Beam CEO Alexander Zaidelson: Building True Digital Cash Is Our Vision


Entering 2019, the MimbleWimble from Harry Potter has swept the crypto world.

The unique design of privacy coin attracts hardcore tech people and inquisitive investors. Alexander Zaidelson was one of them.


He learned about Bitcoin and MimbleWimble, then joined his friends’ team, which is now known as Beam.

Lately, the CEO of privacy coin Beam Alexander Zaidelson took the interview of CoinTime, revealed more detail of Beam’s vision.

Can you introduce about yourself like how did you get interested in crypto and how did you find MimbleWimble?

Beam CEO Alexander Zaidelson: I started my career as a software developer and an entrepreneur and a product manager for a long time. Before Beam, I spent two years in a VC fund investing all kinds of technologies. So I started learning about crypto and got interested, and starting playing with some bitcoin, not as a speculator, but more as a user, just to feel the technology. 

Then in the beginning of 2018, maybe in spring, I started hearing about MimbleWimble from my friends who have already started Beam at that point. I found it is a really fascinating technology because I knew about bitcoin more or less. I knew how it was built. What was the architecture. When I learned about MimbleWimble, I understood that it was something very new in the space, kind of like a technology revolution, a different paradigm. 

In July 2018 by my friends who are already part of the project, especially Alex, the CTO of Beam. I only started getting interested in crypto in the mid to end 2017. Around that time, I started playing with the technology.

In our team we have an interesting combination of skills and backgrounds. On one hand, some people who have been in the crypto area for a long time. On the other hand, people with diverse experience from other areas. Like myself - I was in in different industries and I was an investor. I have a broader outlook on the world.

You said your friend was starting Beam at that time, Right? What is the standard to choosing your team members? 

Beam CEO Alexander Zaidelson: It was Alex, the CTO who was part of the original starting team who built the development team. Then I joined as CEO to shape the vision and strategy, to represent Beam to the world and to bring in more orderly processes of management and company building.

The core team members, the technical working members are all hand-picked by Alex, the CTO, who worked with them in the past. 

The criterion was very high professionalism and a very good attitude. So the development team is very homogeneous and united. They've known each other for a long time. It's very easy for the team to move forward. They are more about technology and engineering. That's what really drives them. 

From the public, there were concerns about some history of your team members Amir Aaronso and Yonatan Ben Shimon, how do you think?

Beam CEO Alexander Zaidelson: 

Before Beam, Amir was in a company called Playtness for a very short period of time. I don’t kno. He didn't start the company, he worked there as employee and now he moved on. He is one of the most straightforward and honest people that I've ever met. Playtness did ICO, but Amir was not the founder of the company. 

About Yonatan, we're not getting into his business. I think theremaybe have been some allegations, and he's still running the company, he is work on that. 

Now he's not actively involved in Beam, but he is still a good friend. He's back focusing on his own projects.  Our reputation is very important to us, and Beam will never engage in any unethical practice or behavior.

People think that Beam is more centralized than Grin, how do you think of it? 

Beam CEO Alexander Zaidelson: We are more centralized in a sense that we have a company. We have a CEO and CTO, and we may be less transparent about our management processes. Although Grin is decentralized, still there is a small group of people that is making all the key decisions. There is an informal leader, Ignotus Peverell, who is obviously the person who has the decisive voice. So while they are less loosely organized, I still think that you cannot say it’s fully decentralized. It's not like you have hundreds of people voting for every decision. They still have a core management group that has management meetings and makes decisions

We made Beam a company because there was the way to build things fast. We have this vision about optional compliance and coexisting with financial system, which is easier to implement when you have a company. In addition to the Beam company, we are now setting up a Beam Sovereign Money Foundation that will take control over the protocol from the company and it will be responsible for future development of the protocol. As Beam team, we don't want to control the foundation. It's very important to us that the Foundation is totally independent. We dedicated significant funding from the Beam treasury that will automatically go to the Foundation.

In the near future, we want to attract respectable people from the industry to be on the board of the foundation, who are not related to Beam Company. Maybe there will be one or two members from our original team. The goal is to make it more decentralized. Then after maybe five years, the foundation will probably dissolve because the funds are for five years, and then the community will take over. So we understand that we don't want a company to run the currency in the long term. 

How is the foundation going now? 

Beam CEO Alexander Zaidelson: It's starting to build, we're now in the process of creating the foundation in Switzerland. 

It takes time unfortunately with the authorities, there is always paperwork when you submit. I hope in a couple of months from now it should be set up.

So what kind of people can be the board member of the foundation? 

Beam CEO Alexander Zaidelson: We'll probably have a board of five to seven people and we'll have people from crypto world and maybe a couple of people from outside the crypto world. The idea is to attract people who are not affiliated because otherwise if it's all investors and us, then it's the same as the company. So the goal is to have people from the outside and who don't have vested interest in Beam company. 

I want to build a diverse group of people that will actually promote the currency and the notions of financial privacy.

How many exchanges Beam have been listed ? 

Beam CEO Alexander Zaidelson: I think today we have about ten different exchanges and there are discussions with more exchanges including several very important ones. I can't share too many details about that. We're working on that, it takes time, but eventually will be there and we want to do it in a very clean way. We don't want to engage in any tactics like air drops or trade competitions. We want to work with exchanges that want to list us because they hope for big volumes and for all the people interested.

After launching the mainnet, Beam price went down 50%, how was your feeling?

Beam CEO Alexander Zaidelson: We felt ok. For us, it is not about the immediate price, it is about the long term value and usage of the network, so we don't care that much about short term price and also our investors don't care about short term price that much. Alll the investor and founders rewards are spread over five years. So what's important is where the price will be in a year from now, in two years from now, three years from now.  

So we're not too worried about how it goes, especially since it's not directly related to some actions of ours. We're working hard, bringing good news often, like new investments, new partnerships, technology, new ideas. We're doing our best, and the market is how it is. And we're not doing any manipulation or anything like that.

We would of course prefer the price to go up. But daily fluctuations are not indicative of anything. There are a lot of market forces operating. There are prices of other coins. So it's a very difficult equation. So we're not paying too much attention. It certainly doesn't stop us from doing things right. We are focused on building the product for the long run. 

Now, there is not too much liquidity in the market because the exchanges we are working with are not very big. So lot of people are waiting for more exchanges. Once we have that, then the price will probably better reflect the market sentiment. Because right now it may be influenced by a very small trades that people are doing. 

You were talking about the roadmap and your vision. So can you tell us about that? 

Beam CEO Alexander Zaidelson: We believe that any financial activity, any transfer value needs to have two properties. It must be confidential because you don't want to disclose your financials to anyone, and it also needs to be open in order to be compliant. As in a lot of cases, there are businesses who want to trade things, but they need to report. 

We want to build an ecosystem for transfer value, which includes the Beam coin and all kinds of confidential assets, like tokenized securities, stable coins on MimbleWimble, digital collectibles, partial ownership of real estate, all kinds of different use cases. Our technology supports issuance of those additional assets. 

For confidential transactions and for every transaction, we want to allow people to attach transaction documents and then give an auditor the key to review them. 

So the auditor can see somebody's transactions, see the complete list, and then validate that everything is ok. So that this person can pay the taxes in the right way, or they can convert their many money in a bank that can be sure that the money was not involved in any bad activity. Because this is one of the problems today with confidential currency to come to the bank control or to regulate a change. In a confidential way, this is very important so that the privacy is not disclosed yet. 

For example, for the bank, all the information that about business and it's transactions is only known to their bank and their auditor, but not to anybody else. So we want to build something very similar. 

It’s like using cash in real life. If I want to bring a lot of cash to the bank, I need to take care of paperwork to prove that the cash is legal. If I just want to store it at home, people will not ask any paper work. So this is a system that we want to replicate more or less, so people who want to be part of the financial establishment like banks, will make sure that all their transactions are documented on the blockchain. People who don't want that or have small amounts don't have to do that. And there's no way to force them to do that. 

So the goal is to build a system, similar to cash, where people with relatively small amounts will probably not care and not do any transaction documentation. Businesses with large amounts will probably do, but everybody will choose their level of compliance on their own. 

So our goal is to allow people who want to be compliant, to do that on confidential blockchain. Because most of the people are compliant, most of the businesses are compliant, and they're paying their taxes. They have to report. So this is how we see the future. 

People can use all the benefits of critical currency without disclosing their privacy, but being able to stay in the compliant field. 

For people who wants to be compliant, why don’t they just choose Bitcoin or Ripple?

Beam CEO Alexander Zaidelson: People guard their financial information very carefully. Public companies disclose only very top level figures,  they don't disclose detailed financials or prices they pay to their supply chain. That's why non confidential cryptocurrency doesn't work for this use case of business. If they want to really do business on crypto currency using bitcoin or any other crypto currency, it's not confidential with address. People want to be confidential. Nobody would want to disclose their financial statement in public. That's human nature.

That sounds like Beam wants to be the digital fiat around the world? 

Beam CEO Alexander Zaidelson: Yes. Building true digital cash is something that is on our vision. This was the original vision of bitcoin, only without privacy is not possible. And coins with privacy only is also not possible. Money needs reporting. So a coin needs both (privacy and compliance). And this is what we want to do. 

About the regulation part, which country will you start first? 

Beam CEO Alexander Zaidelson: I still don't know. We're now starting to work on specifying the requirements for this. We're working with a big four accounting firm to help us on this. Once we have the full specification, then we'll see how we can approach different regulators. I think maybe it’s easier in Europe than other parts of the world.

Are there more plan for Litecoin cooperation?

Beam CEO Alexander Zaidelson: We're starting to research together how MimbleWimble can be implemented as those extension blocks to add some privacy layer to Litecoin. It's more like a technology cooperation where we are providing our expertise in  MimbleWimble and our understanding of how things work. We're very open to help the industry with adopting Mimblewimble. With Litecoin we are starting the work, there are initial technical discussions. We'll see where it takes us. 

Wwill probably have more corporations were looking into researching bridges between Ethereum and Beam for confidential transfer of value. 

Lightning Network is also an interesting direction. We are also interested in integration with payment systems, because we want people to use Beam more. 

Among all the directions we just have talked about, what is the main focus of Beam in 2019? 

Beam CEO Alexander Zaidelson: So the focus of Beam in 2019 is to strengthen the layer 1 of the network, research layer 2 solutions like lightning and improve usability by adding mobile wallets and improving our desktop wallet software. We'll also be doing groundwork for the future, researching alternative consensus mechanisms. 

Number two is working on the compliance part. There is a lot of work going into product definition, and once this is done we will be starting the implementation and some proof of concept solutions to show how this can work. We are also building a longer-term roadmap for the coming years.

    Adapted from: Author: Emily Executive editor: Emily Sun
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