Building The Community of Blockchain Early Adopters
Successfully building the blockchain community means integrating people from all walks of life, and not only blockchain developers, financial experts, and tech people. There wouldn’t be any value without the users, so the growing number of users increases also the value of the community. Watch the 10th episode of Blockchain Beyond Hype with Martin Breuer, Regional Director for Asia at EOS Nation who talks about how he builds the growing community globally and in China.
Laks: We’re here today with Martin. Welcome to Blockchain Zoo. We’re excited to have you here to discuss your thoughts on the blockchain and community of early adopters globally and in China. You have a bit of an artistic and rebellious or at least activistic background. Is that what brought you to the crypto-libertarian community or what were some other motivations behind your interest in blockchain technology?
Martin: Well, first of all, thank you for having me. Bali has been great so far. For my background, yes, I started in politics quite early and studied arts afterward. Then I moved to China, and I got in touch with the blockchain in China. There were a couple of reasons. I think the most obvious one is international money transfers. So I was using bitcoin to transfer money out of China. Another obvious reason is censorship resistance.
Another thing was that there are a lot of bitcoin miners/investors in China, and I think it’s pretty adopted there. What brought me to EOS is the liquid democracy movement which I was interested in earlier, and I think that the proxy voting system on EOS intrigued me afterward. After Bitcoin/Ethereum, I wanted to get more involved in EOS and the blockchain because of that. Before it was more of an investment in something that I was interested in. Speaking of art, I was interested in social sculpture, which is a concept of Joseph Beuys. It is a concept where every person brings value to a community. He defines art quite widely, and this kind of value system, this kind of who you are and what you bring to society needs to be accounted for in some way, this reminded me a tokenized economy. So these are the reasons why I got more and more into this, but it has been gradually throughout ten years.
Laks: It looks like your core goal at EOS is to build the community. As professionals with such a title have started appearing more often, could you share with us what it means to create community, ecosystem? How do you identify that the job is well done?
Martin: First of all, there wouldn’t be a value without the users. So you increase value the more users you have. Building a community means to me integrating people who are outside of the community. It brings value to me. I learn what kind of perspective they have, and what kind of use cases they see once they learn about what decentralization is. For example, what immutability is, or to what level we can bring transparency. The other thing that I can learn is that every time I’m explaining blockchain to someone I know where it hurts, where I lose them. So I can slowly lower the threshold for people actually to understand.
Successfully building a community is when I integrate not only the nerds, not only the techie people, not only the financial experts but when we integrate people from outside. Through my artistic background, I am an example of this. For the longest time, I didn’t feel like I could be integrated into the community because I didn’t have a background in finance or tech. But then I thought ‘why not’ and how I can build a DAPP or platform that caters to people in the outer worlds. Then I was looking for a protocol or platform that I would use, and I found EOS.
Laks: It is a surprising setup. Companies usually choose someone very local to lead the community in a certain country. What did it take to win the contest despite you being a foreigner in China?
Martin: Well, first of all, I was surely very lucky. I was in the right place at the right time. A lot of other block producers they choose a local representative, mainly because of the language barrier. So I was pretty lucky to have the experience of living in China already for ten years, and I was active in a cultural exchange before. So I was already living kind of a hybrid life – knowing and understanding both worlds and both parts. Throughout my work, it became clearer and clearer that this is the way that it works better because an ambassador would not translate the vision accurately behind something. When you have a text or something, then it would be word by word.
Laks: EOS is a block building project. As your motto says “one block at a time”, you are running the long run – enabling mass adoption of technology. What is the current state of big wins associated with your team? Bitshares? Steemit?
Martin: Well, first of all, disclaimer “one block at a time” is not our motto anymore.
Laks: OK, sorry.
Martin: It’s just a recent development.
Martin: So this motto was before, it’s true, and it stood for steady improvement. These are achievements of Dan Larimer before he started doing EOS. We as EOS Nation, we are a block producer, and we started getting involved in EOS itself. Dan Larimer is the CTO of Block.one and he developed EOS.IO, the platform where EOS runs on, basically the software protocol. With regards to Bitshares and Steemit, I think Bitshares will port on EOS as announced for the end of this month (March). It’s going to be very interesting. It’s called BEOS. The relation here is that the father of Dan Larimer, Stan Larimer is the head of Bitshares. So there is a very close relationship. With Steemit, I think Dan built it, and then he saw that there are issues and then he wanted to build something better to port Steemit or the idea of having a social network on the blockchain on EOS later.
Laks: Blockchain technology is often tagged in media as a Libertarian Panacea. Blockchain was created partially by libertarian ideas, where the underlying idea was to side-line intermediaries such as central banks, and maybe even some government bodies. Are those values cherished by EOS Nation?
Martin: I think when you’re in blockchain, you cherish these values. It’s the foundation. The people that I talk to they have their entrepreneurial mindset and the work they put into their products, I think they want to be free. So at the core, you have this throughout the whole blockchain. The values that EOS Nation stand for is transparency, professionalism, and accountability. I think they’re a little bit more defined than a libertarian mindset. I didn’t grow up into this binary distinction between libertarians or not. But I definitely see the potential of a free market. They are integrated in the EOS in a lot of aspects.
Laks: How are those values met by the Chinese community? By the way, how big is it now?
Martin: The Chinese community is pretty huge. Most of the EOS tokens are in China or controlled by the Chinese account holders. EOS is ranked number one by the Chinese government as the most promising platform. When it comes to values, the Chinese people are not political. There is a one-party system, so they don’t see things like politically distinguished. For them, it’s an investment, and they see the potential in the technology. They come from mining, investing, trading, and also more recently from gambling.
Laks: And what about the Chinese government? Ultimately, let’s not forget, that social needs and strong community powered by the right technology might eventually cause a partial withdrawal of governments and their ancillary institutions from the role of intermediaries?
Martin: Yes, I think the Chinese government distinguishes between the currency and the technology. I think they’re very interested in the blockchain as a technology to improve production, supply chain, etc. The whole blockchain as a service, BaaS, is a very big thing in China, and a lot of companies utilize EOS.IO software for this. China is also investing a lot in the next generation of developers. Most of the universities start integrating blockchain-related curriculum. So I think, China is seeing the potential there and then they’re moving into the future. How are they going to regulate, or how are they going to deal maybe with their loss of control? That’s another thing, and when it comes to this, they will find a way to deal with it. For now, I think having a voting system is interesting for the Chinese community. However, they’re not active. It might be because they do not have a political background, or they are more used to leaving their tokens on the exchanges.
Laks: Looking at EOS core documents, like Constitution and tool kits, all endeavors look very exciting, serious, yet futuristic. I am sure the list of various projects EOS Nation is working on is much longer than presented on the website. You have mentioned before the platform which will revolutionize the way employees are managed and rewarded all over the globe. Is it a management system which will eliminate managers and flatten the organizations?
Martin: I think what you’re talking about is our DACs. Some people call it also a DAO, which is like a decentralized autonomous organization. The system of DACs or DAOs is – they optimize and automate the process, and give people a way to vote on a specific goal. So people can come together and define their goals, manifest them in a smart contract, and then breakdown this organization into tokens and each token gives you your voting weight. One other block producer is called eosDAC, and their mission is to be the DAC enabler. So they have set up their own company in the form of a DAC, and they give this framework to the community. No just to the EOS community. It goes back to a concept that also comes from Dan Larimer. They developed the technical aspect of it and right now they’re even working on getting the legal background. So right now, DACs are new, so they can’t be a legal body yet. So they’re working with lawyers and governments to find a way to legalize working in this kind of ways.
When it comes to the working world, looking at the bigger picture, we can be potentially part of a lot of companies by having their micro shares and improving these companies by giving our feedback on certain things. For example, let’s imagine an airplane company. There are the people that buy a ticket and also get some shares, or a loyalty program gets points in the form of feedback. The more they use it, the more points they get. The more feedback they give, and the more feedback gets used, the better the airline gets, and the higher the value of these shares gets. So this is a long term interesting model of how I see that the economy can change.
Laks: Blockchain triggers philosophical conversations. Social change is a complex process, and it isn’t always clear who is bad and who is good. So it’s better to go to the macro level and ask yourself bigger questions. Are we at the dawn of an economic revolution?
Martin: Definitely, yes. Calling it a revolution, maybe. I think it’s a natural process. For me, this started basically with the internet, which enabled communications a global scale. The internet came without certain levels of security and accountability, and I think that’s where blockchain comes in. Within the last 20 years, we grew as a globalized society, globalized economy. Bringing new features to the internet that we can trust, organize and rely on financial markets and political decision making, I think that will change the world for sure and will also change philosophies, and put them in perspective. How are we going to reach this? I think it’s really about including people and seeing where they’re coming from, hearing people out, and understanding their cultural backgrounds. These are the things that are happening right now. It’s a slow process, but I think it’s creating value constantly. Because again, similar to when I talk to new users, they bring me something, I understand the whole thing better. The same is when a Chinese investor and a Western developer talk to each other about their visions, about where they see things going, or you called it right or wrong, who’s bad and who’s good. In the end, I think everybody is thriving for this new era of how we organize society.
Laks: What might the consequences and implications be of this?
Martin: On the macro level, I think the consequences of technology involvement are that we will have fewer jobs because more and more processes will be optimized because it’s more efficient. So more people will need to find ways how they can make a living and how they can generate value for themselves and society. I think this is one aspect where we’re growing to, and I’m excited about this. I think the consequences are like synergies on a global scale. How social networks work, how people start cooperating. So I think that the way we live our lives will be different. We will not be fixed to one location. I think this is one factor. We will not work only in our community. We will live in a larger community and also redefine how we see ourselves as individuals.
Laks: Who would use these applications and lay down the legal framework that would govern these blockchain solutions?
Martin: At the moment, the governments control the legal frameworks. However, they haven’t spent the last ten years on understanding the vision of Bitcoin or the potential of decentralization because from the beginning, they were kind of in a contradiction, right? Government is a centralized thing, companies are centralized, and there is this whole different development going parallel. Right now, I think there needs to be some cooperation between both streams, both dynamics and then to have a transition into this new idea of what’s legal, and what’s not.
Laks: If you’re able to reveal what will be the ultimate success for EOS Nation globally, let’s say in ten years?
Martin: In ten years, I think EOS Nation will have successfully brought together all the different global communities, and we will be essential in inter-blockchain communication. Basis of the scalability of EOS.IO is horizontal scaling. It means that there is a whole swarm of blockchains all on the same base protocol that inter-communicate. EOS Nation is at the core of the development of the tools for this to happen. Regulation is another aspect where we are actively talking to local governments and finding solutions for this. As community leaders, we do the same thing in education – such as the importance of awareness, protection, and monetization of the data. Inclusion is another aspect.
We have a lot of ambassadors in Africa, for example. They are unbanked, and they came to us because they had heard about Steemit. They were Steemit users, and because Steemit was also from Dan Larimer, they were interested in EOS and contacted EOS Nation. Now we help them to create a blockchain hub there in Africa where they educate people about the potential of the blockchain, how they can make a living using this technology or using these networks and being able to save because a bank doesn’t give them an account. So that brings people into this new economy. We believe in diversity. The diversity is also about use cases which are only needed in specific locations. For example, coming back to Africa, there are a lot of power outages. Some of our ambassadors can’t work, or they are not reachable for two days because there has been a power outage.
We had a global hackathon series in South Africa, and the winner of the African hackathon developed the Ubuntu Power Ledger which decentralizes power production and allows people to create their own power and sell it on a marketplace. This solves a problem that’s only there. But once the technology is proven to work, we can use this in the first world. So bringing all these different communities together and seeing what’s needed there, leads to developing some solution because it’s more urgent to develop it there. The next step is to communicate this to the rest of the world and help them to improve this by technological consulting or even investing. Let’s say I can invest in solar panels there, and then I get revenue from this. This kind of things are the global synergies that are also important.
Laks: Currently, there are a few challenges which are still not solved by blockchain technology. Scalability is one of them. How has EOS Nation addressed this challenge?
Martin: EOS Nation is just one of the block producers in the EOS community. EOS itself came into the blockchain scene to solve the scalability issue. Being scalable is a core need actually to go to mass adoption. We cannot be crippled by a simple application like CryptoKitties on Ethereum that showed the limitations of the blockchain. Since then, EOS has been working on solutions. As I mentioned before, horizontal scaling is for us the way to go and not just EOS Nation, but the whole EOS community, more or less.
Laks: This has been very interesting. Thank you for telling us about your experience with building the community of blockchain early adopters globally and in China. We do like to ask all of our guests, how do you envision blockchain changing the world?
Martin: I think through the inclusion of the whole global society, this world becomes a fairer place. That’s the first thing, and coming from this, we will have a more diverse way of thinking about what the world is and where it should go.
Laks: How do you think the market for blockchain-based solutions will evolve?
Martin: We talked about regulations. There will be some regulations coming. With the regulations in place, there will be institutions. Once institutions move into the market, there will be more stability. So I think the overall blockchain market will be more mature and less volatile.
Laks: All right, thank you again for coming to speak with us at Blockchain Zoo about EOS Nation, and we wish you luck on all your current and future projects.
BBH Guest: Martin Breuer, Regional Director for Asia at EOS Nation
Even though Martin graduated from Düsseldorf Art Academy with a Master’s degree in Oil Painting, he has always been amazed by the development of digital technology. After studies, he moved to China and quickly stumbled upon Bitcoin. When EOSIO presented solutions to major issues like scalability, transaction cost, and energy efficiency, he felt the need to get more involved and joined the EOS Nation Ambassador program. Later he was hired as EOS Nation’s Regional Director of Asia where he currently leads a team that builds the EOS Nation Asian communities.