Bitcoin.com spoke with Lisa Cheng of the Vanbex Group to discuss her speaking role on the Gaming on the Blockchain panel held as part of December’s Inside Bitcoins conference in San Diego. Mixing video games and Bitcoin technology can add many different fascinating elements to the virtual environment. Cheng, who has been involved with cryptocurrency for some time working with Mastercoin, Storj, Swarm, Trucoin, and the DApps Fund, gives us insight into her opinions on the current state of Bitcoin, how her digital career started, and what Vanbex has been up to.
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“[Bitcoin] is used as a currency, and there’s no problem with people using it to buy and sell things on a global scale when they don’t even know each other.” – Lisa Cheng, Vanbex Group
This December 14-16, Inside Bitcoins will host the Blockchain Agenda conference in San Diego. The event will have an array of industry leaders and innovators within the Bitcoin and blockchain environment. Inside Bitcoins will feature speakers such as Tone Vays of Brave New Coin, Brennen Byrne of Clef, Mitchell Dong of Pythagoras Investment, and Lisa Cheng of the Vanbex Group. Insiders and executives will come together to discuss the various implications of blockchain technology.
Bitcoin.com (BC): How did you get involved with Bitcoin?
Lisa Cheng (LC): I heard about Bitcoin on the news, and I thought what a ridiculous name I don’t want anything to do with that. Then I came across this article about the deep web, and I thought that was really fascinating. So I went to my home and downloaded the Tor browser, and I was perusing the Silk Road checking everything out. I also saw the Black Market Reloaded, and I was just blown away because they were all using Bitcoin. I was like holy crap this actually works. This is used as a currency, and there’s no problem with people using it to buy and sell things on a global scale when they don’t even know each other.
That’s when I had light bulbs go on and said I need to do something with this. So I tried to get into mining but I didn’t have enough money at the time. My parents didn’t give me the money for a mining machine which was a good call because the one I wanted turned out to be a scam. So then I tried to figure out how I could earn Bitcoin. I went on forums, and I saw this bounty on Bitcointalk.org and was to create a database for 500 bucks or something. I was like I can do that so I did the bounty, and they asked me to do another bounty. Finally, they ended up hiring me, and that was Mastercoin. So that’s how I kind of got my start and how I started working in the Bitcoin industry.
BC: Can you tell our readers about the Vanbex group and what you do there?
LC: When I was at Mastercoin, I was getting paid in digital currency, and I wanted to buy some Bitcoin ATMs and place them around Vancouver. That’s why it’s called Vanbex because it means the Vancouver Bitcoin Exchange. I looked into the regulatory aspects of owning the ATMs and would have to register with Fintrac, and it was just more of a complicated process than I thought. At the time with Mastercoin my contract with them was ending, and they were encouraging me to take some consulting clients on. I was like sure I need to get paid to feed myself somehow so I’ll do it.
“It’s not just about a coin or increasing the value of the currency. It’s how can people use this?”
So then I just ended up putting all of that business into Vanbex because I already incorporated it. I was saying yes to any work at the time so then at one point I had to hire people to help me finish the work. That’s how I started forming a team, and some people are with us now for over a year and a half. It started out with Mastercoin, and I felt this compelling urge that we can do better. A better job of describing what we are doing and connecting the dots with why people should see the value in this technology. It’s not just about a coin or increasing the value of the currency. It’s how can people use this? I guess some folks at Mastercoin Foundation kind of heard my complaints before I was let go. So that’s how I started my consulting gig because it spawned out of that.
There’s a lot of talk out there about different coins that offer different things. Some of them say they have value for this reason or that. Some of them claim to be ASIC resistant or a new X-11 coin. Some of them say they are anonymous, so we ask how is this coin anonymous and so on. There’s a lot of noise. We try to break through the noise and find things with value.
BC: You are speaking at the Inside Bitcoin’s conference what will your discussion entail?
LC: I am on the panel for gaming on the blockchain and on it will have Spells of Genesis on there, GameCredits and more. Basically, we are going to explore how these companies are doing gaming on the blockchain. How can we move from these centralized systems of game applications to decentralized play systems?
Like Spells of Genesis they had a token sale right. They wanted our help because they wanted to better communicate their idea. The basically told us a story of how their player community is like 20,000 people and a lot of them are in Japan. They were seeing these players trading cards against each other and sometimes they were valued at USD $2,000 each. So EverDreamSoft, the gaming company, would have to broker the transactions and be in the middle of all of this. They didn’t want to be in the middle, so they said why don’t we just use the blockchain and use cryptocurrency. That kind of the model we are moving towards now where they can let the cards appreciate and depreciate value on their own, and they don’t have to stand in the middle of transactions. They created a place where players can trade between themselves.
BC: How do you feel about the current state of Bitcoin in general?
LC: There’s this really funny quote from Haseeb of BitAccess that I tweeted recently. It was “When the price is down it’s all ‘Blockchain! Blockchain! When the price is up, it’s all ‘Bitcoin! Bitcoin!’”
I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I know there is some problems with Bitcoin, but you know if there was any other coin that came out and was more used and more widely accepted then I would use that.
“When [banks] use blockchain technology and show everybody, that would be great.”
BC: You are located in Canada. How are the FinTech and blockchain-based industries doing there?
LC: In Canada in Vancouver especially there’s a lot of retailers that accept Bitcoin. It’s less technical there and more of a movement. It’s a totally grassroots alternative economy in Vancouver especially. So people really like the idea of living off the grid. Bitcoin is kind of like that there and goes along with the movements in the region that fit certain groups like Libertarianism. It’s not a technology focus with developers there.
Toronto is more of a business oriented area with technology and finance. Maybe because it’s closer to New York or something but Toronto is more developer focused. They have huge developer meetups there. Anthony Di lorio’s Decentral, which is like an accelerator in this building they set up and have meetups there. He used to run a lot of meetups there, and meetings in Toronto are becoming more focused again. Like the CoinKite guys are trying to revive their developer meetups. I think the more meetups there are, the better.
BC: What do you expect blockchain technologies will do to traditional financial institutions?
LC: I think blockchains will be a big part of how they change, with all the bank announcements with Citibank and others. They are all announcing we’re going to use the blockchain, and they are just studies and doing small projects but they’re not actually innovating it into their current systems. The end users like the bank customers might not ever see this technology if they do ever use it.
I think it’s good the banks are taking interest, but they don’t do Bitcoin or the community any good. They’re just playing with it in the back room and not doing anything with it. When they use blockchain technology and show everybody, that would be great. Or if we see assets being traded from Citibank or Nasdaq then that would be amazing. That would probably have a huge effect.
Thanks for speaking with us Lisa. Bitcoin.com looks forward to your discussion of gaming on the blockchain and what that entails. We wish you the best with your projects and endeavors within the crypto-industry.
Will you be attending the event in San Diego? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Redmemes, Inside Bitcoins, Vanbex Group, and Lisa Cheng
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