Interview with Jonathan, Bitcoin Community member


Actually until quite recently I didn’t know you were working at Bit-Bank, Johnathan. What kind of work are you doing at Bit-Bank? Okay so I am the chief Bitcoin officer at Bit-Bank and at the same time I’m also running a company which is a child company of Bit-Bank called the Blockchain Daigakkou, and so I’m the CEO of Blockchain Daigakkou and the CBO, chief Bitcoin officer of Bit-Bank. Hmm, nice. So okay and so, uhm, yes…
Why were you interested in Bitcoin? Okay I first learned about Bitcoin because I had some unfortunate circumstances where, yeah, uhm, there was a problem at the tax office, in the ward that I was living in, and they thought that I didn’t pay my taxes but I did. I paid my taxes but they thought I didn’t pay my taxes. So they took all of my money from my bank, and so I had no money for like two months. So the government offices thought that I owned the money when I already paid the money, so what had happened was they took all of the money out of my bank account, and I had to borrow cash from friends for like two months, while I was telling them, like, proving to them, like, I did I already paid all my taxes, here’s all the receipts, here’s my proof. And then they finally gave me back my money, and they didn’t apologize, they didn’t… They didn’t even say I’m sorry or any sort of, like, Japanese, like, round without apology. They just said “we returned your funds.” The end. That was all they said. And I was like, I was really upset and while I was, while I was doing that you know we’re living off of cash basically, I had to pay for some things online, but because I couldn’t… my bank account was completely frozen, and my credit cards didn’t work, so the only thing that I could do was, I just looked online. There was like “online purchases, no bank.” And then I found Bitcoin and my first reaction to it was like it sounded really really really shady, like really strange, like I didn’t trust it, But then, when I actually looked into it, because I needed to, I was like, “This is this looks like the only way I can I can pay for my VPN”, which I pretty much needed, and I was like, “well if it’s the only way I can pay for it, I pretty much have to trust it”, but I still felt hesitant to use it, So I decided to learn about it technically because, you know, I was a developer at the time, so I decided to read the white paper, learn about how it worked and, and then I figured out how it worked and I thought it was amazing and it was genius and it was awesome, so I bought as much as I could with cash that I had, that I borrowed from my friend, and I bought, like, maybe even a couple hundred dollars worth and then I used some of that to pay for my VPN, because I didn’t know when my money was coming back so… Yeah. Okay and, for a bank, it was a bad opinion… no, experience. But [Japanese] “it’s thanks to that bad experience” that you understand about Bitcoin. Yeah, so, you know… It’s, you know, it’s the bright side of things. So I think even though that was a very hard time for me because, the day that I found out that they had taken all my money, I was going to the ATM to get money so that I could buy diapers for my baby. And so… I didn’t have any money and I couldn’t withdraw money from the ATM and we didn’t have any more diapers, so we had to ask our next-door neighbors who had just had baby we said, you know, “Could we borrow some diapers because we don’t have any cash and we don’t have any way to get money?” But yeah… I lied to them, I told them I dropped my cash card I was like ” can’t find my cash card and we don’t have any cash and we don’t know how to get a diaper, so could you borrow or lend us some diapers?” And when we eventually bought the diapers we gave him back but… But yeah, it was a bad experience but out of that, you know, I was able to find Bitcoin and, you know, I’ve been working on open source projects and Bitcoin for about for about three to four years now so… Okay, thank you… I didn’t know your, your money experience… Yeah, yeah. But I feel it is kind of [Japanese] “Uh, destiny?” Destiny. You and Bitcoin, destiny. Yeah I feel the same way too. Okay, and so, next question is… Oh, I think people who have been working in this industry for a long time have a mission. I think the same, what is your mission? Working at Bit-Bank and also working at a Blockchain Daigakkou, I pretty much have the same mission overall, and that is basically to prevent the loss of customer funds for, for businesses that, you know, take care of Bitcoins. So everything that I have interested in the Bitcoin space right now is related to security around private keys, security around, you know, technologies that would allow traders to trade with us without having to store their Bitcoins with us. You know, technology like that is what I’m very interested in because, what I really don’t want to see is like what happened with me and my bank is, you know, you trust the bank to hold your money and you trust mountain ox to hold your money and you trust all these places to hold your money, and then it turns out that, you know, even the big banks that have, you know, huge amounts of money and they’re really, really close with the government, you can’t trust them to protect your money because, you know, one flip of a switch, one phone call from some guy who mistook you for someone else and they’ll turn on you in a second And so what I want to do right now with it with Bit-Bank is, we are just you we are just, you know, pushing security so all of our funds are in a very secure multisig environment and we only do signing using specialized equipment that we have only for the signing process. It’s very secure. So, we don’t want to lose customer funds, and we are also looking into, you know, different technologies that are coming down the pipeline that, you know, like the Lightning Network, atomic swaps, decentralized exchanges… We’re looking into the technologies like that to basically make it so that, um, we don’t have to hold it, you don’t have to hold as much risk, and also the customers don’t need to trust us. They can just use us as a service and they will always be in control of their Bitcoin so, and any other coin so… I think my mission is just to prevent people from losing their money due to trusting some other entity. Which I think really goes in line with the whole kind of ethos of Bitcoin. I think in this industry most people don’t like the structure of existing society and they want to change something. What do you want to change about our current society? Well, I think one of the biggest things that I you should change about society is, um… It’s very similar to the whole idea behind Bitcoin is our society is based on a lot of trust models, where people have to trust others to do what they are, they promised to do. So, that doesn’t necessarily have to do only with finances. So like, for instance if you elect an official to government, you trust them to fulfill the promises that they made when when they campaigned and they got your vote. And, you know, there’s really no way to kind of audit that and make sure that everything is, you know, on the up-and-up. Because what would happen is, you know, they could promise you one thing, and then it turns out that they’re not promising it to you. They’re promising it to some company that’s giving them money on the side, and in the end, you know, sometimes they’ll even completely break their promises. So what I think is something that I think I don’t know if I can do it personally, but I think as an industry, I think we should move towards a society where there’s a lot more individual freedoms and a lot less trust and by ‘less trust’ I mean you don’t
have to trust because you can verify. So I think that’s kind of the whole idea of Bitcoin is ‘don’t trust, verify.’ So I think there should be, you know, ways that are decentralized that we can all have our individual freedoms, and we can have some sort of collective… I don’t know whether it would be like some sort of smart contract or some sort of… like, organization or some sort of idea where we could somehow manage society on a macro level, but while at the same time being having more and more responsibilities on a micro level. So I think it has to do a lot with, um, ‘don’t trust, verify.’ I think the more things we can move into that area, the better society will be in the end. Yeah, and now so, seed-to-seed service, like Uber and airBnB, they still have middle. Maybe blockchain and this technology then don’t need company, because they have trust. Yeah. So, yeah, like you said the sharing economy is something that’s been very popular as of late, so, you know, Uber, Airbnb and then, like, you know, in Japan… I don’t know if they have this in America I’ve infected States for a long time but, like, Uber Eats. Uber Eats Yeah, Uber Eats is great, So, you know, I think, you know, something like that where instead of having these companies… So basically if you look at what airBnB and uber are doing as a company, all they’re doing is developing an app and making sure that app works, and making sure that people get paid, and maybe, you know, arbitrating whenever there’s some sort of problem between two users. But most of those functions can be served by, perhaps, you know, smart contracts, you know, DAC or Dow or something like that in the future. I do think it’s still a ways down the road but I do think that eventually you’re going to see uber without the company uber, and you’re going to see airBnB but without the company Airbnb. So instead of having a company doing all of the development and doing all of the payouts and doing all of the arbitration, you’re going to have a smart contract that will say to a developer “if you create this this app for our new company, or quote-unquote company, and, and then we send it up to this guy, who we know for a fact because of some Oracle that you guys are not related in any way, and we have him review it and he says that it’s, you know, of good enough quality, then we can pay him to review the app and pay you to develop the app, and then we can know, kind of, you know, kind of in a decentralized manner, okay now we know that you’ve actually made the app so we can pay you using a smart contract.” And then the same thing can go on with the app. It’s like if you go through the app and you decide to purchase a ride, then the smart contract will just be like, okay, you’re going to escrow this amount of bitcoins or ether or whatever currency you use, and then basically, you know, pay it out to whoever is you know driving, or maybe it’s even an autonomous, you know, drive… self-driving taxi that’s run by another DAC or Dow or something like that. So I think there’s a lot of potential in the future to move the shared economy to a decentralized shared economy, and I think that we’re seeing a lot of baby steps to that right now, with things like you know bit square being a decentralized exchange… So I think when, when the baby steps start, you know, getting a little bit bigger and we start moving a lot faster I think there’s going to be a lot of exciting developments and we you know crypto space I think, yeah. Fantastic! Yeah, I can’t wait. What do you expect from Bitcoin? Okay so… As I just said before, the way that I got into Bitcoin was because I had my trust broken by you know a bank that I trusted very much and by a government that I adjusted very much, so one of the biggest things that I expect from Bitcoin is to be trust-less. so that I don’t need to trust anyone to know that I own my Bitcoin and that I can send them to whoever I want without being censored. So censorship resistance is very important because if you’re being censored and they’re saying “we won’t allow anyone to send Bitcoin to this address” or if they say, you know “we won’t allow this guy who owned this address to send any of his coins.” You know, if they are able to say that, then basically I have to trust them not to do that. So I want it to be trust-less, so censorship resistance is a part of being trust-less. I also want it to be decentralized because I think decentralized is one of the main ingredients of being trust-less, because if it’s not decentralized, then it’s very easy for someone to come in and influence… I think if it’s not decentralized it’s easier for someone to come in and influence the system to become not censorship resistant, to become you know less and less trust-less, so… I think, I think yes, the the main, the main thing that I want to, that I expect from Bitcoin is being trustless. Thank you, yeah. [Japanese] beneath the middle so the Lama solar man [Japanese] In your opinion, what is the true Bitcoin? okay Okay, um… Well I guess, you know, the true Bitcoin there is kind of a contextual thing in the context of what, what, what aspects do I think describe what Bitcoin is… I do think that Bitcoin is not necessarily just a number of hashes per second, so one thing that recently a lot of people are talking about is that the longest chain should always be Bitcoin. Which then, you know, it’s like, well, are you talking about long in blocks are you talking about proof of work, because, you know, from a technical level Bitcoin is always looking at the improve of work, but some people just say “oh, it should be you know the longest number blocks” or maybe they’ll even say, like “oh, it should just be the longest proof of work.” But what if someone were to hard fork Bitcoin to a different algorithm, so, like, you can’t really compare the amount of proof of work for a SHA 256 and whatever the new you know proof of work is. I guess if there was some way to kind of convert them if it might be simple, but a lot of times when you change hashing algorithms it’s like comparing apples to oranges, so like, having a hash rate in script and a hash rate in sha-256 and comparing them, you can’t really say like, oh, one sha-256 hash is equal to 0.001 script hash or whatever. So I don’t think it really has to do with the longest proof of work, but I do think that that is the way that you can tell when there is a disagreement on the, the tip of the chain, So I think, which part of the chain, which tip of the chain is the the most valid, I think that is decided by the, the most amount of proof of work. But I think, what is the true Bitcoin? I think that that really just has to go back to the whole trustlessness so I think that’s one of the main reasons why the, the whole Bitcoin cash and Bitcoin split is happening is because, the people on the Bitcoin cash side now they view the Bitcoin core team as requiring a lot of trust, So they look at Bitcoin core and they say, “we have to trust these guys so much, and they have betrayed our trust so much that we want to split off and do our own thing.” Whereas from the Bitcoin core perspective, you know, there was no point where they had pointed a gun to someone’s head, head and said “Oh, you have to run Segwit”, or “Oh, you have to do this.” And, you know, then it goes into, like, okay well, Bitcoin core might not have said that, but then UASF came along and then, you know, one of the core members supported UASF, so, isn’t that kind of like the same thing? And, you know, I think there really is all up to interpretation, but I think the the one true Bitcoin is definitely the Bitcoin that is the most trust-less and is the true Bitcoin. But I think the problem arises is what the definition of trustless is. Today’s keyword is trust-less. Yes, today’s, today, today’s episode was brought to you by the word trustless. When did you decide to start your company Blockchain Daigakkou? Okay um… So, Blockchain Daigakkou actually started in 2016 and basically it was just an idea that I had… And I basically said to Bit Bank, because I’m good friends with the CEO at Bit Bank, and I said to him, I said, “You know, we should start an educational program for engineers to learn about blockchain technology and Bitcoin technology.” And, at the time we have been doing free seminars every month for about half a year, but one of the problems that we faced was, if you do a free seminar and you give out food… So, it’s like “We’re doing a free seminar and there’s going to be snacks and there’s going to be food and you’re going to learn about some buzzword.” Then what you do is is you get a lot of developers that are kind of just there for the snacks and listen a little bit and then they just tune out or they leave halfway through. So it was very difficult to find people who would stay the whole time, understand everything, be able to actually make something… And so we were just like, “Well, if we if we charge money for it then maybe it will make some of the people who don’t really care that much kind of double check whether or not they actually want to take the course. And so we started charging, you know, a small fee to come, and actually that really increased the quality of participants, so everyone was a lot more, you know, paying more attention, they got better results… And so then what happened was, Bit Bank was a member of a organization in, called BCCC, which is the blockchain cryptocurrencies consortium, and they had been asking us whether or not, you know… Actually no, they didn’t ask us. I think we asked them if we if they wanted us to do those classes as a part of BCCC. And so they said yes, and we started doing it with them and so all of the companies that were within the BCCC organization, all of the companies sent a bunch of employees, and I would teach them about Bitcoin for about two months at a time and… We did that for about half a year, and… A little more than half a year, and then this year in March we finally turned it into an actual company, so now it’s an actual company, and it’s a child corporation of Bit Bank and I’ve been you know working on it ever since, so… [Japanese] [Japanese] Just recently Bitcoin Cash was born. How do you feel about it? Yeah, I think that Bitcoin Cash is a lot better than the alternative which is trying to force a hard fork, and pretending like it’s Bitcoin. So, you know, one thing that everyone was scared of when the whole talk about a forced hard fork, and even with UASF… UASF, everyone was scared of the blockchain splitting in two. This side saying “we are the real Bitcoin”, this side saying “we are the real Bitcoin” and no replay protection and people losing money and people like us having to sit around and watch 24/7 to make sure that, you know, users aren’t, you know, doing some funny business or doing all that stuff so… A lot of people were scared that, you know, that would kind of ruin the reputation of Bitcoin. So I think by saying “okay, we’re going to take Bitcoin and we’re going to add some, you know, fairly strong replay protection and we’re going to, you know, create a different ticker, a different name, we’re going to keep Bitcoin but we’re going to say Bitcoin Cash and, and then you guys can just stay Bitcoin. And I think it’s a lot better than what, what was originally going to happen, which is just 2 forks both saying they’re Bitcoin, and maybe reworking into the other one and, you know, kind of fighting it out. I think this is a lot more civil, a lot more… I think, better for the community and in the end, I think, you know, we already have, at bit Bank, we have a trading pair for BCC BTC, so right now we’re trading… We aren’t accepting deposits or withdrawals for BCC yet, but yeah we are actually trading it right now in our exchanges. So, um, you know, I just say let the market decide. If the market says that Bitcoin Cash is better than Bitcoin then I’m sure miners will move to Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Cash will be the most trustless, and, you know, everyone will love it. But, you know, if that doesn’t happen then I’m going to keep running my Bitcoin core node and using Bitcoin. So… So, I think that Bitcoin cash is a lot better than the alternative, which was just duking it out hard fork style, you know, with replays running abound, I think was a lot better than that. Okay, thank you. What is the biggest cause over your opposition to big blocks? Um okay… So, that’s kind of a loaded question, but… I’m not necessarily opposed to big blocks. I’m opposed to the way in which big blocks are implemented that… Like for instance, right now Bitcoin cash I think it’s better than the alternative, but I do think that the methodology in which they’re, they’re increasing their block size will be problematic down the road if people will actually use it, you know, excessively. Similar to the way that you know Bitcoin has been used in the past couple of years. If people start using it in large amounts, I think there will be problems down the road. So I hope that there are many people ready to fix those problems, and make Bitcoin cash as secure and, you know, as best of a Bitcoin that they can make it. So I’m not necessarily opposed to the idea of big blocks in in general but I do think that there is a way to do it that is less disruptive, and I think that a good first step for that is activating Segwit. Then we can see what happens when capacity increases on the Bitcoin blockchain and see how the network reacts to that. And then when Segwit 2x, the 2 megabyte hard fork comes along, I personally do plan on supporting the 2 megabyte increase unless there are problems that are seeing between Segwit activating and the hard fork activating. So a lot of people I think are the opposite of that, I think a lot of my colleagues and fellow developers, I think they’re in the opposite of that, where they’re saying, “We don’t want to agree to a 2 megabyte hard fork yet until we see that Segwit is ok, and that it the increase of capacity from Segwit is ok. Then once we’ve seen that then we can say, ok well let’s do 2 megabyte, you know, hard fork and how are we going to do that.” So I think a lot of people have a problem with the three month time limit and I… November? Yeah November. So I think a lot of people have a problem with, number one, the biggest problem that I think most people have is the presumption that everything is going to be okay. Because we have a lot of money riding on this Bitcoin, you know, both that we have and, you know, maybe Bitcoin cash supporters would say that this boat is sinking, and we’re not doing enough to save it from being sunk. But I think a lot of a lot of developers that I know personally, they don’t like the assumption that everything is going to be ok so we can promise you a 2 megabyte hard work in three months and everything will be fine. So I think that assumption is the biggest problem that a lot of developers have with Segwit 2x. I’m kind of the I’m kind of the opposite and I say, well, you know, I think that the 2 megabyte, you know, increase is not going to kill Bitcoin. And in the worst case scenario and if a 2 megabyte hard fork does something very bad for the network, taking that 2 megabyte hard fork and putting it back to 1 megabyte is a soft fork. So I think we could easily… If there was a problem, you know, there could be another UASF or another some sort of, you know, mining, whatever they want to do, and we could we could bring it back to 1 megabyte after the fact if there was really some sort of deadly consequences. And I do also think that if during the three months there’s a problem that comes to light that makes it very clear that 2 megabytes on top of Segwit would somehow gravely harm the network then I don’t think it’s a good idea to do the hard fork. But currently right now, I’ve not seen enough evidence to say that Segwit on top of a 2 megabyte hard fork would 100% break the network no question about it. I think there’s a good argument saying that moving in that direction is less secure, but I’m saying that the amount of security lost is smaller than the amount of of capacity gained by you know increasing the block size. So I’m not against big blocks, I am against letting the miners decide how big the blocks are. But, you know, I’m not against big blocks specifically. Ok ok, thank you. Okay. And the last question is: about BTC what is your biggest concern about the future of BTC? ok um Ok um… One of the biggest concerns that I have about Bitcoin… I’m guessing by BTC you’re referring to the the current Bitcoin core chain. I think one of the biggest kind of fears, concerns about the future that I have is, basically just not being able to verify my own transactions. So, this is probably not going to be possible much longer on Bitcoin cash, but since I guess you’re not talking about that… One of the biggest kind of concerns that I have is, you know… If we take Segwit and we put 2 megabytes on top of that, and then everyone starts saying “well, look, that 2 megabyte block increase was nothing. It did not harm us in any way, so let’s just keep doing it!” There’s going to be a point eventually where it doesn’t make economic sense for me to run a full node and verify all of the transactions that I receive and send. And that… Because I got into Bitcoin for the trustlessness, the idea of me not being able to verify all of my transactions completely is kind of a scary thought to me. So I do use Co-pay on my phone, but I have a Bitcoin core server in my house, and that runs Bit core and that is what my cell phone talks to. So whenever I use Bitcoin my cell phone is talking to my home, and in my home I have my Bitcoin core full node. And so all of my payments, I know that no one is lying to me. I know for a fact that I received money or that I sent money. But I’m worried that if I do get to the point where maybe it’s costing me like $100 a month or something to maintain that, you know, computer to check all of my transactions, and maybe like every other two months I have to buy another two gigabyte hard drive to store all of the blocks on it… I mean there’s all the things I could do like, you know, pruning or if, you know, fraud proofs are, you know, available for SVP mode maybe there’s some way that we could do that in the future. but one of But one of the biggest fears I have moving forward is not being able to fully verify that my transactions actually happened. But it does seem like the core development team has that as one of the biggest concerns in their hearts, so I do feel better kind of using the software that they create, because I do feel like they have my interests at heart That’s not to say that I dislike Bitcoin cash. I think that the developers of Bitcoin cash are following their own idea of what they wanted when they joined Bitcoin And I think that they should be free to do that and I wish them all the best of luck. And Bit bank will support Bitcoin cash as a trading coin on our platform. And we already are. We’re going to open up withdrawals and deposits maybe tomorrow or the next day once the blockchain starts, you know, getting kind of, you know, on time with the blocks. So yeah, nothing against Bitcoin cash, but I feel like the Bitcoin core team has my interests at heart. So I do feel like that the development work that they do is great, they have my interests at heart, and so far, the negative parts of Bitcoin like, you know, the fees were high at some point, but now they’re pretty well again, I think those things have not really negatively affected me personally. I understand that, you know, the idea that it’s negatively affecting someone somewhere, and I don’t think that’s a good thing to happen, but I think that the number one priority is the ability to verify everything. So I would love if Bitcoin cash developers would develop some way where it’s like you don’t have to verify the whole blockchain, and you can know for 100% that all of the rules have been verified on the blocks, and there’s fraud proofs and all that fun stuff. Then, you know, if that happens then I’m sure Bitcoin cash would probably be the best market choice So I would definitely like to see some workaround in that area on Bitcoin cash, as well as I’m sure Bitcoin core is always working towards that goal, so… I definitely… I’m looking forward to see how they move in different directions development wise, and I’m but I am a little bit afraid of you know, that one day when I’m going to have to turn off my full node and trust something… I hope that day doesn’t come. Hopefully there will be some trustless way for me to move on from full nodes to some other trustless thing. That would be great. But currently that’s not too feasible so… Right now I’m running my full node, and… That’s my biggest fear. Thank you for your insightful responses. Your Japanese and English language abilities along with your understanding of complicated technological aspects of Bitcoin are the reason why so many people in the Japanese Bitcoin community trust you. I’m glad that we could have this talk today and I am looking forward to talking to you again soon. Thank you very much. It was a lot of fun. Thank you! [Japanese] [Japanese]

7 thoughts on “Interview with Jonathan, Bitcoin Community member

  1. Thanks for coming over to Bitbank, Mai. You are always welcome to drop by and chat anytime.

    My English speaking ability has gotten so bad in recent years. I need to do more public speaking in English… 🙂

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