Kristina Lucrezia Cornèr is the Editor-in-Chief of crypto-focused news outlet Cointelegraph. She sat down with Right for Education to discuss her views on the growing crypto market and what the future might hold.
R:Ed: The crypto space is getting a lot of attention these days and moving more into the mainstream. Why do you think that is and what has changed in space over the last few years?
K: Well I joined the space in 2017 and at the time it was a completely different ecosystem. It was a completely different, um, level of Mainstreamisation. I remember going to the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2018 and everyone was talking about Bitcoin as a sort of persona non grata and nobody understood the technology. The following year it had already changed and people were discussing use cases for it.
I think what’s exciting for me is that the number of blockchain applications has multiplied so fast. This applies to Defi (decentralised finance), metaverses and so many other use cases. The technology is seeing great adoption as a way to approach the future. The space hasn’t evolved so much as it has transformed. What it was in 2017 and what it is now are two very different worlds.
R:Ed: What possibilities do you think people are starting to see in crypto that wasn’t available to them before?
K: I would say that there are two important parts. So first is of course digitalization in general. This process was happening anyway but the lockdowns have been an important catalyst as more people were forced to stay at home with just their phones and their laptops.
The second is just the general movement towards decentralisation. There are a lot of people who want more transparency and independence, both digitally and financially. Bitcoin has been called a peaceful means of protest and that’s a definition I quite like. It’s a new approach to money that moves away from central authorities
R:Ed: Do you think the future of the internet, what we might call Web 3.0, will be decentralised, or do you think certain agents will still gather the most influence around themselves?
K: I think it’s like a democracy. We call certain states democratic that are anything but that. It’s never black and white. Projects in the crypto space face the famous trilemma: scalability, security, decentralisation. It is very difficult to improve on all of these fronts at the same time. Usually, projects must privilege only two.
I think some exciting new technologies are emerging like DAOs (decentralised autonomous organisations) and of course, a lot of cryptocurrencies are decentralised. But there will always be a place for the incumbents in big tech like Google and Apple. But you cannot say that is all bad either. Look at the opportunities Google has given us. Is it bad? I don’t know. I think that there is always a risk but in the future, there will be a balance between the different actors.
R:Ed: Early adopters of cryptocurrency have usually had an ideological reason to support it as a new financial system. Do you think that that is important to the average retail consumer? What is the use case of crypto for them?
K: Well the first is of course to invest in it like a stock as people do with Bitcoin. But I think cryptocurrencies are a viable means of payment for everyone. The most important thing is to educate, educate, educate. The barrier to entry to these ecosystems at the moment is mostly in the education of retail consumers about crypto. I’m not saying everyone will have 10 cryptocurrencies in their wallet in 10 years but not everyone has stocks either
R:Ed: To the outside world, crypto is often seen as a sort of cult because its users defend it aggressively and like to talk about it in evangelical tones. How trustworthy do you find most reporting on the space?
Well, as a newspaper focused on crypto, we of course have a bias towards good news. We have to highlight things that are good in the space as part of our strategy but we also educate about negative things. Let’s take the example of the debate about Bitcoin being green or not. Of course, it could be more sustainable but that’s the case for so many industries. It’s not as if people in the crypto space aren’t making efforts towards this.
Crypto is still a community. It’s not widespread as the internet, it’s still a small group of people. That creates an existential motivation to report on good things. But there are two sides to education: the words as they are written, and then as they are interpreted. We have our standard of journalism but I encourage people to diversify their sources. Then you can formulate your opinion for yourself. No single source can give a full view of this new ecosystem.
R:Ed: What do you think is the future of cryptocurrency in Africa?
K: I think the crypto adoption that is happening in Africa is one of the most exciting facets of the whole industry. We’re starting to see that a lot of people who just have a smartphone with an internet connection can do magic things without intermediaries like banks and other institutions.
Africa is a place where, in my opinion, there is a history of convergence of different ways of thinking. There is no other continent where there is such a strong alternative to the Western perspective and I think there will be many blockchain applications in Africa. Crypto is something that goes beyond any border and I look forward to seeing what further crypto adoption will bring to Africa.