Cryptocurrencies: these eight characters are at the heart of the system

Vitalik Buterin, architect – creator of the Ethereum blockchain

The 28-year-old Russian-Canadian computer scientist is a real techie. The pale, thin face of a man addicted to screens from the age of 4, a head strewn with ears of corn, as it were, signals to the whole world that he has more important things to do. And this is certainly partly true. Buterin was one of the first people to get into bitcoin, to which he dedicated a magazine in 2011. Then he put his hands on the engine himself, and three years later formed another blockchain infrastructure called Ethereum, which today ranks second in the ecosystem after bitcoin. Unlike its competitor, which is mainly focused on currency, Ethereum sees itself more as a support for the new decentralized Internet. Its blockchain hosts the latest innovations in protocols and smart contracts, these smart contracts are hidden in NFTs, among other things. And develops faster than his older sister. This is evidenced by the recent transformation “The Merge”, thanks to which the blockchain has reduced energy consumption by 99.9%. “Thus, we have moved from a level of electricity consumption similar to Austrian to a level close to San Marino or the Vatican,” Vitalik Buterin greeted at the time. Today he is a true thinker of the crypto world. His various entries on his personal blog or on his foundation’s blog are full of analyzes and deep reflections on the future of the sector and its problems. In his opinion, nothing more and nothing less than today’s Internet giants: “If you can topple Facebook, Google and Twitter as the lords of communication on the Internet, that in itself represents a huge opportunity, right? “

Naib Bukele, daredevil – President of El Salvador

Crazy bet won? Naib Bukele was the first president to legalize cryptocurrency in his country, El Salvador, in September 2021. The idea: to gradually get out of dependence on the dollar and offer a means of quickly transferring money between the large Salvadoran diaspora in the United States. and families in Central America. Since then, little information has been leaked about the successes and failures of this massive undertaking, which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) discouraged the leader from doing. “The project annoys many […]. It offers an alternative beyond the control of our leaders and governments,” Pascal Gauthier, boss of the French Ledger unicorn, evaluates in our columns. The fact remains that, according to the Central Bank of El Salvador, in early September, a year after the creation of Bitcoin, “less than 2%” of remittances from expats went through the queen of cryptocurrencies. Failure? Not for Bukele, who continues to frantically buy bitcoin, one day after the FTX scandal, said Naib Bukele also launched the construction of Bitcoin City, a tax haven for cryptocurrency holders powered entirely by a geothermal power plant that draws energy from a nearby volcano, but if successful, the project will see the light of day in a few years. In January, a new law was passed allowing the creation of a new type of government bond based on bitcoin – volcanic bonds. For the first time in the world, the evolution of which will be carefully studied.

President of El Salvador Naib Bukele during his inauguration on June 1, 2019 in San Salvador.

© / Rivera

Changpeng Zhao, New Crypto King, Binance Exchange Platform Boss

The leader of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange (almost 75% of global volumes), reigns supreme in this sector after the fall of its rival FTX at the end of November. Changpeng Zhao, aka “CZ,” even contributed a bit by selling his FTX-issued FTT tokens, followed by thousands of people. The first domino, which led to the discovery of the grand fraud of its CEO Sam Bankman-Freed and his associates, whose trials are scheduled for the end of the year. Problem: Exchanges like this are now on the radar of regulators demanding more and more transparency from these spaces where the equivalent of tens of billions of dollars circulate every day. The community would also like to basically do more without these central players that are inherently speculative rather than direct use cases: payment, exchange between people. “Not your keys, not your coin. If we are serious about the goal of individual monetary sovereignty, we should not leave our cryptocurrencies lying on the exchange,” notes senior official Yorick de Mombin. King CZ knows he’s being watched but knows how to bounce back by flirting with French and European regulators by launching new wallet-type products to help small investors protect their cryptocurrencies. Its native token, BNB, is valued at $46 billion and is the fourth largest in the ecosystem after giants Bitcoin and Ethereum. Binance also recently announced that it will be hiring new employees in 2023, despite the influx of its opponents. The 45-year-old Canadian is finally cultivating this image of a self-made man who was forced into exile from his country of origin, China, at just 12, working odd jobs before becoming the most powerful of crypto. Now he stands out as a key character in the orphan world of the mysterious Bitcoin creator. The man whose shadow still hangs over the middle but never showed up is Satoshi Nakamoto.

Brian Armstrong, former favorite – CEO of exchange platform Coinbase

He has been a strong man in this sector for a long time. “Brian Armstrong has been there since the beginning of cryptography. He is the grandfather of the industry who has lived it all,” says Adli Takkal-Batay, co-founder of the Cercle du coin association. Ups and downs. Right now the American is in a complete stalemate. And he readily admits it. “Coinbase has gone through several bear markets. […]. But this is the first time we’ve seen the crypto cycle coincide with a broader economic downturn,” he lamented recently as he laid off 25% of his exchange platform’s workforce. Launched in 2012, the platform has nevertheless served as a real haven in industry, with a more radical choice of crypto projects and more robust governance, materialized by an IPO signed in April 2021. Guarantee of reliability and security… on the brink of extinction?

Jeremy Aller, The Central Bankers’ Nightmare – Circle Patron

He is a person who rises in cryptocurrency. Jeremy Aller runs Circle, a USDC (USD Coin) issuer currently valued at $44 billion. This stablecoin, pegged to the US dollar, is designed in such a way that its value does not fluctuate. This characteristic makes it convenient to trade, lending in a safer way – at least on the surface – than with traditional, more volatile cryptocurrencies. Investors are not wrong. Despite the (big) disruption that occurred in the spring of 2022, the fall of the Terra Luna ecosystem, stablecoins are a popular asset class. The Circle expansion, which also launched a new token last summer, this time backed by the euro, has worried central banks around the world. In the short term, its coins could compete with their own digital currencies, which are still under development.

Devin Finzer, Collector – CEO of OpenSea, an NFT resale platform

The giant is in danger. OpenSea, the largest marketplace in the NFT sector, experienced a sharp drop in trading volume during the year and, like many technology companies, was forced to lay off some of its teams. Enough to thwart the plans of its young CEO, Devin Finzer, who likes to compare his platform to “Amazon for NFT”. Especially since the debate about the usefulness of these non-fungible tokens, which allow you to collect digital works of all kinds or even monetize video games, is still raging. A simple speculative bubble or an artistic and commercial revolution?

Molly White, skeptic, Web3 blog creator is going just fine

Molly White is the author of the Web3 is Going Just Great blog. The ironic formula, which we understand from its subtitle, “… and certainly not a huge scam that adds fuel to the fire of our already smoking planet.” Since December 2021, the 30-year-old American engineer has been listing the bitter failures and scams associated with the development of Web3 and cryptocurrencies, all the way to the metaverse, every day. She has become a feared voice in the crypto world, but she is being heeded by regulators.

Molly White, founder of a specialized site that lists scams in the world of cryptocurrencies.

© / AFP

Elizabeth Stark, hacktivist, head of the Lightning Network

Lightning is a technological solution that allows the Bitcoin blockchain to process more transactions per second while reducing the costs of the exchanges. Enough to facilitate transactions in the queen of cryptocurrencies. Its creator, 41-year-old Elizabeth Stark, Juris Doctor, taught at the prestigious American universities Stanford and Yale. Once close to the late computer genius and “free” Internet advocate Aaron Schwartz, Stark has the profile of a “hacktivist” as well as a businesswoman. Open source (everyone can see the code), Lightning is already being used by El Salvador to allow bitcoin deployment in the country. The solution is also of interest to several thousand companies willing to accept cryptocurrency payments, including McDonald’s, Starbucks and Walmart.

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