It’s interesting to think about the roles of cryptonatives who sit at the crossroads of DeFi and digital security. Our latest guest does exactly that.
PWN had the chance to sit down with Pavol Luptak, who is self-described as a “cryptoanarchist, voluntaryist, and perpetual traveler focused on technology and society hacking.” Tune in as Pavol breaks down each of these terms and tells us about his current work at Nethemba and Liberation Travel.
PWN: What do you think defines a cryptonative?
PL: I see myself as a cryptonative. I switched to crypto many years ago, and now, I’m changing crypto to fiat every day just to be able to survive. This is a result of me not trusting fiat at all. I’m an IT security guy – my technical background is in security, looking for vulnerabilities and hacking systems. So I'm still somewhat skeptical when it comes to the security and privacy of most crypto technologies.
Although I can see a lot of potential problems with new DeFi tech, I still believe that these issues can be solved and that they’re part of a new continuum that we should follow. And despite today’s challenges, I still believe in crypto and have basically stopped using traditional banking technology (I only use it when I have to). Overall, traditional banking tech is definitely obsolete.
So a cryptonative is any person who understands – not only in theory but also in practice – that crypto is the future and the traditional fiat system is obsolete.
PWN: As a cryptonative, what are some of the DeFi tools and strategies that you find yourself using?
PL: I'm a privacy maximalist. I think that Bitcoin has already won in terms of being the main stable currency for keeping value, despite the fact it's not anonymous. We have Lightning Network that has a sufficient level of anonymity, but nevertheless, Bitcoin has won in this race. When I'm trying to pay for daily transactions, I prefer Bitcoin Lightning or Monero.
I have practical experiences with MakerDAO, Aave, and I'm now testing Amir Taaki’s DarkFi project.
I especially appreciate DeFi because it can completely provide an alternative to existing complex banking services; for example, collateral for loans. In the case of DeFi technology, it’s important to have some level of stability. This means that technology has to be mature (ideally tested and used for at least a few years). MakerDAO is a great example.
PWN: What are some of the main issues facing cryptonatives in today's financial ecosystem? What challenges have you faced and how are you mitigating these?
PL: As I mentioned before, one of the biggest problems of today’s DeFi technology is security. Vulnerabilities related to DeFi tech can be exploited – safely – by our IT company, Nethemba. We do comprehensive security audits of smart contracts written in Solidity, for example.
When speaking about my current challenges, the most complicated thing that I’m coping with these days are nation states. This is due to the fact that the state needs to know exactly where I am physically and where I should pay taxes.
Especially in the European Union, we can see that governments are making it hard for people to use decentralized cryptocurrency. I'm originally from Slovakia, which probably has the worst crypto-related legislation in all of Europe. There’s roughly a 40% tax on transactions made using crypto, which come along with additional complications related to social insurance and health commission. Nobody knows how to properly calculate their earnings related to crypto. As a result, when you use crypto in Slovakia, you’re likely to be breaking the law.
This concept was quite crazy to me, since I was using crypto all day, every day while living in Slovakia. Knowing that I was breaking the law while going about my daily life wasn’t an option for me.
For this reason, I decided to give up my permanent residence in Slovakia and started to travel full time. I currently have permanent residency in both Panama and Paraguay. Latin America is very open to decentralized crypto technologies – Bitcoin is quite popular in Lima, for example.
PWN: Tell us about something exciting that you’re currently working on at Nethemba.
PL: During the Covid pandemic, our team revealed critical vulnerabilities in the Slovak healthcare databases. Using these vulnerabilities, we were able to download all Covid information about all Slovak citizens – their history of PCR tests, vaccinations, digital certificates, you name it. In the period of one year, we were able to uncover multiple critical vulnerabilities. This proved that governments (and in this case, the Slovak government) can’t reliably protect their citizens’ private data.
These days, Nethemba is mostly focused on decentralized technology. We’ve done many penetration tests for crypto exchanges and crypto projects. And despite my reservations that I mentioned related to DeFi technology, I do still believe that it's the future – we should be prepared for that.
PWN: Liberation Travel refers to itself as a “group of travel hackers”. Tell us about some exciting upcoming plans that you and the team have in 2023.
PL: I really love this project. Our travel hackers have come together from across the globe to form a community of people who have decided to opt out of the traditional system. By opting out, they’ve become what we refer to as “global opportunists”. In other words, they’ve started to reap certain benefits from multiple countries by decentralizing different aspects of their lives. They may have multiple residences and are often tax residents of a different country from the one they were born in. We’re currently around 250 people, and I believe that in the coming months, we’ll be able to reach 300.
We’re currently working on a couple exciting projects. First, we’re in touch with multiple international healthcare insurance companies to sort out group health insurance for our community. I’m also looking into another project in which we’ll share a collection of properties in different countries, making various places available to our members when we’re traveling in order to save on expenses.
At Liberation Travel, our travel hacker community strives to both live outside of the system and have the same benefits as others do. It’s my belief that each of us should make use of all legal ways to liberate ourselves and gain as much economic and personal freedom as possible.
PWN: What are you most excited about in DeFi in the foreseeable future?
PL: My next big challenge – and something that I’m also quite excited about – is the prospect of transforming Nethemba from a traditional company (one that’s controlled by the government) into a DAO.
Just as I believe that crypto has replaced traditional fiat, I think it's only a question of time when DAOs will replace traditional state control. I'm really looking forward to when I no longer need any kind of bureaucratic stamps for doing business.
PWN’s Cryptonatives is an interview 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 Griff Green.
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