Fresh off the heels of a mainnet upgrade optimized for proof of stake, QTUM is a cryptocurrency project that many are watching. In this interview, Sam Safahi sits down with QTUM’s Jordan Earls to talk about the recent update, competitors, and the future of their blockchain.
Sam Safahi: How would you best describe Qtum to someone who’s never heard of it before?
Jordan Earls: Qtum is an independent blockchain platform that aims to bring innovative smart contracts to mobile and IoT devices, while also implementing several strategies for seamlessly changing the scalability and security parameters of the blockchain.
Sam: What are the reasons you switched over to your own blockchain?
Jordan: By switching to our own blockchain we allow ourselves to operate with more freedom and in the process we help decentralize the blockchain ecosystem. In theory, we could have built Qtum by making several bitcoin improvement proposals to add our new opcodes and hope that the consensus mechanism in bitcoin would be changed, but the changes wouldn’t have been adopted because of the general agreement to keep Bitcoin development as conservative as possible.
Sam: How do you plan to compete with coins such as NEO, Stellar, and Ethereum?
Jordan: We believe that we have some of the best technology in the industry given that more than 10 dapps plan to build on Qtum and we just launched the main network, Ignition, last month. Right now we are the first proof-of-stake smart contracts platform, which is a huge achievement given this seems to be where the trend is going.
More of our other differentiating technologies will become more evident in the next 6-12 months. Next year we will launch lightning networks built on Qtum and our x86 virtual machine that will enable smart contracts to be written in more standard development languages like C++, Rust, Go, Haskell and many more. The x86 VM will open up smart contract development to the mainstream. Also, in the coming months we will release some APIs and other developer tools so it will be easier interact with Qtum-based smart contracts.
Sam: What is your vision for Qtum?
Jordan: The vision for Qtum is to bring together the disparate blockchain communities so we can focus on advancing the entire blockchain ecosystem. Our short term goal is to grow the blockchain industry and highlight the many use cases that can effectively highlight this technology to enhance and automate business operations.
Sam: How has news from China affected Qtum? (ICO Ban)
Jordan: The China “ICO Ban” has affected the whole industry. It’s a tricky situation because we want to spotlight the technology that many of Chinese developers have helped put together. Even before this news came out, we strived to be what an ideal blockchain project would look: We open-sourced our code repository, we provided weekly community and development updates, we released monthly expenditure reports, and we even offered a refund to ICO backers. We can be hopeful that there might be some framework put in place, but for now we are just going to keep focusing on our technology and bringing the power of this to smart contract and decentralized app developers.
Sam: Where do you think blockchain technology will be in five years?
Jordan: I think in five years it will become more evident that blockchain technology is here to stay and not just a fad, or just about hype. I believe that right now blockchain is comparable to the internet in the early 90s. You once had to understand TCP/IP stacks, DNS, modems, and all of these other technical protocols and details. You basically needed to be an expert to use it. But now in 2017, if you ask a child “what is the internet?”, they might stare at you and reply “what’s the internet,” all the while watching Youtube or Netflix.
I see the blockchain in a similar way in several years, you might order a rideshare, or upload a video, or sign up for internet… And not even be aware that you’re using blockchain technology because it is so seamless.
Sam: What measures has Qtum taken to prevent scamming in the slack?
Jordan: The whole blockchain community has fallen victim to a number of quite sophisticated scammers. We always advise members in our slack community that no one from Qtum will ever ask a user to provide their private keys. We try to be active whenever we get a direct message in slack to let other community members know to beware, we have pinned messages, and we posted a notice in our weekly updates. There’s limited admin functionality; therefore, going forward we are planning to move away from Slack to a self-hosted Discord platform.
Sam: What are some examples of mobile phones using Qtum to execute smart contracts?
Jordan: Most of the mobile functionality will be illustrated when more dapps release their software. Some applications will make their blockchain infrastructure almost unnoticeable, which is how it should be done to gain more users.
Right now you can see an early demo here:
Sam: If you could change one thing, what would it be?
Jordan: There’s always at least a couple of things that you wish you had changed after you release something. I think our biggest regret in Qtum is not focusing on developer tooling and documentation significantly earlier than we did. We are catching up, but it’s a time consuming process.