If there is one buzzword that has been flourishing in the tech and startup scenes lately, it is « blockchain ». Let’s take a few minutes with Owen Simonin, Founder and CEO of Just Mining, to understand what this is all about.
by: Charles-Louis Machuron
photo: Just Mining
featured: Owen Simonin
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a technology with a wide scope of applications. It is a new way of exchanging value (currency) but also contains its own information and properties. Its main advantages are: authenticity, speed, security and cost efficiency.
Is it useful or just a fad?
I think Blockchain has proven today that it is more than just a fad. We are seeing more companies adopt this technology (Facebook, IBM, JPMorgan, Carrefour, etc). The potential of Blockchain is as valuable as that of the Internet’s.
It removes intermediaries, allows individuals to interact directly with each other, and has the following characteristics:
- a quick exchange
- maximum security
- minimal fees (recently, a man sent 280.000€ via the Bitcoin blockchain for 2€ of fees in less than 5 minutes)
- a forgery-proof transaction (the sender cannot cancel it and therefore there is no risk that the entity receiving the funds will lose them).
“The Solarcoin project encourages the development of solar energy. For each Kwh produced, 1 solarcoin is redistributed to you.”
What are the concrete applications of Blockchain?
We often associate it with the banking sector but it is interesting to note that its adoption is taking place in multiple sectors of the economy.
Axa developed the Fizzy contract based on the Ethereum blockchain. This technology makes it possible to automate the reimbursement to users under this contract in the event of a flight being delayed without any administrative procedures.
Carrefour’s blockchain makes it possible to obtain complete traceability of certain foods in order to offer its consumers greater transparency as to the origin of the products sold. This is already available in some stores on products such as chicken.
Today, between 10-30% of drugs supplied in disadvantaged countries are fake “drugs,” causing nearly 700,000 deaths/year according to the WHO, World Health Organization. The creation of a universal database, based on blockchain guaranteeing the traceability and authenticity of medicines, is currently being developed.
The Solarcoin project encourages the development of solar energy. For each Kwh produced, 1 solarcoin is redistributed to you. You can then use it to exchange it for euros/other cryptocurrencies or pay your electricity bill via certain energy suppliers.
What else do you do at Just Mining?
At Just Mining, we have positioned ourselves as investment brokers of blockchain. We recommend several investment options in blockchain and cryptocurrencies (masternodes, mining machines, and hosting). Our goal is to make these relatively complex technologies accessible to all.
We realized that the major obstacle for an investor or individual who wants to invest in cryptomonies is intermediary trust. We were the first to address the issue and this is what allowed us to establish ourselves in this market. Today, Just Mining has more than 15,000 customers worldwide.
“Mining is a method of securing the blockchain. Mining is how major blockchains such as Bitcoin or Ethereum are obtained.”
What are investors looking for in blockchain?
The objectives vary according to the investor’s profile. As I explained earlier, the first criterion investors are looking for is trust. Most of the time, investors are not familiar with the blockchain environment. This is tricky for a so-called traditional investor because it is difficult to project one’s investment. The second type of investors have vaguely heard about the potential of blockchain but their schedules do not allow them to spend enough time to understand it in detail. This type of investor simply needs the right tools to invest with confidence. Finally, investors are looking for an opportunity or a way to diversify their portfolios. Investing in the blockchain environment is an increasingly popular option among investors.
What exactly is mining?
Mining is a method of securing the blockchain. There are several blockchains and thus several ways of securing them. Mining is how major blockchains such as Bitcoin or Ethereum are obtained.
In theoretical terms, mining consists of validating transactions on the blockchain network through mathematical calculations. These calculations are carried out by specialized computers located all over the world: the miners. Each miner has a complete copy of the blockchain. When a new transaction is conducted, miners verify the authenticity of the transaction by reviewing the history of the blockchain. Once the transaction is approved by half the network, it is added to the chain and becomes usable.
The miner is paid for the work he or she does on the network. His remuneration comes from two sources: transaction costs and the issuance of new tokens (new cryptocurrencies). For example, on the bitcoin network, new bitcoins created are distributed to miners.
“Blockchain is still young. It has only existed for 10 years. Many projects are aimed at reducing the energy consumption involved in its mining process.”
What are the ecological solutions proposed to address the consequences of the “warming” of the mining activity?
First, we need to set the context. We hear a lot of inaccurate information on this topic.
Cryptocurrency mining is an energy-intensive activity ; that’s a fact. However, to say cryptocurrency mining consumes too much energy without comparing it to similar sectors does not make sense. In fact, if we compare its energy consumption to the fiduciary economy or gold mining, we realize that its impact on the environment is not as harmful and that it consumes less than its non-digital equivalents.
Blockchain is still young. It has only existed for 10 years. Many projects are aimed at reducing the energy consumption involved in its mining process. At Just Mining, we are working on these issues, too. As mining experts, we need to think about tomorrow’s solutions. There are already leads and we are confident innovations will come quickly.