Julian Hosp is one of the world’s most influential blockchain and cryptocurrency experts. He is a speaker, bestselling author and a consultant in the field of blockchain for working groups of the European Parliament in Brussels. In an interview with LEAD, Hosp tells what he thinks of Facebook’s new subsidiary Calibra and the cryptocurrency Libra, and what impact it will have on businesses, the crypto scene and financial transactions.
LEAD: Julian, what do you think about Libra in general?
Julian: I look at that from two perspectives. On the one hand for the entire ecosystem and on the other hand for the Libra Coin itself. Since the first rumors of Facebook’s own cryptocurrency, I think that Libra will have a big impact on other decentralized coins like Bitcoin. Because suddenly millions, if not billions, of people will be flushed into the ecosystem and it will bring much more legitimacy to the other cryptocurrencies. Now that Facebook has released the official whitepaper, I’m all the more in favor of it.
LEAD: So you are not skeptical about Libra?
Julilan: I was very skeptical. When the rumors hit, I figured it would be a very centralized and Facebook-controlled coin that would grab all the data from users. After taking a first look at the white paper, I have to say that my opinion has changed.
Obviously, Libra will never really be decentralized, because Facebook is in there. Nevertheless, the coin seems reasonably accessible to all people. In addition, Facebook indicates that they only have a maximum of one percent influence and the other 99 percent are distributed to other large institutions. From that point of view, I have to say that so far it looks more positive than previously feared.
LEAD: Major partner companies – Visa, Mastercard, Paypal, Uber, Vodafone, Booking.com and many more – have already won Calibra. What do they actually have?
Julian: As things have been seen so far, affiliates and even Facebook itself will benefit from transaction fees and currency conversion fees. They also receive interest on the deposits. Of course, there will also be data that Facebook and the partners can use – but the Calibra data is kept separate from Facebook.
LEAD: What do you think, which audience will use the Libra Coin?
Julian: For those who deal with cryptocurrencies anyway, Libra is not that interesting. Because they see all the disadvantages. Wondering, why should I trust a big company like Facebook, they control everything. That’s why I appreciate that the first generation will use Libra, which is already on Facebook and in addition live in countries where the financial freedom and financial resources are not so big – where also big costs are caused by the whole currency trash.
In the Eurozone, you notice nothing of it. But in Asia, Africa or South America, for example, you have to pay somewhere between five and seven percent of the currency exchange rate in any other country. Libra is exciting for the people there. If I narrow down the target group, it looks like this: 20 to 30 years old, male – because the entire crypto scene is more dominated by men – open to new technologies and living in a country whose currency is not recognized worldwide. Only then will the other generations be added.
LEAD: Libra can be exciting for people in countries that do not have a bank account.
Julian: Exactly. The only question is, how do I get money in? That’s where the Calibra ecosystem is exciting. Take ebay and vodafone, for example. Someone sells something on ebay and gets the money from the buyer in Libra. He hands it on to Vodafone to load money onto the smartphone. These are conceivable scenarios, as it will work exactly, you do not know to date. That’s why it’s important that Calibra has a big ecosystem – with many partner companies. That seems to make the company relatively good.
LEAD: Does the Libra coin contradict the original philosophical conception of a cryptocurrency?
Julian: Yes. A cryptocurrency is very clear to Libra. Because that just means that it’s a currency based on cryptography and also blockchain. That applies to Libra. But yes, the Libra Coin contradicts the philosophy of a cryptocurrency with freedom, independence and censorship resistance.
When I talk to people today, most people say, “Oh, stop crying with the cryptocurrencies.” But now when suddenly such big companies are behind a cryptocurrency as now at Libra, then this is perceived quite differently and is suddenly no longer bad.
LEAD: Will you use Libra?
Julian: Probably. Simply for the reason that at some point you will have no other choice. I can imagine – and this is pure speculation on my part – that Facebook will change its entire system to Libra. Maybe not immediately but until 2025. The major currencies such as the dollar, euro, pound, Swiss franc or yen will certainly continue to exist.
But it is possible that Facebook, for example, requires companies Libra, if they want to traffic ads. Currently, Facebook has to do with 80 different currencies. Small ones, which may affect only 50 million people, will eventually replace Facebook with Libra. If you want to switch ads, you pay in Libra. That’s why I think, as a company, you have almost no choice but to deal with Libra.
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