Coinbase is one of the world's largest cryptocurrency exchanges and has received a lot of attention from the community. Therefore, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong believes they need to talk more and connect with the community.
On April 3, Armstrong conducted an AMA in live broadcast. In the live broadcast, he talked about the reasons for setting up Coinbase. He also answered some sharp questions about the future of cryptocurrency. For example, the user’s dissatisfaction caused by online Ripple (XRP) was earlier, and Armstrong also made his future. The currency plan has a simple explanation.
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The following is the AMA content compiled by Babbitt (with deletion):
who are you? What keeps you stuck in the field of cryptocurrency?
Brian Armstrong: I am a nerd who likes to use technology to develop everything. Since I was a child, I have been very introverted. I read a lot of books, not cool at all, and not popular. I like computers very much, I grew up in Silicon Valley, my mother works at IBM, so I also got a chance to get a PC, then I started to study computers and learn how to write code. I was a typical nerd in high school and liked to read programming books. After I went to college, I studied computer science and economics. When I was in college, I tried to set up an education company. It was not too successful, but I also learned a lot. After graduating, I tried a lot of work, didn't like the feeling of working in a big company, but rather like startups, such as Airbnb, which taught me how to start a business. So in 2011, I decided to set up a company. I have seen the Bitcoin white paper before and I am excited about how to create more freedom for the world.
The Internet is growing as I grow up. When I was in college, I had the feeling of missing a great technology because there were already a lot of big Internet companies, like Google and Amazon. So when I read the Bitcoin white paper, I felt that it would be a global decentralized network, just like the Internet. The difference is that what is passed here is not information, but value. We can also make everything more efficient. For example, in the process of starting a business, I have experienced the dilemma of traditional financial system transfer, high commissions, and a lot of paperwork. If the Internet can have such a native currency, I think everything will be better and bring more freedom.
I hope to create some cool things to help the world through technology, and hope that this process is interesting. How do you think cryptocurrencies can be fully universalized?
Brian Armstrong: I think that the full popularity of cryptocurrencies depends on three factors: volatility, scalability, and usability. If a cryptocurrency always maintains large fluctuations, it is difficult to become an exchange medium. Stabilizing coins have helped this. As the actual use cases continue to expand, this situation will improve, and bubbles and speculation will disappear.
Speaking of scalability, fortunately, 5 to 10 very good teams are developing different solutions, such as layer-2 solutions such as Lightning Networks and next-generation protocols. Advances in this area can increase the number of cryptocurrency transactions from 5 to 10 per second to 500 or even 5,000, eventually reaching the PayPal and Visa standards, which is enough to carry over 100 million users.
With regard to practicality, we also face great challenges. Many cryptocurrency-related apps are still very complex. This app should be as simple as WeChat. The process of simplifying these apps is equivalent to the 'iPhone moment' of the cryptocurrency. What will happen to Bitcoin in the next 10 years? What will be the ultimate goal?
Brian Armstrong: I think it's very similar to Coinbase's mission, which is to create an open financial system for the world. I think Bitcoin is a big force driving the decentralized global financial system, bringing a lot of innovation, economic freedom and quality. I hope that the Internet can have this native currency, so that people all over the world can create cool apps here. If you have a cool idea, you can spread it quickly and faster through this channel. You can also send and receive transactions around the world. This system can make inefficiency and corruption no longer exist. In my opinion, this is the ultimate goal of cryptocurrency.
I also said that there are many obstacles (on the road to achieving this goal), such as volatility, scalability and practicality. Early applications may focus on investment and speculation, which I think is normal at first, in order to attract the original 30 million or 50 million users to hold cryptocurrency. But in the next stage, we need to connect these people on the same economic map, just like social graphs, where value transfer is made to create practicality for cryptocurrencies and bring the necessary advantages to the world. What do you think about the cryptocurrency mining and the future of PoW?
Brian Armstrong: PoW is still the most reliable mechanism. It has stood the test of time. This is a great invention in Nakamoto's white paper, so I don't think it will disappear in a short time. But many new generation protocols are studying PoS. Of course, PoS has an advantage in terms of energy consumption or scalability. In my opinion, I hope that innovation can continue. The Bitcoin white paper is a big innovation in the field of computer science and economics, but I feel very happy to see someone standing on the shoulders of giants. So, we are waiting to see how many agreements will really be able to use PoS in the next five years.
If someone asks you what to do with bitcoin, how would you answer?
Brian Armstrong: I will buy things in bitcoin. In addition, about 7 years ago, I only had to eat with some people interested in cryptocurrency, I would send them a little coin, about 5 to 10 dollars, when a bitcoin was also the price.
Imagine the most common transactions in daily economic activities, such as buying a cup of coffee with a credit card at Starbucks, but I don't think this is the first area where cryptocurrencies will be subverted. The cryptocurrency can be used more in the margins and then gradually move into the mainstream. The marginal zone refers to cross-border transactions, large transactions, and people in developing countries who do not have bank accounts. When did you judge the mistake, what was the worst experience?
Brian Armstrong: A lot. I am sometimes too optimistic. In 2012, I thought that there would be a lot of applications for cryptocurrencies, and the main application now is trading and speculation.
I also sent an article in 2014 about Bitcoin forks. I was very sure that if Bitcoin forked, the network would reach a consensus, and eventually one party would disappear, but it turns out that both sides can coexist. Shouldn't Coinbase's profits from various tokens on the line be used to support open source developers?
Brian Armstrong: I think this is really not a good place for us to do. It may be that in 2014, we opened up a Bitcoin node code written by ourselves in the name of Toshi. Later, these codes were out of date, and the personnel changes did not continue to be maintained. Then we set up a protocol team, they will study the open source project, but in the end did not make a particularly good job, the team later dispersed. We have actually funded some open source projects, and the amount is small.
There is no doubt that as a company, we do benefit a lot from open source. When I was still typing code in the early years, I also wrote code for several projects. But from the current stage, we are still not good enough to give back to the open source community. I find that the value we currently create for the community is to bring a large number of users. Some of the things we are doing are something that many people don't want to deal with, such as compliance, regulation, and security. But I also want to create value for open source, which is very necessary. What do you think is the next tipping point for cryptocurrency applications?
Brian Armstrong: Coinbase recently announced the provision of staking services for the Tezos project, which is a good start. How do we create an encryption economy? There are many nodes in the economic map, and they are related to each other, just like nouns and verbs. So we also began to think about what the next verb is, may have been trading, (transaction) before and after, but now we see staking, earn (acquisition, earn) is also a good verb. Coinbase's Earn project allows users to earn coins instead of completing tasks. The other verbs we are considering are voting.
What will your team and investors feel nervous about?
Brian Armstrong: Usually, they are excited about their work. Let me think about it… Running in a cryptographic currency world in a compliant manner is like walking into a different world. On the one hand, we are talking to banks and regulators to let them know more about cryptocurrencies; on the other hand, we have to ensure the satisfaction of the cryptocurrency community. So finding balance in these two worlds is hard. I don't know if I answered this right, but this is the first answer that comes to my mind.
Why does Coinbase want to sign up for its own assets in order to get online?
Brian Armstrong: Coinbase only started supporting Bitcoin. I used to think that it is simple to use the product, and only the bitcoin is always good. But we need to communicate with our customers to understand what they want. At some point, more and more people want to use Taifang, we also resisted at first, and later went online. Then there is the third and fourth… I don't know how many agreements will be widely used after five years. I think there will be millions of tokens in the future. How do you choose to influence your brand and the industry as a whole?
In my opinion, we should add all assets that are not fraudulent or harmless to users, but we will show specific ratings to help them evaluate these tokens. In the case of Amazon, Amazon products also have a star rating, you can choose whether to buy, but if there is no fraud, Amazon will not delete a certain product. I think Coinbase will do the same in the future. What is Coinbase's most ambitious plan for the next five years?
Brian Armstrong: In the next year, we want to give some Venezuelans some cryptocurrencies. I want to know if we can attract some users, or let 50% of transactions in a country go through cryptocurrencies, that would be great.