Blockchain has been around for the last twelve years, since Bitcoin’s inventor mined the first cryptocurrency in early 2009. Over that time, it’s become apparent that the technology offers far greater opportunities than cryptocurrencies. Having been adopted by firms including JPMorgan, Walmart, De Beers, and many others, blockchain technology has transformative potential.
Lior Yaffe has been around in the blockchain sector longer than most. He worked on one of the earliest implementations and went on to co-found Jelurida, which develops and operates public blockchain infrastructure. Over the last few years, the company has worked with German household goods manufacturer Henkel on its digital transformation strategy and participated in various blockchain projects funded by the Austrian government. Along with his leadership role at the company, Yaffe heads up the core development of Jelurida’s suite of decentralized systems.
Tell us about yourself and about how you got into blockchain development.
After a long career as a software engineer, I was looking to learn an interesting technology when I discovered Bitcoin and blockchain. I sought out a project that fits my existing skillset and joined the Nxt open-source blockchain, the first pure proof of stake blockchain. Things started to roll from there.
What does Jelurida do?
Jelurida is the company established by some of the original developers of the Nxt project. We launched Jelurida to help protect our intellectual property and raise funding to develop our next-generation multi-chain platform, Ardor.
These days Jelurida is a one-stop-shop for blockchain tech. We provide solutions for public, permissioned, and hybrid decentralized applications that do not require organizations to launch a new blockchain or rely on proprietary smart contract technology.
What’s changed for you as a leader with the advent of COVID-19?
At Jelurida, we have a geographically dispersed team, so we were already used to working remotely over Zoom well before COVID-19. The direct impact of remote working was fortunately minimal. If anything, not having to travel abroad every couple of months allows me to focus more on the core business with fewer distractions.
However, keeping people motivated in a remote team has always been a challenge. Still, we figured that the same methods used to motivate office workers can be applied remotely as long as you are open-minded and flexible enough.
Luckily we have a team that learned to understand and respect each other even without face-to-face meetings and coffee break chats. We still have some lively conversations in our Slack #random channel.
Do you see a role for blockchain technology in helping governments and enterprises navigate out of the current health crisis and beyond? What does that role look like?
Blockchain tech can be used by third parties, who do not necessarily trust each other, to share information. No single entity controls the data or the rules of engagement, and every piece of data submitted to a blockchain is digitally signed and time-stamped. Data written to the blockchain cannot be deleted or changed.
These properties make the blockchain a transparency layer which allows anyone to track that business processes are followed. Blockchain also ensures that governance and decision-making processes are enforced as a single source of truth without any option for dispute.
What are the biggest challenges facing a blockchain development company right now? What is Jelurida doing to overcome those challenges?
Blockchain technology is still viewed by many as a problem, not as a solution. Many organizations are still reluctant to do business with companies in this space due to fears around regulatory issues and cybersecurity.
At Jelurida, we view blockchain as a software infrastructure product. First and foremost, we’re focused on following best-in-class industry standards with regards to software development and security. We believe that blockchain tech adoption as the internet of value is following a similar adoption curve to internet technology in the 1990s. The potential is vast, but it takes time to materialize.
How do you think the pandemic will change the world, in your own industry and beyond?
The pandemic is already driving a deeper dependency on the internet, and prompting technological innovation of the kind that we could not have imagined a year ago. I predict that people familiar with the internet will become much more open to blockchain technology and decentralized tokens of value. Therefore, even despite all the hardships and problems of the current situation, I think we will all emerge stronger at the end.
What role do you think cryptocurrency will play in the future of finance?
I believe that the cryptocurrency genie has already left the bottle and is not going back in. The need for digital money that can be used for payments without intermediaries is real and acute – as is the desire for people to control their wealth and not rely on someone else to keep it for them. I predict that there will be many other financial use cases for blockchain tech once we pass the initial hurdle of user education, crime prevention, and government mistrust.
What would be your advice to someone just starting out in the software or blockchain space?
My advice is clear and consistent. Install a wallet, buy some tokens, and submit some transactions. Once you have some know-how, review your favorite product’s source code and try to hack the system. Convince yourself that this wondrous technology really works. Don’t try to copy someone else’s work and claim it’s original. Join an existing project and become a contributor!