With Adri Wischmann we introduce the second speaker at TangleCon today. In the interview, the Dutchman reveals what his talk will be about and what he is currently working on.
Please tell something about your background.
I am a 58 years old tech nerd, living in the east of the Netherlands. I am school trained as an electronic and computer science engineer, but I had a company that made software for banks and brokers for 30 years. Japanese people say: “You have to do something for 10 years before you are really able to do it”. After 30 years - that was long enough - I stepped out of the financial industry and went back to my first love: electronics. Nowadays, it's called IoT (internet of things). So, I founded a company called IoT Nederland which does remote sensing and remote control. We developed devices and embedded software for that.
Seven years ago, I met two other IT entrepreneurs. The three of us were interested in Blockchain, but we knew nothing about it. So, we met at each other's houses every two weeks, and we gave each other homework: “In two weeks you are going to explain to us what consensus is and in two weeks I'm going to explain what proof of work is, etc.” That grew, and we got involved with the project BLING. BLING stands for BLockchain In Government, which is a European project where fourteen organizations from six different countries are involved in using Blockchain in public services. We said: “Everybody is talking about how Blockchain is going to change the future”. We got a bit tired of talking about in the future. So our motto became “What can we do with Blockchain today?” and we started developing. I do lots of programming myself, but we also have a group of programmers, I mainly do system design, I'm architect of several Blockchain projects, I love working with my hands under the hood of the engine and designing things and working things out.
Everybody is talking about how Blockchain is going to change the future. We got a bit tired of talking about in the future. So our motto became “What can we do with Blockchain today?” and we started developing.
How did you get interested in IOTA?
I was infected with IOTA in year 2017 or 2018. I’m also a passioned person about hackathons, I organized hackathons and I participate in hackathons myself. There was a very big Blockchain hackathon and one of the people involved in the IOTA foundation gave a workshop about IOTA. And that’s when I got infected.
What are you currently working on?
You saw probably that we have EnergieKnip – a wallet where people get incentivized for making their house more energy efficient. Currently, we are working on a version three of that. We are working on something that is called MultiKnip. Where EnergieKnip has only one coin for making your house more energy efficient, MultiKnip has an unlimited amount of different coins for all kinds of use cases.
For instance, in my municipality there are people living on minimum income. There are families that cannot pay the soccer club of their children, the monthly contribution. Now, a municipality can give you a number of coins. And every coin is one monthly contribution of the soccer club. And every month you go to the soccer club and pay the monthly contribution with a coin. That's it. The next day, the soccer club has euros in their bank account. You can only use these coins for that certain purpose. The municipality can send money to that exact compartment of a certain wallet of a certain person. So, the parents can only pay the soccer club and cannot buy anything else. Or maybe you have been out of a job for a long time and the department for unemployment gives you a coin to get a haircut, so you look good at your job interview. Or you could give people who moved to your city a welcome package for which they can buy some flowers or a drink or whatever. They cannot spend it on anything else and with those coins you help the residents but also the local retailers (who get extra revenue).
This is inspired by my grandmother. My grandmother had a wallet, where she would have several compartments, and she had grocery money, clothing money, vacation money, etc. So, she earmarked that money for herself, and that's more or less the purpose of this. You can have lots of different coins for different purposes.
What will you be talking about at TangleCon?
There are certain reasons why we choose IOTA for our projects. These are mostly government projects. It is with taxpayer's money, so you have to be extra careful. There is privacy involved (GDPR). How do you do that on the Blockchain? I cannot record your name and your address etc. on the Blockchain because it's transparent and immutable. I will be talking a little bit about the background and a little bit of what we're developing and the potential.
What is the biggest topic for you in the community right now?
New developments, that’s very simple. I mean, at IOTA they are rapidly developing, and everybody is waiting for the next best thing. What’s next?
That is all super nice, but it’s a double-edged sword; Imagine you have the money in your pocket to buy a new laptop. You are going to Media Markt and there are all these shiny things. You found a laptop, this is the one that it is going to be. Then this guy comes up to you and says: “Oh, this is a very good one, but in two months there is a new one coming. And it’s even going to be better! And then you can buy for 50 euros more than now an even better and faster one.” And you’ll probably say: “I’ll wait and buy the newer, better, improved one.” Then in two months you are ready to buy this new and shiny laptop, but this guy is going to say: “Hey, listen! This one is nice, but in two months...”
And that’s a little bit what is happening at IOTA. At least for entrepreneurs like me. For companies who want to develop on IOTA it is super nice that they are working very hard on new technology etc. But if you are going to wait for Shimmer or for the next big thing, that they are developing... There will always be a next big thing around the corner. So what we did was, we said: "Listen, we are going to buy this laptop. Nice that there will be a better one in two months. But this laptop is the one we are going to work with." The technology is great and that they are working on all these improvements is great. But you have to decide if you are going to wait, or you are going to develop. That is our biggest topic.
The technology is great and that they are working on all these improvements is great. But you have to decide if you are going to wait, or you are going to develop. That is our biggest topic.
What is the biggest challenge in the industry at the moment?
The biggest challenge for us is explaining to a customer what Blockchain is. And if you think that explaining what is Blockchain is hard, try explaining what a tangle is and how consensus on the tangle works. That is even more pain.
You use a method which we took from the movie Fight Club. So the first rule of Blockchain is “don’t mention Blockchain”. You don’t tell them that there is Blockchain under the hood. Users are not interested in the technology, they just want an app that works fast and fine with zero downtime and no errors. If people really want to know how it works, then we will explain Blockchain. Not before. We hardly talk about Blockchain because once you start explaining, you cannot stop.
What are your hopes for IOTA in the future?
I’m also, at a distance, involved in EBSI. I would hope that IOTA would win that competition and get that contract to work for EBSI because that would scale up the adoption and would be a lot of good publicity for them. That’s what I hope for IOTA.
Dear Adri, thank you very much for the exciting insights into your work! We are happy to have you as a speaker at TangleCon!