Bitcoinist recently caught up with Bernard Peh, one of only 56 Ethereum Certified developers in the world, and picked his brain on his current project, the state of the cryptocurrency market, and what being “Ethereum Certified” even means.
Bitcoinist: You are one of only 59 Ethereum Certified developers in the world. What exactly does “Ethereum Certified” mean, exactly?
BP: First of all, I like to congratulate B9lab for setting the golden standard in Ethereum Certification. As of today, the passing rate (based on the number of students who signed up) was about 15%. Basically, you cannot be certified if you do not have very good knowledge of Ethereum and its high-level programming language – Solidity.
In theory, being “Ethereum Certified” means that people should feel more secure with my code in the Blockchain. I have deployed many Ethereum smart contracts and I am still very skeptical of my own code due to the immutability of the blockchain. I think being certified might differentiate you from the rest, but having a paranoid attitude is required if you want to travel far in the blockchain journey. I am proud to be one of the 59 Ethereum certified developers in the world. (At the time of this interview.)
Bitcoinist: Tell us a bit about your new project, Blockbid, of which you are the Lead Blockchain Technologist.
BP: The purpose of Blockbid is to make cryptocurrency trading extremely attractive to traders and competitive with other exchanges. We want our exchange to be very secure and have a very user-friendly UI. Therefore, we have decided to build the bulk of the exchange in-house. This means that we have spent a considerable amount of resources in getting top quality developers. I am glad that I have the chance to work with the brightest minds in the industry.
My role is to liaise with the backend and infrastructure team to ensure that all the wallets for all our coins are implemented correctly. Our users will eventually benefit from our vision and the effort that we put in. Everyone will be able to trade with confidence on our exchange in the next few months.
Bitcoinist: What problem, specifically, does Blockbid solve in the industry today?
BP: Blockbid is being designed to help traders overcome three main issues; the inconvenience of needing to sign up to multiple exchanges, the unease associated with having coins scattered across multiple (and potentially untrustworthy) exchanges, and missed investment opportunities caused by time lapses in transferring funds between different platforms.
Blockbid is the only exchange to offer an insurance policy to protect against potential cyber-attack. Users do not have to worry about their cryptocurrencies in our exchange because they are insured.
Bitcoinist: How will Blockbid protect users’ funds against potential cyber-attacks?
BP: Blockbid is the only exchange to offer an insurance policy to protect against potential cyber-attack. Most other exchanges offer 2FA and for the majority of their liquidity to be held offline in cold wallets. While Blockbid will also offer 2FA and liquidity held in cold wallets, it is the only exchange to offer an additional layer of security in having an insurance policy.
I feel that the cryptocurrency market is still flooded with traders doing pumps and dumps. This has caused huge instability in the price of cryptocurrencies, preventing mass adoption for day-to-day purchases. Most people using cryptocurrencies today are risk-takers or people who are willing to bet money on their curiosity. I would love to see wider adoption.
Bitcoinist: Has Blockbid had to overcome any obstacles in relation to regulations? How difficult is it to comply with different rules in different regions of the world?
BP: With recent legislation last year in December being passed by the government requiring Australian exchanges to register with AUSTRAC, we can proudly say that Blockbid is only the third recipients of an AUSTRAC license, meaning they have been granted permission to legally operate as a digital currency exchange, according to Australian law. This follows on from the guidelines set out for Australian AML/CTF policies and require all our users to complete our KYC forms before trading, prior to this we were operating under the guideline of an AFSL license although now AUSTRAC has taken over as the regulatory body and has been setting the requirements and processes for the cryptocurrency industry in Australia.
In regards to complying with changing regulations in other countries, Blockbid stays up to date and monitors all news and information that would directly impact its operations offshore and acts accordingly. For example, restrictions and regulations on US or China based traders were closely monitored over the past year to ensure we operate legally and in compliance with the regulations of those countries.
Bitcoinist: What excites you most about working at Blockbid?
BP: Throughout my entire software development career, building a secure crypto exchange must have been the most challenging of all and in return, the most rewarding. There are many moving parts and many things to consider. The crypto landscape is changing very fast and the software needs to adapt to the changes quickly. We have to dissect every component and question everything. We also have a very strong team with a good rapport with everyone. There have been a lot of hair pulling moments but also a lot of laughter and I think our Chief Operating Office, David Sapper, has done a good job in gelling everyone together. I’m really glad that we value the team culture more than anything else.
Bitcoinist: What do you feel are the best ways to evaluate a cryptocurrency?
BP: There are a plethora of cryptocurrencies to choose from on the ever-expanding crypto market but there are a few things you should look out for when evaluating a cryptocurrency.
You should always check the development activity of a cryptocurrency. A coin with an active development team will be updating and patching bugs all the time. If there aren’t active developments in a particular crypto, you should steer clear.
Looking into the trading volume of a crypto can also indicate if the price will grow. There isn’t much point investing when no one else is trading it. This low trading volume will cause huge price spikes whenever some are bought or sold which is not good if you’re planning a long-term investment.
Avoid pump and dump schemes by investing in coins with larger market capitalization. Low market capitalization can easily be manipulated whereas those with larger market capitalization will require significant capital to manipulate it.
Bitcoinist: What are your opinions on the current regulatory landscape? Do you feel that regulators have investors’ best interests at heart?
BP: Regulation is needed to be able to distinguish the real from the fake, to avoid distrust amongst potential participants, and prevent scammers finding any kind of success. Hopefully, regulators don’t enforce harsh regulations upon cryptocurrencies and kill the market off at such an early stage of development. We will have to see if regulators and governments can embrace the blockchain and aid the growth of the cryptocurrency market.
Bitcoinist: Do you have any advice for new investors?
BP: Consumers like to take their first tentative steps into the crypto market by purchasing a currency they have no doubt heard of before, such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. However, it is key to do your research and know what ICOs (Initial Coin Offering) are happening and whether the project is viable – if it’s not, then it’s not worth your money as you could end up with nothing. This is where we need to be mindful of crypto-scams.
There is no clear indicator of when a project or coin might be a scam but there are a few red flags to be mindful of. Any reputable ICO project will have a detailed whitepaper document which details everything you need to know about the campaign. If this is not readily available, then you should ask yourself why. To this effect, it is once more where research becomes a great tool. Look into who the team is behind the project, what is their experience and what are they hoping to achieve. Scams and crypto thefts are increasing and are becoming more widely documented, and so we are seeing crypto exchanges beginning to form self-regulating tightening their regulations
Bitcoinist: What do you identify as the most significant problems in the cryptocurrency market today?
BP: The risk of a data breach is a common one faced by crypto exchanges. Playing host to a large scale of sensitive information, it is possible for company and user information to be accessed, without permission, through mining malware activity and DDoS attacks. The use of mining malware allows hackers to hijack a computer’s resources for mining cryptocurrency, resulting in a diminished processing power which enables fraudsters to make a speedy profit.
Bitcoinist: What solutions do you propose to the problems you mentioned?
BP: The solution would be for greater security protocols and more regulation within the cryptocurrency sphere – although this can only be executed efficiently through a comprehensive understanding of the digital landscape. Without this understanding, exchanges and traders are left vulnerable.
Let’s be honest; cryptocurrency is a technical subject. To use it confidently, you do need to have some technical understanding of how it works. We feel that educating the public on the technology is important. For example, most people do not know what is happening when they transfer one bitcoin to their friend. They might get panicked when their bitcoin didn’t get through to their friend after one hour and then got bombarded with terminologies like confirmation times and transaction fees when they raised a support ticket. We like to have a personal relationship with our clients and hand hold them from the start to the end of the process.
Bitcoinist: Where do you see blockchain technology in 5 years?
BP: Blockchain is already a household name. You see this word being used in almost all tech conferences today. A lot of funds have been poured into making blockchain scale and once we can hit a few thousand transactions per second, we are ready for global adoption. When that day comes (in the next five years), blockchain technology will be used everywhere, from personal identity to buying things online. Coupled with AI and Smart Contracts, there will be no longer a need for a middleman, cutting cost and saving time.
Do you have any other questions for Bernard Peh? Ask them in the comments below!
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