A Chat with Vitalik Buterin at the EthCapeTown, South Africa Hackathon

Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, was recently in CapeTown, South Africa, attending and participating in the EthCapeTown Hackathon where he discussed his early beginnings in the space and his opinions in the space.

Vitalik was visibly excited to be in South Africa and to discuss how be came up with Ethereum and his opinions on decentralization.

Discussing decentralized finance, Vitalik discussed savings schemes in Africa, essentially chamas, and how these can offer increased benefits.

Identity was also a topic of discussion where user security from a social perspective was something Vitalik was interested in.

Going beyond money, decentralizing industries like the insurance, account security, identity, and reputation management was discussed.

When asked what he would like to see at the hackathon, Vitalik said:

“I especially want to see things move beyond finance […] Supply chain is one area that is definitely worth exploring.”

Speaking on identity, Vitalik mentioned his interest in seeing more public-private blockchains that are decentralized without necessarily revealing all the info about transacting subjects on the public blockchain.

Ethereum Sharding, Proof-of-Stake, and Cassper updates were also topics of discussion. Vitalik explained how all these updates are helping improve the Ethereum 2.0 network.

Discussing the performance improvements in regards to Ethereum sharding, Vitalik explained:

“With sharding, the goal is to get over 1,000 factors in increase in scalability. Basically, the way you do this is through not requiring every computer to process every transaction. Every computer can only process a small promotion of transactions and that removes biggest scalability bottleneck in the whole design.”


Underrated and Overrated

Vitalik was put on the spot to comment on updates and improvements in the crypto and blockchain space on whether they are overrated or underrated.

Here are his opinions:

  • StableCoins – Getting over-rated at this point
  • Bitcoin Forex – BSV is over-rated and Bitcoin Cash is under-rated
  • Forex in General – Under-rated
  • Blockchain Governance – Depends on cycle. If the cycle is crypto, definitely over-rated. If Ethereum, actually over-rated as well, especially in the short-term.
  • Ecosystem Funding – Definitely slightly under-rated at this point.

Speaking on the biggest Ethereum competitor, Vitalik was quick to answer that existing centralized systems are. He was also quick to admit that its not in all cases where you need decentralized systems and in some cases, centralized systems would work better.

In discussing side-chains, Vitalik was not very positive about trusting specific number of nodes, except for non-custodial ones like Plasma.

In conclusion, Vitalik’s definition of decentralization was interesting:

“A big benefit of decentralization is trust. If you’re building something and you intended it to be an infrustructure or platform that other people build on top of, that is something that should be decentralized [. . .] I think having some sort of a properly decentralized base layer for many things is something that makes sense.”