BTC.com to Host Europe’s First Bitcoin Cash [BCH] Hackathon [Interview with Boaz Bechar, Director of BTC.com at Bitmain]

BTC.com, one of the biggest brands in the cryptocurrency space, will host a Bitcoin Cash Hackathon in Amsterdam next month, one of the first major event of its kind on the continent.

This Hackathon will take place on the 27th and 28th October 2018, two weeks before BCH’s scheduled network upgrade. The hackathon also coincides with continued developer support for  Wormhole, the new and innovative BCH smart contract protocol.

Boaz Bechar, the Director of BTC.com at Bitmain, recently spoke with Salih Sarikaya, Editor in Chief of Smartereum. During the interview, Bechar explained the purpose and plans for the upcoming Hackathon. He also described BTC.com’s journey to this point, and the broader role it’s playing in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space.

BTC.com champions a user-driven and open financial system that serves over a million users across the world. According to Bechar, the BCH hackathon is one of the many ways BTC.com is supporting the BCH community as well as encouraging innovation, promoting education and mainstream adoption of cryptocurrency in general.

The Hackathon will be held at Rockstart HQ, Amsterdam, gathering blockchain experts, engineers, developers, tech entrepreneurs, designers, and enthusiasts. Developers can participate in either one of two tracks, viz: the bitcoin cash category or the general track for innovative programs built on Bitcoin, Lightning Network, Ethereum and more. The entries will be judged based on the utility, usability, creativity, and functionality of each final product.

Interested participants can register via the website. (https://www.hackathon.cash).

Below is the Bechar’s interview with Smartereum:

Salih: It’s nice meeting you Bechar. Can you talk a little bit about yourself and your background first?

Bechar:       I’m from Israel originally and my background is in startups. In 2014, I cofounded Blocktrail with Lev Leviev and moved to Amsterdam after teaming up with our Dutch co-founder Ruben de Vries. Then we started developing several products under Blocktrail; a bitcoin block explorer, API for developers and eventually a consumer wallet.

Blocktrail became part of Bitmain in 2016 with a great domain name, BTC.com. We essentially rebranded all our technology and offerings under the BTC.com brand, which in late 2016 started a mining pool and recently, this year, became the largest mining pool, run by our team in Beijing. Our team here in Amsterdam focuses more on the consumer side, which includes primarily the wallet and the developer API.

Salih:          What’s the main focus of BTC.com right now?

Bechar:       We’re really trying to push cryptocurrencies to be adopted by the mainstream, and we’re specifically focusing on the wallet to make new-user adoption as easy as possible. Today, our wallet allows people to control the private keys in a simple, friendly, and easy-to-use way such that people can use cryptocurrency without having an in-depth understanding of the technology behind it. We will continue to focus on this mission of making it easier and more common to use cryptocurrencies over the coming year.

Salih:           That’s great. So what differentiates you and the other wallets?

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Bechar:       Well, I think wallets generally are separated into two kinds. Wallets that allow people to control their private keys and wallets that are more custodial. So BTC.com really is on the side that allows people to control their private keys. So that’s a big differentiator between many kinds of wallets and ours.

I think also the fact that we use a lot of technology that you can’t really find in other wallets, such as the capability for multiple signatures(multisig). All of our wallet’s transactions are essentially two out of three multisig transactions, which you don’t really find in most consumer wallets these days.

It allows our users to benefit from a kind of a theft protection. For example, if we detect a user’s wallet might be compromised,which our security systems scan and detect for, we would disable co-signing for this wallet. That means that a hacker even though he entered your wallet, will not be able to make a transaction because we would not cosign such the flagged transaction. And, of course, even though we don’t cosign a flagged transaction, the user still has full control of the funds because they have a PDF backup that always gives them full, exclusive control of their funds.

Salih:              So BTC.com is under Bitmain right now, right? And operating part of Bitmain or separately — How does the system functions — Where are the team based — and how many people are working for BTC.com?

Bechar:       Bitmain is quite a fast-growing company, which now has become quite large,and offers many different kinds of products. You can think of BTC.com as a product within Bitmain. We’re 100 percent Bitmain. Our team at BTC.com  divided into two teams: the mining pool and wallet..

The mining pool team is based out of Beijing and Singapore andnd the wallet team, which I’m a part of, is based in Amsterdam. I think altogether our team in Amsterdam is roughly 30 people, and I think the team in Beijing consists of roughly the same number so you could say BTC.com has around 60 full-time employees.

Salih:           How many users do you have monthly? I think I have seen more than one million users or something like that.

Bechar:       So the statistics that I can share with you are that we have over a million users and hundreds of millions worth of transactions every month across the platform, excluding the fact that BTC.com is the largest mining pool. Looking just on the consumer side, there’s really a healthy amount of transaction volume taking place.

Salih:           So instead of being just a product you are also trying to help crypto to go mainstream. Can we talk about the Hackathon also and other initiatives that you are dealing with? What’s the Bitcoin Cash Hackathon all about?

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Bechar:       Just to give you some quick history, BTC.com’s wallet was one of the first wallets that supported Bitcoin Cash. This early adoption brought us a good amount of users and we’ve gone really far with the BCH community since the early days.

The Bitcoin Cash hackathon is an initiative to continue pushing the fundamental development of Bitcoin Cash. We’re in a unique position to do so because we received a lot of support from the community and we have a lot of Bitcoin Cash users.

The hackathon is also helping to innovate upon BCH because, particularly  using Wormhole Cash, which is a new protocol coming out on top of Bitcoin cash. There’s continuously new innovation in Bitcoin Cash and the hackathon simply brings all of these different developers together.Developers are the guys that are actually making the innovation happen in the field. I think the hackathon is a good opportunity to bring these creative forces together to experiment with new projects, new ideas. We have a good lineup of mentors and judges that will be there to support and provide developers access to valuable feedback from personal interaction with industry leaders.

Salih:          So this hackathon is mainly focusing on developers?

Bechar:       Yes, mainly developers: the goal is to get together and see what kind of cool and innovative projects come out. Some hackathons force developers to try to create a commercial product, but that’s not the case here.

There are two kinds of tracks in this hackathon. There’s the Bitcoin Cash track, where developers create a product, and if the judges think that this product is more innovative than the rest, then I think that they’ll probably win. There are no commercial criteria attached to it.

And the second track we made available for developers who have a passion for something that’s not necessarily related to Bitcoin Cash so. Developers of all kinds are welcome.

Salih:           I think there is a reward word at the end of the hackathon. What will be the award?

Bechar:       The total prize is 5,000 Euros. The Bitcoin Cash track is 3,500 and the general track is 1,500.

Salih:          And how long will the event take?

Bechar:       It’s a two-day event. We’re sponsoring a lot of food and drinks so there will be plenty of entertainment, and generally the aim is for the event to be a good time.

Salih:           What other initiatives are you taking to help crypto to go mainstream? Can you talk a little bit about other hackathons or other events that you are supporting or promoting?

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Bechar:       We actually love do to all  sorts of events, worldwide, related to cryptocurrency in general, and Bitcoin Cash specifically as well. These events range from small meetups–here in Amsterdam there’s a meet-up that we sponsor,and meetup groups apply to us all the time for sponsorship help. We get involved with a lot of them.

Airdrops are something that we do quite often; we airdrop the Bitcoin Cash at different events and at universities. We’ll be conducting a big conference Bitcoin Cash airdrop at the Web Summit  happening later this year with 60,000 attendees. Last year we broke the record for promotions at the Web Summit by nearly double. There was a ton of interest and our booth was exploding with people coming to pick up cryptocurrency and learn more about it. So I think these kind of initiatives have been  very successful in teaching young people, and we hope to continue reaching larger audiences.

Salih:              As I see, you are so much involved with Bitcoin cash. Is the reason because Bitcoin Cash community is so active on your platform or do you see something specific in Bitcoin Cash development?

Bechar:       I think both answers are true. On one side, we have a lot of users that are using our platform for Bitcoin cash, and as a service provider we  follow where there’s demand users, and for us there’s a lot of demand from our BCH users, which is why we’re providing this service to them.

But, on the other hand, it is promising given the effort put into development  by the Bitcoin Cash community, which has been growing over time, and having been there since the beginning, it’s obviously something we continue wanting to be a part of.

Salih:           Seeing BTC.com launched in 2015 and has reached over millions of users. You are doing great, it will help a lot for crypto to go mainstream with your initiatives and more support for the events, for all other hackathons and projects. That’s great to see in the crypto community. Thank you so much for talking with me.

Bechar:       Thank you. My pleasure.


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