Exclusive Interview with Dan Notestein of BlockTrades

We are back with 4th interview with prominent people on cryptocurrency community. If you never heard of this service this is the right time and possibly some sites that you use actually have it running in the background. Meet BlockTrades. We will speak about Bitcoin, Bitshares, future and past of those and other cryptocurrencies. There are some decent hidden gems and infos in this interview. So.. grab a coffee or a beer and have a read!

So who are you and what service are you bringing to the world ?

Thanks for giving me this opportunity to address your readership. I’m Dan Notestein, the CEO and founder of BlockTrades International Ltd. BlockTrades specializes in cryptocurrency-related software and services. We’ve been operating in a relative stealth mode for the past year (no marketing or advertising of significance) so we’ve mostly become known via our partnerships with others. We’re best known currently for our market-making website, http://blocktrades.us, where you can purchase various cryptocurrencies, for our contract development work on the BitShares blockchain and the upcoming Peerplays blockchain, and for our technical support of OpenLedger’s deposit/withdrawal gateways. So I think most of our customers have found us via a Graphene-based chain such as BitShares, Steemit, or Peerplays. To be honest, I’ve been surprised with the success we’ve experienced so far, given we haven’t done any active advertising.

Any story behind getting into Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies?

I first found out about Bitcoin via Satoshi’s whitepaper many years ago. It pains me to admit it, but I scan-read it for a few minutes, and then dismissed it as someone’s attempt to create a new currency to enrich themselves and early adopters at the expense of everyone else (after all, anyone can create a new currency and promote it as the “real” currency). In retrospect, it’s obvious I should have paid more attention, but back then I was a workaholic putting in 60-80 hour weeks trying to make a success of my first company, SynaptiCAD, so I had a short attention span for anything outside the world of electronic design software. Most importantly I didn’t spend enough time to grasp the true political and philosophical motivations behind the creation of Bitcoin, despite having a strong personal bias against authoritarian governance.

blocktrades bitshares interviewIt’s actually SynaptiCAD that led me back to crypto in the end, however. SynaptiCAD is an electronics design software company that sells to engineers at companies like Intel, Samsung, etc. But a few years back, I decided to branch out into generalized software contracting as I felt SynaptiCAD had developed a solid process for hiring great programmers and making them as productive as possible. One of our bigger early contracts was for a nearby engineering software company, Phoenix Integration. The technical lead on the Phoenix side of that contract was a guy named Dan Larimer (later to be founder of BitShares and Steemit). Dan and I both self-identified as being libertarians to some extent, so we found a common ground for discussion. During lunch breaks, Dan started telling me about the current state of cryptocurrency and his desire to create a decentralized exchange and dollar-stable coins.

It wasn’t long after that Dan got some seed funding to realize his dreams and left Phoenix to found Invictus Innovations with Charles Hoskinson. They hired me on to help with software development, and I think I was probably the first official employee outside of Dan’s family. Later I brought in more SynaptiCAD employees as contract workers and we were responsible for designing the peer-to-peer network layer of BitShares. I’m particularly proud of that work, as it’s survived almost without change through multiple rewrites of the blockchain software and operates today with a 3 second block interval on multiple blockchains.

As funds for BitShares development started to run out, I was faced with a dilemma about how we could continue to help develop the ecosystem when Dan could no longer afford to pay my team. The epiphany for me came during one of our weekly meetings where we were discussing the major issues facing successful adoption of BitShares. The one that stood out for me was a lack of gateways to other cryptocurrencies and the intriguing thing was that operating these gateways could also be a profitable, self-supporting venture. At a slightly higher financial risk level, this same gateway technology could also be used to run a market-making operation across any of the supported cryptocurrency gateways.

This meeting was the spark for the ultimate creation of BlockTrades. The regulatory and accounting quagmire for cryptocurrency in the US and disparities of interest between SynaptiCAD’s shareholders led me to found BlockTrades as a new company located in the Grand Caymans, with SynaptiCAD operating as a subcontractor for the technical work in a similar fashion to our work for Invictus.

Bitshares is one of the networks where you are having a gateway. Would you say why did you choose this ecosystem ? Whats so special about Bitshares ?

Anyone who’s deeply involved with BitShares will tell you that this is a difficult question to answer in one interview, just because there are so many facets to it. In my opinion, BitShares has a huge technical lead on other cryptocurrencies. Just to name a few of BitShares capabilities: the fastest block interval, the highest potential transaction throughput, an operating decentralized exchange with gateways to most of the major cryptocurrencies, a fully functional governance model for voting for new features and paying for them via worker proposals (cost shared by the entire community) or via fee-backed assets (paid for by interested investors), support for both trustless smartcoins and user-issued coins, support for blinded and stealth transactions (the GUI for this is still missing, unfortunately), named accounts, and encrypted memos.

How exactly do you communicate with OpenLedger are you adding on the fly all of their OPEN.assets or there is some consensus going behind the scenes? Also please explain people how do OPEN assets work on this DAX.

* from author* OpenLedger is a fully decentralized exchange built on top of BTS. You can trade there loads of currencies like Ethereum, Lisk or Bitcoin and also hard assets like USD, CNY or GOLD. All fees on the exchange are paid with BTS so after creating an account, its suggested to get some (they are cheap now, moment is really good).

decentralized exchange bonusOPEN assets are a set of user-issue assets on the BitShares blockchain. Anyone can create tradeable assets on BitShares by paying an appropriate fee. These assets can be backed by whatever value the issuer wants to assign to it (in some cases, there is no backing promise and it’s just a novelty asset). In the case of assets that are backed by other cryptocurrencies, it’s very useful to have “gateway software” that allows for easy exchange between the cryptocurrency of interest and the tradeable asset backing it without requiring manual processing of the deposits and withdrawals. This is the first technology that BlockTrades developed.

BitShares allows asset creators to buy an entire “namespace” of asset names with a common prefix, to prevent others from creating “fake” assets and attempting to pretend that they are backed by someone else. For example, OPEN. assets are assets backed by OpenLedger, a Danish company headed up by Ronny Boesing. OpenLedger contracts out with BlockTrades to create new OPEN. assets and provide the gateways in and out of the various OPEN. assets backed by cryptocurrencies.

OPEN. assets are added via a consensus between myself and Ronny. Generally it’s a matter of Ronny selecting what coins he wants to add next to OpenLedger, and my team does a technical evaluation to determine how much time and money it will take to support the coin.

BTS had actually system of DAC similar to DAO, smart coins and a lot more. Why do you think BTS didnt go as mainstream as Ethereum? Did they see problems that DAO just had and possibly hacking/issues ?

In my opinion, it’s really the marketing behind Ethereum that led to it’s success versus BitShares to date. This enabled Ethereum to raise a lot more money than BitShares and attract a lot more developers to its ecosystem. Many of the problems BitShares faced were due to a lack of funding, some bad choices in how to use those funds, and various “hacks” around those problems which led to internal disagreements between different segments of the community.

Blocktrades reminds me Shapeshift in some ways, just they take many altcoins with different chains and you guys have few solid coins + trade BTS assets. Can you elaborate whats the differences and commons between this services ?

At a customer level, I think there’s very few visible functional differences between our services, other than we don’t support the same sets of altcoins. Probably the most visible difference is that their site is a lot prettier than ours, because we haven’t spent much time on the graphical appearance of our site, as our primary focus has been to enable new business models via advances in our API layer. As we start to actively market the site, however, we’ll naturally have to upgrade the look.

I suspect that one the biggest divergences between our technologies lies at the invisible “backend layer” where we do our pricing calculations. I don’t really know what methods they use to compute their pricing, but I know ours are sophisticated enough that the methodologies are likely to be quite different.

So lets say somebody wants to use your system for their upcoming presale to gather deposits in many altcoins or somebody runs some sexy altcoin, would you take those on board ?

Yes, we’re actively working on adding this as a formal product offering of BlockTrades, with some as yet unrevealed features to make this process easier and more profitable for new coin creators.

What other interesting uses BlockTrades can have and what are your future plans for the service ?

BlockTrades long term plans extend far beyond our current offerings and many of our current capabilities were built with an eye towards those future goals. It’s too early for me to go into much depth on this topic (part of that stealth mode I’ve referred to , but one area we’re very interested in is providing stock management services to new and early stage companies. We also have some interesting plans related to reducing the monopolistic rates charged for international fiat transfer.

And the question belowed by everybody for the end. Any predictions of BTC price before and after halving or any thoughts on the market situation from position of exchanges cooperator?

I generally try to keep a low profile when it comes to predictions of coin pricing, but I’ll take a direct question on the subject. My gut feeling is that the halving won’t have a huge impact one way or the other on BTC price. I think the primary price driver has been and will continue to be uncertainty surrounding the supply and valuation of competing sovereign currencies.

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