Interview with Bankera’s Advisor Lon Wong

Today, we are bringing you an interview with one of Bankera’s advisors. This time, Lon Wong, the President of the foundation, will be sharing insights about Bankera’s project, blockchain trends and the NEM technology.

Podcast with Bankera's advisor Lon Wong

If you have not yet seen the video you can check it out below:

Like always, we have prepared the interview transcript for your convenience.

Hello Mr. Wong, thank you for joining us today. How are you today?

Yes, I am good. Temperature is not, I guess, is not as cold as you are in Lithuania. I am in Malaysia, at the moment, so everything is fine regarding my weather here. So, yes.

Great to hear! Mr. Wong, I would like to know your opinion about where blockchain technology is moving.  What direction is it heading towards? What predictions or insights you could share with us?

The blockchain technology, as a technology in itself, is evolving very quickly at the moment and is undergoing a lot of changes. And we have actually moved on from just a value transfer as what we have witnessed with the first blockchain technology which is the Bitcoin technology. Now, as we see, as we progressed close to 10 years, 9 years to be exact, we are seeing a lot of changes and most of these changes extend to include non-regulated industry. And what I mean by non-regulated industry is that the blockchain technology could be applied to industries that, you know, that are traditionally not just value transactions. This could include things like land titles and registries, identity and passport, KYC as in ‘know-your-customer’, food traceability as supply chain, logistics, notary and legal contracts, document storage. It even extends to things like hack-proof web content, as well as messaging and content delivery, and other things like medical and health records as well. So, we are seeing a wide spectrum of applications where document storage and document proving, in respect of it being immutable, irreversible and permission-based, that is going to be changing in the coming years.

How does the NEM network differ from other blockchain technologies?

Well, I should say that the NEM blockchain, as a technology, is a very simple solution to implement. Simple does not mean that it is not, you know, complicated or it does not mean that it is not a sophisticated product. It is simple because we have made it simple, for any would be a solutions provider out there who requires a blockchain technology to power their applications. So writing an application on it is simple and, more importantly, the NEM blockchain itself has what we call templated smart contract. Templated means it is pre-designed, pre-defined, so the people don’t need to actually write anything on it, as much as coding is concerned. So this could include things like multi-signature asset building, as in creating smart assets, and doing other simple things like, specially with our new release, where we have what we call push-pull transactions as well. Push-pull means, in the traditional sense, is normally pushing a transaction from a sender to recipient. But now, we could actually do things like we push from a sender and, at the same time, request the recipient to send something back. And, as soon as the recipient signs the transaction, it is now being sent back as well to the sender, an asset. So, it could be, let’s say, US dollar in exchange for EUR dollars, and then the sender now needs to send US dollar to the recipient and return; the sender is expecting the recipient to send back EUR dollars. And, in one transaction, this can happen without having to trust the other party. So this is a very important feature, which we call a smart-feature as well. That is in the NEM new release that is coming out soon. So this is very different in respect to other technologies. Some other technologies you need to write smart contracts on it and, to write smart contracts, you could produce potential bugs as well and this could cause a systemic risk to whatever business that is relying on smart contract.

What future plans do you have for NEM development?

I think what is most important now is to address what call the the 80/20 rule. The 80 rule means we will try and give, and provide applications that are practical for use for 80% of the industry, whereas those application-specific solution would not be suitable for NEM. So, in as much as what we are trying to do now, is we are trying to enhance more features that are more applicable to the general market, whether it is for financial industries, or for the non-regulated industries, such as what I have said earlier. So, this is one of the things that we plan to do as we progress, to add in more features. Like, for example, as I explained earlier, the push and pull transaction features. So, the other thing that we will be looking at, obviously, is the scalability of the technology, as well as providing and enhancing both the private chain and the public chain. These are the things that we are looking at and are focusing on in our plans.

What are the benefits and weaknesses of NEM mosaic and ERC20 tokens?

Basically, what we have, is that the NEM mosaic is an smart asset solution. What does it means? It is a templated solution where you don’t need to code it as opposed to having to code a smart contract token issuance. So, by way of it being a templated solution, you are basically filling in the so called asset feature, asset quantities and the number of coins to issue, the type of asset that you want to issue, and you don’t require the user to actually do any programming to load the asset onto the blockchain. It is basically a quick and fast way and, in fact, building a NEM mosaic is like, you know, in 2-3 minutes you can actually create one NEM mosaic as opposed to a smart contract or a sort of token that is to be issued in another blockchain. Again, this matter will basically reduce any risk on the side of the users, because the users don’t need programming and, therefore, it is less prone to errors.

We know you are very selective in choosing projects to advise. Why have you chosen Bankera? Did you see competitive advantages over similar projects?

For a start, Bankera is pretty new in its approach. This is very important and this is where it attracted me initially. And, obviously, I have been asked to provide advisory service to Bankera and I have been invited by one of your advisors as well to be part of this and looking at how Bankera is wanting to achieve these objectives by way of, I wouldn’t call it new, but I would call it a different approach to how banking could be done and that is where it has attracted me to be part of the Bankera team. Of course, further I would hope that Bankera will move in the direction of using the NEM blockchain technology as it is most suited, actually, it is most suited for these solutions that Bankera is actually trying to roll out into the financial industry. In fact, the NEM blockchain is actually designed for such applications like what Bankera is trying to achieve.

Many ICO projects are using blockchain solutions to solve all kinds of problems nowadays.Does everything need to be decentralized and on blockchain? What do you think?

Basically, there are two meanings to the word decentralize. One is called the decentralized trust. Basically, it is trustless. Then, the other thing is decentralized processes, which could be the nodes of computer systems that help manage and run the blockchain solution. So, in as far as a decentralized network is concerned, where nodes are located all over the place, this obviously is a very good feature of the blockchain technology, it enhances why the blockchain technology is very suitable for things where you do not want people to be able to change transactions values or reverse transactions. So, the blockchain in the decentralized mode, based on the number of nodes that you have on the block is a very powerful solution. And on the side of the trust is most part of the trust is basically catered for by the blockchain technology. But there is certain trust, especially in banking, where you want the trust to be vested upon the service provider, in this case, the bank. Where there are certain things like, for example, the calculation of interest, you do not need to put that onto the blockchain, because the calculation of interest is very dynamic and a lot of business rules are very dynamic. So, these are the things where it can be centralized. So, this is where I see that not everything needs to be on the blockchain.

What advice would you give to our viewers, us in general, on how to select ICO projects and assess them before contributing?

Well, as you can see, lately, in the last year or so, there have been a lot of ICOs and what I have seen in these ICOs, some are scams, some are not, some are, you know, is a whole spectrum of ICOs, sometimes it is difficult for any investors or for anybody who wants to put some coins into such ICOs. And my advise, which is just one advise, it is that, looking at what we have, first  we want to see that any ICO product is viable as a solution, or practical as a solution, or potential as a solution. And the other thing that is more important to select, you know, as I said earlier there are so many ICOs out there, to select a good one and to put some money in it, we require for us, maybe a different view of it, a way of making sure that there is already some solutions that are in place, instead of what many are doing now, just a piece of white paper, telling the investors that they are going to build this and that, you know? I think that we are past that stage. We need to really show that there is something solid that is moving on and the best way to do is to actually show a working model at the least to the investors, that we have a project here. That is good. So, this is my advice to investors that, at the end of the the day, the potential ICO project must show something. At least in the very primitive stage, that is working and moving on to the next stage.

What would be a good rule of thumb to use as way to understand which projects really require blockchain and which ones just need a traditional solution?

I think the best thing to describe this is to never try to fit a square peg into a round hole. So, if it doesn’t fit, don’t force it. So, basically, the rule of thumb is to look at how someone would use the blockchain technology and that is the reason why I said earlier that the blockchain technology is evolving beyond this value transaction between two parties and it is more now to include other things that require immutable, irreversible and permission access of data and content. So this is where is moving and the rule of thumb now is to assess whether we require such solution or we require just value transfer. And banking, for example, banking is obviously a good fit for blockchain, because, basically, is a ledger and the blockchain, in its most primitive form, is basically a ledger. A record of value transactions. So the rule of thumb is not to fit and to understand what is required before one embarks into using the blockchain solution.

Mr. Wong, thank you for the interview, it was really lovely to chat with you today. All the best and have a lovely day!

Thank you very much. It is a pleasure. Thank you!

We hope you enjoyed the interview with one of Bankera’s advisors.