The price of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether may be struggling at the moment but don’t bet on Anthony Di Iorio being too worried about it.
The Ethereum co-founder says digital currencies are just one of the many uses for the underlying blockchain technology which he thinks is going to fundamentally change all of our lives for the better.
Cryptocurrencies are taking a hit this week, with bitcoin dropping below US$6,000 for the first time since June and now stands well off the US$19,000-plus highs reached in December. Ether has been an even bigger loser, reaching as low as US$250 in Tuesday’s trading, a price not seen since last September.
Di Iorio, currently founder and CEO of blockchain company Decentral, argues that the gyrations in cryptocurrencies seen over the past year are symptomatic of an emerging technology, one which is not only finding its feet in the financial sector but will ultimately impact all industries that rely on centralized systems.
“We’re at an early stage still,” Di Iorio told BNN Bloomberg Wednesday. “We’re at the equivalent of the early 90s of the Internet, where the infrastructure is being built out and where people are trying to understand these technologies that are emerging, and they’re hearing about how the technology is going to be impacting their lives and jobs but they don’t really understand what’s happening and what’s on the horizon.”
“When bitcoin came on the scene in 2009, for the first time ever it solved a problem in that you could have something digital and not make a copy of it,” he says. “And that’s an amazing thing because prior to that, any attempts to make digital cash, you could always duplicate something. Bitcoin emerged to solve that problem. What it’s going to do is enable massive growth which will touch many sectors.”
For investors looking to get into the space, Di Iorio says that just like during the dot-com bubble, where almost every company with the word Internet attached to their name had tonnes of cash thrown at it, these days it can be difficult to pick out the real deals in the blockchain sector from the pretenders.
“I find it very difficult myself and I’ve been in this space for six years,” says Di Iorio. “There are thousands of these projects out there. But what that means is that there’s innovation, there’s competition.”
Di Iorio’s thoughts were echoed recently by another Ethereum co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, who spoke to Forbes and said the hype factor is currently a huge issue for the blockchain space.
“The amount of sustainable usage of blockchain is very low,” Buterin said. “Although it exists, there are a lot of people giving value to cryptocurrencies, yet the amount of useful stuff happening is still much lower than the $200 billion market cap makes it seem. The main challenge for the industry as I see it is basically understanding how to bridge that gap and get to point where there is $200 billion in some sense of actual final value being generated.”
Di Iorio says he’s anything but pessimistic about blockchain’s future, however, insisting that not only will it streamline dozens of currently centralized industries but that the blockchain will give people more control over their stores of value such as money and property as well as more grant them more say in who’s making use of their personal information, an issue at the forefront of concern in today’s tech environment.
“I think we’re going to move into an era where people are more in control of their lives, where we don’t have to give out our information, which is a common thing right now and companies are monetizing on that right now,” he says. “I think the best way to hold onto your information is to never give it out to someone.”
“I create wallets, that’s what our company does, and we never ask users for information, we never collect user information. The keys are held by the end user, not by us, which means we never have access to their funds,” says Di Iorio. “It’s a whole new security model, but it also requires a lot more responsibility.”