1. Hey Max, thanks for doing this Q&A! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into cryptocurrencies?

Thanks, Wilson! My name is Max Kaplan, I’m a software engineer. I originally got into crypto back in 2014. People think of Bitcoin as just this “form of money on the internet” but when you look deep down at it, it’s just absolutely insane. The game theory behind it. Think about it: without trusting anyone, you are able to send value over the internet from one person to another in a matter of seconds. In a blockchain, everyone is incentivized to behave in a way that benefits the network. With Bitcoin, miners are incentivized to behave in a productive manner to try and get the block reward (12.5 BTC). Users are disincentivized to DDoS the network due to transaction fees. A potential DDoS attack would be EXTREMELY expensive, and one would not gain much from bringing down Bitcoin. Because of this game theory, we now have a completely decentralized form of value that is trying to undermine the money supply from every government in the world, and due to its peer-to-peer nature, can never get shut down. That’s what really got me into crypto.

2. I noticed that you contribute a lot to the lightning network. Could you tell us from a developer’s point of view, what’s so good about Lightning?

To be completely honest, I just started contributing to lightning. I’ve only contributed to the desktop app, nothing on the protocol level. Lightning is super fascinating and is going to take crypto as a whole to the next level. The main problem Bitcoin has right now is it’s a victim of its own success. We have these blocks that are capped at 1MB. We have so many transactions that are trying to make it into blocks, people are willing to pay higher and higher fees to get their transaction in the next block. On-chain transactions are getting extremely expensive. With lightning, we introduce the concept of payment channels. If we take 2 people (Alice and Bob) they both can open up a channel and deposit a certain amount of Bitcoin. When they transact with each other, they can send as many transactions with the Bitcoin they deposited back and forth and it does not require on chain transactions. This allows for extremely fast payments (milliseconds) and cheaper fees for on-chain transactions.

Payment channels are not required for every entity you would like to transact with. For example, let’s take 3 people (Alice, Bob, and Charles). Alice and Bob have a channel open while Bob and Charles have a channel open. If Alice wanted to transact with Charles, she wouldn’t be required to set up a separate channel. Since she has a channel with Bob who has a channel with Charles, her payment could go through that route. This transaction would be instantaneous and extremely cheap.

Another great thing about lighting is the ability for cross-atomic swaps. In our example of Alice and Bob, Alice could agree to send 10 Litecoin to Bob in exchange for 1 Bitcoin. This opens up doors for different blockchains to communicate with each other which is really exciting.

3. What advice do you have for jr. developers looking to get into blockchain?
Jump into it and don’t get intimidated! Everyone in the space is still learning. There are tons of open source projects out there. Go through some issues on github, submit some PRs, or start your own project from scratch. The industry needs way more developers.
4. Are you working on any other personal projects now?

The last personal project I did was for Stellar Lumens last month where I developed a wallet that can be used completely through the CLI (https://github.com/kaplanmaxe/stellar-cli).

During some of these price dips, I find the best way to take my mind off of it and feel better is to contribute to the ecosystem of some of the coins I support. I have contributed to Stellar Lumens SDK as well as Lightning.

5. What do you think is the future of cryptocurrency?
I think it’s a no brainer cryptocurrency is the future of our financial system. Central banks can’t compete with blockchains as they are faster and cheaper. Gold is a better form of money than the dollar but it’s hard to move. The dollar is easier to move, but it’s not finite. Bitcoin is easy to move and finite. Governments will be extremely reluctant to give up control of the money supply, completely. We are starting to see governments experiment with their own form of cryptocurrency (https://www.coindesk.com/pboc-official-pushes-centralized-state-digital-currency/). I think eventually governments will release their own versions of fiat-cryptocurrencies, however the main, decentralized cryptocurrencies will survive as people will flock to commodities when they start begin to lose trust in their governments.
6. What are your thoughts on all these upcoming ICOs?
I personally have never invested in an ICO and don’t plan to in the near future. Many of these companies are raising millions of dollars without even a line of code written. There is no such thing as a million dollar idea, just a million dollar execution.  While I do think ICOs are here to stay and are a great way to raise money, I’ve only seen a handful out of the thousands that had something close to a working product. I hope this trend changes. I think what EOS is doing with their VC branch is really innovative. Block.one, EOS’s parent company, has raised over 1 billion dollars in their ICO so far. They have dedicated 1 billion dollars to invest back into projects building on EOS and in exchange, these companies will airdrop all of their tokens to all EOS holders for free.
7. What’s a typical day in life for you?
Wake up, go to the gym, then sling some code. Of course in the middle of all of this comes checking cryptocurrency prices and reading articles.
8. What are some of your most favorite tools for work?

I primarily work with Nodejs and React. I’m a big sucker for command line tools. I actually built a command line tool to check your portfolio:

– https://github.com/kaplanmaxe/cryptocheck

I also built a slack app which allows you to check prices with slack commands:

– https://github.com/kaplanmaxe/slack-cryptocheck

9. As of now, what are your top three favorite altcoins?
In this order:
– EOS
– Stellar Lumens
– Ethereum
10. Thanks for doing this Q&A! How can people contact you to connect with you?
Thanks for reaching out! You can find me on twitter (@maxekaplan). Feel free to shoot me a DM with any questions. To the moon!

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Author: Wilson

Wilson is a 3x Startup Entrepreneur. He is passionate about the cryptocurrency space. You can catch him tweeting about cryptocurrency often @itswilson8

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