Altcoins just wonâ€™t get anywhere without serious trading volume and tools for serious investors. The crucialÂ function that altcoin exchanges play in making the market canâ€™t be underestimated. Yet sometimes we feel like we just know the people running the exchanges. Thatâ€™s why it seemed like a good idea to invite Richie Lai of Bittrex to participate in our 4 Question Interview Series.
Iâ€™ve been using Bittrex since their earliest days. Iâ€™ve been a big fan of how well the service works and Iâ€™ve had the pleasure of dealing with Richie on numerous occasions. This guy really knows whatâ€™s he doing! Lots of people who ‘play around‘ in the crypto-currency arena arenâ€™t aware of how complex the problems they run into will end up being. Richie, on the other hand, is a bonafide expert in security and scalability gained from his experience working with web giant Amazon.
Richie recently answered our 4 Questions. Check out his answers and make sure to visit Bittrex.com if you havenâ€™t already.
Would you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Unlike a lot of people, since I was 12 years old and got my first 8086 AT (with turbo!) I knew I would be working in the computer industry. I taught myself programming through my youth and learned a lot while barely staying out of trouble hacking my way through the old TELENET network before finally getting access to the internet and causing havoc there. I started my first company when I was 20 doing website design while performing firewall installations for an ISP.
My “experience” with hacking and computer security landed me a job at Microsoft when I was 21, and I have been in the computer security world since then. After 12 years at Microsoft, I spent a short stint at Qualys, and finally landed at Amazon where I am today. Without the help of my partners, Bill and Rami and the couple of helpers we employ, Bittrex wouldnâ€™t be possible.
What made you start Bittrex?
Bill and I got into crypto currencies during the first Bitcoin rush. It was fascinating, not only because of the technology involved, but the community that followed and embraced it. Late last year, we started a simple business converting BTC into giftcards giving the community a way to spend BTCs for real world products. This was a great learning experience, but as we extended our business into LTC markets, we realized there was no good way to trade/convert crypto currencies.
We spent some time trying to build bots to arbitrage and convert currencies , but none of the exchanges at the time supported it, nor did we trust their security given their track records. We saw an opportunity to fill this gap and provide a service that was missing. At that point we dragged Rami in to architect the system. Needless to say, in the 45 days it took us to develop and launch, the landscape drastically changed.
Bittrex is growing by leaps and bounds everyday. What innovations and improvements have been recently made to the site?
We are making improvements to the site every day. Weâ€™ve introduced spotlight features, estimated values, a live ticker for all our currencies to just name a few things. But frankly, the innovation and improvements weâ€™ve developed, is very rarely seen to our end customers. We invested a lot of time in making sure that our security was solid; it was built with security first. Our systems will detect and shut down currencies/markets based on _proper_ balance checks.
Our combination of cold/hot must always equal the database. Even the slightest discrepancy will engage a lock-down. Additionally, weâ€™ve developed and implemented some automation that will allow us to identify double spend attacks and other anomalies when they occur. It was these security precautions that helped us to be the first to identify the double spend attacks on BLTZ, WhiteCoin and a couple other altcoins.
Weâ€™ve also implemented multiple layers of redundancy in our recovery mechanism. With the code quality of some of the wallets out there, being able to recreate everything related to the wallet at any given second is a necessity. Crypto-currencies are to varying degrees, anonymous and a barrier to trade is trust. We worked extremely hard at Bittrex to build transparency. We put our names and resumes for our customers to see because we wanted them to know that we were willing to hold ourselves accountable for this business. Our most important goal is protecting our customers coins.
What do you feel are the biggest challenges to the Cryptocurrency and exchange vertical?
Crypto currencies face many challenges that have been hashed many times over in relation to bitcoins; I feel the challenges in the altcoin world is different. You are not only competing with the general adoption of crypto currencies, but you face the competition of all other alt-coins that exist. The AltcoinHerald.com has done a fantastic job covering the sheer number of altcoin launches and the fact that most are clone coins. Some have great innovation and are leading the way while others are nothing more than an attempt to sell snake oil. One thing they all have in common is their ability to ruin the ecosystem that we know of today.
The fact that scams are so easily proliferated and the quality of the code is so bad a majority of the time put both the traders/miners at risk as well as the service providers like exchanges/pools. As a community we have to be better a policing ourselves in this matter. One really good way of doing this is through the free market. Coins that are scam coins or “bad” (iâ€™m looking at you Dafuq!) are quickly weeded out by the community and fail after a short time on any exchange. It is one of the mechanisms used to maintain an equilibrium in the ecosystem. And remember, the only reason pools/exchanges jump on any coin, is because you, the customer are asking us to!
Cryptocurrency is a ‘forward thinking‘ concept. What is your vision of how it can change the world?
There is so much potential for cryptocurrenciesâ€™ that the way it is going to change the world hasnâ€™t even been conceived yet. We are at a point in the crypto revolution where the internet was 30 years ago… people are just hearing about it and learning how it can enhance their lives, businesses, or financials. Cryptocurrencies allow us to further connect the world. We have the internet to help spread thoughts and ideas. This technology ties people together economically, regardless of their national origin. Economists and historians would argue that tying economies together incentivizes peace. In 30 years, we will look back at this time, and wonder, how we were able to survive without it.
Bittrex Is Meeting The Challenges Of Life As An Crypto Exchange
Altcoin exchanges serve an extremely important function for the entire ecosystem of cryptocurrencies. As more and more altcoins are being launched, clients need to ensure that theyâ€™re dealing with competent individuals who are working with them to ensure success. Trading clients need to know the people theyâ€™re trusting their money to. With Bittrex, what you see is what you get. The team is comprised of hard-working people who wake up every day excited to deal with a growing altcoin exchange.
Altcoin City needs more solid citizens to replace the rogue elements who now make it their home. Bittrex and their talented team give us a glimpse into the kind of people who are now entering the vertical as alternative cryptocurrencies begin to really thrive.