Interview with Jim - Digital Mango
This week we talked with Jim from Digital Mango, a company that is a consultancy and crowdfunding platform for photovoltaic projects. They are also fans of Tezos, as they are running their own baking node in the Tezos network and they want to use Tezos for their crowdfunding platform.
1. Tell us a little bit about Digital Mango - as a baking service, what makes it interesting / unique?
Digital Mango is essentially a consultancy company, we assess photovoltaic projects to determine if they will produce enough energy to be financially viable and interesting as investments. On top of that, we will offer the ability to crowdfund installations via security tokens. That’s where the interest in Tezos comes from.
2. Why are you personally interested in crypto currencies and/or Blockchain?
Just going back to the previous question. We bake [Tezos], as an investment of the company’s capital, we’re running the baker with the desire to create recurring revenue for the company. Apart from being a useful technology for crowdfunding (security tokens), it is still early in the Tezos project, the price is still low and we believe [it] will go up. The idea is that if and when the price goes up, having a baking setup will be a major asset for the company. It’s speculative, but at the same time it’s great to have invested in Tezos relatively early on.
3. What was your first experience with crypto-currency or blockchain?
I first heard about it around 2015 and I dismissed it. 2017 was when I bought some bitcoin from Coinbase, after I bought it the price went up several times, I felt like “Wow! That’s incredible!”. I love that meme where there’s a guy with a massive gold chain with a Bitcoin pendant and the caption reads “I’m here for the technology” [James laughs].
I generally am very interested in blockchain tech, I like the removal of the middleman, the horizontal structure it provides for transactions and trustlessly transferring assets. I also bought a few tokens on the Ethereum network back in 2017, again speculatively. That was a mistake. Well, I’m still here, because I think there’s a lot of really interesting stuff, it’s a revolution in technology. It’s going to change the way value is transferred, forever really, I don’t see NFTs going anywhere, nor defi lending, all of that stuff, it’s a revolution.
4. What do you currently consider to be the best blockchain project and why?
So there’s a layer 1 project; FIRO, it interests me because FIRO is an innovative privacy coin. One of the things we should be concerned about in blockchain is surveillance. It could potentially create a dystopian future with blockchain, it could lead to some unpleasant consequences. I was really interested to learn that Tezos was implementing the sapling protocol, I’ve tried but been able to find out how to use it. I’d like to be able to send tokens without the recipient being able to check my remaining balance on the Blockchain.
Another project I like is Youves, which allows for the generation of synthetic assets. They have a stable token for the dollar (uUSD), you can mint it if you lock XTZ in a smart contract (vault). So you can leverage your Tezos balance; with the minted Youves uUSD you can buy more Tezos.
5. If you could change one thing about blockchain and crypto in general, what would it be?
I don’t like the scams. The underlying tech is sound and, indeed, revolutionary. One of the things I really like about blockchain is that anyone can join it, it is permission-less, anyone can use the protocol to do whatever they want. This means that blockchain can’t exclude the scammers, unless you change the very nature of Blockchain itself. There will always be scammers, in any financial system, so we need more honest actors and on a bigger scale, so the scammers become a minority
6. What would you like to see implemented in blockchain? Either in your own project, in your favorite blockchain or in blockchain in general.
Privacy - a way to make transactions without being watched, they need to be immutably recorded but in a way to prevent their origins from being identified. Example; Lets say I’ve got some UNO (used in the yield farming game Tezotopia) and I want to send it to my friend, to get him involved in the game. I don’t necessarily want my friend to know what my UNO balance is, because then it becomes a different conversation. Private transactions in this instance would be very interesting.
7. What is a question you most often ask in relation to crypto currencies and blockchain?
When will the global reach of blockchain allow for the worldwide trading of tokenised assets? The thing that I’m very interested in is the adoption of a legal and technical standard for security tokens, because this is the major use case of the Tezos blockchain for Digital Mango; representing physical assets on the blockchain. There will need to be a globally approved standard for security tokens so that you can trade assets from one part of the world to another. There are various jurisdictions and legal issues, but blockchain knows no borders. So we need a standard like there is a standard for things like bolt threads; you can buy an M10 bolt made in Brazil and it will screw into a M10 nut made in Serbia.
8. What is the most common problem you have with blockchains/cryptocurrencies?
Any kind of interaction with the command line, for example, if you have to cast a vote or sign a transaction using the command line, that tends to put a lot of people off. A different problem which needs a social solution rather than a technical one; people in the industry understand how blockchain works and can see what potential use cases might be. The problem comes when you try to explain these use cases to lay people, they tend to run away because blockchain has a bad reputation, because of scams, and so on, even if the underlying technology is sound.
9. How would you (or how did you) solve this problem?
I think that making the blockchain technology easier for humans to use is key. We see that happening already, a lot of wallets have become really slick, better interfaces are the solution.
For the bad reputation issue I think that education is needed, it would be better if this were to happen at a grassroots level, to prevent gouvernements and financial institutions from leading the narrative
10. Where do you think that blockchain could be best utilized?
Transferring value is its main purpose, so all kinds of financial action will be replaced by blockchain, the transferring of monetary value, share value, tokenized assets. Of course there are other use cases like tracking documents and objects, even people (which is a bit scary). But I think that transferring digital value is its main application.
11. Where do you see the future of blockchain?
Hmm, I think that people are gonna get into blockchain because of NFTs and gaming. I think that's the soft on-ramp for people - they’re collecting films or art anyway…, the reason people are scared of blockchain is that they see big numbers and are worried about losing money, but if they are familiarized with the technology with stuff that isn’t money then they will start to understand it’s value as a technology of the digital age.
I really think that blockchain is going to make a major impact on financial services, and what I expect to happen, although I’d like to avoid it, are financial institutions making a legal framework so that they can re-insert themselves as the middleman between the blockchain(s) and the general public. Until they acheive this end they will be dead against blockchain; because it was invented to put them out of work. They will spread misinfomation and FUD about the technology. cryptocurrencies are incredibly risky, they are the preserve of criminals etc. Etc.
Because they are so powerful and influential, there is potential for the financial institutions to do anything in their power to make sure they find themselves a job in the future blockchain based economy.
My biggest concern is that “self-custody” of your private keys will become illegal - if that can be put into law, then the financial institutions and banks will have their job made for them - ‘all you plebs can’t be trusted with your own keys, so you have to give them to us’ - which would bring us back to square one.
The future possibilities for blockchain based economies are enormous, you would have to be a prescient genius to imagine all the future use cases. I am hopeful that the, potentially beautiful, future of a new digital commons isn’t hijacked from the start by an enclosures act of the 21st century
Our thanks to Jim for the interview. If you are interested in photovoltaics or baking, then go see the Digital Mango website.
Do you know of an interesting blockchain project that would be interested in having an interview with us? Feel free to send me an email, we’d love to hear your thoughts and publish them on our blog.