Interview with Co-Founder Of ZenCash Robert Viglione
Robert Viglione, the co-founder of the ZenCash company that aims to create a decentralized global network based on the system with client-to-node and node-to-node encryption. The project’s main goal is to return users the control over their personal data
How did you get into the world of crypto and blockchain?
I used to know about cryptocurrencies from the cyberpunk libertarian group in the US, where everything started from the first bitcoin movement. I was lucky to get into that stream. Then I became more involved with bitcoin. Actually, my first work related to bitcoin was in Afghanistan where I was conducting some kind of seminars to educate people on cryptos. After that I returned to my PhD and made my own research on it. I got more involved into the entrepreneur work talking a lot to different merchants and trying to motivate them to accept cryptocurrencies. This experience created a foundation for the ZenCash launch.
What problems do you want to solve?
In the US, religions are separated from the state. And what I like about Bitcoin is that it allows to separate money from the state. The whole point of ZenCash is to essentially be a new Google for cryptocurrencies. But we differ from Google because we empower individuals to keep their data safe and control it. Users can be sure that their digital content in applications, social media and messengers or their digital footprints, their funds and other digital property will not be seen and controlled by corporations. Users can monetize their own content. Now, companies are tracking your movements and storing your geolocation. We want to prevent them from doing that. Just imagine people could gain $50 a month only for sharing their location data or other personal information.
So you are concentrated on privacy features, right?
Yes, we are specialized in cryptography which is a pretty specific part of the industry. It is essentially functional transformation of data. With new technologies, you can still do some mathematical processes with data but it will be still private. We want to make the world unite and to allow people to have a basic income through the technology. No matter where you are based — in the USA, Ukraine or Bangladesh — you can monetize what you are doing.
What are your main products?
There are different products. We have a private cryptocurrency called ZenCash, the messaging service ZenChat, we also built a distributive competition system called ZenGrade. We are creating wallets and other useful applications.
How many people are in your team?
We have about 50 people, and we have a close partnership with three software companies. We have seven different divisions and operate like a traditional organization. There are development, marketing, research, operation, financial and other departments.
Where are you based?
Everywhere. I am personally in the US. My colleague David is travelling between the US and Georgia. Also a huge part of our developers is in Ukraine. Our research specialists and data scientists are at the Krakow University. We have offices in Germany, Italy, France and now we want to extend our presence to Asia and even Nairobi, Africa. Our company is growing rapidly.
Where are your clients mainly from?
We have access to such big markets as the US, Russia, Central and Eastern Europe. We have about 80,000 people in our community. It is hard to measure them.
Why Zen? Are you a buddhist?
Zen symbolises that we want to build a free and peaceful society. There are no religious purposes. We are not zen buddhists but we follow main laws of nature itself. It is more about philosophy.
What can you say about the competition in the market now?
We have a lot of competitors as this is the most competitive industry in the world. The barrier of entering is really low so anyone can just start his own project. We just try to provide interrelation of four or five different parts of this industry. We are providing privacy coins, smart contracts, hypergraph technology, scaling technologies and so on. So we have competitors in any of this spheres.
What kind of technologies do you use?
Right now, our basis is not bitcoin blockchain but a fork from it. We issued on it some security features like Zcash. We are doing everything on our own. Building sidechain solutions from scratch. But what is more interesting that we are working on the academical protocol in the DAG technology space, which is in two interesting systems like Vendome and Spectre. This technologies are really scalable and bring us to the edge of a new blockchain generation.
How has the crypto industry changed over these years?
Ten years ago, this sphere was more about engineering. But today, we think more about products and user oriented services. We try to make it more attractive to customers. It changes the focuses in the whole industry as only a few companies still think about the product instead of its design or marketing sides. But we need to go through this. I mean, the technology is cool but the technology is not a product itself and average people even don’t try to find out how it works.
Have you faced any regulative problems?
No, we haven’t. But there are some problems with regulators themselves. They don’t know where the technologies are heading. Hence, we have no idea where regulators are heading. The rules and restrictions differ so much from country to country, and it is difficult to have the global business and to keep all those regulations in mind. We try to educate regulators about what we do to help them create something useful.
Why are such big countries as the US so severe towards cryptocurrency, while small island countries are totally friendly?
Big countries do not have to think about this too much because they are already wealthy. Small governments look at blockchain and cryptocurrency as a chance to stimulate their economies and attract more capital. Also, big countries are scared of money laundering, terrorism financing and so on. Fortunately, companies can choose where to be located.
What are you working on at the moment?
We are focused on our infrastructure right now, which will be improved significantly within six months. Actually, we are working on a spin off that is supposed to be a sort of a venture capital incubator for startups built on the basis of Zen.
What do you think about ICO? Is it an efficient method of funding?
ICO is both good and bad. It is good for startup teams who have an idea and don’t have money. And it is bad for investors who have money but don’t have any idea to invest into. It is a new and noisy process, so there should be informational researches on projects. Too much investments are going not to products of high quality. I also think it is not a productive way of funding because as an investor I do not know how technologies will develop in the next few years.