Today, we’re proud to welcome Juraj Bednar onto the Cryptonatives stage to further educate the masses and share a portion of his wealth of knowledge. Juraj describes himself as a serial entrepreneur, hacker, and explorer, and he’s passionate about all things related to liberty, hacking, and programming.
Below, we’ll dive into some of Juraj’s current projects and will discuss some key topics detailed in his newest book. Let’s go!
PWN: What do you think defines a cryptonative?
JB: To be honest, this is my first time actively using this term. Here's what I think about our place in society: My friend Juraj Karpiš, who is an economist, likes to say that money is a memory of good deeds of society. If I help someone, I receive an entry in the database of good deeds — a sort of thank you note that I can use to thank someone else for a good deed they did for me. The problem is that the main database of good deeds is corrupt. There are fake entries created by central banks that represent only a thank you note without the good deed that should come along with it.
In this context, cryptonatives would be people who choose to use the non-corrupt parallel database. And for me, it’s as important to make new entries for others as it is for me to receive them. If you help me with something and I want to give you a token of appreciation, why would I give you fiat, if I know you want a real entry in a database that isn’t corrupted?
PWN: As a cryptonative, what do you find most exciting in DeFi at the moment and what do you look forward to in DeFi in the next 3-6 months?
JB: With DeFi, the most exciting things for me can also be considered to be the most boring things. When a platform turns five or 10 years old without a crash, rugpull, or hack, it’s really promising. Hopefully, we will have many of these “not exciting” moments in the next 3-6 months.
When talking about new tech, I’d really wish for more liquid prediction, options, synthetics, and insurance markets. We have some prediction markets, but the user experience is horrible — they’re often censored or limited on what you can predict and there is really not much liquidity.
I’m a huge fan of Lunarpunk ideology. With Tornado Cash, we have experienced what might happen if a government comes cracking in. In DeFi, I’d like to see increased use of privacy technology. (Of course, Tornado Cash was just that, but it was built on top of a transparent technology where it could be identified.)
Lunarpunk works with the idea of a dark forest. In it, projects, transactions, and user interactions are all hidden under the cover of trees, and all that an outside surveillance system could see is various anonymity primitives — such as zero-knowledge proofs — if they see anything at all. The goal is for specific types of transactions (even good ones, such as the example of Tornado Cash) to be visible. This topic needs much more research and development, but I believe projects that don't go this direction are threatened by the powers that be.
PWN: What are some potential NFT borrowing strategies that stand out to you as a user? Any advice you’d give to those looking to get started in NFT borrowing/lending?
JB: To me, the most interesting use case is building parallel societies. There has been a lot of talk about putting land registry on blockchains.
What you could do is start a DAO-ized business and represent, for example, residences in a bigger project with NFTs. There, the NFT is a form of share in the company that, according to the shareholder agreement, represents a claim on a particular house. You can start doing interesting things with that. Anonymous ownership stands out as the first idea.
In this scenario, it’s important to remember that you don’t use the land registry to record the ownership of a particular unit — that's an NFT. That means if you sell it, there are no property sales taxes: There might be a tax on the sale of NFT, but that’s based on where you, as an owner, are resident. In a simplified example, if you’re living in Paraguay and you sell an NFT in Panama, you might not have to pay property sales tax in Panama, and NFT sales are tax-free for you as a Paraguayan as well.
Then you get all the infrastructure for NFTs for free. This includes safe storage in a hardware wallet, an auction site and some exposure, and some crypto journalists writing about it. Now, there could be a third party that could value the unit of the real estate project, and you could take a decentralized mortgage on a property that you own anonymously and transfer it tax-free. How cool is that?
One more interesting thing you could do with this type of project is to create new kinds of societal contracts. For example: You own an apartment, and you have a large disagreement with a neighbor. There’s no way to solve the issue unless one of you moves out. It’s a game of chicken. If you have a share in the company, there could be a provision in your contract saying that in some specific case of disagreement, the neighbor would be forced to sell. While you’d need to ensure that the price is fair, this could be a diplomatic way of solving these kinds of problems. Of course you could be that neighbor, so you should make sure from the start that the price is fair, but it could be a way to actually solve this problem.
PWN: You recently released a book (congrats!) on how non-inflationary currency will help us change our lives and the world. We’d like to hear your thoughts on the next wave of adoption — how this will come about and when?
JB: Thank you! I recently gave a talk which featured some ideas from the book, and while this wasn’t explicitly included in the book, the talk started with a slide that just said "We have arrived!".
Today, everyone is looking for the next thing, be it the next coin, adoption, regulation, or new service. And while I definitely love technology and appreciate technological advancement, I think it’s important to realize that this crazy ride has already led us to a really good place.
Since Satoshi's first block, we were able to anonymously buy an honest hard currency using peer-to-peer protocols. Now, the number of people we can buy from and exchange with has dramatically increased. And at the same time, the technological infrastructure — services, exchanges, and payment integrations — has gone much better. I mean, we are literally printing dollars on the blockchain!
In short, my thoughts on adoption are that we don’t always necessarily need to focus on the next thing, but instead, make proper use of what we already have.
My best guess (let's not call it a prediction) on where one of the next waves of adoption will come from is that it will be people pushed out from the mainstream financial system. Suddenly, their transfers stop working. Their currencies will afford them less gas, a smaller apartment, less food, and poorer qualities of services. These people will get asked why they want to withdraw the money for the bank and what they want to buy, and at that point, they’ll come running to us. It will then be our job to open our arms and welcome them into our world.
PWN: One of your projects, Hacktrophy, focuses on maintaining IT security through continuous testing for digital vulnerabilities. In your opinion, what are the roles of white-hat hackers and ethical hacking in DeFi?
JB: DeFi and most of crypto space is an implicit bug bounty program. Money managed by a smart contract (or other way of crypto custody) is the bounty, and if someone hacks it, they’re paid the bounty. So if you run a crypto project, you already have a bug bounty program, but this is for black hat hackers that will just steal your money. I think in this situation it is also a good idea to attract white hat hackers. These are people who love hacking, but instead of doing so maliciously, they just want to help projects find bugs and fix them. So offering a bounty for white hat hackers is a must, and at Hacktrophy, and we love giving projects the opportunity to reward good security researchers.
PWN: As the co-founder (and fellow frequenter) of Paralelni Polis, what are some of its upcoming events and/or initiatives that cryptonatives should be on the lookout for?
JB: Paralelni Polis’ conferences and events are starting to diversify. This year’s Hackers Congress Paralelni Polis event really took place, and it was definitely one of the best for me. We also host a number of Ethereum events as well as the annual Bitcoin Pizzaday.
I’m currently excited about the expansion of the idea behind Paralelni Polis into more cities. I’ve started Paralelna Polis in Bratislava, which is currently online only, as it unfortunately didn’t make it through the pandemic in its physical form. Additionally, there are activities in Vienna, Košice, and other cities in which people are starting their own organizations. I’m fascinated by the phenomenon of hackerspaces, and I’d like to see a local form of cryptonative parallel society in every city!
Cryptonatives should definitely come and interact with people at Paralelni Polis and see how they've been living their life on crypto and how the house itself is able to do the same. It’s a non-profit, but it still has a PnL (Profit and Loss statement). So how do you run such a project in a cryptonative way?
When people say something is impossible (like a cryptonative person or a crypto native business or a non-profit), I like to answer that I love doing this impossible thing every day. And if I can do it every day, it’s probably not that impossible. I see this a lot when people talk about crypto, with people claiming that it’s impossible to do accounting, conduct business due to volatility, or to use it legally (not true!).
As I said before, we need to open our arms when approaching and discussing these topics. So that's what Paralelni Polis is doing, and it’s also why I've written my newest book — to explain how to do the impossible everyday in practice.
I suggest you make use of both of these resources: Visit Paralelni Polis just to learn how it has transcended the impossible, because I can assure people that it’s very real — it’s not only standing and operating, it’s flourishing. And in the meantime, I'd be glad if you read my book as well to see how it can be done.
To all the new cryptonatives out there: Welcome to the free world, friends!
PWN’s Cryptonatives is a Q&A series with some of the brightest minds within the web3 and DeFi space who are building and making active use of the services that today’s crypto ecosystem has to offer. Through shedding light on their experiences and lessons learned throughout their careers, it’s our team’s goal to educate the masses and further spread our guests’ wealth of knowledge.
Read through our previous Cryptonatives interview with Luis Cuende of Aragon DAO and Nation3 DAO.
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