Gerald Fenech of Forbes talks to Sebastian Serrano, founder and CEO of Ripio Credit Network, one of largest in Latin America:
What are the main trends of 2018 for the crypto market according to you?
“If 2017 was the year of ICOs, 2018 was definitely the year of institutional investors entering the crypto market. We believe that 2019 will be a year of hyper-tokenization of all kinds of assets, eventually leading the whole Internet to arise as a new capital market”.
Is increased regulation a positive or negative trend for the market?
“Definitely, a positive thing, if it’s done right. Regulation must be conducted with intelligence and real knowledge on the technology behind it and its potential. By regulating the market you are also legitimizing it, and that means more and more players (especially big traditional investors) will enter the crypto space and things will surely become more interesting”
Latin America offers the perfect testing ground for blockchain’s practical application due to the region’s long history of economic mismanagement. It has been said that by the end of 2018, Argentina will have more than 100 Bitcoin ATMs, a number expected to increase to 1,600 by the end of 2019. Can bitcoin become a real alternative to the U.S. dollar in Latin America soon?
“As major crypto liquidity providers in Latin America, we’ve seen a common pattern with regard to the U.S. dollar as a store of value and with regard to cryptocurrency adoption. Most people are used to buying dollars to protect their savings against the local currencies’ constant devaluation and they’ve been doing the same thing with bitcoins. Now they’re experimenting with stablecoins (such as Dai, which has been recently added to our wallet) and the feedback has been great so far”.
Cryptocurrency has started to attract interest from the taxman, especially if governments can find ways to use blockchain technology on a large scale. How can cryptocurrencies appeal to people in places with failed economic systems? What’s your take on this? For example, what do you think about the idea to place up to one percent of central banks’ national reserves in bitcoin?
“Cryptocurrencies are increasingly becoming a good store of value and interesting digital assets for diversifying traditional investments. As I explained before, in the next couple of years we’ll witness asset tokenization at a large scale and this could be a really bold move for governments and financial institutions in emerging markets.”
Ripio Credit Network operates on smart contracts. What is the future of smart contracts? Is it still a niche technology?
“The whole blockchain technology is still a niche technology if you compare its market to those of credit cards or the banking system. But this paradigm is undoubtedly set to change. Smart contracts are the future of online transactions because they’re basically peer-to-peer agreements, but less expensive and more predictable and transparent”.
Finally, do you believe there is a shortage of good projects in the market?
“I don’t think so. There are several interesting ones—particularly the ones lead by Argentinian colleagues, such as Decentraland and Zeppelin OS—that will surely make the headlines in the next couple of years”.