- Vertbase is a digital currency exchange platform which allows users to buy and sell cryptocurrency with USD, GBP, or Euro, and Givabli is a platform which receives crypto donations for charities, organizations, and individuals.
We’d like to kick things off by asking you a couple of questions regarding your formative years.
1) Firstly, can you tell us the things which interested you the most throughout your childhood and teenage years, and what brought you the most happiness?
I think one of the earliest memories I kinda have relates to Lego. So when I was a young kid, Lego was my favourite toy, and I still have thousands and thousands of them right now. I don’t play with them as much being older, but when I was a kid I would just sit in my room by myself and just build and create as much different little things that I could.
So I think that ultimately kind of inspired my creativeness now as a designer and developer in my current career.
2) Who were your biggest influences growing up, and why did they have such a profound effect on you?
The easiest would be to say my father.
My father was always kind of going out there and doing everything he could for me and my three other siblings. He was always at our sporting events, always at any extracurricular activity we had, and he always made time for us and helped us in any way that he could; and he still does today.
Another big influence for me growing up was a coach I had in my younger days at school. He just constantly pushed me not to ever just get to a certain point, but always to push past that and get to the next level, and that’s what I brought a lot of into my current situation with Vertbase. We can sell the what we are now, but it’s all about pushing to get better and better, and that’s what you can see with a lot of the crypto industry.
3) Teenage years are often a turbulent time for many, so on this note, can you name a time which was tough for you, and how you managed to overcome it?
When I was a teenager, my mother was diagnosed with heart disease (so she has cardiomyopathy) at the time my youngest brother was born. At that time, they told my mother than she probably wasn't gonna see my brothers 5th birthday, but just through working with the doctors and her health regiment, she’s still alive today (that’s 23 years later).
So it was tough at the time as I was the oldest of three other siblings (4 kids in total), so I kinda had to help out and it was definitely a stressful time for our family. But looking back, it definitely made me the person who I am today, and you know, all has turned out a lot better than what we expected.
4) If there was some advice you could give young aspiring individuals, advice which you would really have liked to have heard yourself as a young person, what would it be?
I think I would just like to know that there is always an answer out there, especially today with the internet and everybody being so well connected.
If you want to do something, just constantly ask questions and seek people who might have an idea of what you are looking to do, and at some point, you will be directed in the right path. You'll find what you want to do, no matter what it is - whether you want to be better at sports, you want to be better musically, you want to create your own web app, or you want to get into crypto. All of it comes down to asking questions and following through with what you want to do by making your own path.
We are now going to ask you some questions which will hopefully give our readers something to go on regarding you as a person.
5) Firstly, what are the particular strengths that you feel have made you successful in your field (don’t hold back)?
I do expect results, so I am a very results driven individual where I look at what will work and what won't work, and I try to execute on what will work and refine that process over and over again. So I push and push to get results, and it does get me where I need to go, and it does bring out our team where it needs to be as well - holding them accountable and making sure we are doing the right things, and doing them the best way we possibly can.
6) What would you say is your most controversial opinion as regards to blockchain or the crypto space?
My ethos at Vertbase is not to be very biased. Maybe that is the most controversial thing about us because we don’t tend to stick to one asset over the other, and we don't try to shill somebody over the other. We try to look at it like, hey, we are all doing good here, let's work together, what can you offer and what can you offer.
Outside of that, I think there is maybe too much thought put into an asset being deemed more as an investment, and hoping that it hits the moon. I think we are better off using digital assets as a store of value, saving data and storing data properly, and it needs to be on a leger. Digital currency is a good thing as well, but I don't think they all need to be digital currencies. I think we need to get back to the sole reason behind why blockchain was invented, and actually utilize these assets for what they were really intended to be for, and not the whole ‘I think this is going to go up 200 percent next year’.
7) In the course of your day you can become under the most ridiculous pressures and stresses, what is your particular way of dealing with this?
Just stepping back.
Pulling myself away from the grind and realising there is more to life than stressing out about some of these things that get to us, and just enjoying where I am at in my life and where I am in my career, whilst also realising that I have this opportunity to work in this space and do what I am doing. Once you you kind of get yourself grounded there, you are able to pull yourself back into what you are doing, and be able to handle it a bit easier. I owe a lot of this to my co-founder Stu as I was getting pretty stressed in the beginning, and he really helped me to pull myself in and just enjoy and appreciate what I have.
8) Outside of crypto/blockchain, what is your favorite thing to do?
I love baseball!
I love playing baseball, I love watching baseball, and it’s such a good reliever and outside activity that I do to get away from the computer to enjoy life.
We are now going to ask you some creative and humorous questions, and we are sure people will love to see you what you can come up with.
9) What is the most humorous thing you have seen or experienced during your time in the crypto/blockchain space?
This is kind of a tough question.
The first thing that comes to mind for me is just the Craig Wright, Calvin Ayre against the whole industry type of mentality. They kinda took their stance of what they want to do and where they’re going, and they are sticking to it. So seeing individuals like Peter Mccormack and some of these others go up against them, and make light of the situation, can be quite humorous. But like I said before, I don’t want to be too biased so I don’t try to pick a side, I just kinda sit back and watch both sides and have a laugh about it.
10) If you somehow managed to meet Satoshi Nakamoto (that is he is a male person in this scenario) on his deathbed, but only had time to ask him one question, what would it be? Bear in mind you don’t have much time at all, so make it a good one.
Did you lose it all?
11) Can you give three policies you'd enact if you became the president of a country tomorrow?
The first thing I would do is to put in proper laws to make sure that the data that Google and Amazon collects and owns, is transparent with each user so they know exactly what they have and how they are using it. I would also make sure that people also have a silver bullet to remove that data if they so choose. I think this is important for everybody’s freedom and safety.
Second one is I would like to see blockchain be used in a digital currency, and one which is not necessarily run by one nation in particular, but one that is accepted my multiple nations and viewed as a global currency that can work freely between national currencies. Basically using blockchain to speed up transactions and not rely on some of these archaic technologies we are using today.
The third one is I would push for more mandated vacation holidays. I feel that people are working a lot harder and faster these days, and there is too much burnout, so I think people need to enjoy life a little bit more.
Communities are often an important backbone for many crypto/blockchain projects, so we’d now like to get some personal thoughts on the community side of things.
12) Project aside, what are some other crypto/blockchain communities that you admire and why (this is not an endorsement)?
Just from watching some of these communities and what they are progressing, I am very impressed with DigiByte. They move fast and they have some pretty grand ideas that they execute on. So they don't just push out that they want to go somewhere but don't follow through. They actually accomplish quite a bit, so I really like them.
Bitcoin always fascinates me because its been there since the beginning, and it's so massive and takes so much to make some of the smallest changes. I really admire that, and also admire how a global consensus can come together and push out updates. This really fascinates me.
Then there is a strong mix of a handful (five or six of them out there) that I keep an eye on. Ravencoin is one of them. They have a lot of corporate backing which makes them very interesting, and I also think it is necessary.
13) What social-media platform do you like most and why, and are there any improvements which you feel can be made to these platforms for an even better community user-experience?
I mean they all have their own purpose. Telegram is great for quick messaging, Twitter is a great platform for the crypto industry as a whole to communicate and push ideas across, and Reddit is a great way to talk back and forth.
However, they all have their own strengths and weaknesses, and where I think the community user experience could be better is more privacy and transparency. All of these platforms kinda support crypto, but also kinda hold it back in certain ways as the privacy and data that you share on there does not resonate with people who identify with projects like Monero, Grin etc. So I feel they should enable something that allows users to utilise blockchain so they can take a look at how their data is being used (creating more transparency), and having the option to stop their data being used by services if they so choose.
14) With the endgame being mainstream adoption, do you think crypto/blockchain communities will still have an important role to play in a post-adoption environment?
As the mainstream graduates into full adoption, you'll start to see these communities graduate into new levels and new roles (maybe not being on the ground and getting out in front of people), and leading on how changes are made and how you draft policies and draft protocols for different blockchains. I think people will almost be like elected voices for communities, and will be important in pushing things forward and keeping things on the right path.
In our penultimate section we are going to ask you a question regarding Vertbase.
15) What do you feel sets Vertbase apart from your competitors (that is if you have any)?
We definitely have competitors - the most notable being Coinbase, and quick exchanges like ShapeShift. So whilst we view them as competitors, we do look at them and think we want to be like them, but also be better than them with smaller things that can help the overall process.
For example, one thing is speeding up transaction times. In the UK we utilise the open banking standards that have been put in place, and a transaction on our platform in the UK can be processed in roughly five minutes, and you can have the assets sent to your wallet. To put things into perspective, Coinbase can sometimes take up to ten days in the UK. So we can hang our hat on that for now, but we are still continuing to push on all areas.
The one thing that has really set us apart, and we have seen a lot of people follow our lead, is our giving back mentality. So all the buys and sells from the projects that we support, we take a proportion of that and donate to the foundations of these projects on our platform (or to a charity of their choice), and this really helps out what they are trying to do because a lot of their marketing and developer individuals are volunteers. From that we have seen Bittrex and a few other smaller players start to follow our model and give back a portion of their proceeds.
Lastly, we don't take a listing fee for putting you on our platform. We don't think that is very helpful to progress this industry forward.
Well that just about does it, but before we end this interview we’d like to ask you for something which we believe will say a lot about your belief in the industry, and which may inspire those who are reading.
16) Can you come up with a short argument for our readers on why you feel cryptocurrency and blockchain (or just one) has a bright future?
I think blockchain has a bright future because it’s this new technology that disperses the responsibility and trust of very important data from one individual (or one organisation) to potentially every individual in the world. This is a network effect that is exponentially bigger than what the internet is for everybody today, and not only does this create more opportunities, it’s another form of enlightenment at the next stage. I think that it brings together an opportunity for everybody, and I think everybody should have the resources and capabilities to get to the level that they want to be in life, or experience what they want to experience in life, regardless of where they were born, race, sex, it shouldn’t matter.
So I really believe blockchain can further progress the information age.
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