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Dialogue with Bitcoin Evangelist in Latin America: RSK Labs CEO Diego on Crypto Industry

Diego Gutierrez is the CEO at Koibanx and president of Bitcoin Argentina NGO. In addition, Diego also serves as the CEO of Rootstock/RSK Labs, a smart contract platform built on top of bitcoin.

Getting in touch with bitcoin in 2011, Diego decided to completely devote his life to it after he realized the potential of bitcoin. That’s why he’s creating grassroot communities in Argentina and Latin America, where they have had ten countries with communities.

As an early promoter of bitcoin, Diego understood how bitcoin could help solve the problems of the unbanked. However, bitcoin could not solve all issues “without smart contract capabilities volatility mitigation and execution of complex business rules in a trust-less environment”, as it reads in his Linkedin profile. In an attempt to tackle these issues, he co-founded Rootstock and RSK Labs in 2015.

We (8btc News) had a chance to sit with the person behind RSK Labs, Diego. During the interview he spoke about the startup’s philosophy and its goals, also we discussed the buzzwords in the crypto sector and the challenges it faces these days.


RSK is the first open-source smart contract platform with a 2-way peg to bitcoin that also rewards the bitcoin miners via merge-mining. “RSK is a sidechain to bitcoin, we have a bridge between RSK and bitcoin, the only way you can create a Smartbitcoin is by locking the bitcoin in the bitcoin network and at any time you can take the Smartbitcoin and give it back and you will get your original bitcoin. That’s the way we transfer value between the two networks.” talking about the design idea of RSK, Diego said,

“We use all the good things of bitcoin, and combine them with all the good things of Ethereum in terms of business logic, capability, and RSK is exactly that. It’s the second layer on top of bitcoin that extends bitcoin capabilities to bring smart contract.”

According to Diego’s explanation about RSK’s merge-mining, miners are producing proof of work all the time, and most of those the proof of work are not useful for bitcoin difficulty, but miners still report those proof of work to the pools, because once the pool find a block, they distribute the profit among all the miners equally based on the work they produce, so what RSK do is to use the proof of work that’s not good enough for bitcoin to protect intermediate blocks. In this way he said, RSK’s merge-mining is using the waste from bitcoin mining.

When asked why projects would like to run on RSK, Diego gave his reasons with two important decisions the team made, one thing is not to have their own currency, the native currency of RSK is RBTC/SmartBitcoin, which is one-to-one to bitcoin; the other is they would use bitcoin miners, currently 30% of bitcoin miners are protecting both bitcoin and RSK with the same currency reward and infrastructure.

Talking about smart contract, Ethereum would first come up, which started crowd-funding early in 2014. While Diego said they have been working on this program actually before Ethereum, but its media exposure is not equal to adoption. And the team are more concerned about going step by step with security being their priority till all are in place.

The company has recently been acquired by RIF Labs, a development lab that was established by a handful of RSK’s own founders. It was born from the idea of creating on the third layer of RSK for peer-to-peer interactions. With the merge, RSK is opening the doors of smart contract interoperability, as RIF OS’s framework could allow for RSK to interoperate with other smart contract platforms in the future. Both the RIF team and RSK share the same vision of creating the internet of value. That’s why they choose to merge to realize their common goal.

But how could they achieve this goal? Diego explained in a very approachable way,

“If you go into a store to buy things, when you go through the counter there’s agreement you will pay. But if you take the goods and you don’t pay, the owner of the shop will call the police who will make you pay. The police is very expensive, so you don’t call the police all the time or sign an agreement every time you go into a shop. Our peer-to-peer network do the same, we handle agreement with people without using the blockchain unless one of the parties tries to cheat. Once he cheats, you can use the blockchain/smart contract to force the other party to respect the agreement. In this way, it is efficient as all interactions are peer-to-peer unless somebody tries to cheat.”

Many have some doubts about it being acquired by an offshoot, the CEO explained to us that the technical part of the two projects is connected, but the RIF team have renowned professionals with decades of experience in the financial and legal realms.

“The RIF team are bringing other knowledge into the mix. In addition, the RIF team is more global, a global network would be useful in a long-term vision, and they have wallet (fund).”

Having learned about the technical strength of a project, most investors in the market are also concerned about the project’s token sale. Even though RBTC doesn’t have a token sale but RIF does have. While considering the current unclear environment, Diego said in order to protect the project, they didn’t do a public funding/initial coin offering, all the funding have finished, but they will find ways to let the community participate in near future.

When it comes to the recent buzzwords in the crypto sector, for example, STO, Diego believes it is a good evolution from ICO, because it creates a relationship between the rights and the duties of both investors and entrepreneurs. In a traditional ICO, entrepreneurs may not be responsible after they got investors’ funds, while in an STO it is under more regulation.

Regarding the recent BCH hard fork, Diego was supportive of BCH’s fork out from BTC because BCH is moving towards better goals, which can be understood as a natural choice. But this recent BCH fork is full of attacks and vicious fights right now, which had negative consequences for the cryptocurrency market while trying to destroy each other. Nevertheless, the market would finally decide which one is better like an evolutionary system. In this aspect, it’s healthy; while on the other side, one faction is not respectful for the other, and that faction is being punished by the market and people.

The BCH hard fork has led the crypto price to a massive slump, we asked Diego to give some advice for investors, he said it’s too late to give advice for crypto investors, but told investors

“always invest in cryptocurrency what you can afford to lose and invest cryptocurrency that you can hold at least for three years as the crypto market runs in that cycle.”

The bitcoin evangelist, active particularly in Latin America, is always doing what he wants and pursues, hope everyone can act this way.


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