I met Lisa at Porcfest this year and she seemed like a great person who loved Bitcoin. It wasn’t until we recently chatted that I started seeing her name pop up everywhere, advising certain next generation projects and writing a slew of whitepapers. This is why I’ve dubbed her the Bitcoin Wonder Woman. The questions literally leap between each of the projects she’s involved in so bear with me. She’s currently involved in Gems, Coinkite, and FACTOM, and advises a few other Bitcoin projects.
Ruben Alexander: What are your goals when writing a whitepaper?
Lisa Cheng: When writing a whitepaper, we seek to highlight the technical validities of the entire project and we do that by looking for the answers to questions that are commonly asked – how is it being developed? Where is the project now? And how are they going to accomplish what their business plan says? From there we take a look at what the project has assembled in terms of planning their launch and execution. As the majority of the work we do at Vanbex is focused on Bitcoin 2.0 – we seek to explain via the Whitepaper how they are launching their token, via what platform, how will it have value, and why should users be excited about the project.
The Whitepaper is not a business plan, and it’s not a User Guide. It’s a technical explanation of the entire project, discussing the plan from project launch to its future date and time where it will reflect the project’s updates, revisions, and additions. It should explain on a protocol level how a token is going to be created, transacted – i.e. off chain hashing of transactions, using what systems, and even, what wallet(s) to use.
The goal is to really write a strong technical document that explains the project as those who read such things are typically developers, investors, and technological-savvy people – ironically these groups are who make up a good portion of Bitcoin users. And the reason why the Whitepaper is so important is that it’s typically the most in depth and explanatory method of understanding a project, especially when it’s Bitcoin 2.0. When done correctly, a whitepaper is able to answer and dispel common challenges, questions, concerns, and certainly FUD. It has the ability to build confidence and create a community, because when people are really passionate about a new idea or concept – they want to read about it as much as they can. The Whitepaper provides this: an example I’ve heard is when people first hear about Bitcoin and become fascinated, they start by wanting to read as much as they can on the subject. The best thing to do is to go directly to the source, in this case the original paper by Satoshi Nakamoto.
Could you describe Gems in one sentence?
Gems is a social messaging app that will include a way to send and receive cryptocurrency between users, using the native app which includes a Bitcoin wallet.
What do you love about Gems?
I love that Gems combines social with crypto. It hasn’t been done before and I’m excited about the potential for this project to bring new people into the community.
What makes Coinkite stand out? What features do they offer to protect the privacy of their users?
Coinkite is a Canadian company and I remember when they first launched I was so excited that I bought one of their terminals. I was just asked to join as an advisor to the company and I really appreciate the opportunity to work with them, as what really makes them different is their in-house HSM (Hardware security module) designed for Bitcoin key management. They are the first and only ones to achieve this, and it’s a credit to the founders Rodolfo and Peter as they’ve quietly grown their user base which includes Bitcoin exchanges and Bitcoin companies on every continent.
The biggest thing they offer to protect the privacy of their users: every Coinkite account is protected by their HSM, meaning they don’t have access to any keys or wallets on their system. You can back up your Electrum or Blockchain.info wallets by importing your key to a Coinkite account you create for free, and they also cover the miners fees for every transaction that is made from a Coinkite address.
FACTOM sound very promising. Can you describe this project?
FACTOM is a project I’ve been following closely; they are interesting as they are solving the challenges facing Bitcoin today regarding block times, data size, and scalability. My team at Vanbex has just had the opportunity to begin working with them on their launch and they have a very strong whitepaper, experienced lead developer who is also the founder, and their technology is solving problems that are experienced today. After reading the side chains whitepaper and participating in the AMA, I believe they are complementary to the side chains project and have many of the same qualities.
What are the main differences between Storj and Maidsafe?
Storj is the front-end to decentralized storage and providing tools to access this data easily, Maidsafe is creating a new decentralized infrastructure to support storage/bandwidth/compute – for example their whitepaper includes details on how packet relays will be distributed in this decentralized cloud.
Do you think the SEC will crash Swarm’s demo day? Why should people submit their projects to Swarm?
SWARM is a community-driven crowdsourcing model for launching Bitcoin projects – if anyone crashes their party including the SEC, they will likely be disappointed as SWARM is probably one of the most Bitcoin-community-centric projects in the ecosystem today. There wouldn’t be much for the SEC to ‘uncover’ other than a few stories from those epic SWARM parties – all of which I’ve sadly missed.
Projects should definitely consider submitting their projects to SWARM – getting the support from Joel and his team would help any budding Bitcoin entrepreneur take their project from concept to reality.
What are some other cool Bitcoin 2.0 projects coming out that people should keep on their radar?
Besides Mastercoin and Counterparty. . .FACTOM, Gems, Koinify, Merchantcoin, BlockAuth, Lazooz, Dogeparty, and Ripple are going to make huge strides in the coming months.
Do you feel there are too many Bitcoin 2.0 platforms?
Definitely not. There [are] not enough platforms. Sidechains will likely change that and everything we understand about Bitcoin next year.