Mat Milbury is the Director of Blockchain Security at Tenset, a cryptocurrency platform. Over the years, he has worked as a cyber security expert with a diverse set of companies based in different technological hubs around the world. Now, he is on a mission to innovate how we approach the security of blockchain-based solutions.
You’ve been employed by established tech companies in Silicon Valley. Why did you decide to make a switch to working with the blockchain industry?
I’ve always wanted to learn more about the concept of money. When I discovered cryptocurrencies, I got curious. The crypto space is a unique combination of technology with the ideals of freedom and the concept of money.
For centuries, governments, borders, and established structures limited people's ability to innovate. But the permissionless and decentralised nature of blockchain makes it possible for people to create without such restrictions. It’s fascinating for me to observe how it allows people to reclaim their sovereignty.
How is working in the web3 world different from working for web2 companies for you?
There are many differences - it’s an entirely different world, honestly. Everyone works closer to the flows of value. In contrast to many traditional organisations, talking about money is not taboo in the web3 space. Such an approach is much healthier as it sets people up for more financial success.
Additionally, you experience a shift in perception when you move from the web2 to the web3 world - you realize all money is made up. Such a mental model represents reality much more accurately. It also helps to understand the macroeconomy and make sense of what’s happening in the world.
Another significant difference is the culture. Because there are no borders in the blockchain world, remote work is much more prevalent. Many traditional companies were forced to switch to remote mode during the pandemic but are now slowly returning to the office setting. In contrast, it’s common for web3 companies to be intentionally constructed as remote-first organisations.
What are the biggest issues the blockchain ecosystem faces today?
I believe blockchain has a problem. And it’s not about the technology itself - it’s about the people. People are the weakest link in the blockchain industry.
In crypto, you’re your own bank. This means you don’t need to rely on any corporation, government, or any other entity. It comes at a cost, though.
Most people simply lack the technological literacy needed to step up to the role of being their own banks. Most internet users don’t even apply basic internet hygiene such as using a different password for each online service. And protecting your own digital assets is a much bigger challenge than, say, keeping your Facebook account safe.
This is evident by the amount of on-chain assets that have been lost or stolen in recent years. The most common way people lose their cryptocurrencies is through scams. Scams work because individual users still don’t know how to securely store their crypto assets.
How would you solve these issues?
Over the years, it became evident that the security of on-chain assets has to be addressed in a twofold way.
Crypto is just money ruled by code. The code has to be tested and audited much more thoroughly than is the case right now. One of the problems is that security audits take lots of time as they usually require highly skilled engineers to do the manual work.
Many projects simply can’t afford to extend their time to market by the multiple months they’d have to wait to get audited. We need more advanced, streamlined, and faster ways of doing security audits.
And then there are users. Users need to keep up with technological advancements, realise why blockchain technology is such an important invention, and learn how to use it securely. We need users to become educated and empowered so that they can become their own banks.
What does the future hold for blockchain technology?
If society realised today what opportunities blockchain technology opens up and how much power it puts back into people’s hands, we would be well on track to achieving global adoption.
Instead, many only see volatile assets and risk. Those people are completely missing the value proposition of blockchain.
I believe it will take a little more time and work until humanity wakes up to the power of blockchain and we achieve the critical mass required for global adoption.
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