Bend Lapp

Interview with Bernd Lapp: BOTLatAm and Bringing Blockchain to the Masses

Nov 23, 2018, 11:35AM
9 min, 42 sec READ

This is the first interview in a series covering the upcoming Blockchain On Tour Latin America event and the projects featured at the conference.

In this article, Bernd Lapp talks about his current projects and the upcoming Blockchain On Tour Latin America.

Bernd Lapp, CEO of OLD SCHOOL GmbH and advisor of several blockchain projects, is one of the founders of Blockchain On Tour Latin America (BOTLatAm) alongside Mrs. Renée Edle von Lapp and Ms. Vicky Jacob. BOTLatAm is a collaborative initiative between several companies premised on the idea that Latin America is the perfect fertile ground for Blockchain-based products. As stated below, Mr. Lapp believes blockchain could help address both the continent's economic shortcomings, as well as offer options for resistance in the face of state censorship and control in a region where autocratic leadership is commonplace. It could also provide the basis for a new generation of entrepreneurs to succeed in tech.

Unlike many blockchain conferences, the team behind BOTLatAm does not aim to educate its audience about the technical aspects behind the technology. Instead, they are focused on introducing real-world use-cases for blockchain-based products to a wider public. In other words, the focus is not on how blockchain works but on what it can do. The goal is to encourage adoption and use, and the thinking is that people use other apps and internet services not because they know how they work--most of us don't--but because they know what these technologies can do for them. 

The BOTLatAm tour will touchdown in 5 cities on the South American continent. The first venue will be held on November 26 in Sao Paulo, Brazil as part of the Sao Paulo Tech Week SPTW 2018. Then, the tour will continue to Lima, Peru; Guayaquil, Ecuador; Barranquilla, Colombia, and will finish on December 2 in San Miguel, Mexico. All these events are free to attend and will be hosted at university campuses, in hopes of attracting as many as 500 attendees at each venue.

Bitrates will be in attendance at the Barranquilla, Colombia event and will be presenting reporting and interviews from the conference. 

The tour will feature presentations from six carefully curated blockchain-based projects: Dether, a platform that allows users to easily buy and sell cryptocurrencies anywhere in the world; Appics, a rewards-based social network; Status, an app that allows you to access the Ethereum ecosystem from your cell phone; Giveth, a platform for the creation of decentralized altruistic communities; Etherisc, a decentralized insurance protocol, and, a project with which Mr. Lapp is involved and which we will cover in this interview.


Ricardo Carrasco: One of the phrases you use to refer to your vision is "Bringing Blockchain to the masses". What role do you think Blockchain technology will play in our civilization's not-so-distant future?

Bernd Lapp: Blockchain Technology will be part of the internet. It will be the web3.0 where you are able to transfer value over distance. It is a crucial part for a more digital world which will make processes more efficient and allows to add payments to a lot of services immediately. Think of IoT. With Blockchain the micropayments will be possible from device to device, this would not be possible with the banking system, as this would be too costly.


RC: Could you tell us about BOTLatAm? Who's behind this initiative, and what can attendees expect from the event?

BL: We created an association in Switzerland for this initiative. The idea is very simple, explain blockchain based products like you would explain the benefit of e-mail or WhatsApp. Don’t try to explain the blockchain technology, as no one will explain the internet to you, but we all use it every day. If you attend the event you will learn how these new products can help you get self sovereign and build your own ecosystem. Use a currency that is not influenced by your government. Create a censorship resistant business relationship. Buy and sell Peer to Peer in an environment that creates full trust between the two participating parties, without the need of any third party.


RC: The BOTLatAm page says that Latin America is the perfect fertile ground for Blockchain products. What are the most pressing issues you see blockchain technology could solve in Latin America? Do any of the featured companies have an interest in any particular country?

BL: In my opinion there are three topics that make LatAm a fertile ground. First, Most countries have a currency that is not working. Influenced and abused by the government makes it worthless. Cryptocurrencies cannot be changed once they are deployed, the only influence they know is from the market.

Second, oppression and corruption is a huge topic in a lot of LatAm countries. Cryptocurrencies are censorship resistant and pseudonymous, meaning you don’t necessarily need to know who you are dealing with and still you can trust that the system will work. Nobody can influence who you will be making business with or what price you ask. It is all managed by the market itself.

Third, once you are in the Cryptoecosystem it is very easy to create your own business. This technology is unstoppable and a perfect world for entrepreneurs. Maybe its not yet the most user-friendly technology, but people in LatAm are used to create solutions and are not as pampered as people in most developed countries.


RC: Besides working on applications of blockchain tech, what do all the projects participating in BOTLatAm have in common? What else could you tell us about the featured projects at BOTLatAm?

BL: Each project actually has a different focus. But combined you can use them to create your own business. You can earn or buy cryptocurrency, you can use it in existing applications or create your own marketplace and you can use them to fund your dream and even use a P2P insurance that is not looking at your credit score.


RC: One of the things that caught my attention is that even though you have been involved in the development of several important blockchain projects, you are not a software engineer/developer. What types of non-technical professionals do you think are most needed in order to build more impactful blockchain initiatives?

BL: I came to this space because I saw the need for more user friendly products. I still think this is the biggest challenge right now. In addition a lot of great developers are not good in running a business. They have great ideas and will change the  world, but it helps if they can also sustain their life with making some money. So Business people that are creative and want to change the world will have lots of fun here. Just like I do.


RC: What would you say is the biggest obstacle in the way of massive blockchain technology adoption?

BL: Creating User friendly products. We are still not able to compete with centralized products because of UX. This will change  but it takes very long. Mainly because the UX talent has not yet entered the market in large numbers.


RC: As a person who knows business and blockchain technology, which do you consider to be the most important, interesting, or otherwise most likely to succeed blockchain projects available right now?

BL: I hope to find out in LatAm. If we cannot find a market that uses blockchain products we will not find out what is really useful. In our tour we show an Instagram like App that lets you earn money for posting pictures. I think this will be the biggest attraction fo the tour. It will also be a perfect gateway into crypto, because once you have the first cryptocurrency you want to use it and that’s where all the other products come in handy.


RC: Your LinkedIn profile says that you are part of the business hive at Swarm City. Could you please tell us about Swarm City and the philosophy behind the project? What role do you play in it?

BL: As my title says I am looking after the business part fo Swarm City. Swarm City is an application that lets you create your own business very easily. If you are interested in organising a marketplace, for example for people to buy and sell clothes, you can easily create that marketplace. Any Designer or simply anyone that produces clothes then can sell his products on this marketplace. Everything is P2P meaning the seller and the buyer are the only two involved in the deal. The marketplace owner is simply the provider of the best tools to run this business online.

Or even think of creating a marketplace for ride sharing. It could look like Uber, but instead of Uber also getting involved in the deals between driver and passenger, the marketplace only provides the best tools to get both parties together.
On the tour I will present how easy this product works and we will even give out some tokens to everyone that registers with the application.

RC: You are also the CEO of Old School GmbH; could you please elaborate on what your company does? What is an important project you are working on that you would like people to know about?

BL: Old School is the bridge between these very decentralized and sometimes even anarchistic products and the legacy world. I take care of the old school business part and the projects I support can still be totally decentralized. If a project does not have an entity at all I can be their gateway and will engage with the real business world, for example hiring contractors or making other legal agreements for them. It started with Swarm City as we never created an entity for it, but needed to pay Devs or hire lawyers fo example. Thats when I created Old School.


RC: You were formerly involved with the Ethereum Foundation as an advisor. What are your current thoughts on Ethereum's progress? Do you foresee Ethereum achieving its current goals and retaining its dominant position going forward?

BL: Yes, I think Ethereum is progressing very well and is balancing very well between security and bleeding edge technology. A lot of projects see what can be done better with ethereum but forget that it already is around since end of 2014. Any new project will also take as long to progress and in the process of doing so, they might face some issues that Ethereum has already solved ion the meantime.
I think the blockchain space will have blockchains for specific use cases, like bItcoin for the most secure financial transactions. Ethereum for programmable money. IOTA for micropayments best used in IoT and so on. Per specific use case there will always be only Blockchain that will do this best. In addition there will be layers on top of the blockchains that make them interoperable. RSK, Polkadot, Cosmos etc… This is the next space to look for.

RC: Would you like to say anything else to our audience, or maybe expand on any of the subjects we have discussed?

BL: I am happy to discuss any of the topics above in more detail and hope people will come and try the the products we show on the tour. The tour is really for everyone and our goal is to explain the benefit of using the products, not understanding the technology.
I hope to see a lot of people on the tour.


In the upcoming weeks, we will be bringing you more about BOTLatam, including exclusive interviews, and live coverage of the event. Stay tuned!

Disclaimer: information contained herein is provided without considering your personal circumstances, therefore should not be construed as financial advice, investment recommendation or an offer of, or solicitation for, any transactions in cryptocurrencies.