How did IntoTheBlock start? : Interview with Nicolas Contasti, Francesco Galati ①
IntoTheBlock (ITB) is the result of a macro thesis formulated by our founder and CEO Jesus Rodriguez. Jesus has a long career in technology and finance. Having been a distinguished engineer at Microsoft and later built quant systems for major hedge funds on Wall Street, he has a deep understanding of the intersection of financial markets and tech. His main thesis was (and still is) that crypto products should be intelligent-first products, that is, powered by artificial intelligence. If traditional financial markets are evolving towards AI-first products, why shouldn’t crypto, the first natively digital asset class, do the same?
The Norm of Expressing Value : Interview with Santiago Velez Block Digital Corporation ①
All of us were born into a society that has its norms around how you express value. The final distillation of those norms is our currency. As we grow up, we're conditioned to assess the relative price of things like for example a gallon of milk, groceries, a car, a home, etc. in our native currency. We take that expression or conditioning for granted and don't think that there's anything else to it until occasionally we get a glimpse of it when we go to another country. When you spend some time there, you struggle to understand whether what you're paying for is really worth it because the value proposition isn’t intuitively clear. And, it's that uncomfortableness that offers a little glimpse into what I think is really going on. I wasn't as interested in Bitcoin because I didn't see it as relevant for me being in the United States as we have a very mature payment structure. Those problems are largely solved for us, so we don't often find a need for entering into another money network. It wasn’t until much later that I started exploring the monetary system that it became clear what the latest narrative of Bitcoin was attempting to solve for, namely the unaccountability of central banking on our collective purchasing power.
What is the recovery success rate? : Interview with Dave Bitcoin Wallet Recovery Services ①
The customer is involved mostly in the initial stages of the recovery, providing me the wallet information and their password ideas. There are some wallets where only the owner can approve certain actions, so I need the cooperation of the customer. That is a nice feature of wallets such as blockchain.com and others with 2FA, where users will receive an email or text asking them “do you approve of this recent activity?”. For the password ideas, some customers have made their own lists of attempts they’ve made, and this can be a very helpful starting point. For some more esoteric wallet formats I’ve had customers do their own research into how I can add support for that wallet type, which has been quite helpful in more than a few cases.
Is Bitcoin a new revolution? : Interview with David Andolfatto Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis ①
A lot of young people think this FinTech is very revolutionary, but this revolution is just a part of an ongoing evolution in database management systems. When I first went to Italy with my mother in 1971, I was 10 years old. I remember before we went on this trip from Vancouver to Italy, we had to get a telephone book and look for Thomas Cook or American Express (offices). We needed to obtain a traveler’s cheque to be able to exchange Canadian dollars for Italian Lira.
Why Buy Bitcoin : Interview with Andy Edstrom ①
I wrote it for a few reasons. One of the reasons was to educate my clients. I am a financial adviser and a wealth manager, so I invest money for clients to earn them a rate of return. I encountered Bitcoin for the third time in 2017. I had ignored it the first two times, but the third time, I recognized it as perhaps the most attractive investment I would ever come across in my lifetime. So, I felt that I had to explain it to friends, family, my clients, and other people.
How is the concept of money changing today? : Interview with Anthony Scaramucci ①
I know a lot about the recent Robinhood incident. I have been on Wall Street for 33 years, so one of the first things I learned at Goldman Sachs is how trades settle, what the margin requirements are for, etc. There is a regulatory body called the DTC, Depository Trust Corporation, which handles the flow of trading and the clearing of trades for the international marketplace, but specifically Wall Street. When trades were going on in GameStop around the last week of January 2021, this was what happened: let’s say I buy the stock for 50 dollars, and after a while, the stock price goes to 75 dollars, so I ask Robinhood for a margin to buy more stock with it. Then the stock price goes up even more, and I buy even more stock with that margin, and you could be in a situation where Robinhood is lending 250 dollars per share on GameStop.
Bitcoin and Judaism : Interview with Michael Caras
I started by giving a presentation to synagogues, youth groups and college students called Bitcoin and Judaism. In a presentation session, I go through the Jewish Bible, the Torah, and talk about what the religious, legal, ethical perspectives of money are, and connect that to how bitcoin can be the next step for further evolution. In the Bible, animals, silver, gold, jewelry, etc. are described as different forms of money at a certain period in ancient history. In recent years, this has developed as fiat currency, and now is further developing again with digital currencies. Everybody has a general idea of what they think money is, but most haven't put it all together: they don't know why credit cards are money.
Wider Horizons for Game Features : Interview with Samson Mow Pixelmatic CEO
Infinite Fleet is an MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) strategy game that uses a dual token model. It is being developed by Pixelmatic and published by Exordium. The dual token model means we have a security token (EXO) to raise capital, and a utility token (INF) in the game that is meant to be the game currency akin to World of Warcraft gold. The INF utility token is not sold, but rather the players earn it by playing the game. We want to bring more mainstream crypto asset adoption, and we think INF can accomplish that. Infinite Fleet is a major title with a team of veteran developers – what we deliver can rival games like EVE, StarCraft, or Star Citizen.
Layered Structure of the Monetary System : Interview with Nik Bhatia ①
Gold and silver have been used as money by human beings for thousands of years, but in the 13th century, some city republics in northern Italy, such as Florence and Venice, issued a gold coin by their mint that had been changed to purity. This was unprecedented and such an event had never happened before where a coin had such stability and a government didn't devalue the currency like it had done in the past, such as during the Roman Empire and the Greek city-states. Because of the stability of the Gold Florin, the coin of Florence, and also the gold Ducat in Venice, this new class of merchant bankers started to issue promises to pay Florin and Ducat.
What determines the price? : Interview with Ki Young Ju CryptoQuant CEO ①
We have many unique indicators using or on-chain data. For example, the Estimated Leverage Ratio shows all the derivatives exchanges' open interest divided by their BTC reserve on that exchange. The value of this graph goes down, which is an indication that people are trading with low leverage. As you can see from the graph below, the estimated leverage ratio has decreased, meaning that people have opened their positions with low leverage. Leveraged trading is the use of borrowed funds with a contractually determined return to increase the ability of a business to invest and earn an expected higher return. A lower ratio of leverage means that companies operating or traders are generating enough revenue to grow their assets through profits.
Ethical Issues in Generating a Coin : Interview with Charlie Lee ①
I wouldn't say it is “not ethical” to hold your coins, but when people complain saying “ You don’t have skin in the game”, the reality of the matter is that it is my creation and I am tied to the success of Litecoin. Now, if Litecoin succeeds, that is good for me. I don’t need to additionally tie my financial interest in the coin. It actually could be a misalignment of interest for the creator to hold the coin. For example, one could be releasing fake news, and making announcements to pump the price to profit off of. That’s not good for the success of the coin. That said, I don’t think it would be an ethical issue to hold your coin, but it depends on what you do and what your actions are as a coin creator. If you are working on your coin and your goal is to make it successful, the price will follow that.
The Biggest Chance of All Times : Interview with Marc Friedrich ①
The last book was called The Biggest Crash of All Times, but the new book is called The Biggest Chance of All Times because every crisis is also a chance. I wanted to give people some perspective and positive things for the future to look forward to. I started thinking about the positive things in this COVID-19 crisis, like what people can achieve, and where the possibilities and opportunities lie in this crisis. I think it is the biggest chance in our lifetime to invest during this crisis because our current monetary system is wholly disordered, and our political system is completely broken. Politicians don’t seem to have any other decisions than to put people in lockdowns. Everything has become corrupt and our system is not human anymore.
How are our societies and tax systems related? : Interview with Dominic Frisby ①
I have this idea that you design society the way you tax it. You determine the destiny of a society by the way that you tax it; how prosperous or poor the people will be, how free or subordinated people will be, etc. It's not just the amount but also the way that you tax the people. For example, today we rely very heavily on taxing labor even though we didn't always tax labor so much. I think there's a relationship between taxation and freedom. A slave owns none of his own labor like someone in a totalitarian state, but someone in an anarchic state with no government has 100% ownership of his own body and labor. At the moment where 40~50%of our money goes on taxes, so we own about 50~60% of ourselves. This needs to be a lower number.
What is the credit swap market? : Interview with Greg Foss ①
The credit default swap market is default insurance on any reference asset. It is like an insurance policy that you purchase to protect yourself if the reference asset defaults. Purchasing the insurance costs you a certain premium each year, much like an insurance premium for house insurance, fire insurance, etc. There's default insurance where you pay a certain premium that is set by the market and by the riskiness of the borrower. For example, Canada is a sovereign borrower and the insurance market for Canada is charging 37 basis points per year over a 5-year term to ensure Canada against default. This means the purchaser has to pay 000 a year to ensure about million worth of debt. The seller of the insurance collects the premium; however, they are on the hook for any payout in the event of default.
Crypto Industry in Taiwan : Interview with Jason Hsu Crypto Congressman ①
I think it's important to understand the long-term implications of cryptocurrency, whether it's a way to change or get countries to think about how the central bank has to figure out an alternative way for current monetary systems; a way to develop a less politically affected monetary system. Thus, I think the way that cryptocurrency is being perceived around the world is also a reflection of how societies are being perceived. Meaning, every country has its own narrative, and due to their differences in their narratives, they are treating cryptocurrencies and blockchains differently.