He’s known somewhat cheekily around the digital currency community as “the Mayor of Litecoin,” but all kidding aside, ecurrencyhodler or “E” for short, has an already cultivated an impressive resume and pedigree in this dynamic space.
E is interested in education – and, in fact, has just authored a book for the Litecoin Foundation, “Understanding Litecoin: The Digital Currency for Payments.” He’s also Co-Founder of BlockFuse, an open source platform for developers working with litecoin and bitcoin. On top of everything else he has on his plate, he’s an integral part of the team putting on the first annual Litecoin Summit, September 14-15, 2018 in San Francisco, CA this year. He took some time to share his thoughts on this exciting time.
1. Hi E! Thanks for talking with us. Can you share a bit of your personal backstory and how you came to/discovered cryptocurrency and Litecoin specifically?
Sure! I first got into Bitcoin back in February 2014 because my friend would not stop bugging me about it. So when I saw the price drop from $1,000 down to $800, I thought it bottomed out and decided to buy in. Then Mt. Gox happened. Then BTC dropped to the $400 range. Then I crawled up into a ball and cried myself to sleep. But rather than selling and cutting my losses, I decided just to forget about it with the hopes that the price would recover.
Fortunately in January 2017, BTC hit $1000 again and I sold everything. That’s when I started exploring other cryptocurrencies in-depth like Ethereum and Litecoin. I lurked and read a lot but never really participated in any of the forums. But when LTC got added to Coinbase, that’s when I started to become really involved.
Back then, I was very skeptical. If you go back to my early posts, you’ll see that I was really pessimistic. I’m actually surprised some of my posts didn’t get deleted. But as I continued to get more involved and saw Litecoin follow through with the role Charlie had laid out in the beginning of January 2017 with SegWit, I became a believer.
2. Crypto education seems to be pretty obvious throughline in your professional trajectory. While we’ve spoken to any number of Bitcoin and crypto-evangelists, this is a bit different. How important is it to educate the general public or the crypto community and what are you excited about right now?
To be honest, teaching has a bit of a selfish motive behind it. In order for me to effectively communicate an idea, I have to understand it well. So it’s really a method of learning.
But I really do believe education is key to adoption and sustainability for several reasons. It de-mystifies the technology so that there are more informed and empowered participants. This is important because preserving censorship resistance is truly a community effort. It also helps maintain longevity because the people who stay, build, and contribute are the believers.
What am I most excited about? I guess that we are in the midst of a financial renaissance. Retail investors, businesses, and institutional investors are all waking up to the concept of sound money. People from all over the world are contributing to open-source development and building applications for public blockchains. And they’re doing it not because they want to get rich necessarily, but because they want to create a world built on sound money. It’s almost surreal how unique and historic this all feels. That’s what excites me.
3. What can you tell us about BlockFuse? We’re using open source technology on our payment processor right now, so this subject is near and dear to our hearts.
I think that’s awesome you’re using BTCPay! Isn’t it great to not pay any merchant processing fees? Haha.
4. As someone who is living and breathing Litecoin on the daily, can you tell us what other devotees are fired up about these days in the space? What are the areas of innovation we should be tuned into?
Definitely keep your eye on the Lightning Network (LN). It has the potential for incredibly high transactional throughput; limited only by how fast the channels can be updated as well as channel capacity. (P.S. shoutout to Lightning Labs for rigorously maintaining LTC support on lnd!)
Another feature to look for is Atomic Swaps (AS) through the LN. Not only will you be able to trade instantly for Bitcoin with Litecoin, it can be done non-custodially. This will only increase Litecoin’s utility.
For example, it’ll be cheaper and faster to get on the LN with Litecoin due to its shorter blocktimes. So if a merchant only accepts BTC LN payments and you don’t have a channel open with anyone, it’d be cheaper to open a LN channel with LTC and then use AS to pay the merchant with BTC. In this way, I believe LTC will be a “first-class citizen” on the LN. Not only because its codebase is so close to BTC’s, but also because its layer 1 is so secure and channels won’t randomly disappear due to a reorg in the blockchain.
One more thing coming to Litecoin is Rootstock (RSK). RSK will create a sidechain called SLTC, which you will be able to redeem at a 1:1 ratio for LTC. This sidechain will enable tokens and other smart-contract capabilities in tangent with the LTC.
5. What challenges do you see ahead for Litecoin specifically or cryptocurrency in general? Do you believe it will become a revolutionary force across the world, or are your ambitions more modest?
I personally don’t see cryptocurrency usurping and replacing legacy financial institutions, at least in this lifetime. You know, some people talk about “hyperbitcoinization.” In order for something like that to happen, all of society must collapse. The closest example we currently have to this is Venezuela where the whole country is experiencing hyperinflation. That’s not something I would wish for anyone. But even in Venezuela, they still haven’t switched to a Bitcoin standard. This leads me to your next question. One challenge I see in general for cryptocurrency is integration with traditional financial infrastructures.
Banks do not want to get involved with cryptocurrency for obvious reasons. It’s a threat to their business model. This is why it’s so hard for organizations like the Litecoin Foundation to do something as simple as open a bank account. And financial exclusion isn’t just limited to bank services either. It includes fiat settlement as well.
One way merchants hedge against volatility is by sweeping the Litecoin they get into fiat as soon as they get it. Now mass adoption could happen fairly quickly if we were able to use the legacy infrastructure that lots of popular merchant processors, such as Square, use. But we can’t. And it’s because settling in fiat is largely controlled by 2-3 banks that want nothing to do with cryptocurrency. So we now have to create new platforms that build on top of other settlement infrastructures from the ground up. Either that or get creative about how to offer these services in ways that don’t use the fiat settlement network.
But things are looking up. The OCC recently announced that they’ll be accepting National Bank Charter Applications from FinTech companies. I assume that includes cryptocompanies. We’ll see how that plays out. But I will say these banks better start wising up soon. If they don’t, they’ll get left behind.
6. It’s pretty exciting that we’re closing in on the very first Litecoin Summit. What are the goals and objectives for the inaugural event? What should someone considering attending know about it?
Yea I’m excited too! We want the Summit to be a coming out party for Litecoin! It’s the first Litecoin conference ever and started off as a completely volunteer driven event, which I think is the best part. And hopefully you see that through all the quality speakers we have on deck. Not only will you get to hear directly from Litecoin Foundation directors like Charlie, Xinxi, and Franklyn, but also others in the broader cryptocurrency ecosystem who are helping build the LTC ecosystem in some shape or form.
For example, Elizabeth Stark from Lightning Labs will be there and their open-source LN implementation supports LTC. Bill Barhydt from Abra will be speaking as well and they added LTC as an underlying asset on their mobile DEX earlier this year.
We also wanted to focus on Litecoin being the digital currency for payments, so we’re going to have 40 booths set up in the Grand Ballroom on Day 2 featuring various businesses so that you can #PayWithLitecoin! Speaking of which, if you can’t afford a Day 1 and 2 pass, I strongly suggest you look at just the Day 2 pass. These are $89. That’s practically unheard of for cryptocurrency conferences as far as I know! This will get you access not only to the Litecoin Expo where booths will be set up in the Grand Ballroom, but speakers we have lined up throughout the day as well.
Oh! And make sure to check out the VIP tickets when you visit the website. We’ll be having an exclusive VIP mixer where you can network with the Litecoin Foundation and conference speakers too!
7. Aside from Litecoin and cryptocurrency, what are some of your personal passions? What do you do to unplug, relax, etc.
It’s difficult not to think about cryptocurrency because so much is happening all the time! But I love basketball and am a huge fan of the NBA. I go to the gym regularly to de-stress. Sometimes I play video games like League of Legends. I also try to spend time with my niece and nephew as much as possible, although it’s been harder to do lately because they moved to a different city.
Thanks E! We appreciate you filling us in on all things Litecoin!