Sergej Kotliar: Yes, and it’s hardly surprising. What is surprising is that so many companies haven’t done it so far. Some even make users pay for transactions. Of course, they may have less incentives to save their customers’ money. Still, many of them cried they wanted the hardfork even though activating SegWit is no big deal. I personally saw how it happened: in our company, it was done by an intern. It did not take him much time, just under a week, which is impressive considering he was a rookie and had little idea as to the way our platform worked.
SegWit doesn’t take much effort, so the fact that major companies don’t want to do such a small thing that could benefit everyone, including users, doesn’t say good things about them. Just imagine Coinbase removes a half of resources currently occupied by their transactions in bitcoin’s blockchain: it would have changed a lot. First of all, there will be place for other players on the market.
It’s an interesting situation per se: we considered ourselves a small startup that does what it can and doesn’t embark on innovations. Now, we realize we can easily do some things and push innovations forward.
ForkLog: The community seems to have appreciated your efforts. You even became the company of the day when the first block over 1 megabytes was mined.
Sergej Kotliar: There is a lot of fake information in the community. It’s not always intentional: some just have read something on Reddit and believ it, so the nonsense starts spreading. All we can do is to show: here we activated SegWit and it saved us a half of our money.
ForkLog: Could you provide a particular example to depict those advantages?
Sergej Kotliar: The first thing one has to understand is the batching process. We batch lots of transactions from different users into one big transaction. Separate transactions would be too expensive but batching cut our expenses in half instantaneously. It’s all very important to our users. There are customers from countries like India or Bangladesh where an average transaction doesn’t exceed 1 Euro, and is usually about 20 or 30 cents. It’s probably not the best business model but we don’t want to exclude them as our goal is to enable people to use bitcoin at home and in their home country.
ForkLog: Anyway, most transactions are probably executed in bitcoin. Are there any stats regarding altcoins? For instance, what’s the second most popular coin?
Sergej Kotliar: Of course we have some stats, however, due to the issues we have with ShapeShift, I’d better answer this question once we have integrated our own solution. Still, it’s mostly about Ethereum, Litecoin, and Monero. There’s also Bitcoin Cash, we’ll add support for it as well.
ForkLog: The community is torn apart by debates on bitcoin’s evolution. How do you envision its future? Is bitcoin really becoming more a store of value, contrary to the means of payment as depicted in Satoshi Nakamoto’s whitepaper?
Sergej Kotliar: We envision a bright future. Bitcoin is only starting, and everything will find a resolution. Of course, these days we speak of cryptocurrency mostly as of a store of value but I believe it will change soon. We experiment with Lightning Network and everything is more or less ready. We actively engaged regular users in testing the protocol and sent 20 Euros to their accounts for those purposes. One can download the app now and do it for their own pleasure.
ForkLog: May I assume that you’ll be the first just like in the case of SegWit?
Sergej Kotliar: Most certainly, we’ll be the first here as well. If we don’t, we’ll be the second, and on the very same day. If not us, then who? Major companies, due to their cumbersome nature, are already losing. They can’t see the generations are changing and the Silicone Valley is losing its positions. Take a look at Coinbase: they put their stakes on Ethereum and institutional investors. Xapo is moving the same way. Users, however, need new services, new wallets, and new solutions. The very first day Lightning Network is available, we’ll activate it. The next day we’ll recommend our users to switch to wallets that support it.
So, the future is very good and bright. There will be Lightning Network and other smaller scalability solutions. I see nothing bad in the schism of the community: those who wanted to go a different way got their own coin and now they are experimenting with it. We don’t think it’s the best way but still we wish them luck.
Sergej Kotliar was interviewed by Andrew Asmakov