New Year Special: Mike Abundo


Mike Abundo serves as Chief Technology Officer of Reelmedia, a digital marketing firm catering to a diverse array of clients in the Southeast Asian blockchain space. He brings nearly two decades of experience across a wide range of areas in and around the information technology industry—from software development, to policy research, to digital media.

What got you interested in blockchain technology?
I work for a digital marketing firm in Singapore. Over the last few years, we’ve served a wave of clients from various sectors of the blockchain industry — from a mining farm, to a tokenized travel agency, to a bug bounty platform, to a crypto vending machine operator.

Naturally, I got curious about what so many of our clients were doing. That curiosity led me to read through a succession of books on blockchain technology—The Internet of Money by Andreas Antonopoulos, The Business Blockchain by William Mougayar and Vitalik Buterin, Blockchain Revolution by Don and Alex Tapscott, and The Truth Machine by Paul Vigna and Michael Casey. I recommend reading those books in that order; each covers a successively wider range of use cases for blockchain technology.

My curiosity still unsatiated by book learning, I started attending blockchain meetups in Manila. That’s when I learned what made the blockchain revolution truly special.

During the dotcom and socmed revolutions, I attended dozens of tech meetups in Manila. While they were all extremely educational, most of them felt many degrees removed from the undeniable epicenter of those revolutions: Silicon Valley. Blockchain meetups in Manila, however, featured ideas and technologies that felt much closer to home, and much more relevant to the needs of people close to me. Something was different this time around, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

That difference crystallized in my mind when, over a round of drinks at a bar, cryptocurrency guru Colin Goltra asked me a pop quiz question:  “What is the world’s biggest crypto exchange?”

Assuming a Silicon Valley exchange would be the biggest, I answered “Coinbase”. Colin corrected me and said it was Binance. He then gave me a key insight: unlike previous information technology revolutions, the blockchain revolution will be geographically decentralized from the Valley. The decentralized architecture of blockchain technology is reflected in the decentralized geography of the blockchain industry.

Motivated by that insight, by the knowledge that we could make a greater impact on this technological revolution than we ever did on previous revolutions, I amped up my participation in local blockchain meetups. I am eternally grateful to blockchain speaker Lina Seiche for inviting me to my first blockchain panel discussions. Through such stimulating conversations with international luminaries, I gained a deeper understanding of all the ways blockchain technology could change the world.

Colin showed me how people around the world could make an impact on blockchain technology. Lina showed me how blockchain technology could make an impact on people around the world.

What are your favorite cryptocurrencies?
With its simplicity, stability, and relative ubiquity, bitcoin is still king of the hill. As a technologist, however, I find the programmability of Ethereum quite compelling. When I introduced my mom to cryptocurrency, I didn’t show her how to buy bitcoin off some website. I showed her how to earn ether through a smart contract on the Bounties Network.

As Colin Goltra points out in his crypto takeaways from 2018, the Ethereum community has the potential to create distributed applications regular consumers will actually want to use. The key to spreading cryptocurrency adoption is to make cryptocurrency more useful to more people.

What are you looking forward to in 2019?
Between scoring a $72 million investment and UnionBank teasing their new crypto ATM, the Philippine cryptocurrency industry is kicking off the year with a bang and a boom.

On the consumer education side, a crypto-curious Filipino recently asked me how he could spend Bitcoin. He didn’t say “sell” (“ibenta”), he said “spend” (“gastusin”). As technology entrepreneur Paolo Bediones once boldly and categorically declared, Bitcoin is not an investment. Even the app doesn’t let you “buy” or “sell” cryptocurrencies as you would investments—it lets you convert cryptocurrencies as you would any currency. Thanks to the education efforts of the local crypto community, Filipino consumers are starting to see cryptocurrencies as mediums of exchange, not as speculative assets—as instruments, not as investments.

These are the converging trends on the blockchain scene that I’m most excited to see in 2019: projects that make cryptocurrency useful to people willing to use cryptocurrency.

What do you think?

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