Get to know Ashok Misra

Postet on 3. June, 2014 | 12:29:25

Fast Facts: Ashok Misra

Hi Ashok, you are the founder of Alina Consultants. Please, tell us about the relevance of crypto currencies for your work. What are you doing in this field, and where do you want to go within the next year?

My primary work involves building client software for ecommerce merchants to connect to credit card payment gateways.

Other areas of my work are around security and compliance. Crypto currencies are a relatively new area of work for me. Nevertheless, it is my primary interest at this time and this is an area that I would like to grow in. I have built some order paths for Bitcoin recently and hope to continue this work.

It’s been said that Bitcoin could be as “big as the Internet” in reshaping the world and spurring economic growth. Do you believe that?

I sincerely believe that Bitcoin represents a Renaissance. It has enormous potential and huge implications for us. This is the first time in history that we can be free of the shackles of sovereign currencies and financial institutions to transfer value. The positive impact of that could be earth shattering.

I am an armchair economist, but the more knowledge I acquire on the technical underpinnings of Bitcoin, the more convinced I am about its potential.

A variety of bullish Bitcoin price predictions have been touted over the past year. What’s your crystal-ball forecast for what Bitcoin will be worth in six months?

Personally, I think it will be worth more over the long run and in the 6-month timeframe I would conjuncture that it would retain its current trajectory. However the order of magnitude of change over fiat money is uninteresting I think. I believe in Bitcoin for idealistic reasons and hence uninterested in the minutiae of BTC vis-à-vis fiat currency trends.

What are the biggest benefits and largest risks of doing business with Bitcoin?

Some of the biggest benefits at a macro level are political border agnostic payments, instant payments, low transaction fees, efficiencies connected with de-centralization and distributed nature of the network.

The largest risks are ignorance about how to safely hold and transact in BTC.

What’s the best way for people in the Bitcoin community to build trust and facilitate standards that will expedite mainstream adoption?

The Bitcoin community is already evangelizing the concept. The community should continue to do that and should also showcase the growing number of legitimate businesses accepting BTC.

How can financial institutions adapt to a technology that ultimately threatens their dominance?

Similar to the scenario in other industries that have to deal with disruptive technology that impacts a subset of stakeholders, they need to re-tool and embrace the technology. Specifically, the intersection of Bitcoin with fiat and payment instruments is not a friction free journey. Financial institutions have the ability to solve that problem.

What’s to stop the banking industry from coming up with their own implementations of a virtual-currency model?

Of course they could, but the system they come up with will be an isomorph of the current centralized, inflationary system where currency is printed indiscriminately. Creation of a centralized virtual currency makes little sense.

What will come of Bitcoin regulation? Is this key to convincing politicians and governmental institutions to pass favourable legislation?

Bitcoin, will present a huge challenge for regulators when it becomes mainstream. Currently, governments can regulate exchanges through money transmission laws. However in a mature Bitcoin economy, exchanges will loose their importance.

Governments need to adapt to crypto-currency, but I am not optimistic on that front.

How does one safely store and transact in Bitcoin?

I think the answer to that varies depending upon the type of user. For a casual user with a small amount of Bitcoins, securing a droid or desktop wallet using o/s controls will suffice.

However, if you have a large amount of Bitcoins, more than you are comfortable with loosing, you need to think about more advanced techniques, such as offline wallets, etc.

Do you think that “multi-signature” will become the dominant approach to authorizing transactions?

I believe Armory is the only wallet that supports’ multi-signature’ at this time. I saw a personal demo for ‘multi-signature’ from Alan Reiner (core developer of Armory ) recently. I was really impressed with the ease by which ‘multi-signature’ can be supported. I think the concept has a huge potential. At this time Armory supports only 3 parties, but I see no technical reason why it can not be extended in the future.

Are you concerned about Bitcoin’s own volatility hindering its adoption?

I do not believe that volatility is an enormous concern. Individuals and Businesses who are in for the long term are not impacted by day to day volatility. Business who interface with processors like Bitpay to hedge BTC risk have their volatility risk protected. I regret that there are a large number of speculators in the Bitcoin ecosystem. I loathe the artificial creation of wealth through asset price inflation. I hate to see Bitcoin reduced to the systems it tries to offer an alternative to.

At the moment, US-based Bitcoin companies in particular have received the vast majority of VC funding. Do you see that changing?

I am afraid, this is not a space I am following very closely. However, I wish the investment topology changes, as having a single country that is on the forefront of Bitcoin innovation is an antithesis to the decentralized nature of Bitcoin.

It’s being said that Litecoin right now is where Bitcoin was the same time last year. What’s your opinion on the future of Altcoins?

I see Litecoins and Altcoins as highly tractable, however for me personally they do not have the allure of Bitcoin.

Do you think the Chinese central bank will continue the crackdown on trading of Bitcoin?

I think they will as Central bank would see Bitcoin as a huge threat to their sovereign currency. Regardless of what they do, China is not central to the success of Bitcoin.

Do you see yourself or your company as a leader in the cryptocurrency space?

With decentralized cryptocurrencies there should be no leaders 🙂 ! I see myself as an evangeliser at this time. When crypto currencies become mainstream, there will be less need for expertise to develop purchase paths, so I will need to retool, just like the finance industry needs to.

What mobile device can you not live without?

None, hate getting religious about appliances, I currently use a Samsung driod, but will abandon it in a jiffy if I find a better device.

Can we take a peek at your phone’s home screen?

Pretty uninteresting, most commonly used apps are email, calendar, twitter.

What app do you use most often?

Twitter (my handle is epaymentsNut )

What social media network or website do you frequent most when you’re not working?

Mostly news websites, BBC, RT news, Al Jazeera. Also do facebook and linkedin for personal and business activity respectively.

What’s the first thing you check on your phone in the morning?

I cannot rationalize this, but first thing I do is check the BTC to USD rate

Take me through your typical workday.

When I am in town, begin work at 0800 AM wrap up at about 0500 PM. In between, a combo of the following activities – visit local clients, project status meetings, write specifications, look for new business opportunities.

Couple of days in the week I restart business at about 1000 PM. Check in on overseas projects. Skype with my team in Chennai India, and then sometimes with EU colleagues. Wrap up around 0200 AM.

What work challenge keeps you up at night?

Mostly, just getting through the work day deliverables with juggling 5 to 10 initiatives in parallel, but occasionally there are challenging problems around payment gateways, security and compliance.

What has been the most exciting work development this year?

I landed a contract to rebuild an ecommerce gateway. Me and my development team reduced the footprint for PCI compliance for my client by more than 80 %

How many miles have you travelled this year?

Not too much compared to others. I typically make a couple of trips to the EU and a few day trips to the San Francisco Bay area. Travelling usually never fatigues me. I can take any trip under any conditions.

Can you tell us something about yourself that your team would be surprised to know?

I have ported a Neural network credit card fraud detection system from Unix to a Tandem NSK mainframe computer.

What other career would you like to try?

At some time, would like to take up teaching

What does your desk look like right now?

Mr. Misra's Desk

What is the last book you read?

I somehow keep re reading the following books– White Noise by Don Delillo, Catch 22 by Joseph Heller and John Le Carre’s ‘Spy who came in from the cold’. I have Pikettetty’s Capital book in my reading queue, but not sure when I will get to it.

Thank you Ashok! We are looking forward to see you at Inside Bitcoins London!

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