Exclusive: Quras CEO Talks Blockchain’s Present and Future

Finance Magnates sat down with Shigeki Kakutani, Founder and CEO of Quras, to learn more about the company

Quras is a next generation public blockchain that enables untraceable privacy-oriented transactions in smart contracts. Based in Tokyo, Japan, Quras is aiming to protect privacy for both users and enterprises, providing the opportunity to choose the suitable privacy level for any type of transaction.

Since starting in early 2017, the company has grown significantly to now having over 20 project members living across 8 countries.

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The Quras blockchain will be fully launched in the coming months as the team continues to solidify partnerships focused on consumer and business adoption.

We sat down with Shigeki Kakutani, Founder and CEO of Quras, to learn more about the company, blockchain’s role in privacy and remittance, and the future of the industry.

Please tell me about Quras, from when you first started the company to where you are today.

The project concept itself has been in my mind for three years. Originally, I was surrounded by a lot of engineers while I was developing the technology, so I was consulted by them while listening to their various viewpoints. I am a little nerdy and didn’t want to launch a product which is incomplete and not interesting.

During the development of QURAS, we spent a lot of time on designing and clarifying potential use cases while analyzing various technologies, projects and codes, and working on user-first design.

Ethereum is amazing and I still respect it, but my team and I are working towards a different path, continuing on with development of the Quras blockchain protocol inspired by a honest feeling that I want to make something better than what exists today.

A year and a half ago, I couldn’t imagine the great team that I work with now. I’m proud of the efforts of our working teams around the globe and our shared mission to create meaningful impact by taking on the current issues that public blockchains have head on. Everyone is aligned and moving in the same direction.

Recently, we’ve established a formidable business development team. The team is working closely with our developers and is focused on developing operable use cases for the Quras protocol, establishing and promoting partnerships for market development, and enhancing the value and growth of the overall platform.

There is great concern in the global market about consumer privacy scandals and data security in general. What role do you do you see blockchain and the Quras protocol playing in alleviating these major problems?

In addition to the personal information leakage problem, which includes the data violations of over 50 million people on Facebook, there is also a serious privacy infringement problem regarding consumer behavior prediction from internet browsing history and email.

In Japan this past month, it was uncovered that a recruitment company was selling the personal data of job-seeking students without student consent and privacy protection.

I think that the spread of blockchain has created a stream of sovereignty shifting from companies and nations to individuals. A huge entity, whether it’s a major company or nation, will become increasingly risky as it tries to maintain itself.

We are now seeing people beginning to understand that blockchain digital assets can be self-managed without intermediaries and data democratization is possible.

People are beginning to notice the profound change that new technologies can have on our society. As data is democratized, the premise of privacy protection is naturally important.

From this point of view, QURAS has dedicated itself to a wide range of privacy protection solutions for digital assets and data using zero-knowledge proof and ring signature.

This allows the Quras protocol to provide solutions that can be used in both business and consumer situations, while always taking into account the level of privacy and security needed across any industry or transaction.

As blockchain continues to disrupt the remittance industry and cross-border payments at a time of notable consumer distrust in major financial institutions, how should companies balance privacy, security and transparency?

There are many current issues that need to be addressed on a global scale. There is concern about the risk of bankruptcy of Deutsche Bank, which has implemented a large-scale restructuring and has a credit default swap problem.

And in Japan, the negative interest rates are causing banks to switch their customers’ deposits to unnecessary financial products, while generating losses and unnecessary ATM maintenance costs are squeezing bank earnings.

Currently, the environment surrounding the financial industry is quite very harsh, and the future is very disturbing, including the U.S.-China trade war and the Japan-Korea economic war.

Under such circumstances, blockchain which is suitable for overseas remittances and payments, can eat into the profits of financial institutions as companies can use blockchain as alternatives to financial institutions.

Although while the internet of money needs strict management, we are still seeing problems ensue, such as the $32 million dollar hack on Bitpoint, a known cryptocurrency exchange. Exchanges and money managers are constantly required to improve their security level in our space.

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I believe that education must be further disseminated in the industry. The balance between transparency and privacy is a very difficult issue, but I feel that the attitudes of blockchain-related companies that comply with AML and other regulatory compliance are improving day by day.

QURAS is also considering countermeasures for possible risks, such as preparing an option that allows only users who have passed KYC to use anonymous addresses for transactions on the blockchain protocol.

What countries do you think are doing a good job rolling out sensible regulation that will support adoption without stifling blockchain innovation and the digital currencies market?

I think Malta is doing better than much of the world in terms of initial coin offering, ICO, registration and establishment of exchanges. The country has well-balanced laws and regulations, but an ICO has a cap of 5,000 euros per capita for general investors.

The market itself is big in Asia so we have to choose a scheme that can be managed geographically and physically when considering actual operations and the development of the project.

In that sense, a lack of proper legal frameworks for the blockchain industry notably show that we have a lot to improve upon in order to progress.

However, in South Korea, Jeju Island and Busan City are moving to blockchain ‘regulation-free’ special zones. And in Malaysia, a new government has come into leadership and welcomed blockchain advancements with the approval of new cryptocurrency exchanges while talks of making tourist haven Melaka City a virtual currency city has progressed.

Meanwhile in China, Chinese officials have shown a positive attitude towards Libra, and general discussions about the digitization of economic and social infrastructure are in progress. Therefore, we must always be aware of and respond to the policy trends of each country.

What is the consumer and business sentiment for blockchain in Japan?

Although the enthusiasm for blockchain isn’t as high as it was in 2017, I think that consumer sentiment is gradually recovering.

After the cryptocurrency markets price crash, it took time to recover from the pain, but in the meantime investors and stakeholders learned a lot through various failures and experiences.

I think people now know better with regards to what to look out for in the industry, from a project perspective. But it is still necessary to improve the level of consumer finance and blockchain technology, and because there is actually a business-level improvement, the environment of the greater blockchain industry is gradually getting better.

With regards to Japan’s Financial Services Agency, I worry that we may take the same path as the FX industry and see the crypto market shrink due to stringent regulations in Japan.

The regulations that allow up to 4x leverage and enable the possibility to make order book transactions may be banned for crypto asset derivative transactions.

I hope that both consumer and business sentiment will be optimized in the long term, stimulated by the healthy growth of the market and the rising knowledge and interest of individuals.

How are you going about greater adoption for Quras in Japan and beyond?

The Quras protocol not only protects privacy, but refunds 20-40% of the transaction fee of the smart contract incurred by the project itself, That feature has attracted a lot of interest and attention in the global sports vertical, medical field as well as gaming.

In addition, although it has not been announced in major news just yet, there is a major alliance taking place to help grow the African market and negotiations with local governments in Japan are taking place.

In Japan, we have signed contracts with more than 70 domestic stores where consumers can transact and settle with the QURAS token. We are aiming for to create a currency that will actually be used in every day consumer and business transactions.

What are the biggest challenges you envision for cryptocurrencies and digital assets as a whole over the next 12 months?

I am bullish on bitcoin and think the price of bitcoin will exceed $20,000 over the next 12 months. However, when researching various protocols, I found out that even the most liquid currencies have a major problem with the protocol they are utilizing.

Funny enough, these currencies are still maintaining a high value apart from the actual situation. I don’t know whether the problem will surface in the short period of 12 months, but when users start to understand the problem, there will likely be a currency or two that could go down in value.

In terms of other issues, the biggest issue is reliability. It is not a problem that can be solved in a short period of 12 months, but it must be continually worked on over a long period of time.

Management can learn from past failure cases just as much as they can learn from prior successes. and pursue the best path for them.

I think that more organizations will be able to improve the reliability of the industry as a whole, and I hope to have Quras in that conversation in the near future.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is sponsored and does not represent the opinions of Finance Magnates.

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