Technology

Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin: ‘Not a game anymore’

Screenshot of Virtual FinTech Forum fireside chat conducted by Kenetic Founder Jehan Chu with Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin at StartmeupHK Festival 2021
Screenshot of Virtual FinTech Forum 2021 fireside chat conducted by Kenetic Founder Jehan Chu with Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin at StartmeupHK Festival 2021

At Virtual FinTech Forum 2021, Ethereum creator and, at 27, world’s youngest crypto billionaire Vitalik Buterin said he feels a greater sense of responsibility these days because this decentralized open-source blockchain that he created at age 19 is not a game but a big part of the new world that is emerging.

“I think recently, especially with the rapid rise of crypto, I’m definitely feeling more of this kind of sense of responsibility that this thing that we’re building isn’t just a game anymore. It’s a significant part of the new era. And that’s not something that just crypto people are saying. Like, you know, respected kind of public intellectuals and economists. Tyler Cowen has recently said a lot of things to that effect. He even had this big article kind of just talking about cryptocurrencies and charter cities as two big pro-freedom ideas that he’s interested in,” Buterin said.

Future of finance

Buterin was responding to a question by Kenetic Founder Jehan Chu in this morning’s fireside chat at Virtual FinTech Forum 2021, which is one of the events at StartmeupHK Festival 2021. Chu had asked Buterin what question he asks himself most.

“Just realizing that it’s not a game. It is this big part of the new world and so there is an opportunity and therefore a responsibility. And the question that I ask is basically: how do we do that? What things can we do to actually work together to make sure that crypto actually can be something that really does all it can to improve people’s lives,” Buterin said.

Bloomberg Opinion columnist Tyler Cowen, whom Buterin cited in his reply, is a professor of economics at George Mason University. Cowen talked about cryptocurrencies and charter cities in his April 11 column piece “Libertarianism Isn’t Dead. It’s Just Reinventing Itself“.

“Another area attracting energetic young talent is cryptocurrency. Bitcoin gets a lot of the attention, but it is a static system. The Ethereum project, led by Vitalik Buterin, is more ambitious. It is trying to create a new currency, legal system, and set of protocols for new economies on blockchains.

“Unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum can be managed to better suit market demands. Imagine a future in which prediction markets are everywhere, micropayments are easy, self-executing smart contracts are a normal part of business, consumers own their own data and trade it on blockchains, and social media are decentralized and you can’t be canceled. The very foundations of banking and finance might move into this new realm.”

Crypto for good

The Russian-Canadian programmer, who became the world’s youngest crypto billionaire earlier this month, is also known for his philanthropy. He recently donated US$1 billion worth of meme coins to a COVID-19 relief fund in India.

“Sandeep Nailwal, co-founder of crypto organization Polygon and who put together the Indian relief fund, late Wednesday assured people that he won’t do anything that hurts ‘any community specially the retail community involved with SHIB.’

“The relief fund, which has so far used the prior donation funds to send oxygen cylinders and other medical supplies to Indian hospitals, said it plans to do a ‘thoughtful liquidation’ to meet its goals. ‘We have decided to convert the donation slowly over a period of time,’ the official Twitter page of the fund wrote.

In emerging economies, blockchain and cryptocurrency are making a direct impact on the lives of ordinary citizens. One example is this community in the Philippines that has been earning an income amid the hardships of COVID-19 through NFT (non-fungible token) gaming.