Heroes of the #RoadToAdoption rubric are those who are doing their best to promote the cryptocurrency adoption in Ukraine and spread the crypto knowledge. Vadym Hrusha is one of them. Blockchain developer and founder at BlockSoftLab — the company which has been working on solutions for different crypto projects for a long time, and later focused on launching its own products. Those are the platform for smart contracts creation and a convenient cryptocurrency wallet. In this interview, Vadym shared the achievements of his team, expressed an opinion on crypto regulation in Ukraine, and also told where the line between cryptocurrency and blockchain is.
Vadym, you work as a developer for more than ten years. When did you decide to switch to blockchain?
It was just the time when I decided to change my circle of interests. I was working in one international company for quite long, and I began to look for various alternative areas in which I see the potential. Over time, I realized that for me, Bitcoin and blockchain are attractive. I started learning how everything works, how the protocols work, I became more and more interested, so I gradually changed my profile.
Tell about own bottlenecks on the way to understand blockchain technology.
If we are talking about a deep understanding of how these systems work and which tasks they solve, then indeed — this is quite complicated, you need to make an effort and figure it out. The most challenging thing is that this is a complex task: one side is technical, the other is socio-ideological. The fact is that if there was no active community that was guided by ideological principles and a deep belief that they would change the future, then such a vast ecosystem would not appear around the cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrency and blockchain are two different independent things. Blockchains are purely technological models, structures that can be spoken about without ideological principles. A cryptocurrency is a digital asset, endowed with some non-standard technical characteristics, such as censorship resistance and decentralization, which are implemented using consensus algorithms.
Do you first consider yourself a developer or an entrepreneur?
Developer, company founder, entrepreneur. What role do I play in the company today? I participate in all the processes at a deep technical level, at the level of operating activities and the immediate implementation of various solutions ... I am involved in all the stages.
Tell us more about the company.
BlockSoft was formed because people wanted real solutions and products from us. We didn’t have such an idea to create a company that would be engaged in this or that. One time we were asked if we could make a smart contract or a cabinet, and we did both... People started asking us for consultations and developments; thus, BlockSoftLab was formed, which completed a lot of projects in the blockchain sector and worked with many companies.
Now the hype is over, and although we still receive the requests, we decided to leave the idea to make products for someone. Now, we cooperate only with those partners we have been working with for a long time, and we don’t look for the new ones. So, we are focused on developing our own product — the multi-currency wallet Trustee. This product solves several problems, and the most important is the question of adoption — I mean an easy use of a cryptocurrency first for the Ukrainians, and in general — for the whole world. We have developed a multi-currency crypto wallet and a comfortable client, in which a person without experience and knowledge can get a cryptocurrency in 1-5 minutes by purchasing it with a bank card or receiving it from another participant. What is important: the user himself controls his private keys. There are similar solutions, but the set of functions that we created is unique.
Some resemblance to a crypto exchange — a simple way to buy crypto in UAH...
Yes, there is something. However, our main peculiarity is usability. When people begin figuring out what blockchain is, private keys, recovery phrases, addresses, accounts, tree wallets, multi-signatures, the brain often melts. Most people don’t use this, or for those who do, it’s complicated to understand all the details. Many companies are taking steps to solve this problem, and we have our vision of how this should be implemented. And our results satisfy us.
One of the existing problems in the crypto world is that many enthusiasts want to use crypto in their daily lives. They don’t have a lot of hryvnias, but they have cryptocurrency. Although they don’t want to sell ether a month in advance, for example, they want to use it if necessary — in a store, restaurant, etc. So now, if you enter the store, and you need to make a purchase for 500 or 1000 UAH, you don’t have any problems to get this money on your card in a couple of minutes by sending the cryptocurrency to our partner — processing, that will immediately sell it and send the money to your card. Everything comes straight from the wallet in a few clicks. Thus, you can use a cryptocurrency in the same way as you use your regular card.
How could you implement it?
Good question! First of all, the enthusiasm helps which is fed on with the feeling that we are doing a good thing for both Ukrainians and people in general. A deep understanding of technology does not allow us to close the eyes to the weaknesses of similar solutions. Talking about everything else, we want to keep it in secret (smiles).
The main idea is a multi-currency blockchain interface. This is a non-custodial wallet: private keys are stored here and never leave this device. The user wholly owns his digital assets, and no one can restrict him in transferring or receiving, arrest the account, or sue...
But we understand that we need other tools, such as tracking the dynamics of the portfolio, and buying and selling. The main idea is a wallet, but the task of exchange we solve not on our own, but thanks to our partners. Let's say three participants in the market perform the exchange — they sell Ethereum for the Hryvnia. Today, for example, they have the same exchange rate, but tomorrow, one will have a better price, and the other will have worse. We will give the best option because all of them are integrated into our program.
Such a cryptocurrency marketplace.
Yes, it also allows you to remove a lot of unnecessary actions, where you can make a mistake. If you give someone the address of the wallet, so that they will send you funds, the address is automatically pulled up. We exclude the human factor. Now you will not receive Ethereum classic on your Ethereum address.
So who exactly are you targeting with this product?
Beginners — they usually have the most problems with it. As the product develops, there will be more advanced features that will open up new opportunities for professionals... It's just impossible to do it all at once, so first of all, we solve the problem that we consider the most painful, and then we will expand it for other participants.
What market do you focus on when promoting a product?
Cryptocurrency is a global thing, so we are not limited to one market, but now Ukrainians get more benefits, who use Ukrainian bank cards because they have the opportunity to buy/sell crypto for hryvnias in a minute.
Is this a separate product from the Trustee platform?
Yes, they are not connected directly. Now we have stepped aside from work on Trustee (platform for smart contracts creation — editorial note), while this is a bit of a tricky thing, there is no demand for it.
No demand for smart contracts development?
If we are talking about the creation of smart contracts, then no. In Ukraine — that's for sure. Creating specific smart contracts for a particular business task is still difficult. There were a lot of people who were interested in the development of tokens/smart contracts, but those were individual cases rather than for specific business needs. We had an idea to unify all this and solve those problems... It seems to me that it is still valid, but we haven't found a market for it yet.
BlockSoftLab is the owner of Trustee, but so far we are developing mainly the wallet.
Is it difficult to find clients for this product?
For a wallet, it is much easier. We just show it to people. Those who have already tried and know something immediately see what the advantages are here. We solved many problems that they had for years.
And with newcomers, it's even easier. They say, "Oh, was it really that simple?" Well, yes, with us, it is.
What do you think about crypto regulation in Ukraine?
Subjectively: I think this is a distant prospect. Several years is already a distant prospect for me. It's just that we always have more talks than business.
Blockchain developer in Ukraine — is it profitable? Is there a demand in the market?
It is a promising area, and it has an application both in Ukraine and abroad. Demand has decreased significantly comparing with previous years, but it exists. If I address to developers, then I would not advise going here blindly, in case there is no interest in cryptocurrency or the technology... It will be quite challenging to work, find a job, and develop. Don't look only at the price tag. Although — yes, they pay more for it.
Who is working on the Trustee Wallet?
These are mostly crypto enthusiasts.
Can you tell us more about collaboration with Raiffeisen?
It was kind of informal collaboration. We had a solution, a concept that we developed for them - it was within the hackathon. They were curious, talked to us about it, and there were several meetings after... But in fact, they did not have a specific request for blockchain development, so they just asked different details about the cryptocurrency and how it works...
Well, when we talk about a traditional sector, then usually a person comes to you and says: I want such a site with this functionality and those features. So, he knows what he wants. In the cryptocurrency sector, at this stage, no one comes to you to immediately say what he wants. It is such a rarity. Usually, people need some advice. Therefore, I call it all advisory work, even if there is some development, then it’s more a concept rather than a specific business task for a particular enterprise.
Although now we are cooperating with the Kuna exchange. And this is a specific business with a particular task. There are very few blockchain moments in it, though. We are developing several solutions for them to buy and sell cryptocurrency quickly. In order not to have to learn how to register on the exchange, how to place orders, add and withdraw cryptocurrency... So, we cut out all the difficult moments and simplify.
So, your partner Kuna is your competitor at the same time?
This is a similar area of interest for us, but I believe that it is still not a competition.
Who do you call competitors then?
In Ukraine, it is Paytomat and Bitxfy. That's it. There is also Plark, which was launched recently. But in Paytomat, for example, there is no opportunity to buy crypto for hryvnia. Yes, it looks like a similar solution — also a non-custodial wallet with a set of features, which allows you to do many things... But there are differences, so it’s hard to say how close this competitor is to us at this stage.
What can you advise our readers?
Do not lose your head! Most people are interested in the possibilities of speculation and not in the technology itself. Therefore, I advise you to try to evaluate the prospects for a particular cryptocurrency. Evaluating the project, pay attention not to advertising, but some solution to a specific problem.
I advise novice programmers to read first about Bitcoin — how it works and why it is so... Then you can try to create something. Bitcoin or Ethereum — it's better to start with them.
Do you believe in Bitcoin?
Yes. In Bitcoin — completely.
And what about blockchain?
No. But you ask here at what time interval. If you ask whether I believe in the next 50 years perspective, then yes — I believe in both. If you talk about the next five years, then only in Bitcoin.
Blockchain is a term that people often use for other purposes, not to say the word "cryptocurrency." So, everyone's afraid of cryptocurrencies, but no one is afraid of blockchain. There is nothing particularly unusual about it at this stage. If we used blockchain for state institutions, it would be fascinating, but for this, we first need to have a lot of cryptocurrency users.
That is, the spread of cryptocurrency pushes the development of blockchain technology?
Yes. My personal opinion is that the blockchain is meaningful only when the cryptocurrency gains an even higher level of distribution than it has now — 10 times higher, I guess. Then there may be some movement. Cryptocurrency pulls blockchain, and not vice versa. If there were no cryptocurrencies, there would be no blockchain. Blockchain is not an invention of the past ten years, and such a data structure has been known for a very long time, for decades, before the vast development of the Internet.
Why didn't it shoot earlier? Because it didn't have the driving force or base to spread.
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