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Cryptocurrency 101: What does it mean to be crypto-self-banked?


During the December installment of Innov8: A Speaker Series, seasoned software engineer and tech entrepreneur Igor Artamonov spoke about cryptocurrency in “Unbank Yourself: What Does It Mean to Be Crypto-Self-Banked?”

Igor Artamonov Artamonov has played important roles in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industries, having led the creation of the Ethereum Classic blockchain and as the founder of Emerald, a company that creates a cryptocurrency wallet for people and businesses who use it daily for payments.

“Cryptocurrency is peer-to-peer money, which means there is no trusted authority, no company that issues the currency,” Artamonov said. Originally known as Bitcoin, and also popularly known as Ethereum, there are actually more than 7,000 cryptocurrencies and tokens right now, according to Artamonov.

Most people in the United States know cryptocurrency as a form of trading and investment, but in his presentation Artamonov explained how it is also used by emerging markets, remote workers/freelancers, donations and political organizations and many others.

Why people use cryptocurrencies

During the one-hour discussion, Artamonov highlighted a variety of benefits to using this new method of banking, sharing how it can be used to: 

  • Avoid restrictions (like amount of funds you can transfer globally in a month)

  • Make direct transfer more efficient than a traditional bank transfer 

  • Have safety and control with your money (can keep cryptocurrency on the computer or a private key so that no one can take money from you)

  • Keep your funds private (no one asking for passports, etc. when you open an account)

  • Reduce costs (to transfer cryptocurrencies, it’s usually less than $1 per transaction, even for global transfers)

What do you need to use cryptocurrency?

“All you need to do is install some software,” Artamonov said. “You don’t need to go anywhere, you don’t need to open an account with an organization and show IDs, you just install software and start using it.”

There are two types of cryptocurrency wallets: custodial wallets (Paypal, Coinbase Wallet and Bitpay) and non-custodial wallets (Bitcoin Core, Metamask, Electrum and Emerald) exist. Custodial wallets don’t give you access to the cryptocurrency you own, while non-custodial wallets give you access to your currency, allowing you to keep them on your devices.

What are the challenges?

The biggest problem is mass adoption. “People avoid using cryptocurrencies because they don’t see others using the currencies, and they wait for other people,” Artamonov said. He adds:

  • People are afraid of the price volatility, which is good for investors, but bad for non-traders who want a stable price)

  • It’s a new concept: cryptocurrencies use private keys, and there is no one to call to restore or fix something and no central organization

  • Software complexity to properly use cryptocurrencies

  • Private key security (people don’t know how to backup the private key: You can lose money if you change your device, lose your private key or your private key is leaked

Looking into the future

So, are cryptocurrencies the future of banking? Artamonov says yes. “I believe that cryptocurrencies provide some advantages compared with traditional financial systems—there are features that did not exist at all and were not considered as a possibility,” Artamonov said. View the full recording

ASU’s monthly Innov8: A Speaker Series brings industry leaders to highlight innovative topics and is devoted to spreading ideas and sharing knowledge through short, powerful tech-driven talks. Keep an eye on the Events Calendar for our next installment!