Decoder Podcast with Lightspark CEO. "Bitcoin is still the future of payments"
Here you can find the last episode of the Decoder podcast from the Verge (the link has both the pod and a full transcript). It features an interview with David Marcus, CEO of Lightspark, a company that just launched a transaction service through the Lightning network.
Probably there is nothing groundbreaking for many members of this subreddit. If you've ever heard an interview with Michael Saylor, he regularly touches on many of the topic of this pod; but it's interesting to hear a balanced take on a mainstream tech publication, the Verge, often extremely critical with anything crypto related.
David Marcus, formerly at Paypal and Meta, with plenty of experience in the payments/tech world, is working to solve a real-world problem (making payments cheaper and faster), leveraging the BTC blockchain and the Lightning network.
This is the kind of content we need out there, outside the crypto bubble, engaging with the general public, trying to shift an overwhelmingly negative narrative.
On a personal level I think that BTC maxis are doing a disservice to BTC and, for what it matters, to this subreddit. We should welcome a reasonable regulation, we should look for a scenario where BTC can coexist with the traditional financial system. It's suicidal and morally dubious to hope that the whole economy collapse so that BTC's value can grow.
Enjoy the pod!
A few quotes:
During the post-FTX crypto winter is imperative to focus on real world problems:
"It’s only if you build something valuable that solves real-world problems that you can actually create long-standing value. And so I think we’re starting on that journey now. There are a bunch of companies that built things that solve real-world problems, exchanges, wallets, and many more."
Lightspark's mission is to simplify Lightning:
"The first step is really simplifying all of that, really removing all of the complexity and building an enterprise-grade entry point to Lightning so that developers and platforms around the world can actually tap into all the benefits of a real-time global payment network."
Interaction between Fiat, BTC and Lightning:
"But if you can actually use fractions of Bitcoin on top of Lightning, in real time, and you have liquidity with all of the other fiat currencies that exist in the world, you can build products that are actually denominated in whatever currency you want. And so the underlying transaction and settlement asset is Bitcoin, but what consumers or merchants are exposed to can be whatever currency you want because you just get in and out of the network the same way that when you send an image, it gets broken into zeros and ones and sent over a TCP/IP network on the internet. You could break down value with small amounts of Bitcoin transacting and moving on the Lightning network in real time.
So we see it as a core infrastructure to move value around. And then our hope is that developers and other players will build services on top of this stack that are denominated in whatever currency they choose."
The need for regulation:
"Look, if you ask me about the state of the US regulatory clarity for crypto in general, of course we don’t have enough regulatory clarity. I’ve been very vocal about that as well, which is if you want to reap the benefits of this revolution — because it is a revolution that will actually benefit consumers and create the next generation of leading companies — and if you want all of that to happen in the US, you need to have clear laws and regulations that, on one hand, protect consumers but, on the other, really incentivizes innovation to stay onshore in the US rather than just escape and go to The Bahamas or wherever you want to go."
Potential costs of missing out
I think that the problem is actually when you don’t look at the opportunities to lower the costs for all kinds of financial services and payments on behalf of your constituents and, therefore, basically just stay very aligned with the status quo when it comes to incumbents controlling everything and basically pricing things way too high. And so with payments, notably, we’re in a world that looks exactly like pre-internet era with telecoms, where you used to spend a dollar a minute for an international call and you used to pay 25 cents for text messages. We’re exactly in that world and we’re in 2023. And there’s no open competition. So it’s a problem.
Bad crypto actors
"Well, first I think that we could have done without all of the bad actors giving a terrible reputation to the entire industry by their reckless behavior. And I think that the problem is also as an industry, we have to start building things that solve real-world problems for a lot of people, and not build speculative products that are made to get rich really quickly, which obviously is just not the way to build an industry."
The risk with the current narrative around BTC:
"Well, I think public opinion is just generally a thing. And when you look at the narrative around energy consumption and all of these things around Bitcoin, I feel like there’s a lot of posturing and not a lot of understanding of how energy generation, storage, and usage actually works. So I think that’s one angle where I feel like the narrative doesn’t match the reality of energy companies and utility companies and the fact that Bitcoin actually accelerates the adoption of renewables, because you can actually build a plant without waiting to have a 10-year lead time to connect it to the grid and have Bitcoin miners use the energy early on, and then amortize basically your investment as a renewable energy company until you can connect to the grid. That’s one example. No one talks about that."
BTC for the underbanked:
I find that it’s really hard to explain the reality of the majority of people living on Earth to people here in America because we have it all, right? We have a stable currency. We have a banking system that, for the most part, we can actually feel pretty confident about. We have decently efficient payment systems. It’s not like we go buy a coffee and we tell ourselves, “Oh man, I wish that there was an easier way to pay for this thing.” But that’s a myopic view of what the rest of the world experiences. In a lot of other countries, people have hyperinflation at insane rates, which forces them to actually spend everything they have the minute they get their paycheck because actually, a bottle of water would retain more value than the bank notes in their pocket over the course of a couple of days even.