How did you first get interested in the Crypto space?
In 2016, I interned for a startup that was "attempting" to create a non-digital local currency aimed to bolster economic development and be spent at local businesses. Realizing the massive flaws in the startup’s model and structure, I wanted to figure out if there was a way to create “currency” in a trustless manner and stumbled upon cryptocurrencies, specifically Bitcoin and Ethereum. I was super intrigued by the mission and vision of the space and wanted to figure out how I could participate. With free electricity and internet provided by our college, a couple of friends and I decided to set up an ASIC and multi-GPU rig to mine1 both Bitcoin and Ethereum. Since then, I have continued to learn and dive deeper into the space (DeFi & NFTs) and am very excited to be working on Crypto full time here at Visa.
Is this your first time attending NFT NYC? Have you been to other similar conferences? If so, what were those like?
This was my second time attending NFT NYC! My first NFT NYC conference was back in November 2021, and it was impressive to see how much the industry has grown and matured in a mere 7 months! I have also attended other conferences (ETH Denver and Permissionless), and each type of conference has its own flavor and vibe to it all: NFT NYC was much more merchant/consumer oriented; Permissionless was more enterprise/corporate oriented; and ETH Denver was more developer oriented. There was so much energy and excitement at every conference I attended, and the amount of innovation happening from all angles and perspectives was encouraging to see.
What were some of your highlights from NFT NYC? Favorite speakers or?
The highlight of the conference for me was experiencing all the NFT activations (a combination of the digital and physical world!). Many brands (crypto and non-crypto) had presence at NFT NYC, but the crypto brands were creating these amazing immersive experiences that engaged consumers deeply with their brand. In many of the activations, by owning a specific NFT, you were able to get access to exclusive side events and even be able to purchase specific items at their merchandise stores!
How do people within crypto feel about the current market downturn? Are you worried? Did it feel unexpected? Did any of the speakers address this?
I think every speaker touched upon the “Crypto Winter” at NFT NYC given how much the market has declined. However, the sentiment at the conference was very much still filled with optimism and excitement! This correction was largely expected by most crypto community members, and now it is time to build new things to jumpstart the next bull run 😊. Highly encourage everyone to read how Crypto goes through these innovation cycles at the link here: https://a16z.com/2020/05/15/the-crypto-price-innovation-cycle/
Do you think that NFTs are a bubble? What would you say to people who think that it is just a fad?
Mainstream media often portrays the NFT ecosystem as profile pictures people are spending large amounts of money to purchase despite being a “JPEG you can just copy”. However, a key thing to keep in mind is that what is truly revolutionary/valuable about NFTs is that the technology enables the creation of scarce digital goods. Profile pictures are just one use-case for NFTs, but as the ecosystem matures there will be many more use-cases built for NFTs (e.g. ticketing to events through NFTs was very much a thing at NFT NYC).
Do you feel that things that you have done while working at Visa have informed your understanding of the Crypto landscape, and vice versa?
In the past, most of my knowledge and awareness of crypto was from a consumer and end user perspective. Since joining the Visa Crypto team, I have been able to grow my understanding of enterprise/institutional involvement in Crypto. Existing and operating from both ends has helped me realize that decentralization exists on a spectrum and that the overall trend is shifting towards less concentrated power and control over any ecosystem (e.g. internet, data, payments, etc.).
7. If someone wanted to get their feet wet and learn about NFTs or create their own, where do you recommend they start?
Best way to learn about anything from my perspective is by doing. So go create a non-custodial wallet, mint an NFT, buy an NFT, join an NFT discord, follow some NFT influencers, etc. Most NFT headlines you see today are related to the Ethereum ecosystem (Opensea specially), so that is a good place to start to learn the basics on NFT purchasing and minting, but highly encourage you to explore other chains(Tezos, Solana, Algorand, ImmutableX, Avalanche, Wax, BSC, etc.) and markets (Looksrare, Rarible, Coinbase NFT, Magic Eden, OBJKT, etc.). For the bigger skeptics on NFTs, I encourage you all to start learning about blockchain and distributed ledger technology to really understand why crypto in general is revolutionary, and ultimately this will help put into context of how NFT technology works.
8. Do you have a favorite NFT project or series?
My favorite NFT project is Cool Cats2! I find them super fun and cute, and their NFT NYC activation was truly amazing.
9. Do you have any thoughts on what evangelization could look like in the near future for NFTs or Crypto?
A huge focus for the team and for me personally is to drive general crypto education and literacy. I think in general for mainstream adoption of Crypto and NFTs, further obfuscation of the technology through better consumer facing apps will scale us to 1 billion users.