currencies are difficult to decrypt making them highly secure. Buterin who conceptualised Ethereum, a blockchain based distributed computing platform talks to Moneycontrol.com during 'Blockchain India Summit 2016' on how this technology can change transportation, financial contracts and digital payments in future.
Q. How would you define Ethereum?
A: Ethereum is a general purpose blockchain. It is a blockchain protocol that supports a programming languages so that you can build any kinds of application on the top of it. One of the important ideas behind it is building of a smart contract which is a computer program that you can upload on the BlockChain. It can do a lot of different things like watch over your digital assets.
Q. What are the applications of Ethereum?
A: It can be in the areas of finance, logistics, transportation, identity, infrastructure, micro finance, micro insurance, peer to peer social economy sharing applications, etc.
Q. What's the future of distributed computing, how do you see it impacting the financial world, like bitcoins do you think they will replace the US dollar one day?
A: I don't think it will replace the dollar. Crypto-currencies have their problems too. I think they may end up having an important role to play in the world.
Q. What significance do you see crypto currencies having in the Indian market? How would you see this vis a vis the US market?
A: One of the main difference is that India is an emerging market. There are hundreds and millions of people do not have access to extremely well developed infrastructure. In the US, the blockchain applications would try to replace existing banking. Here, we have to start from scratch.
Q: Going forward, do you see a scope in emerging markets?
A: I think, there is a lot of potential. But it definitely is in an early stage.
Q. India has recently gone through demonetization, so given this specific moment lot of digital currency is being talked about, lot of plastic money is talked about so do you see it as a good opportunity for crypto-currency ?
A: I think a lot of people in India and world are talking about moving to a cashless society and something like that has a lot of benefits. It cuts costs and increases the security but at the same time it's important to preserve a lot of good things about cash.
For example the fact that it is open, anyone can use it, the fact that someone can easily use it and send it to anyone. It's important to know what kind of cashless system we are moving to.I think in that context crypto currency could have an important role to play.
Q: What sort of competition would crypto-currency have from e-wallets which are becoming very popular in India?
A: It is definitely going to be a competition with e-wallets. I think crypto-currencies are going to end up as an alternative option like several categories. It will end up existing alongside traditional forms of old banking.
Q. Can you ever demonetize a cryptocurrency by changing its algorithm?
A: Not really. You can do something like a hard fork - basically just change the protocol. But basically people who are writing the code do not control everyone's computer. All they can suggest is that people download it. So there are limits to how much you can do that. So its difficult to demonetize it.
Q. Any special plans for Indian market specially for the Ethereum ?
A: This our first time here, we are still at the early stage for the Indian community. For the Ethereum community to grow here first of fall we need to have good application developers, people helping each other to understand things, understand what they can do with it. In general it always takes time.
Q. India as country also has regulatory hurdles when it comes to acceptance of crypto-currency. How do you see that? Are you talks with the regulatory bodies here?
A: Not India, I have talked to many other regulators in the UK, Russia, China, Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia. In general regulators tend to have a fairly positive outlook, especially if you see the potential like smart contracts and blockchain. So I think it's important for the community to have that message.
Q.Which is the largest market for the crypto-currency in the world ?
A: US and China are probably two of the highest.
Q. And where do you see India, going forward?
A: So far it feels like it is an early stage because there haven't been much communication with India so far. But I think that gap can be bridged really quickly.