Interview Gemstra

Interview Gemstra
I am joined by Jay Cheng, who is the CEO of Gemstra, a blockchain ecosystem that aims to connect brands and influencers. Hello Jay! First of all, can you explain what Gemstra is all about – what are you guys working on?
Hi Christian! Thanks so much for having me. Like you said, Gemstra’s about powering the future of influencer (or KOL) commerce. We’re creating a blockchain infrastructure and a suite of products/platforms in our ecosystem that connects businesses (merchants, brands – any company in the business of selling products) and influencers (key opinion leaders, instagram or youtube influencers) directly to drive commerce. There are 600 million influencers today out of the 2.7 Billion social media users getting paid $10Bn in fees this year for marketing. That number is growing 20% a year and accelerating at that. Influencers and KOLs are shaping consumer demand today more than traditional marketing – and Gemstra is going to be the de facto technology and token to power the influencer economy.

Gemstra’s blockchain ecosystem features different applications, for example “Boutiques” or “Knowy”. Can you give an overview of these different applications and describe their purposes?
Boutiques was a proof-of-concept we launched in 2017 that quickly became a live and profitable marketplace. With Boutiques, we created a commerce platform that was api-based and invited influencers to launch customizable boutiques featuring products by an early set of brands that wanted to engage influencer selling. An influencer signs up for Boutiques and is given a store which can be customized with products – so they can turn on and off the brands or products they wish the store to sell AND can be personalized with user-generated content – meaning they can replace default media like pictures with user-generated content. 3000 influencers poured in to promote 8 brands and drove us quickly to a 7-figure run rate. So we knew we struck a nerve in the consumer market. Businesses want to connect with influencers to drive sales. That’s a big business. Fortunately, our CTO built a platform that was api-based and decentralized to boot, so storing data on blockchain to democratize custodianship was an easy next-step to protecting the interests of brands and influencers alike. Tokenizing the ecosystem and building a broad-based infrastructure would allow even more businesses to come into the market.

Knowy is a module within our ecosystem that serves as a review engine. But it’s a very powerful one that the world has never seen. First of all, every review writer is an influencer – whether they know it or not. And each review carries weight, but should carry different weight based on how well the reviewer knows the subject matter. The more you know, the more Relevant your review should be. In knowing, you gain Reputation in certain categories as you write more reviews and more importantly as other users upvote or downvote your reviews (yes you can lose Reputation). Your Reputation is factored into the Relevance your review has on the final product review. Merchants or site operators can integrate with us to show Knowy reviews and pay per impression in GEMS – our native token. 50% of GEMS collected are distributed to reviewers based on Relevance of their review.

Influencer marketing is a growing sector that suffers from inefficiencies due to a mostly intransparent market. What makes you confident that Gemstra can make this market more efficient and how do you plan to motivate brands and influencers to use your platform?
Well, we’re going to make it free for Influencers to join. We’ll make it free for Brands to join. We’ll make it free for Merchants to join. (We will open source the Boutiques codebase.) They will have to stake tokens at some point to protect mutual interests. The data decentralization will ensure all participants are protected. Gemstra is a first mover with a live use-case running that has friction we’ve purposely put in place in the form of monthly fiat fees.

Let’s talk about the team behind Gemstra. When did the development start? How many people are working on the different parts of the ecosystem and what are their backgrounds? Are you hiring currently?
Development started for Boutiques in late 2015 when it was an early idea. We launched in mid 2017 with a centralized data structure but decentralized architecture. In early 2018, we started to look into protocols that would be usable/scalable for our purposes. We started coding solidity / EVM and designing the infrastructure layer if you will. There are 14 employees across the org. We have our CTO and 2 full-time developers. There are 3 other executive roles and 1 marketing person who handle both ecosystem and Boutiques. Everyone else is mainly operating Boutiques. We’re always looking for strong candidates, not immediately placing but will be shortly.

Adding to the partnership with Cobinhood for the IEO, you also decided to use DEXON instead of Ethereum as your blockchain infrastructure. What led to this decision? Given that DEXON is a brand-new platform, could you already start building on top of it? How difficult is it to adapt your already existing software from Ethereum to DEXON?
The partnership actually went hand-in-hand. My partner Jo first connected with Popo Chen. We both loved his energy and ethos. We came in touch with the broader Cobinhood team and jived with their culture, not to mention their collective pedigree. I’m of Taiwanese descent – born in Taiwan but moved to Los Angeles at age 3. My folks talked up National Taiwan University throughout my upbringing – they called it “Harvard of Taiwan”. So, we were even more impressed that 80%+ of the Cobinhood team were NTU alum. I remember our first call with Cobinhood was about token liquidity and they mentioned Dexon as a by-the-way. We’ve yet to know how data costs scale with IPFS or any decentralized storage solution, but Dexon showed us a path of storing data on chain at a cost that was scalable. The culture, the team, the tech – it was a sensible marriage. The best part is that all of the codebase we had written for payments and checkout using our token were 100% adaptable to Dexon as DVM is based on solidity.

Starting April 15th, you will distribute your GEMS tokens via an initial exchange offering on Cobinhood. I have five quick questions about the IEO:
1. How much money are you aiming to raise – what is your soft cap and hard cap?
Well we don’t have a soft cap in mind as we’ve got a business in place that’s profitable. The show will go on regardless of the sale. The hard cap is set at 40,000 ETH. This will provide us the funds to do everything outlined in whitepaper and scale very quickly.

2. What will happen to unsold tokens, if you don’t reach your hard cap?
Any tokens unsold from the community sale pool will be burned.

3. Were any coins sold in a private sale and if yes, have these been sold at a comparable or a significantly lower price compared to the presale?
No. This is the first round of sales.

4. Do you already have an approximate timespan when the IEO will be completed and the GEMS tokens will be tradeable?
The IEO Presale will be completed on June 30. We are eyeing a public sale period sometime in July. Token distribution will happen in early August with listing on Cobinhood and LAToken at end of August.

5. Previous IEOs on Cobinhood have airdropped a small percentage of their tokens to COB token holders – are you planning to do that as well?
Yes – we have generous airdrops planned, though details not released yet. We also have super fun bounties that I’m encouraging everyone to participate in.

Alright! My last question of this interview is about the utility of the token: What can it be used for and why will people use it?
The first and easy one – payments. GEMS can be used for payments on Boutiques and with any Merchant engaged in our infrastructure (Astra). We’ll be connecting with all retailers who want anything to do with connecting with influencers large and small to accept GEMS in checkout.

Second – rewards. If you’re an Influencer or KOL, if you have a following you’d like to monetize, then you want GEMS. This is going to be the token that the Influencer/KOL economy trusts. As a Brand or Merchant, you need GEMS to reward Influencers for activities. We’ll always have a convert-to-fiat option, but will bonus GEMS according to the cost of friction. This will be especially useful in cross-border cases. What we’re trying to do is give global access to Influencers driving commerce for Businesses.

Last – governance. As an Influencer, you’ll need GEMS to stake if you want access to Boutiques or any Merchant. You’ll need GEMS staked to access certain Brands inside Boutiques or any Merchant. The more GEMS you have staked, the more Reputation you will have in the broader ecosystem – including Knowy and other modules. As a Brand or Merchant, you need GEMS to stake as well. Merchants will require a certain amount staked by Brands based on the number of Influencers. The Foundation will require a certain amount staked by Merchants based on the number of Influencers or Brands. Voting and additional equity staking will be incorporated in the future.

Awesome, that wraps it up! Thank you very much for this informative interview!

Interview with Matt from coinpaprika

Interview coinpaprika
I am pleased to have Matt Sroka with me, who is the head of marketing at coinpaprika. Hello Matt! First of all, can you tell us a bit more about coinpaprika – what are you guys working on, what are your future goals and what sets you apart from other sites like CoinMarketCap or CoinGecko?
Thank you, Chris, for inviting me to this interview! To be honest, during the past year, because that’s the lifespan of coinpaprika – we haven’t been interviewed for a broader audience yet, so you’re the first one who can know us better! But to the point, short introduction of who we are – we’re based in Poznan, Poland. Our team has +10y experience in cybersecurity and overall IT businesses. Coinpaprika’s story begins in January 2018 when the hype on crypto was outrageous. We’ve spotted that the crypto world is still lacking a data provider that could be 100% reliable with a better UX and without misleading ads – we simply thought that what was the number 1 back then, could be done better. So we decided to create an experimental project called “”. The official launch of the website is dated back on April 2018. Back then, we couldn’t even imagine that after just one year, we could be a number 1 website for over hundreds of thousands of users around the world. As coinpaprika, we believe that equal, ad-free information access is essential if we want the industry to grow. We already deliver a professional API for everyone – and what’s best, we don’t charge 700$ per month for that! For those who think that it’s just a catch, go and check for yourself!

Our future goals? We have 2 main goals for 2019. At first, we want to improve the quality of the data we deliver even more. We want to dig deeper into the blockchains and fight with fraudulent actions from exchanges. It’s no surprise that many institutional clients are opposing to enter the cryptocurrencies market in light of recent reports saying that only 10 out of 81 top exchanges are reporting correct data. That’s a little over 12% and it’s a big issue we need to work on. If we want to encourage new customers, we have to clean up the mess we have in our own yard. The second thing we want to achieve is the official launch of our new app – COINS. It is going to be an app that connects 3 aspects into one ecosystem – coinpaprika database, multi-asset wallets and exchange features. To speed up the whole process, we are looking for equity investors, if you want, you can learn more at

With the introduction of exchange rankings by their trading volume came the difficulty of fake reported volume or so-called wash trading. As the ranking of exchanges is an integral part of coinpaprika, what is your take on the significance of volume and how trading volume across crypto exchanges has developed in the past months/years.
Volume is one of the major and one of the most important factors in cryptocurrency trading, and that’s a fact. Thanks to trading volume we can know if a given asset has a bigger or smaller interest for traders. Nonetheless, wash-trading is making this one much less accurate and it drives the need to introduce new metrics, which can’t be easily faked. The reported volume during the past months has been on the rise, but due to the wash-trading, it became very hard to estimate real trading activity. As I explained a little bit in the previous question, detection of fraudulent activities made by some exchanges is one of our highest priority tasks for the upcoming year.

Coinpaprika recently integrated a metric called “Depth of Market”, which is a different ranking method than by trading volume – what is it about and what led to its development?
The “Depth of Market” is part of our transparency tab. It’s our attempt to counter the unfair actions some exchanges commit. It aggregates the sell and buy orders to provide a better image of what is happening in the markets. Sometimes you can see a large volume being traded on the exchange, but if you look at their order book, it’s as thin as a paper sheet. That’s the first sign, that wash-trading may be happening there and you should approach that exchange with caution. We have used 10% span instead of 1% because we wanted to measure more coins than just BTC and ETH – other altcoins have much lower liquidity. We wanted to make a standardized way to measure liquidity with this metric.

Author’s note: Below you can see a screenshot of the “depth of market” metric under the “transparency” tab on coinpaprika. It is a measure of open buy and sell orders within 10% of the current spot price.
Creating new metrics is always a walk on a thin line. On one side, they are very simple and were once significant (e.g. trading volume or code commits) but were then abused by certain projects to position themselves higher in rankings. On the other side, they can be very difficult to understand and have not yet been faked, but nobody understands them and therefore they are not used. How do you see the depth of the market metric in this?
I would say the depth of the market is somewhere in between. Many advanced traders know very well that having great depth on the market is a must-have if you want to start trading there. Our metric is a way to go for an average user – we display advanced data in a user-friendly way, with buy orders on the green, and sell orders on the red. We also add a 24h volume made on that specific market to compare it with the combined orders. You got everything you need without having to dig deep into every exchange interface.

Let’s go a little more into detail about the “Depth of Market” metric on coinpaprika itself. The ETH/BTC pair for example currently shows only 18 entries, despite the integration of more than 300 exchanges into coinpaprika – is the tool still under development and how time-consuming is it to integrate further exchanges into it?
That’s true what you’re saying – the ‘Depth of Market’ tool is still under development. We are currently integrating more exchanges to it, and we will aim to integrate as many as we can – unfortunately there are still a lot of exchanges, which don’t share necessary API endpoints for the integration. We are able to read the overall reported volume via API, but not their order books. Integrating new exchanges into ‘Market depth’ is much more time-consuming than introducing it on coinpaprika – it needs much more code and time to check, if everything is reported correctly. Just keep in mind that right now, coinpaprika gathers data from over 23 000 markets, simultaneously – integrating with every one of these markets’ order books will take some time.

Another technical question: Do you have plans to allow users to select multiple trading pairs in the “Depth of Market” metric to display aggregate data (for example aggregate the order book depth per exchange across different stable coins)?
That’s something we’re discussing for a long time, it’s possible that we’ll do that, but first, we need to finish what we started – integrate as many exchanges as possible, then we have plans to further integrate the ‘Depth of Market’ metric into the coinpaprika main site – it will be one of the major metrics apart from Market cap and Volume.

If the “Depth of Market” metric will be successful, I guess we will see so-called “spoofing” among some exchanges, where the order books appear liquid, but once the buy/sell button is clicked, these orders will disappear shortly and then will appear again. This is probably even worse than reporting fake volume. Could you imagine to extend the tool with a functionality, that counter-checks the prices of larger executed orders with the reported order book, to identify exchanges practicing spoofing?
Yes, we are aware of the ‘spoofing’ issue too. We are currently researching, how we can prevent it, and one of the ideas is quite similar to yours. Even though we think that conducting ‘spoofing’ is much more sophisticated than wash-trading because it needs real money to be involved in – there must be orders put in – and thus orders are always at risk of executing. If the exchange would work as you said – it would be fraudulent from the start – and would need, even more, counter-measures – for example, similar to currently used for Volume – Adjusted Volume.

The “Depth of Market” metric is certainly an important addition to exchange rankings and I absolutely look forward to its further development. Thank you very much for the interview!

Interview Solar Bankers

Interview Solar Bankers
Hi Carlo! First of all, for all the people that never heard about Solar Bankers before, can you give us an elevator pitch on what you guys are working on?
Both developed and developing economies often face high cost barriers to extending the central electricity grid to remote or densely populated areas with difficult geography. The rise of localized intermittent renewables has also increased the need for modular distribution systems tailored specifically to local conditions. Especially in developing economies, these trends often leave substantial portions of the population with limited access to reliable and affordable energy. The UN has recognized this issue, making the access to clean and affordable electricity one of its key Sustainable Development Goals.

Solar Bankers developed the first turnkey solution for peer-to-peer energy trading based on blockchain. By providing its proprietary solar technology, the micro-grid infrastructure and the blockchain integration, Solar Bankers offers the ultimate solution for off-grid electricity networks with the aim of helping developing countries expand rural electrification. Solar Bankers’ aim is to provide utilities and governments with a comprehensive package of basic applications containing everything they need to build micro grids in which households can produce and trade clean energy. Households will be supplied with Solar Bankers’ PV devices and connected via smart meters. The system uses the highly scalable Fiber blockchain platform to create a digital currency system for efficient and secure electricity trading. Solar Bankers Coin is the underlying currency that will be used to trade electricity among peers on the Solar Bankers Trading Platform.

Before we go further into detail about Solar Bankers, I would like to start with a tribute to Alfred Jost, who founded Solar Bankers and passed away in November. Can you tell us a bit more about him and what he meant for Solar Bankers?
Alfred was the soul of Solar Bankers and a paternal figure for all the young members of the team. He was passionate about his job and a true inspiration for all of us. His dream was to bring solar energy to the masses and we will do everything in our power to make his dream come true.

Again, my condolences – Alfred will definitely be missed. The next question shall in no way sound rude/inappropriate, but since he was such a fundamental part of the team I have to ask: How does Solar Bankers go on without him? Who will be the new CEO?
With Alfred’s passing, Solar Bankers lost an important team member. However, the fundamentals of the company haven’t changed and we are right on track to achieve our long-term goals. Alex Jost, Alfred’s son, was appointed as the new CEO and we wish Alex all the best in his new position.

During this crypto bear market, a couple of projects ran out of funds or dumped their coins on the open market to further ensure funding. Solar Bankers is certainly not a hype project and has been around for several years. Nevertheless, investors might be interested to hear more about the funding of the project, so can you tell us a bit more about that?
As you correctly stated, Solar Bankers was never a hype project. We were aware of the bubble going on in the crypto and blockchain market back in 2017 and thus we decided not to participate in the pump & dump party. We have been growing our company organically from its inception and we will continue to do so in the coming years. Surely the crypto bear market was tough, but we are confident that we will have the resources to continue our operations for the foreseeable future.

It is great to see that Solar Bankers has several partnerships. One of these partnerships is with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, where you aimed to test your solar modules in a hot-temperature environment. How did these tests look like and what were the results?
The results were better than expected. The combination of our holographic modules and azimuthal tracker allowed us to boost the performance by up to 60% when comparing to a standard fixed installation of the same nominal capacity. This is an outstanding result that shows the incredible potential of our technology. The Dubai Electricity and Water Authority is very satisfied with the results and we are currently exploring opportunities to expand our collaboration.

Another partnership that was recently announced, was with the Turkish government. This partnership somehow stayed completely under the radar, even though the Turkish Ministry of Trade granted Solar Bankers a credit line of at least 60% of the total costs of their local manufacturing project. In my opinion, this is pretty huge. Can you tell us a bit more about this partnership?
We have been working on this deal for more than a year in collaboration with our local consultant, the Alyaka group. On our last trip to Turkey, the Solar Bankers’ team presented the company’s manufacturing project in front of the Ministry of Trade in Ankara. In this meeting Solar Bankers’ project was deemed eligible to receive an investment certificate, which will grant the company a credit line from state banks for a minimum of 60% of the total project cost. The Ministry of Trade showed particular interest towards Solar Bankers’ holographic modules. Given the current economic situation in Turkey, the government is incentivizing the manufacturing of goods that can be almost entirely (more than 75%) produced in the country. As Solar Bankers’ module uses only 25% of the cells compared to a standard module, its production can meet the indications of the Turkish state even when the solar cells are imported. The approval of the government has since then increased the exposure of Solar Bankers’ project in the Turkish country and attracted the interest of several investors.

The third and last partnership I want to talk about in this interview is the pilot project in Nigeria, that you recently announced. How does this partnership look like?
We are collaborating with the Kaduna State Power Supply Company (KAPSCO) on a test pilot of our system for P2P energy trading. Our agreement with KAPSCO envisions the connection of 66 commercial, governmental, and residential buildings covering an area of 150,000 square-meters in a local smart grid with energy trading capabilities. Our role is to supply the utility company with a full technology package containing all hardware and software components necessary to set up and run the smart grid. We will deliver smart grids through our Turkish technology partners at asay Energy, along with cabling and the blockchain-based database and energy trading platform.

The project is significant because energy optimization in Africa can facilitate great advances in the sustainability of local energy generation, which is based on the use of Diesel generators.

Which role does the SLB coin play in these partnerships and which use cases will it have in the future? How do you plan further distribution of SLB?
The SLB coin will be used both as investment vehicle as well as a in-use coin to enable peer-to-peer energy trading on the blockchain. The distribution of SLB will take place over several OTC or public sale rounds throughout a long period of time (probably more than 10 years).

The SLB coin runs on its own blockchain. You came up with the pretty innovative concept of a blockchain, that is solely powered by renewable energy. The concept will be realised with so-called “solar nodes”. Can you tell us more about them?
Our Solar Nodes represent the first blockchain nodes run solely on solar energy. Our design combines a small-scale PV module with a Raspberry Pi and a power storage unit. The Raspberry Pi is programmed to run as a node in our Fiber-based blockchain network. For each unit of time that users run the node, they receive a certain amount of SLB. Users will gain access to their personal account on the Solar Bankers website, where they can monitor the amount of SLB coins they accumulated. We hope to further develop the solution to be able to power a Skyminer.

As we saw, Solar Bankers has lots of stuff going on. What have you guys planned for 2019? Which parts of the project have the highest priority and how does an approximate roadmap look like?
Completing and managing our test pilot with KAPSCO will be a major priority for us. It will allow us to optimize our blockchain solutions for the energy sector and get the first customer feedback on our applications. We also hope to develop a demand response algorithm to automate trading on the network and optimize power distribution. Solar Bankers will also push ahead with commercialising its solar technology based on the results of our test pilot with DEWA.

Awesome news! Thank you for doing this interview, Carlo!

Interview – ChocolateLab

Hi ChocolateLab! Starting off the interview, I would like to ask you how you got into Skycoin and what you are currently working on? – I started as a crypto enthusiast writing articles on crypto and posting them on Medium under my name. Because of my article, I was then recruited to join a marketing organisation specifically focused on cryptos. My organisation was then contacted by Skycoin to help with marketing and that’s actually how I first heard of Skycoin. As a result, I began to go down the Skycoin rabbit hole and completely fell in love with the vision. It’s no longer just work at this point and I truly want to see a peer to peer decentralised internet to become a reality. We are currently working on the social media marketing aspects for Skycoin, explaining the Skycoin vision and keeping people informed with the development progress on Medium, Twitter, Reddit and Skyblog are part of our responsibilities.
Hi ChocolateLab! Starting off the interview, I would like to ask you how you got into Skycoin and what you are currently working on?
I started as a crypto enthusiast writing articles on crypto and posting them on Medium under my name. Because of my article, I was then recruited to join a marketing organisation specifically focused on cryptos. My organisation was then contacted by Skycoin to help with marketing and that’s actually how I first heard of Skycoin. As a result, I began to go down the Skycoin rabbit hole and completely fell in love with the vision. It’s no longer just work at this point and I truly want to see a peer to peer decentralised internet to become a reality. We are currently working on the social media marketing aspects for Skycoin, explaining the Skycoin vision and keeping people informed with the development progress on Medium, Twitter, Reddit and Skyblog are part of our responsibilities.

On which social media platforms is Skycoin most active and why?
Skycoin is probably most active on Telegram. I think the most important activity is on the Skywug forum and the Skywire Telegram. They are the actual builders and users of the network instead of just speculators. They are the most active platforms because that’s where actual builders and users hang out. While Reddit has a massive user base, it is mostly filled with speculators. Unfortunately our perception on Reddit is so far gone and demonised to the point where it’s very difficult to get traffic there.

Can you tell us a bit more about Skycoin’s growth on social media during recent months?
The problem with crypto social media stats is that it is highly obfuscated by the general market sentiment. Everything was getting massive traffic during bullish time and now in the bear market everything is much quieter. This isn’t just true for Skycoin but for all other coins too. However overall the trajectory is going up at a steady and consistent rate.

What do you think about the Skycoin community? How satisfied are you with their engagement on social media?
I love the devs and DIY builders part of the Skycoin community. I always enjoy seeing a new DIY miner. Of course the engagement is never going to be enough and we always would like more help. We need more people like you, Christian!

What plans does the social media team have to spread the word about Skycoin and grow public awareness about the project?
The main plan is to make the information around Skycoin and the vision as easy as possible to access. The recent article on CX was an example of that and we have one on CXO very soon. The ecosystem is simply too wide and technical for most laymen so it’s up to us to make the information as digestible as possible. Synth’s interviews are fantastic but realistically not many people will spend hours upon hours listening to Synth rant about random topics. We are going to publish our most comprehensive article to date on cyberbalkanization and Skywire. Essentially formalising the macro-thesis behind why cyberbalkanization is happening and how Skywire is essential in our fight to protect the borderless, censorship resistant and neutral internet. It is an epic 4 parts series where part 1 alone is over 3000 words. After a lot of research for this series, I think this might even be the most comprehensive article on cyberbalkanization on the entire web period. The original BTC white paper was very concise and the vision resonated with many people right away. Hopefully this series will effectively do the same thing but for Cyberbalkanization instead.

We also can’t forget to mention the people on the ground going to conferences non-stop around the world. We recently attended the ChainXChange conference in Vegas and now Hamburg and Melbourne. It’s actually getting difficult to keep track of.

That’s amazing! Let’s say somebody likes Skycoin and wants to get more engaged within the community. What would you recommend her/him to do?
Build a DIY miner, no matter how big or small. Document your building process and show the world. Tell your friends, family and neighbours about it. Understand and talk about cyberbalkanization. Start organising a MESH net group locally.

And many people already started doing that if we analyze the growth of Skywire nodes during the last few months! Thanks so much for doing this interview!

Interview – Skyguy

I am happy to have Skyguy here, who is the founder of! Hello and thanks for doing this interview! So, first of all, can you tell us a bit about your background and what you have been doing before you got into Skycoin?
I am happy to have Skyguy here, who is the founder of! Hello and thanks for doing this interview!
Hi Chris. Thanks for the interview and the amazing work you’ve done for the SKY community. Your infographics are professional and extremely helpful for all newcomers to the Skycoin project!

Thanks so much! So, first of all, can you tell us a bit about your background and what you have been doing before you got into Skycoin?
My background is in the financial markets. I assist electronic traders by connecting them to counterparts and exchanges around the world. I love technology and often use Google to research and advance my understanding of new gadgets, tech and IOT. Working in the financial markets put me off electronic trading until a new joiner introduced us to the wonderful world of cryptocurrencies. I spent some time researching blockchain technology and bought a small amount of bitcoin (+-$200). I didn’t like the idea of owning a small percentage of a whole coin so started researching the alt currencies. NEO was my next purchase before I stumbled upon a youtube video by Keith Wareing. In his video, Keith explained why he thought Skycoin was a sleeping giant. I then watched a Synth interview and was really impressed with his knowledge of blockchain and the world in general. I immediately sold all my NEO and bought into Skycoin.

We all know you as the creator of Skywug. Why did you create the forum and what was the creation process like?
After investing in Skycoin, I joined the Telegram chat (about 1500 members then) and started asking some questions about the Skywire project. I’m actively involved in a local Wireless User Group so was very interested in what Skywire was trying to achieve. A telegram user, Qholloi, noticed that I was based in South Africa and sent me a direct message about the project. He suggested we start a forum to assist the growing community. I got to work and two days later was born.

How is the forum doing since its inception? Do you have statistics about the usage? Which topics are mostly talked about right now?
Creating a forum is easy, getting members to join is the real challenge. The Field of Dreams movie helped “If you build it, they will come”, so I spent the next few weeks adding content from all the available sources. A lot of it was copy/paste from the original website. I then created a few HowTo guides and referenced them in the Telegram channels. The feedback was great and people started joining as more and more content was added. We currently have 277 threads, 1881 posts, and 937 registered members. The most talked about topics are Skywire and DIY mining setups.

Which topics would you like to see being covered on Skywug in the future? Which aspects of the forum would you like to improve?
I would like to see more wireless community topics being discussed. There are numerous groups in the different countries but they are not very active currently due to mainnet being in test phase. Once live, I imagine there will be a lot more active community discussions.

You are also working on something related to the meshnet, which is not public yet. Can you give us some insights on that?
I’m currently testing a web-based tool that will help communities build and manage their private wireless networks. IP address allocation, node / access point plotting, line of sight checks, and google earth views of terrain, etc. will be available with this tool. Anyone wanting to join a local mesh network will be able to scan their local area and locate an access point that is free from any obstructions (walls, trees, buildings, etc). The tool I’m working on interfaces directly with the skywug forum. Release date to be confirmed. Some test users have concerns about the limited security features which I’m hoping to improve.

It’s amazing to see the meshnet already being worked on, even though the testnet just launched! Thank you also for the great work with! I am convinced that the community will grow once the meshnet is live.

Interview – Erich Kaestner

Today, I have Erich Kästner with me, who is the lead of KittyCash! KittyCash is the first game on Skycoin Fiber, that utilizes non-fungible assets. So, welcome Erich! Let’s start off this interview with your background and what you have been doing before you got into Skycoin.
The first interview in the series ‘interviews with the Skycoin team’ has been a success! The community liked it and therefore we are continuing with more interviews. Erich Kästner from KittyCash has agreed to do the second interview in this series.

Hello Erich! First of all, can you tell us a bit about your background and what you have been doing before you got into Skycoin?
My background is in the field of economics and politics, which I studied. I don’t have extensive knowledge of programming but have been aware of Bitcoin for a longer time frame. During last year, my interest in cryptocurrencies grew because of its tremendous economic potential on one side, and its possibilities to disrupt politics on the other side. In my opinion, cryptocurrencies could facilitate decentralized governments with its ability to bypass centralized banking systems.
When and how did you get into Skycoin? What have you been working on in the past and what is your current area of responsibility?
About half a year ago in December, I was at a roadshow in China, where a lot of Fiber projects were present. It was during the time were CryptoKitties had gained massive popularity. I met Synth at this roadshow and he was keen to see a project like CryptoKitties on Skycoin. So I wrote with some people on Telegram and we organized a small community to work on KittyCash. We developed a website and hired a designer, who created a few digital cats. At first, we saw the project as a parody to CryptoKitties, but the tremendous interest on KittyCash in the Skycoin community motivated us to professionalize the development. Therefore, we started with the selling of legendary cats to ensure a ground funding for the project. Since then, we hired developers and are working on bringing the project forward. My personal tasks are mostly organization, internal communication and establishing strategical directions of KittyCash.

KittyCash recently released their alpha version. Can you take us through the development process of that?
So, we asked ourselves, how we can roll this out. At first, we had to create an infrastructure for the project. We need a different infrastructure than tokens, since we are introducing non-fungible assets to Skycoin Fiber. In KittyCash, you own a specific cat that is unique, while in Skycoin you own a number of coins, but it doesn’t matter which Skycoin you own specifically. To do that, we need a new set of functions. We will introduce life and death of kitties, a teller service to exchange a kitty for a set of currencies, a database with names for the kittens and a breeding algorithm. While all of this needs lots of development time, we decided to roll out the project in smaller steps. That is why we now released the alpha wallet, where users can already receive kitties and send them to others. We will incrementally introduce new functions.
How does the general roadmap for KittyCash look like?
I would divide the KittyCash roadmap in four different steps. Step 1 is the release of the alpha wallet, which goes along with several updates for the wallet. This step also includes assigning names to each kitty. Step 2 is the breeding functionality, that allows you to breed a new kitty with two already existing kitties. Step 3 is the inventory, which will allow you to feed your kitties and equip them with in-game items. This will be a fundamental change to KittyCash, since we will introduce a health point system for kitties alongside the feeding functionality, which means that users need to feed their kitties or otherwise their health points will decrease. Lower health points mean, that the kitties will be breeding inefficiently or die at the worst, if their health points are at zero. The health point system will prevent users from hoarding 10k cats in their wallets. Step 4 will be a marketplace, where you can buy/sell kitties or lend kitties for breeding. The marketplace is also interesting, because it allows us to monetize not only kitties, but also in-game items. It will be interesting to see, if KittyCash in-game items will have a market value and what it will be at. These four steps are our general roadmap. Speaking about the longer term, we are planning to develop mini games in CX, where you can use the kitties from your wallet as an avatar. These mini games will allow you to win KittyCash in-game items (food and equipment). A prototype for our mini games can be already found on the KittyCash website.

Digital assets on the blockchain could be a huge thing in the future. When do you plan to integrate KittyCash transactions on a blockchain and what challenges are associated with that?
After the previously mentioned four steps of our general roadmap are finished, we want to put KittyCash on the blockchain. However, as of right now we cannot foresee, how many resources we need to spend on that. We wanted to create the game first, before we put everything on the blockchain, to see, whether there is an interest in KittyCash by the community. Finishing the game first and then analyzing what we need to modify to put it on the blockchain is also easier for us, because we can cut out the bugs first. To migrate KittyCash on the blockchain, we also need Skycoin core developers, who are busy right now with other tasks.
I am interested to know more about the work environment of KittyCash. How many people are working on KittyCash? Who are the team members and what is their background? How do the team members interact with each other?
Currently there are 3 developers working on KittyCash, although we had a maximum of five developers in the past. The amount of developers varies to the extent of how many people Skycoin needs currently to work on high-priority projects. We also have two very talented graphic designers. I am mostly working on managing the project and communicating with everybody. Our team is spread all over the world, from Canada to New Zealand. Everybody is working at home, we are not working in one office. Therefore, it is important for me to talk to each team member at least once per day. Communication is also good for discussing and solving certain challenges, that come up when working on a specific task. As communication tools, we are using Zoom, Discord and Telegram. To me, it would be better if all employees of KittyCash would be in one office, but on the other side, the current decentralized work environment adds more flexibility. However, I try to meet the team members as much as possible and traveled to different European countries and China.

Generally speaking, in what way do you see applications like KittyCash adding value to the Skycoin ecosystem?
KittyCash is a proof of concept. Gamers should be able to control their in-game items, therefore it is important to put those on the blockchain. In World of Warcraft for example, in-game items can be traded for a lot of money, so it is good if the assets are not controlled by a central entity. It is also a signal to other projects, that if they want to implement non-fungible assets on Skycoin Fiber, they can see that it is possible, because KittyCash has already done it. Another great point of Kitty Cash in the Skycoin ecosystem is, that it should give a value to Coin Hours. As soon as Coin Hours are independently transferable, we plan to enable KittyCash in-game items to be bought in exchange for Coin Hours.

It was great to receive detailed information on the current state and progress of KittyCash! Thank you for doing this interview!

Interview – Hardware Cat

Hardware Cat has agreed to do the first interview in this series. Welcome, I appreciate to have you here! First of all, can you tell us a bit about your background and what you have been doing before you got into Skycoin?
The scope of the Skycoin project is huge. It is a whole ecosystem, that includes the currency Skycoin, the platform Fiber, the decentralized internet Skywire, its own hardware production and a handful of other sections. With such a huge scope, there are many people working on the project. In this new series, I want to bring the public closer to the Skycoin team and interview contributors to the project.

Hardware Cat has agreed to do the first interview in this series. Welcome, I appreciate to have you here! First of all, can you tell us a bit about your background and what you have been doing before you got into Skycoin?
I discovered the world of cryptocurrencies about two years ago, Ethereum was at 12 USD at that point. It was a time when lots of new tokens got released, most of them were ERC-20 tokens. So I went through each of the top 300 cryptocurrencies and tried to grasp what each of them was doing. While it took hours to a maximum of a couple of days to figure out, what the tokens were aiming to do, this did not apply to Skycoin. It was hard to wrap my mind around everything that Skycoin was doing, because the project is so huge. So, I went into the Telegram channel and asked multiple questions, until I had fully understood it. It was great to see, that the developers were available to answer many questions, you don’t see that in a lot of other projects. Therefore, I got really amazed by Skycoin and then asked the team, how I can participate.

So, when did you start contributing to the Skycoin ecosystem and on which parts of the project have you been working on in the past?
About half a year ago, I started to get into the project. I participated in a few meetups, had a brief look into marketing but then figured out, that working on the tech behind Skycoin is the most interesting for me. At the beginning of this year, I purchased one of the first 50 Skyminers and started to build different DIY miners to see, which ones bring the project forward. I also did research on routers and antennas, to find the ones that suit the best for Skycoin.

In which parts of Skycoin are you currently involved and what will you be working on in the next months?
Right now, we are working on different versions of the hardware wallet. One of them is a modified Trezor with complete new software, which was presented at the Skycoin conference in Shanghai in April. We are currently testing it, optimizing it and developing a case for it. We are also working on a redesign of the antenna, because our previous design approach got too expensive for mass production. The current design of the antenna includes an engine at the bottom and the top, which enables an antenna to move in every possible direction. This allows users to position antennas at several locations. The antenna itself is surrounded by a protective cover. We have developed a prototype of that antenna design and are now testing the frequencies. Furthermore, we are developing a Skywire router, which will automatically direct all of a user’s network traffic using a VPN, once the router is plugged into the Skyminer. And last but not least, we have also been working on the gold plated Skyminer that is given away as a price in the Binance trading competition.
I want to get more into detail on a specific piece of hardware. The most read article on my website is the one about the Pine64 miner with Sopine modules. In his most recent interview with Crypto Rich, Synth stated that Skycoin will be using Sopine A64 modules in future Skyminers. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
There is the current setup with the Pine64 clusterboard and Sopine A64 modules plugged into it and we are working on a really nice case for that. However, we are still in the process of deciding, whether we want to use the official Pine64 clusterboard or if we are designing a custom board. We might even develop our own custom board with our own custom modules plugged into it, that might be using the A64 chip. We will do more research on that.
Speaking about the hardware team in general, how many people are working there right now? How are the teams structured?
There is a project management, that manages the people working full-time, as well as the external service providers and freelancers. There are different teams working on different projects. Examples for different tasks that specific teams are working on are: Designing the software for hardware wallets, building custom boards, developing antennas, creating prototypes for 3d printers or testing all the new developments. The teams are connected to each other, there is a lot of interaction between different team members. I would estimate, that there are 30-40 people working on Skycoin’s hardware projects right now.
Prior to this interview, you told me that you are visiting several blockchain conferences with Skycoin. In which conferences are you participating and in what way are you representing Skycoin there?
The first one is the CoinAgenda in Singapore. I will be at the Skycoin booth presenting Skycoin, giving away merchandise, demonstrating the Skyminer and generally talk to people about Skycoin. After that I will be heading to Amsterdam to the Blockchain Expo. I am really looking forward to that one, because many big companies are attending it. I am aiming to get into conversation with them to show them the various parts of Skycoin’s ecosystem.

That’s great! Thanks so much for doing this interview and all the insight looks you gave us about the work of the hardware team!