Ask me anything about the future of blockchain in education and anywhere else beyond the well-known fintech world - projects, industries, value, trends!

Hristian Daskalov
Feb 9, 2018

Blockchain technologies have a huge disruptive potential, but also a lot of speculation around them. If you want to start, join or invest in a blockchain project, you may be wondering which projects in which industries provide what vaule, at what cost, what's the speed of change and the future they create in a particular field.

To answer all of these questions, the European Comission recently annouced it's launching its own Blockchain Observatory. Having received a development grant from The European Comission to support the expansion of the project I am leading - OS.UNIVERSITY, the world's learning and development ledger on the Euthereum blockchain, I have plenty of first-hand entrepreneureal and research insights to share.

Whether you are interested in what's the value of the EDU Tokens behind OS.UNIVERSITY or what's the application of blockchain in education in general (or maybe in other industries beyond the well-known fintech world), I will try to answer these questions, based on my experience as a project lead of a succesful EU-backed award-winning crypto-project*.

* OS.UNIVERSITY was recognized as one of Top 10 Social innovation ideas in 2016 Living Progress Challenge, run globally by Hewlet Packard Enterprise. In 2017 I was recognized as the best doctoral candidate in Republic of Bulgaria for my research work on the project.


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What’s your personal experience like with cryptocurrencies? Did you start buying crypto during its early stages?

Feb 16, 2:11AM EST1

Do you believe that college finance and business students should be offered crypto-related courses/subjects?

Feb 14, 11:12AM EST1

Do you currently have scholarships available at the OS.UNIVERSITY?

Feb 14, 5:59AM EST1

Do you feel startled by the volatility of the cryptocurrency market, or are you adamant that in the long term it will show tremendous growth?

Feb 13, 5:07PM EST1

How would you briefly explain cryptocurrencies to a someone who is totally clueless?

Feb 11, 9:43PM EST1

Patricia, cryptocurrency is a form of private currency a.k.a. free money (free as in freedom, not free as in free beer!) We have prof. Kevin Dowd of Cato Institute at the board of OS.UNIVERSITY - he's one of the biggest names in the field. Breakthroughs in cryptography/DLT just enabled the rapid growth and (mass) adoption of private currencies, especially in the light of the 2006/8 collapse of the classical banking system. I recommend you checking out prof. Dowd's page on Wikipedia for a list of his writings on the subject, many of which freely available online.

Last edited @ Feb 13, 1:21PM EST.
Feb 13, 1:14PM EST1

Is OS.UNIVERSITY open to beginners? Or do you recommend your courses only to the knowledgeable and experienced ones?

Feb 11, 3:58PM EST1

@Marieg, OS.UNIVERSITY is the world's learning and development ledger/register on the Ethereum blockchain. While creating informative and educational content is what we do on a daily basis, our aim is to connect the existing learning providers with the right learners and the right businesses at the right time, through the Ethereum blockchain. For the purpose I mention, we have developed 3 truly unique smart contracts. You can read more on the subject here. For blockchain-related learning resources, please have a look at the comment below. Thanks for your question!

Last edited @ Feb 11, 6:12PM EST.
Feb 11, 6:11PM EST1

Where or what’s a good place to start for someone who doesn’t have experience at all in cryptocurrencies?

Feb 11, 7:16AM EST1

@ANNABELLE84, this chat is a good place to start :) Further on, Quora's topic on crypto at https://www.quora.com/topic/Cryptocurrencies is also a good learning resource, because you see the many perspectives on one place instead of taking your info from a ''single source of truth''. For the EDU token as a prominent cryptocurrency project, keep an eye on our Reddit channel or join our Telegram community.

Feb 11, 6:15PM EST1

Personally, do you believe that there’s better chance of winning in a casino game compared to growing your money in crypto investment?

Feb 11, 6:46AM EST1

@HERMAJANI, check out this Business Insider article. It is a bit of an arguable reading, but one cannot denay it - chances are greater, compared to a casino :) However, gamblers are everywhere around us and they can lose their money easily on bascially every possible market (or bet). I don't gamble, and don't advise you either. Be smart with your money, and time. Research and invest wiselly. 

Feb 11, 6:07PM EST1

I would like to know your thoughts on blockchain disrupting the academic journal publications system. At the moment, the system is very centralised (a few big companies own many of the most "reputable" journals), and the creators of content, i.e., the academics  academic institutions are the ones paying for the 'priviledge'  of being published in these journals. I can see some potential there for blockchain technology to make this process fairer, but I myself am a social science academic and not a tech person, so I would love your thoughts on whether this would be possible! Keep up the good work :)

Feb 9, 10:48AM EST2

@Carol, I have to start by apologizing for my delayed response to your great question, i have simply missed it... Hopefully, I got back to it as this is a brilliant topic to discuss. But a great cause to act as well. The blockchain definitelly has the power to disrupt the academic journal publishing system/market. There are guys working in Germany around that, but the OS.UNIVERSITY project team has the potential to contribute as well (it is in our research roadmap). If you happen to be based in Germany, write me at hristian.daskalov @ os.university and I will try to find the contacts of the team. If not - still write, join our efforts. Your experise and insights as an academic will be highly appreciated in order to dig deeper into this use-case (of which I am very passionate as well). No need for tech. skills, just bring with yourself the good old research curiosity. :) Best, Hristian

Last edited @ Feb 11, 5:59PM EST.
Feb 11, 5:56PM EST1

What is the most challenging thing about being in the blockchain and crypto industry?

Feb 9, 6:09AM EST1

@HAYNESMICHAEL, I belive that the most challenging thing is to explain the broader application of the blockchain technology, e.g. smart contracts, beyond cryptocurrencies. Blockchain for business has huge potential (though I work on blockchain for education mainly). Check out what the guys from Linux, IBM, and many others, are doing with Hyperledger - amazing! 

Last edited @ Feb 11, 5:51PM EST.
Feb 11, 5:50PM EST1

What would you say is the biggest benefit or advantage about being knowledgable in blockchain and cryptocurrency?

Feb 9, 4:50AM EST1

@Tina96, such a thoughtful question - thank you! In my case, it is the opportunity to create around the technology, and share the results of my work with an open-minded community, eager to explore new blockchain applications. Check some of my presentations at Slide Share to see where my creative work is focused and have a look at OS.UNIVERSITY's whitepaper. Making this project happen is by far the biggest advantage, both personally and socially.

Last edited @ Feb 10, 12:41PM EST.
Feb 10, 12:39PM EST1

Knowing that cryptocurrencies can be unstable at times, would you still recommend investing on it?

Feb 9, 3:08AM EST1

@P.Petrova, many invest in crypto simply because of the volatility, which means bigger profits, but bigger losses as well. With the broader adoption this volatility will significantly drop, so short answer is yes. However, out of the many cryptocurrencies out there, high percenage will fail. So be aware of the challenges ahead and only invest in trusted projects you have researched.

Last edited @ Feb 10, 12:33PM EST.
Feb 10, 12:31PM EST1

After the recent continuous crash on crypto value, do you believe that cryptocurrencies will finally come to an end?

Feb 9, 2:53AM EST1

@Adrienne, no way crypto is coming to an end. Even with the hardest of crashes - the value will only transform (erasing or allocating huge chuncks of the market is also a matter of transformation). Even if such a catastrophe occurs one day sooner or later, affecting pioneering projects such as Bitcoin, this won't be the end, just a milestone with a hard learning curve. There might be a lot of ''civilian casualties'', though, if fully-fledged attack on crypto occurs from regulators (or from within the community). Therefore, certain regulation (especially on trading) is needed - but only if smart! Education is extremelly needed as well, given the expansion of the crypto world, still in its early days. To neglect the crypto market, its underlying community nature and unique laws of governance/evolution path is the worst strategy of all - no matter if you are a sceptic, evangelist, speculative/strategic investor, regulator...

Last edited @ Feb 9, 11:02AM EST.
Feb 9, 10:57AM EST1

Do you think cryptocurrencies are forever?

Feb 8, 8:03PM EST1

@Andia - Yes, totally! It's a new asset class that is here to stay. But it will evelove as well! Who may have thought 10 years ago, that the blockchain would serve as a perfect medium to connect job seekers with job providers? Well, today I am working on this exact application with Bulgaria's leading job marketplace. Check out the story at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VPOtCfX2UM

Last edited @ Feb 9, 3:48PM EST.
Feb 9, 10:53AM EST1

Do you believe cryptocurrencies should be used as investments or should it simply be used as what it is intended to be — virtual money to purchase things online?

Feb 8, 2:46PM EST1

@Andrej, this is probably my favorite question for the day. I believe that (pure) cryptocurrencies will have stable future if they are to pursue a path towards being adopted as means of exchange and the more they steer towards being understood as an investment vechicle, the harder it will become for them to combine the best of the both worlds (for reasons quite obvious). So each project should define and maybe charter what it strives to become in 5-10 years time. Utility tokens are another story (I am leading a utility token project at OS.UNIVERSITY). Security tokens -likewise. So what we see is a clear path towards differentiation in perceived value and use-cases, but those who avoid differentiating in order not to lose out from alternative applications, are to get hanging in between different bases and will inevitably lose their compentitive advantage that they need to sustain in order to survive. My comment is only from the side of the cryptocurrency communities, i.e. how they are to manage the process. The users themselves can do whatever they feel like doing with a coin/token in their wallet, but you need to incentivise your audience. Long story-short  - digital money are to grow in adoption. From investment perspective, if you look at Fortune 500 today, most of the stock won't make it in 50 years. The same for most crypto investments. That's the way the cookie crumbles..

Feb 10, 7:48AM EST1

Does blockchain education teach people on how to predict cryptocurrency trends?

Feb 7, 7:06PM EST1

@Edith, investment education does, both fundamental and techincal analysis. Presuming you speak of investment trends.  Here is a good list of open online courses on the subject - https://www.class-central.com/tag/investing. If you speak of technology trends when it comes to crypto(currencies), similar to the topic of this AMA, then I would say that learning about blockchain technologies comes second after learning about the trends in economy and society in general. E.g. Bitcoin came to be as a result of years-long strive for privacy from the crypto-community (scientists, liberatrians, etc.) + the banking collapse of 2006/8. So if you want to predit trends in general, keep your mind open for exploring the broader picture around you. 

Feb 10, 7:25AM EST1

What are some new cryptocurrencies, not Bitcoin or Ethereum, that you believe will become successful in the near future?

Feb 7, 10:23AM EST1

@Georodmar, I research the success factors in open source projects. To answer your question, we need to agree on a definition for success. For me, success is when the project fulfils its mission. But I guess this is too strategic if the goal is to find fast 5-10x coin/token(s) ... which is the definition for a successful cryptocurrency for a lot of folks out there. As i use this AMA session to try to be of use to all readers, I will give examples in both directions. Exchange tokens are generally a smart short-term investment (serious exchanges only!). The Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (GBX) is a good example I have been following (disclaimer - no affiliation to the project). Beyond exchanges, look for established/reliable entities that are entering into the crypto world, transforming their business models for the sake of adding value to their operations and offerings. Also, look for the contenders - the ones who challenge the status quo. Their disruptive models should be backed by independent resarch, arising trends, etc. The OS.UNIVERSITY EDU Token (EDUX) that I am leading, as an example in that regard, steps on 130-pages report by the European Comission, claiming for the blockchain to possess the potential to disrupt the world of education. The Comission would not get into bulding what it foresees to revolutionze one or another industry, but it is your task to find the projects that are executing on their findings.

Feb 10, 4:47AM EST1

Do you believe that Bitcoin value will still catch up and return to its very high value of up to 10,000USD+ in the future?

Feb 7, 4:52AM EST1

@Nickie, yes. I shadow-authored an analysis for a prestigious newsletter recently, that is read by quite crypto-sceptic business leaders. Let me share a few thoughts from that occasion, because i belive i was able to get to an agreement with the audience. Bitcoin is not a bubble to burst, because it is a community driven project. Even if retail/speculative investments are written-off and this leads to something more than just a simple correction (remember last-weeks 6k drama?), this won't be the end of the project. Neglecting the community side of the story is simply stupid. A company may dump its failing software, an investment bank will definitelly dump its toxic assets, but (the core of) an open source community will never dump its project, because of short-term volatility. However (!) -this community may be the one to create the inevitable crash one day - it is what matters most. The Bitcoin community is the best keeper of the value of the Bitcoin, but also the biggest risk/potential enemy in the long run. As long as the community is kept healthy, the value will recover any uncertainty, no matter where the attack comes from - regulators or scammers (e.g. Bitcoin X,Y,Z, etc.) If the community disintegrates - 10,000 USD may turn into 10 cents soon after. To understand this, you don't need to specialize in technical analysis, but in community building, open source governance.. I advice you to keep a close eye on this aspect of the projects you invest in, at any point in time. If you are interested in edtech projects, have a look at OS.UNIVERSITY BitcoinTalk page as well and engage into the conversation. Wish you good luck!

Last edited @ Feb 9, 4:36PM EST.
Feb 9, 4:35PM EST1

Have you ever had someone get mad at you personally after losing money from failed cryptocurrency investment?

Feb 7, 3:15AM EST1

@ANKICAGESTAK - thank you, good one! Me personally - no. Why? Because I try to avoid giving investment advice in general - I share my opinion, based on my research and managerial expertise in the field, only if/when asked (as in this AMA session). Otherwise, I try to avoid selling anyting to anyone... You may be surprised to hear that, given the fact that I am leading a crypto project (a lot of agressive salesmen out there), but check out for yourself at OS.UNIVERSITY Telegram community - serious questions, honest conversations. I belive that launching an ICO in today's partially regulated environment requires even bigger personal responsibility and integrity (to compensate the lack of smart regulation). My personal advice to you (if you are into consulting/investments) - educate your investors, don't push them into anything you/they would regret. An educated investor is what crypto projects really need in order to sustain their value in the long run - not whales, speculants, lambo-dreamers or moon-travelers. No serious company made it with such investors (ever!)

Last edited @ Feb 9, 4:14PM EST.
Feb 9, 4:12PM EST1

Have you traveled outside of your country to provide blockchain education?

Feb 6, 4:12PM EST1

@Kkkaterynak, yes I have - Europe (UK, Latvia, Czech Republic) and South America (Brazil) - as a doctoral candidate, I have been invited to give lectures/presentations/speeches on the subject in universities and events thoughout these locations. I try to reflect on these experiences in OS.UNIVERSITY's blog at https://medium.com/@opensourceuni. Check it out and tell me if you find something interesting on the subject.

Feb 9, 3:42PM EST1

Do you personally have investments of your own in some cryptocurrencies?

Feb 6, 3:13PM EST1

@Andrej, yes, as a project lead of OS.UNIVERSITY - world's first L&D ledger on the Ethereum blockchain, i own a portion of the EDU tokens, dedicated to the team of co-founders (under certain investor protection terms & conditions that apply). However, I try not to be biased in my AMA chat here - I use my experience in building a successful crypto project to share my learnings and intentionally try to steer away from giving hints on investing whereever (as long as there's no direct ''yes/no'' question raised). My background and primary interests are in R&D. Check my personal website at www.daskalov.info to learn more.

Last edited @ Feb 9, 3:37PM EST.
Feb 9, 3:34PM EST1

Do you believe that even those who don’t use or own crypto should be aware about it just because it is the future?

Feb 6, 3:01PM EST1

@Diazga, I believe everyone should be up-to-date with the most popular technologies out there, no matter if he/she uses them; likes them or not, etc. This is ultra important in today's fast-changing economy. DLT (distributed ledger technology), together with AI/ML, IoT, among others, are to redifine many industires the way the Internet did it, they way smartphones did it, etc. Beyond the immediate necessity, if one wants to be ahead of the curve, awareness of the future trends is a must. As an example, let's take the field I am passionate about -  innovating and democratizing education. Blockchain-solutions are not the obvious first choice in the educational technology sector. I just came back from UK's biggest edtech conference and in fact VR (virtual reality) was all over the place - hardware, software, services. However, if you dig deeper (beyond the hot-gadgets of the day), you will see how the brightest educational innovators (e.g. Learning is Earning 2026 initiative) are foreseeing "The Ledger" as the cornerstone of the educational world in 10 years. What they foresee in 2026, we at OS.UNIVERSITY have been working on building for more than 2 years now and will launch in 2018. In a nutshel, the applications of crypto today are not more than 1% of those in 5-15 years from now and you need to ask yourself what's next. I speak more on the subject at the following event - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suCxJJBXMug . Do have a look at the recording and share your thoughts back.

Last edited @ Feb 9, 3:30PM EST.
Feb 9, 3:28PM EST1

Do you think more online retailers will soon accept crypto as payment - cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin or Ethereum?

Feb 6, 1:34PM EST1

@Farayola, there are a few obstacles for online retailers (and other businesses in that regard) when it comes to accepting crypto: (1) price volatility, (2) transaction costs and time, (3) dominating perception of most popular coins as store of vaule, i.e. people prefer to hold, instead of spending. So there will always be room for accepting crypto beyond Bitcoin, Ether, to try to tackle these limitations whether one by one or all together. I am confident about Litecoin, to start with. But strategically speaking, many businesses will start issuing their own tokens under their own terms, so this is an entirelly new direction to unveil ahead of us. OS.UNIVERSITY's EDU token, as an example, will servce for educatonal content providers to sell their course and program offerings though our distributed marketplace. If providers want to reach new audiences and remain relevant, they will need to embrace crypto...

Last edited @ Feb 9, 12:03PM EST.
Feb 9, 11:58AM EST1

Are there any online workshops or webinars about blockchain and cryptocurrencies that you can recommend?

Feb 6, 12:18PM EST1

@Rabeca, this is a great question - so many resources these days that it is very hard to sort out the best. I am leading the Open Source University and we have a few workshop recordings available on our YouTube channel, but they are focused primarily on the market we implement the technology in, i.e. education and professional development.  Other YouTube channels provide a lot of content which you can easilly navigate through, but I recomend you to gain a deeper (broader) understanding about the technology first. And what better way to do so than to enroll in an open online course from a leading academic institution! A few are listed at https://www.mooc-list.com/tags/blockchain

Last edited @ Feb 9, 11:47AM EST.
Feb 9, 11:45AM EST1

Are VPN services necessary to protect anonymity when transacting with crypto online?

Feb 6, 12:07PM EST1

@Monalisa, I am afraid you are mixing two topics - though security and anonymity are closely connected, they are not the same. Many of the cryptocurrencies are pseudo-anonymous (check term's definition)I recently posted a video on the topic of blockchain and (cyber)security. You can check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mxKKb-z3lZg . Some operational advise on security is available at https://freedomnode.com/blog/70/bitcoin-best-practices-12-things-to-do-and-don-t-to-survive-in-the-bitcoin-world (not exclusive, but a good read + a broader e-book available on the subject). P.S. VPN is necessary when it comes to geoIP bans & geo-blocking to start with.

Last edited @ Feb 9, 11:32AM EST.
Feb 9, 11:31AM EST1

What’s the best advice you can give to someone who’s considering buying Bitcoin or Ethereum?

Feb 6, 11:26AM EST1

@Jessies1025, buy and hold. The sooner-the better. If beginner, don't put more than 10% of your portfolio in crypto and don't try to trade agressively on the market if not your full-time job/qualification (I am not into trading at all - crypto or not, you don't need to be as well - focus on the fundamentals and think strategically, there's a lot more in the blockchain world beyond speculative trading). To decide on your mid-and-long term moves, engage with the communities of the projects you've invested in  - these are open source projects, not some closed companies you have no clue about. Having said that, invest only in open source crypto projects, no copycat or proprietary technologies, which are not in the spirit of the technology (i.e. DLT) they rely on.

Last edited @ Feb 9, 11:17AM EST.
Feb 9, 11:11AM EST1

Is there any other cryptocurrency in existence that you believe will soon become as popular as Bitcoin?

Feb 6, 9:19AM EST1

@Dave, that is hell of a good question. But let's define ''popular'' first. Popular as in viral? - a few tweets from a powerful crypto-influencer can boost and quickly pump up the price of any coin, so ''trendy'' cryptocurrenices will continue to rise and fall every now and then. But if you speak of ''popular'' as in adoption, then look deepter in the fundamentals of the coins. Of the top 100 in capitalization today, only a handful have sustainable, long-lasting foundations. By these, I mean problems and markets that are addressing, unique value proposition, apart from claiming to be ''The better Bitcoin" or "The next Ethereum". IOTA addresses the IoT market in the rise of the IoT era, so...time will show if it will rise to its potential (Its name stands for ''Internet of Things Application'', and instead of a blockchain, it utilizes a new technology called the Tangle). Look for the pioneers in every industry and seek if they will be able to make it to mass adoption, according to the teams and technologies behind them. E.g. I am managing world's first educational blockchain project (manifested back in 2013) - at OS.UNIVERSITY. Would our EDU token become an equivalent of Bitcoin success in the academic world? - time will show, but we have the basics right - problem, opportunity, solution.

Last edited @ Feb 9, 4:17PM EST.
Feb 9, 9:57AM EST1

Is it too late to invest on or buy Bitcoin or Ethereum?

Feb 6, 9:13AM EST1

@Staudtam, it is not too late to invest in either. Bitcoin and Ethereum are both viable projects with strong communities around them. If you seek for a speculative investment, offering fast and steep (yet unsustainable) returns, these are not your best picks, i am afraid. But if you look for an investment that has good chance of surviving in the post-hype era of crypto, look for joining the biggest and strongest of community projects out there, i.e. Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.

Last edited @ Feb 9, 11:04AM EST.
Feb 9, 9:46AM EST1
Ethereum rates have also crashed quite a lot recently. Do you think it will still be able to catch up?
Feb 6, 8:05AM EST1

@Valeriia, According to very recent data, the Ethereum project hosts almost 500 different tokens, currently in circulation. It has huge potential to grow in the future, desipte its technical restraints at the moment. There's a strong technical community behind the project and volatility aside, ETH is here to stay, and grow.

Last edited @ Feb 9, 11:04AM EST.
Feb 9, 9:32AM EST1
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