Alex Fork is the man who wrote the first Russian book on bitcoin, created the first blockchain community in the country and co-organised the recent visit of Ethereum's founder Vitalik Buterin to Moscow.
CoinFox asked Alex a few questions concerning the current situation and the perspectives of Russian blockchain industry.
– Not so long ago you registered the copyright for Russian “Bitcoin” trademark. In your opinion, how will it affect the future of bitcoin in the country?
– I started the registration process as early as 2013, and it was only finished in 2016. I made this effort hoping to improve conditions for business in Russia. But what really counts in this market is not business activity but the attitude of the regulator. So, I doubt that the trademark registration will have any serious influence on the future of digital currency in Russia.
– Blockchain’s Marco Santori lists Russia among the few countries that use bitcoin for payments rather than for short- or long-term investment. Do you agree with him, and what are the reasons for that?
– I am a bitcoin user myself: it makes it easier, say, to buy domains abroad or to pay Ukrainian freelancers where there is no electronic payment system like Yandex.Money or Sberbank available. But it is worth noting here that the overall turnover is negligible. And even in Russia, I believe, it is speculative and investment capital that steals the scene.
– Can the development of the blockchain technology and popularisation of cryptocurrencies become a challenge to the modern concept of economic sovereignty of the state, already threatened by the globalisation?
– Great question! And my answer is: by no means. Because states are enormous economic entities on the planet, and their role is the most essential: street lights are on at night both for those who pay taxes and those who do not. So, we have to face the truth: taxes will be collected for a long while, in any form, and that is what makes national currencies necessary. And they, in turn, will be mostly supported by means of taxation. That is why cryptocurrencies pose no risk for national currencies and, therefore, for economic sovereignty.
On the other hand, the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies is developing at a rapid pace and using the technology on the national level is becoming obviously beneficial. This can catalyse the development of public services and make state administration more cost-efficient, which, in fact, would only help to strengthen economic sovereignty.
– You have organised the visit to Moscow of the creator of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin. Was it a working visit or something more of a symbolic value?
– The visit has been a great deal of importance: a few cooperation agreements have been signed and we are seriously working to open an Ethereum representative office and R&D centre in Russia – that would be the most advanced thing the country could do, a real step in the future.
There is some symbolic meaning as well: Vitalik wanted to come and to speak Russian at the conference. It must show our youth that all this is not some sort of an odd foreign phenomenon that has nothing to do with us, but a reality we live in, and everyone has a chance to make this success story a part of their life.
– A question concerning the technology of smart contracts promoted by Vitalik. What about the ethics of the Internet of Things? Say, if a car driven by a code would have to choose whether to crash another car or run over a person, who will be responsible?
– There is a lot of talk about it these days. So far, the current legal approach seems to me the most adequate: all responsibility falls on the owner.
– Being the head of Blockchain.Community, would you call yourself a community builder? What, in your opinion, Russian blockchain community lacks the most, and can an association of this kind in principle be national oriented?
– Blockchain.Community appears to be the most organised structure in the emerging fintech industry. That is why we were able to build on its basis FutureFintech, an independent structure that helps newly created fintech projects to find their way. It would be incorrect to call me a community builder because every member of our community is a project of their own. We are a decentralised organisation with participants from the EU, USA, Eastern Europe and China; we also have connections with similar communities in Ukraine and Belarus. To our estimation, Blockchain.Community includes nearly 300,000 people involved in the fintech industry. We are literally short of hands now because the position of Russian-speaking members in the blockchain world is stronger than ever.
Maria Rudina, Svetlana Nosova