Blockchain is soon going to become the “it” thing of the technological world. In the last couple of years, the technology has grown to become one of the most talked about trends in the financial world. In order to grasp more about the technology, CNBC’s Eric Jackson recently engaged in an interesting conversation with Balaji S. Srinivasan, the CEO of 21.co, a startup that’s working towards building a system where strangers can pay investors and other busy people to respond to their emails. In addition to be being 21.co’s CEO, Srinivasan holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford and is also a board partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. He’s most famous for being an early investor in crypto-related projects and currencies including bitcoin, Polychain and ethereum.
The interview, which lasted for a while, touched upon various topics including the future of blockchain, how good is the combo of blockchain and the share market and if the current craze around blockchain mirrors the one created by the dot-com era.
Talking from the US point of view, Srinivasan feels relative to the existing secondary markets in either property or equities, the scale of what is happening with the token market is exceptionally unparalleled. He points out to the fact that while it is completely one thing to have a bunch of small secondary markets; it’s a completely different thing to turn the internet itself into a market. Anyone and everyone who has an internet connection holds the power to purchase a token.
Srinivasan believes that the birth of these these new tokens and public blockchains have the potential to turn the world wide web into the world’s biggest “stock” market. Of course, it is still a long shot and there are various regulatory issues around the technology that still need to be worked around. Srinivasan firmly feels just like the internet became the biggest library in the world, blockchain will soon make it the biggest stock market ever.
Srinivasan also took out time to talk about the regulatory aspect of tokens and advised that it’s very important to remain compliant with all available regulations in your jurisdiction. For instance, in the US, the SEC has sent out official notifications stating that there are some forms of tokens that are not securities. For instance, ethereum in itself is referred to as a currency, and the SEC has made it clear that legitimate innovation in the space can be done.
It is important to note here that Bitcoin players in the India have time and again urged the government to provide clarity on the exact legal status of virtual currencies in India so as to enlighten the consumers who are still confused on using these digital currencies in the country.
The virtual currency, which came into existence nine years ago in the year 2008, is still in its nascent stage in the South Asian country. Though not yet recognised by the country’s government, the bitcoin industry in India is still seeing an increasing growth in number of bitcoin players as well as users. According to reports, there are over a million users of the cryptocurrency in the country make it the 4th highest in the entire world.
When asked by Jackson if the current blockchain craze is similar to the dot-com era, Srinivasan said, “it is hard to call the timing as that’s like calling the top. Certainly you can make an ethereum 2017/Netscape 1995 comparison, or a bitcoin 2013/AOL 1993 comparison. Each wave of hype gets a bunch of smart people working on important problems, and that continues even after the hype recedes.”