Asia Blockchain Review recently spoke to Wing Lee, Founder and CEO of Hashcademy, an education community with a mission to help individuals secure jobs and advance their careers in blockchain and other technology sectors.
Lee talked about online learning options on offer for developers and individuals, the most common misconceptions around crypto, market trends in 2019, and his vision for the future of blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Asia Blockchain Review: How can users successfully learn about blockchain with Hashcademy’s online learning and interactive community of experts in the industry?
Wing Lee: Our mission is to help individuals with job entry and career advancement in emerging technology sectors such as blockchain. As such, our primary users are graduates and young professionals looking to get a job, make a career change, or achieve a promotion.
We currently have over 24,000 users globally who can benefit from having on-demand access to online courses, such as an introductory course to decentralized application (“dapp”) development or how to answer the most frequent blockchain interview questions. Users can also benefit from in-person workshops which are customized to their personal needs and where they can learn as a small, collaborative group. Our courses are co-created with leading experts in their respective fields, and we encourage an interactive, collaborative learning approach that is structured, engaging, and relevant.
ABR: What is the most common misconception about blockchain and cryptocurrency?
WL: There have been two types of common misconceptions around blockchain and cryptocurrency.
During the hype, common misconceptions were based around blockchain’s capabilities and benefits, such as blockchain data always being the source of truth, that it is always a better solution than a traditional database, and that it is 100% secure.
During the downturn, common misconceptions shift to the other end of the spectrum, with people associating it with fraud (exchange scams) and as a purely speculative instrument with no real applications.
ABR: In your opinion, have the masses become more educated in the area of blockchain over the last few years? How can blockchain become more mainstream?
WL: Blockchain—as a technology and as a business solution—has progressively become more mainstream. We have seen evidence that it will become even more mainstream, with developments in both the corporate and academic sectors.
For instance, our team has been involved in the educational aspects for several, industry-specific blockchain associations and consortiums (such as in Retail and Supply Chain), which drives corporates to come together and look at blockchain-based solutions to solve immediate business needs such as improving efficiency and providing greater supply chain transparency.
We have been active with traditional education providers looking to expand their curriculum to incorporate elements of blockchain learning, such as within MBA programs in business schools and the rise of blockchain-specific, executive education programs.
ABR: Can you share with us some of your thoughts on the cryptocurrency market investment trends for 2019?
WL: The blockchain and cryptocurrency market has gone through a transitional period, from the hype of 2017 to a drop off in 2018 to the most recent mixture of positive and negative developments in 2019. For 2019, we are focused on some of the following key investment themes:
ABR: In your opinion, how can the Hong Kong government further support development in the areas of blockchain and cryptocurrency?
WL: The Hong Kong government has supported the development of emerging technologies such as blockchain, primarily by nurturing and supporting new projects and startups through technology-led communities such as Cyberport.
As a member of the Cyberport community and support programs, Hashcademy feels that the government can further support blockchain development through greater education and knowledge exchange, while also connecting blockchain projects with industry applications and traditional business opportunities.
From a regulation perspective, policy innovation and regulatory clarity and development would drive the development of the cryptocurrency ecosystem and allow crypto projects to further leverage the city’s core capabilities in finance and technology.
ABR: How can cryptocurrencies gain more trust among the general public?
WL: For cryptocurrencies to gain more trust among the general public, I think there are three key areas you need to look at as the foundation for public trust:
Success case: Incumbents such as JP Morgan, Facebook, and Ernst & Young making major announcements indicating that they recognize the longevity of the crypto ecosystem is a strong foundation for public trust. The market anticipates an increasing number of incumbents joining the ecosystem. Meanwhile, progressive development in blockchain technology and more high-quality projects allow further and wider commercial applications.
Infrastructure development: Crypto infrastructure development is essential to provide a more stable ecosystem and allow a greater range of participants to enter the community. For example, we would look to developments such as approvals of Bitcoin Exchange Traded Fund (“ETF”) proposals, the formal launch of custodial solutions (such as Fidelity), and the launch of physically settled futures (such as Bakkt) as the foundation for further public participation and trust.
Regulatory development: Policy innovation in key jurisdictions is vital to provide clarity for both regulators and cryptocurrency projects in the market.
Overall, I believe one of the biggest challenges for blockchain growth remains user and consumer adoption, which is the reason why we believe education is the key to allowing the technology to help and better the lives of millions and millions of individuals across the world.
ABR: How will the emergence of stablecoins contribute to the overall cryptocurrency market?
WL: Despite the huge potential for blockchain technology to disrupt many sectors of our economy, there are some key aspects that are hindering mass adoption of the technology. One key limiting factor is extreme price volatility caused by rapidly changing market perceptions, unregulated markets, and a lack of monetary policies to mitigate extreme price movements.
The emergence of stablecoins offers a key solution to this issue. By definition, stablecoins are crypto assets that maintain a stable value against a target price, such as the US dollar. In simple terms, anyone who wants to benefit from the advantages of blockchain such as transparency, immutability, and security, but does not want to lose the trust and stability provided by fiat currencies, will require stablecoins.
Stablecoins mitigate volatility and generate stability. And stability is a key development driver, not only for cryptocurrencies to function as currencies, but for the entire ecosystem, as it forms the basis of a relatively stable cost and incentive mechanism to allow participants to build trust in the system.
ABR: Do you have any suggestions for those looking to invest in cryptocurrency?
WL: With often conflicting views of investing in digital and cryptocurrency, as well as the rapid changes in technology and innovation, it may be hard for someone to know where to begin or whether they should invest in it at all.
As with traditional investment, I would suggest looking at it from a risk perspective, namely identifying the investment risk, execution risk, and regulatory risk of any investment decisions you make. However, it is also important to realize that the nature of the risks may be somewhat different from traditional investments such as equity.
For example, crypto investment risk may require looking at the stability and maturity of the project’s core developers as well as the team and their sponsors. You may have to look at the consumer adoption rate of the project through transaction activities on their respective blockchains.
Execution risk can be a lot higher with limited infrastructure development and, as such, you will need to perform due diligence on the exchange through which you trade. Investors must also possess at least a basic understanding of cryptocurrency storage.
In general, there is a wide range of materials readily available online (for example, some of our courses cover fundamental knowledge of blockchain cryptocurrency) and may serve as a good starting point.
ABR: What are some of the new projects or features that we will see from Hashcademy this year? What are the next big things to look out for with Hashcademy?
WL: Our target is to broaden our product and learning offerings and provide a subscription-based package for our users, much like a gym membership for learning. With the membership, users can access both continuously curated course materials online, as well as regular seminars and workshops.
We are also in the process of building technology that supports the learning platform. This includes a blockchain-based token incentive scheme that encourages community participation and rewards instructors and learners over the course of their teaching and learning journeys.
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