After a very successful internal meetup talking about Bitcoin and an upcoming talk about Decentralized Trust we invited more experts to share their thoughts on cryptocurrencies with us.

At itnig every Friday we sit down to talk with interesting people whom we meet throughout the week and we make a podcast (in Spanish) out of our conversations. You can listen to it on iTunes, subscribe to our channel on Youtube or enjoy it through iVoox.

Podcast #21 at itnig with Dario Nieuwenhuis, Jordi Baylina & Kamil Jura

For this Podcast #21 Bernat Farrero, CEO at itnig, Jordi Romero, CEO at Factorial, César Migueláñez, Product Director at Factorial, Masumi Mutsuda, Media at itnig talk with Dario Nieuwenhuis, founder of Verse, Jordi Baylina, Blockchain developer and Kamil Jura, designer at Quipu about mining, ICOs, the legality of all that involves cryptocurriences and their future.

What is Blockchain?

Jordi tells us it’s basically a global computer to which you can upload a program. But in reality it’s not one computer but many (4000 or 5000 computers) and just any person can upload a program to a Blockchain. All computers will then execute these transactions jointly, all computers at the same time are executing the same transaction step by step. A consensual algorithm.

All transactions are remembered and packaged to form a block. This chain of blocks with all these transactions is a register, it’s not modifiable… One of the first applications Blockchain was used for is money. It has one single instruction: to move money from one place to another. This is just one application, we can use Blockchain for all kinds of topics, think about insurance, identity, governance.

We are in a very premature phase of this technology, but in the short term this can change the world.

What’s so great about Blockchain?

One of the cool things of Blockchain is that you can establish rules, according to which a system changes its state. Let’s take money as example: Every person has his/her balance, if this person wants to move money he/she has to have money in their balance, has to sign with the adequate cryptography…etc.

Just take this a bit further: Once established certain rules, everybody who wants to use this Blockchain has to abide by these rules without the necessity for a central entity (government, central bank) to control it. Nobody can modify or jump these rules without the consensus of the majority — and this opens up many opportunities, which were before closed or taken care of in a closed environment like a government. This technology lets you think about corruption, inequality or power abuse in new terms.

We talk a lot about consensus when mentioning Blockchain. Are all users really equal?

The miners decide what rule changes apply or not but I would not compare this to a central government or bank as every person has the capacity to mine, without asking permission or have to be in a government.

There are different actors inside a Blockchain: The miners (who construct the blocks), all nodes propagating the blocks, the users (who have or accept bitcoins for example), the exchangers, the developers who maintain the code…

What is mining?

The person with the computer does a lot of calculations to create the next block in the blockchain. Miner mine the transactions inside the blocks.

Have you every mined a Blockchain?

With standard hardware this is really hard. so if you want to mine you connect to the pool, if you are developing you can create a small Blockchain and mine. But in general here in Europe it is not profitable to mine, as the costs for the m achine and more than anything for electricity are really high.

***

Listen to the whole Podcast to find out what Jordi, Dario and Kamil think about predictability in mining, about ICOs and the concept of decentralization. While exploring these ideas we’ll take a few detours to talk about the current legal framework, hear anecdotes of bitcoin cash ATMs in Switzerland and coffeeshops accepting bitcoins as far back as 2013 in Palo alto and Germany.

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T.

The new time and attendance law will kill innovation in Spain and Europe

Simple solutions or “one fits all” policies are easy to market by populist governments but they are sometimes at the expense of certain sectors and their people. This time the affected party is innovation and value added services, to a point that puts in jeopardy our (already weak) spot in the global competitiveness landscape.

I’ve always told my teams that I do not hire their time, but rather their talent and potential: their brains, their energy and passion and their willing to make a difference and impact our clients and the world through them. Innovative companies try to get in existing markets and solve things in complete different ways, some go as far as creating new markets from scratch. They all have in common that their mission is extremely hard, sometimes impossible (thus most fail along the way). The key for their success is how they manage to convince their teams that everything they do is not a job, but a religion. They are changing the world and that is something worth spending time and making history.

I can tell if somebody is motivated by their job by looking at their eyes while they talk about their challenges and ideas. Best people don’t work, they play. They make their challenges their hobbies. I’ve had many conversations at 1 am in the office, after some beers and sushi, before even realizing what time it is. Only when a job makes this kind of conditions happen, the wheel of significant value creation really stirs and great things come from it.

It is very hard to create a culture in which people feel so empowered that they are capable of anything. In my experience, it helps granting absolute flexibility. I don’t remember the last time I approved vacations to my team, or I paid attention to their schedules, or the days in which they worked from home or the office. This is not the kind of conversations I want to have with them. My relationship with my team is based on trust, and it is based on one single (often repetitive) conversation: how can we do more and better, how can we grow faster, how can we raise the bar. Little it matters to me whether they contribute to this questions from the beach in Canary Islands or spending many hours in the office.

However, the government today decided that it is a great idea in the 21th century that all companies like ours should make everybody clock in and clock out by law. I’m now obliged to add people’s time and attendance into our conversation. We now have to treat all jobs like production lines in factories (amidst the era of hyper automation and robotization). They go as far as having us registering accurate pauses for lunch. Unfortunately they don’t include how should we manage the time spent in the chill-out area, or when having long coffees in the outside terrace, or spending the afternoon in ping pong championships. Should we clock-in and clock-out every time we do that too?

When I travel I always get asked how is the Spanish ecosystem for entrepreneurship and innovation developing, I always defend our potential to become a leading actor in science and technology,  besides our current reputation for tapas, toros and siesta. We previously analysed the many initiatives taking place in the city of Barcelona. But my question is: is there anybody in the government actually helping us to make this happen?

The new law will come to place the next 12th of May. At Factorial we developed a free feature, so companies can instantly become compliant with the law. Interestingly enough, almost immediately after launching this feature people started developing tools using our API to automate clocking or connecting it with Slack and other interfaces. It looks like after all there will always be people willing to work on relevant things and not waste their energy in bureaucratic traps.

PD: You can find more information about the law in this article.