11:15 | 07.02.18 | Interviews | exclusive 193219

Hamdan Azhar: What I saw in Armenia I had never seen anywhere else

Hamdan Azhar, former Lead Data Scientist at Facebook and current Chief Scientist at Zap.org, was in the international delegation of bitcoin experts, which arrived in Armenia at the end of January this year. Within the frames of this visit, Hamdan Azhar gave an exclusive interview to Itel.am.

People often stay away from buying bitcoin, since it’s quite expensive. In your view, is it a right approach?

That is the biggest misconception about bitcoins. People think 1 bitcoin is the smallest possible value, but you can buy up to one hundred millionth of a bitcoin. It’s called one satoshi.

Where can we spend cryptocurrency? How can one use it in daily life?   

People didn’t know what bitcoin was 4 years ago. Now there are many platforms, which accept payments in bitcoin. You can even get discounted present cards available in online resources with bitcoin.

Using bitcoin is an educational exercise. You need to teach people about bitcoin. I often pay for taxi in bitcoin. For example, our driver in a London taxi didn’t know about bitcoin. We told him what it was and he was so excited that he asked to get payed in bitcoin.

What are your further plans relating to Armenia?

We want to do a lot of things in Armenia, including supporting the Armenian economy and making this country the world center of cryptocurrency. Why not? People are smart here, they speak several languages, and the government is forward looking. We think Armenia should be tech, innovation and cryptocurrency hub.

We have been to many countries so far and I haven’t seen anything like this anywhere. The past doesn’t always define the future, so future can often be better than the past. Armenia was a place for worship as long as thousands of years ago. Now this should become a cryptocurrency research hub.

We need the help of the Armenian people in this issue, and we are committed to cooperating with those interested in bringing this goal into reality.
Within the frames of your meetings in Armenia, have you already found out how many people are involved in mining and how many of them have already got cryptocurrency?

We don’t know the exact number of people working in the field here, but I guess many people in Armenia are involved in mining, as electricity is cheaper here than in many places in the world.

Every event we attended was crowded with people interested in the sector.

We met with the motivated and excited youngsters at Tumo. Another 200 people attended our event at American University of Armenia (AUA). We went to Armenian National Assembly, and there were lines of MPs, eager to talk to us.

There are a number of cryptocurrencies around the world. Are those in competition?

Not at all. Over 3000 cryptocurrencies aren’t competing with each other. Founders of the cryptocurrencies are acquaintances; they go to conferences and hold discussions together. We are all involved in the same race, and we work together to make the world decentralized.

Narine Daneghyan talked to Hamdan Azhar