2017 has proved to be the year of cryptocurrency when Bitcoin’s value reached its highest price ever —at one point, to $5,000, leaving behind the price of an ounce of actual, physical gold. Isn’t it magical?
Apart from Bitcoin, several other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, performed equally amazing and came into the spotlight bringing the total worth of cryptocoins to over $100 billion.
Cryptocurrencies can be used for making transactions similar to paper currency. You can also keep it for investment purposes and to transfer money internationally. However, is cryptocurrency a payment system or a long-term store investment? Is it wise to invest in Bitcoin or Ethereum? Or how about ZCash with its enormous other features?
With all these manifold advantages, there has been some cost involved. The cost people pay when they lack awareness of how to use it and most importantly, how to invest in it.
Recently, I had a chance to e-meet a person who is filling this gap through his Guru Academy. Jeff Lambert is the CEO and Founder of Jeffinko.Guru. Lambert’s academy specializes in teaching, via online courses and webinars, people who are interested in learning about cryptocurrency and its investment opportunities.
Representing PakWired I had some simple yet interesting questions to ask and those led to an amazing interview with Jeff. Here you go :)
PW: Let’s keep it simple first – Why cryptocurrency?
Jeff: When I first heard about Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin was around $19. It immediately sounded revolutionary to me. I found it incredible that I could buy this coin and hold it in a digital wallet and manage it myself. I didn’t have to deal with banks or wait days for a transfer to go through, and its value was constantly going up. The idea alone i knew was going to change the world. Since that day in 2010, when I first read about Bitcoin, I’ve gone on to watch it evolve from being somewhat of an experiment into a full blown currency which I now use on a daily basis to pay my bills and do regular shopping.
PW: We have bitcoin, Ethereum plus a number of smaller and lesser-known currencies out there — which currency intrigues you the most and why?
Jeff: Verge is my number one favourite right now. It isn’t as well known and is a privacy focused Cryptocurrency. One of the problems we face today with Bitcoin, Ethereum and many other coins is that your privacy is not protected when transferring coins between accounts and your balances are exposed directly to the network.
With Verge that is completely different as it is a truly anonymous cryptocurrency, like pure digital cash. There is still a public blockchain but this only shows that a transaction took place and not who was involved in the transaction itself. Transactions are also extremely fast compared to the Bitcoin network which can sometimes take hours for a transfer to complete. With their new Wraith protocol there will be stealth addressing so the receiving and sending addresses will be impossible to decipher. Your ip, ie location is also completely obfuscated and untraceable and the transaction itself cannot be viewed via a blockchain explorer. This will totally change the game for privacy centric cryptos.
They also will be supporting RSK smart contracts which will allow developers to build directly on-top of the network itself and add true anonymity to their applications.
It’s distribution cycle and total limit of coins is designed to prevent any one person from controlling the market and it is meant to bring back to original intention of Bitcoin itself.
To be used as a method of small daily transactions. Like shopping or tipping someone at a restaurant.
PW: They say that cryptocurrency is becoming Web 3.0. What do you have to say about that?
Jeff: I would have to agree. Cryptocurrencies are far more than just a way to send money anywhere in the world without the need for banks. Blockchain technology is connecting things in a way that completely removes the need for a central place of power. We are slowly decentralizing the world through Crypto and bringing back control of not only our finances, but of every aspect of technology, including the worlds data, back to the people.
PW: Do you believe or predict that blockchain technology is a bubble which will burst anytime soon?
Jeff: I hear this a lot and it makes me laugh every time. While I understand for most people the idea of going from a worthless coin to being worth nearly $5000 within 8 years certainly sounds like a bubble, we are not in one. Blockchain technology is a completely new industry and cannot be compared to the stock market or even dot-com era.
When the internet was invented it wasn’t like Cryptocurrencies where you are giving the world back control of their own finances. And, when you have the entire world wanting in on this technology, with still a very low adoption rate, there is only one place to go, up. I don’t see this slowing down at all and in fact it will speed up as more countries get on board.
Bitcoin itself is limited to 21 million coins and its release is adjusted based on the amount of miners involved. It’s basically programmed to go up and there are for more than 21 million people in the world. Let alone some major cities.
As far as the technology itself goes, everything can use the blockchain and eventually it will in some shape or form. The blockchain allows for decentralised technology which helps not only in storing data so that it cannot be tampered with but also for creating networks that have no central point of failure, you can’t take them down.
PW: What does your Guru Academy do and how do you help people interested in cryptocurrency?
Jeff: I started the Guru Academy after witnessing the lack of real information regarding Cryptocurrencies and how they operate. There are a lot of scams on the internet and people trying to teach others about Crypto but it is quite clear that these people don’t really understand the technology or its significance.
I put together my entire knowledge about not only Crypto, but also trading and investing into the courses at the academy. So, most people will start with my Crypto 101 course to get an idea of how the blockchain works and how Cryptocurrencies are created, where to buy and sell them, and how to safely store them.
Then they move on to my investment course where I teach people how to analysis the coins and their pricing charts. There are several key patterns that are present in each of the Cryptocurrencies and with patience and proper timing people can make really great investments that change their lives.
The best part about the Guru Academy is the student community within it and our chat server. We discuss all of our trades live there, as well as other Crypto related talk. It’s a great place to hang out.
PW: What is the biggest scam you’ve heard of in cryptocurrency world? A little bit of story maybe?
Jeff: The largest scam that still makes the history books goes back to when I first heard about Bitcoin and began buying and selling them. There was an exchange called Mt.Gox based out of Japan that a lot of people were using. The name originally came from a magic the gathering card exchange website, but the owner Jed McCaleb decided to turn this exchange into a Bitcoin one. It seemed really secure and I even still have the YubiKey from them on my key chain.
It had constant flaws from the beginning, yet grew rapidly to at one point processing over 70% of the world’s Bitcoin trades. The market was still young then and anti-money laundering laws started coming into effect which made it increasingly difficult to find ways to get money in and out of Bitcoin without losing it all to fees.
The scam came in early 2014 when myself and others noticed massive delays in the withdrawal of our Bitcoin. It was slowly uncovered that there had been a theft of 744,408 Bitcoins that had gone undetected for years. Around 100k coins were eventually recovered but the remaining loss of 650k Bitcoins would be worth around $2.7 billion at today’s prices.
PW: For someone who is interested in investing in cryptocurrency, what is the checklist to follow?
Jeff: When investing in Cryptocurrency it is important to keep yourself away from scams and to make sure it is backed by a solid team and product. That way you know that even if the market goes down a bit, that you are holding a solid investment for the longer term.
When you hear of a cryptocurrency the first thing you want to do is check their website and make sure there is nothing suspicious about it; like misspellings, no team displayed, or a product that isn’t clearly defined. You should be able to see references for the team members like their LinkedIn or twitter profiles.
You then want to go to their social channels and to reddit.com or bitcointalk.org and read the latest posts about the coin. From there, you want to take a look at the market and make sure that it is not overstretched before buying.
Once you have found a good cryptocurrency to invest in, you then want to wait for a day when the market goes down a bit before buying it. For cryptocurrencies I always try to only invest in something that everyone on the planet can use.
PW: For a country like Pakistan where banks and state do not support cryptocurrencies as yet, what do you suggest for people who want to trade in bitcoins or any other cryptocurrency?
Jeff: I would highly recommend getting a debit card with Payoneer or Payza. You can then open an exchange account with cex.io or coinmama and purchase coins directly through them. There is also localbitcoins.com where you can find people to buy and sell with directly, without the need for an exchange.
PW: Except regulation, what are the other biggest challenges that still lie ahead for cryptocurrency world?
Jeff: The biggest challenge by far is the lack of education on what Cryptocurrency is and how it works throughout the world. There is a large amount of misinformation out there which can confuse newcomers and put them off to the technology. We also face the challenge of proving to people that there are real world cases to use cryptocurrencies in your daily life. A lot of people simply do not see the need for it, but this will quickly change once they realise how much freedom it gives them in their own lives.
PW: Please suggest any courses, webinars or podcasts for beginners where they can learn some in-depth insights of cryptocurrencies
Jeff: I would highly recommend joining our Facebook group Crypto Future Wealth. There are lot of great people in there at different levels who are learning about Cryptocurrencies from the very basics, to how to invest in ICOs. There is also Cryptocurrency Collectors Club for Beginners. I also recommend reading and listening to the videos by Andreas Antonopoulos who is a long-time Bitcoin expert. His views will help beginners understand the technology.