Aurélien Menant is the co-founder and CEO of Gatecoin, a regulated cryptocurrency exchange that also partners with banks to develop blockchain remittance solutions. He is also a founding member of the bitcoin association of Hong Kong.
As Menant was one of the early members of the Ethereum group in Hong Kong, Gatecoin was the first exchange in the world to list Ether for trading and still boasts being third in ETH volume. Finance Magnates spoke to him about his views on the hottest cryptocurrency right now.
What makes ETH different from bitcoin?
Ethereum is basically a kind of bitcoin 2.0, where not only payments but smart contracts are managed on a blockchain. A smart contract is basically a piece of code that can contain any type of information, so it can be used for payments as well, for contracts like what UBS is working at the moment with smartbonds, or a program, that will power the so-called decentralized apps (Dapps). Ether is different from bitcoin as it is not only a digital currency, but more a digital commodity, fueling that ecosystem.
A planetary scale computer is the concept of a global, interconnected, secured, programmable network. That is what Ethereum is building.
So would the network really benefit from a strong Ether if its purpose is to become a utility and not a storage of wealth like bitcoin?
The mining fee should go down as the price increases, as it will be set by the market, so it will be a compromise between users and miners.
When did you hear about ETH for the first time?
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I heard about ethereum around the first half of 2014, and we considered listing it when we launched the exchange platform, in January 2015.
How was the reception of ETH on Gatecoin?
Ethereum launched in July 2015. The reception has been excellent. At that time we were still considered as a small exchange among hundred of others. Being the first one to list it gave us a lot of visibility, made us acquire 50 to 100 new users per day and also drastically increased our volumes, both on bitcoin and ether. The sharp increase of the price of ether (1500% since July!) attracts more and more users everyday, especially that this value is not a pure market bubble like what we can see with altcoins, it is more a reflection of the potential of the project. As a matter of fact, this price explosion was following announcements by major companies such as Microsoft, UBS or R3CEV that are all implementing ethereum into their services.
We are also closely following different projects of Dapps being developed on top of Ethereum. For us, they are the next disruptors, and we are really expecting to see the next Facebook, Uber or Airbnb, being fully decentralized, relying on blockchain technology, and probably built on ethereum. There are currently many projects about to launch, offering decentralized messaging, social networking, crowd funding, peer to peer landing or cloud computing apps.
We have already listed REP, the digital token of Augur, that will be launched soon and will be a decentralized predictive market (e.g. a gigantic casino where everyone can be a bookmaker!) and we are to partner with slock.it for their DAO token sale. Slock.it is a decentralized apps that will allow people to rent anything securely, using the blockchain as a custodian. So basically, people will be able to lend their flats like on airbnb, their car like on Uber, or anything like their bike or their drill for instance. The potential of it is fascinating.
Why would an average user prefer using Dapps to the already established system?
Dapps enable everyone to create its own, secured and reliable platform. So anyone can launch an Uber, Airbnb or Facebook like service. For the user, the additional competition it will create, and the disintermediation of those services, will pull prices and fees down.
Do you think that the nasty debate around the blocksize limit issue plays a central role in the success of ETH?
Recent doubts regarding Bitcoin ability to evolve and scale up probably took a part in the Ethereum hype that we have seen, but for me it was more triggered by the recent announcements from flagship companies like UBS, Microsoft or R3CEV, who all declared using Ethereum for their blockchain applications.