Home >technology >tech-news >‘Blockchain was built to ensure settlement with high certainty’

The value of virtual crypto currencies, such as bitcoins, have remained volatile ever since the bitcoin code was first released. Yet, Nicolas Cary, co-founder and president of UK’s cryptocurrency wallet start-up, Blockchain, is optimistic. In a recent phone interview from London, Cary explained why he still believes that bitcoin is “digital gold" and why he is optimistic that India will embrace crypto currencies. Edited excerpts:

Given the volatility of crypto currencies, what is your advice to those who still wish to bet on, or invest in, them?

When it comes to crypto, if the price is moving up or down quickly there’s often criticism that it’s too volatile to be used as a medium of exchange.

When the price is stable, there’s criticism that it isn’t something people should invest in because it’s not increasing in value. Ultimately, it’s important for consumers to do their research and have a long-term view. Crypto currencies are an emergent high-risk asset class that could have profound utility if they gain greater adoption. As more people use them, they may become more valuable as a store of value and medium of exchange. Bitcoin has been called digital gold because of its specific properties. It is counterfeit proof, fungible, easily divisible, purely digital (which is highly useful for a more globalised economy) and it is scarce.

But why are regulators across the world, including India, not comfortable with crypto currencies?

India continues to be in the top-five market for us in the world, which I think is pretty interesting, especially considering the cautious positioning that the regulators and the authorities are taking in the country. But for people that already have it (crypto currencies), having tools to trade and exchange and securely store crypto is still super valuable. I’m still pretty optimistic that in the long run India will be one of the places where digital currencies could have a very powerful and significant impact in helping people with access to smartphones to be able to move money around as easily as sending a message. That being said, there are reasonable and understandable concerns and risks that should be addressed. In other markets, we’re seeing very strong pro-innovation regulatory environments that are allowing for very fast iteration on these capabilities. We’ve received strong regulatory guidance and clarity across Europe and the US. South Korea and Japan are also very forward on this stuff.

But public blockchains still lack the transaction speed of, say, a Mastercard or Visa.

The original networks were not designed for high throughput. They were designed for settlement with a high degree of certainty. We wanted to make sure that transactions were completed with finality. On the other hand, when you swipe a credit card and buy something, you can claw back that transaction for 90 days. I think credit cards are really a terrible mechanism for banking, especially over the internet.

In terms of throughput, it’s not a lot of work to do to increase capacity on these (blockchain) transaction networks. Just two weeks ago, we (blockchain.com) announced the introduction of Stellar, which allows for a much higher volume of transactional volume on a per second basis than bitcoin does, for example. We also spent a lot of time looking at the “lightning network". Basically, it is a hyper capacity capability that will far exceed Mastercard and Visa in terms of total capacity there. Those networks can do about 50,000 transactions per second while the lightning network is looking at numbers far in excess of that at near-zero cost.

Tell us a bit about your hardware wallet and the Swap feature for crypto exchanges.

We’ve built a custom hardware solution with Ledger for a hardware wallet that can plug it into your laptop. It’s a way for people to increase their security operations’ control over the funds that they want to use.

Lockbox is the name of the product but Ledger is a world-beating hardware security wallet solution. And basically with Lockbox, you can trade near instantly, in and out of different cryptos, using our feature called Swap, which is a crypto-to-crypto exchange.

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