Robert, whose background has been in the traditional finance world in the financial centers of Australia & Wall Street in NYC, entered the Bitcoin space in 2014 when being part of a project which built out a large Bitcoin mining farm close to Mongolia. In 2015 he took part at his first Bitcoin Saigon meetup and had been one of the core organizers for several years with the highlight of the groundbreaking BlockFin Asia conference in 2016.
Q1: When did you first time hear about Bitcoin and why did you get interested in it in the first place?
A1: The first time I found out about Bitcoin Saigon was in late 2015 on Meetup.com; it might have been a Wilson “Bitcoin Ambassador” Lee event. Back then, events were at the old Officience office near Phu Nhuan. As Bitcoin, blockchain, and fintech are topics close to my heart, I stuck around because I admired the outreach and capacity building work that was being done. I enjoyed the community aspect of contributing to a greater cause.
Q2: Looking back over the past 5 years – what surprised you most positively, what most negatively in the past half-decade of Bitcoin history?
A2: In those days, it wasn’t clear if Bitcoin would survive, so there was always doubt about how much longer we would be around. Out of the many hundreds of people who passed through the community, “I would be better off had I stayed in my 9-to-5 job and just bought bitcoin” is a common grievance these days. But, this was only possible thanks to those who sacrificed their time, effort and opportunities for an ideal that to this day is quite intangible. Being a small part of the global community who helped usher Bitcoin onto the world stage made Bitcoin Saigon a fun and engaging place to be.
The organization remained non-commercial and community focused since the beginning. We kept at bay, to our best ability, disreputable projects throughout the years, and especially during the early ICO period in order to focus on education and dialogue, remaining true to our original mission. This remains a point of distinction to me.
Q3: What do you expect the attendees to learn from the 5 year anniversary event of Bitcoin Saigon?
A3: That we were able to achieve what we did was thanks to the support and generosity of the wider startup community. World-class blockchain pioneers volunteered their time, partners and institutions gave us venues, and friends supported us in numerous ways when we needed it. Back when most people didn’t have a clue what Bitcoin or blockchain was, they stepped up and enabled us to seed in the community a curiosity for this wonderful technology. As such, Bitcoin Saigon is the result of everyone who contributed in both small and big ways.
Q4: Where do you see Bitcoin, the communities and its general impact on society going within the next 5 years?
A4:. In five years time, I imagine Bitcoin as a cryptocurrency would still serve as a store of value for early adopters, and as the preeminent decentralized, censorship-resitant, peer-to-peer payment system. Its legacy, however, will be found widely in new e-commerce trust models that promise to bring higher efficiency and more security to digital economies.
Robert will be participating in the complete Bitcoin Saigon anniversary event on the 29th of November – you can grab your tickets here!