Dominik Meisinger asked “CryptoRobby” Robby Schwertner
What does the crypto scene look like after the hype?
Dramatic. There is no other way to describe the crash of the bitcoin price. From nearly
$ 20,000 in mid-December to under $ 13,000 by the end of the year. One month later, even the $ 10,000 mark could not be longer. Below $ 9,000, then below $ 8,000 and finally under $ 7,000. Only then did the descent end – at just over $ 6,900; a loss of over 60 percent. Not a few hobby speculators may have been caught on the wrong foot.
Robby Schwertner, on the other hand, felt a sense of relief. “It cleaned the air, like a thunderstrom and swept away some stupid projects from the market” says the blockchain expert, who is also known as CryptoRobby, during an interview in the café of the start-up center Wexelerate in Vienna, He was worried about the strong increase at the end of last year. “It was clear that it could not go on forever,” he says. The market has been overheated. From a longer-term point of view: a Bitcoin was still worth about seven times as much as a year before.
But what does the decline of Bitcoin and Co. mean for the development of cryptocurrencies? And what about the underlying blockchain technology that has been hailed by some as the biggest innovation since the internet? Has the bubble burst? The hype about cryptocurrencies had really started when the Bitcoin price in early 2017 started to move steadily upwards. The broad masses became aware, in the autumn the upward movement accelerated and towards the end of the year the course shot almost vertically upwards.
Robby himself first came into contact with the technology in 2014 during his job in research funding. He recognized the potential of the technology and began to get involved in the subject matter: “I’m intrigued by the topic and I read in until three o’clock in the morning to understand how Blockchain works.” A little more three years later, he is one of the most influential blockchain bloggers in German-speaking countries. His contributions to the LinkedIn career platform follow more than 30,000 people, he is a frequent speaker at conferences and advising companies who want to spend their own cryptocurrencies. He has since given up his job in research funding to devote himself entirely to the crypto world.
The crash on the crypto market has driven only a view blockchain enthusiasts from the scene, says CryptoRobby. Many – and that includes himself – are “in love” with technology. However, he has not lost his eye for the problems. “Blockchain databases are expensive and inefficient today,” says Robby. You have to increase speed, cut costs. These are therefore related to the currently high energy consumption. But that was high on computers in the 1960s and one could solve the problem technologically, is Robby basically optimistic. However, Blockchain is not only facing up to technological challenges: “So we have to tear down the fences in our heads,” he says. In many companies, younger employees have already recognised the potential, “but the older guard, who often takes the executive positions, needs a bit more time.”
Another topic: The legal situation
The legal situation regarding the issue of newly created cryptocurrencies via so-called Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs). According to Schwertner, Switzerland is one of the leading countries in the crypto scene, and Germany clearly lags behind, because regulation in Switzerland is less strict.
Austria was “somewhere in between”, says Robby A study by PwC Strategy cites the crypto ecosystem in Switzerland as a success factor; For example, universities would deal intensively with blockchain and create a talent pool. With the “Crypto Valley” in the city or the canton of Zug in Central Switzerland, a pivotal point of the crypto scene has become established. In the past two years alone, the number of companies organised in the Crypto Valley Association has risen from ten to 450, explains Daniel Diemers of PwC, one of the authors of the study.
The fall in Bitcoin & Co.’s share has not changed much: “The crypto landscape here continues to grow strongly and Switzerland remains one of the top five destinations in global competition,” says Diemers. It will be two or three difficult years for cryptocurrencies, because there is still fear in the market.
There were in 2017, according to icodata.io a total of 871 ICOs, in which together six billion US $ were taken. In 2018, the number is expected to increase again, as by May there were already 740 ICOs and US $ 4.5 billion, which were taken. Recently, however, the trend was down again: at $ 560 million, ICOs earned as little money in April as they had not done since last August. The peak in December was three times as high at just under $ 1.7 billion. “The market for ICOs was created in 2017, in principle,” says Daniel Diemers of PwC The strategy consultants had expected that the boom of the previous year would not be repeated to the same extent this year. This has been confirmed at least in the number of ICOs, which is also due to the increasing regulation.
Robby Schwertner also points out that some ICOs were postponed due to the turmoil on the crypto markets at the beginning of the year. Just as there are fewer IPOs on the stock markets when the market environment is unfavourable, even on the crypto market. In addition, ICOs are open for investors for a longer period. However, the market environment could still be difficult for some time:
“It will be two to three difficult years for crypto currencies, because there is still fear in the market”
He expects a broad sideways movement for this period, Bitcoin is expected to range in a band between $ 5,000 and $ 15,000. Also has changed, who invested in ICOs: Before the crash on the crypto market were mainly small investors, said Robby. Since people put 500 or € 1,000 into projects that they wanted to support. Meanwhile, it is increasingly larger investors such as family offices or owners of medium-sized companies. “The retail investors have burned their fingers, but larger investors see the current situation as an opportunity,” says CryptoRobby.
The market is no longer overheated. The big investors are professionals and would take a close look at the ICOs they invest in: “These people have an idea of their respective areas and they do not enjoy gambling.” Last September, CryptoRobby created the hashtag #ReturnOnSociety to push blockchain projects with a social benefit.
“This is a countermove to what happened in the past year,” says Robby, referring to the crypto-hype that also attracted lucky knights and cheats. The basic idea of blockchain had a revolutionary character.
In the first block of the Bitcoin blockchain in 2009, Bitcoin inventors Satoshi Nakamoto had hid a criticism of the policy of bank rescues with taxpayers money.
Lastly, the sociopolitical aspect was lost a bit:
“We have to remind people that we not just doing it for the sake of technology or even making it wealthier for some, but to improve society, “
says Robby. As an example he mentions the French start-up Peculium, which he advised at his ICO in December. The company has developed an artificial intelligence based cash investment system, even for smaller sums. Also in the field of green energy or in the health sector, according to the experts, there are examples.
“Blockchain technology has the potential, but you have to use it,” says CryptoRobby and is on a mission to bring the blockchain community back to its origins after the hype.
“That would not have been expressed clear enough,” says Schwertner. “I try to kick people´s asses so much that they don´t forget why we’re doing it.”