MIMIR Blockchain Solutions CEO, Nick Fierro is not your ordinary millennial. He’s operated nuclear reactors and designed computer systems for the U.S. Navy. He was one of the original members of the Ethereum Foundation in Switzerland, and he launched his own blockchain infrastructure solutions company, all before his 28th birthday. To say he’s accomplished, well-rounded and seasoned well beyond his years would be a complete understatement. Recently, Fierro has been very outspoken about the present state of blockchain and the need for distributed solutions as a means to further boost security in a market that is just begging for more scalability.
As an emerging voice on all things blockchain, Fierro is trying to educate the general public about the prospects for this truly emerging technology. I recently spoke with Fierro via phone from his Atlanta-based MIMIR headquarters and had the opportunity to talk about the value of cryptocurrencies, the validity of today’s ICO offerings and the cross-industry potential for blockchain. Here are some of the highlights from that chat.
Blue Phoenix: Your background is rather unique in that your participation in the Ethereum Foundation means you were at the table for some of the early thinking in and around Ethereum. Tell us about your early involvement with the Ethereum Foundation, what you took away from that experience and what ultimately led you to launch MIMIR.
Nick Fierro: I helped build the website for the Ethereum pre-sale, maintained the integrity and security of the server infrastructure, as well as implementing the security for the assets raised. It was an honor. The most valuable part of that experience was sitting at that original table, and understanding why everything was being done the way it was. It was no accident Switzerland was chosen as the birthplace for Ethereum - if the country, a world historical leader in finance, accepted this technology as a serious tool, it was only a matter of time until Ethereum would spread like wildfire.
Looking back to when the questions raised were, ‘what is this technology?’ and now to a place where your taxes can be paid in crypto and soon passports will be on the blockchain, I am filled with pride and joy. I knew the moment this technology was first explained to me that it would change the world, so I left for a different country with no hesitation, never looking back. Now I am paying that all forward with MIMIR. With the help of a brilliant, passionate team, we are bringing blockchain to the masses.
Blue Phoenix: So is the MIMIR Bridge the lightning rod to make blockchain more accessible to the mainstream?
Nick Fierro: I like that analogy. It will be electrifying. By bringing the blockchain to mobile devices the applications and technology can gain mainstream adoption.
Blue Phoenix: When people think of finance they typically associate geography with New York rather than Atlanta. Tell us what made you settle on launching in Atlanta and are there benefits in doing so that are really an advantage for MIMIR.
Nick Fierro: Atlanta is a surprising hub for fin-tech, with several Fortune 500 companies in the city. The state has a plethora of incentives for small businesses and startups. Plus, it is actually a significantly lower cost of living here in Atlanta than other major tech cities. Being by Georgia Tech and having access to their amazing academics also makes for a powerful combination we continue to look to leverage.
Blue Phoenix: There has been a lot of major players in the banking sector, most notably Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan, shooting down the viability for bitcoin. I noticed you recently authored a blog on Medium covering this very topic and why you think his arguments are flawed. Can you shed more light on why that is?
Nick Fierro: Jamie does make some notable points. One, he believes in blockchain, the technology, but he is an arguably fiat maximalist. Meaning, he believes national currencies are the only legitimate currency system. Secondly, he’s not wrong. Governments want strict control over their economy, especially their respective currencies. This is one of the greatest challenges I see for cryptocurrencies as a whole.
It’s great that countries want to put their currency on a blockchain, but some governments could see it as a legitimate threat to allow outside currencies the ability to directly compete with their fiat.
It doesn’t really need to be a competition though. Cryptocurrencies could easily supplement fiats, allowing for a wider participation in domestic markets from abroad and everyone can benefit. Cryptocurrency can be unstable, but there are places in the world where it is more stable than what is presently available. That being said, blockchains would assist global assets to be accounted for more effectively, reducing the disparity between what is on the books and what actually exists in the world.
Blue Phoenix: So you seem pretty confident that all industries can benefit from blockchains and cryptocurrencies. Surely, there must be challenges to overcome, including regulatory hurdles no?
Nick Fierro: There are definitely challenges to overcome, but we’re determined, and well-prepared to face each one head on. In fact, we at MIMIR like to look at those as opportunities, not challenges. If we continue our approach to embrace regulatory standards, even before they become mainstream, we believe we can set ourselves apart from the rest of the pack; especially with our exemplary standards and best practices.
Blue Phoenix: You mentioned in a recent Future Tech podcast MIMIR is moving closer to alpha testing. There are so many ICOs coming to market right now and a lot of investor concerns about which ones are actually legit. How are you differentiating MIMIR from the rest and what makes you think this is a good time for MIMIR to move toward an ICO token sale?
Nick Fierro: I feel developers and investors alike will appreciate something tangible (versus empty promises or solely whitepapers), so stay tuned as we make an announcement regarding our alpha testing likely in coming weeks. I have, in many ways, unparalleled experience, from going through the Ethereum token sale, and having had a first-hand look at the mechanics that drove it, I’m applying those same best practices I acquired from that process as MIMIR enters its own alpha testing. We’re also going through every necessary step to be fully compliant with the guidance of the SEC, as well as the recommendations from legal teams abroad. As for our token sale, which will follow our completed alpha testing, I believe holding our token will be unique because holding it lets you be a part of the infrastructure itself, just as owning physical data lines now would let you be a part of internet infrastructure.
Blue Phoenix: I have to go back to regulatory concerns. It seems there are a ton of market concerns about governments cracking down on ICOs and 2018 being a more stringent year for token sales. As the CEO of a start-up planning for its own token sale, how is MIMIR planning for any shift in legislation around investing in token sales? I mean at the end of the day, it must be hard to keep up with compliance if rules and regulations change on a dime, no?
Nick Fierro: We’re being proactive in staying up to date with the most recent guidance, at home and abroad. It’s a lot of work, but the consequences of cutting any corner will be a far greater workload in the long run.
Blue Phoenix: What hurdles do you believe blockchain still needs to overcome by 2020?
Nick Fierro: Increased transaction rate with the blockchain, letting more transactions into the blockchain is the lowest common denominator for that problem. Blockchain interoperability; allowing different blockchains to modify each other’s state so different blockchains may interact directly to let the processes these services and industries need become not only seamless but automatic. Lastly is accessibility, which we are working on through the MIMIR Ethereum Bridge. These applications need to be consumable by users on the devices in an increasingly mobile-focused world.
Blue Phoenix: I’ve heard you discuss how blockchain can be used during natural disaster relief efforts. Can you give me some insights into how you see that unfolding?
Nick Fierro: We can track the assets distributed, in these times, in order to provide transparency, audibility, and accountability throughout the entire process. We can track all things starting from the organization/donator to the actual individual who is the receiver. It doesn’t matter what it is they are receiving, whether it’s monetary, relief shelters, or goods such as food, water, and clothing will increase the effectiveness and maximize the benefits of this charity. I feel the increased confidence in these efforts and ease of entry will create a positive feedback loop, encouraging the spread and growth of this goodwill.
Additionally, augmented reality could even be used by first responders to mark and display safe evacuation routes to victims, as well as create temporary digital road and building signs to be seen in place of those destroyed. An economy can even be created to incentivize and coordinate assistance in the disaster area.
Blue Phoenix: I read a white paper MIMIR published on its website about using blockchain to support Augmented Reality (AR). Google glasses weren’t a smash success, so what will it take for AR to become a bigger area of focus for MIMIR?
Nick Fierro: Apple’s ARKit is a step in the right direction, making augmented reality available on the iPhone, one of the more popular phones, immediately providing a wide user base and lowering the barrier to entry by removing the need to go right out and buy a new piece of tech or learn to use more than an application on your phone. We have already worked out the details and implementation of the AR system, but we need the infrastructure of the MIMIR Ethereum Bridge to make it work. With currently available devices, our industry use cases are already feasible, but for consumer adoption, the wearable glasses need to come to a point where the experience is immersive enough and the device portable enough to be comfortable. When that happens, we’re ready.
Blue Phoenix: So it seems security will be critical for AR, whether its protecting personal or corporate data without fear of hacking. Do you think AR can be used in other areas outside advertising? For instance, how about healthcare?
Nick Fierro: AR can be used as maintenance, both private and commercial. This tech can guide, track, and log the maintenance process from the beginning to completion. One example is in Retail, where you are augmenting online stores by allowing shoppers to try an item on virtually. Couple this tech with authorized portable remote sensors and you could perform routine checkups and diagnosis from anywhere, allowing doctors to care for well, anyone.
Blue Phoenix: I hear a lot about blockchain helping to create Internet 2.0. What’s your take on this? Can blockchain really be as disruptive as I keep hearing?
Nick Fierro: We call it Web 3.0. This Web is a decentralized web, an internet of value, things, trust, and money. It’s resistant to censorship and available to all. This is necessary for information to flow freely, economy to truly be global, and equal participation to be realized.