Coinbase Voices is a collection of staff stories that showcase the skills of our Coinbase team and share their journey in crypto. In this post, Crypto’s chief broker, Nimil, reflects on his three years at Coinbase and shares some of his key takeaways.
Right after college, I consulted for one of the top banks in the world. What I saw scared me.
Despite their dominance, their technology systems have been a mess of spaghetti built for more than 40 years, with most of the code still running in the proprietary COBOL mainframe when the world long ago had easy access to mobile phones, open APIs, and programming languages. It was clear to me that technological innovation would not come from our existing financial system.
Two years later, I was in India on how to grow a microcan using mobile payments. Very few of the poor had access to financial services that many of us use. It was clear to me that if we could make financial services more accessible, it would be transformative.
Then one day in 2012, I met the founders of a small startup called Coinbase and read Bitcoin white paper. While I didn’t know how crypto would grow, I also knew that the world would never be the same again: all of a sudden, we had an open, global protocol that anyone could access and build on top of any developer.
My first major love in crypto was smart contracts: small pieces of code that let us program money.
function deposit() public payable returns (uint)
require((balances[msg.sender] + msg.value) >= balances[msg.sender]);
balances[msg.sender] += msg.value;
emit LogDepositMade(msg.sender, msg.value);
[A deposit function in a smart contract “bank” circa 2016]
With this code, a programmer can define a secure deposit box or a complete digital bank that anyone in the world can access and where your money was kept safe. I started writing my own smart contracts, audited some of the leading teams, and then introduced a decentralized finance protocol.
Eventually, Coinbase acquired my company and asked me to lead the USDC first, now supporting $ 25 BN USD Stablecoin. Today, I’m leading the product for their crypto team, the team that connects Coinbase to the blockchain, manages billions of dollars, and manages the brain’s basic innovations.
Our team is made up of brilliant cryptographers, engineers, product managers, user researchers and data scientists who dream of the future.
How is crypto different from other parts of technology?
Faced with this, like other parts of crypto technology: fast moving, affecting the world, growing fast. In fact, there are three things that set it apart:
The revolution will be decentralized
Unlike other industries, innovation is not driven by the same cast of big tech companies. In fact, many exciting innovations come from companies like Coinbase to garage size startups.
In fact, many of the world’s leading companies are less fully invested and unprepared for the world of blockchain. It’s a place where small groups of people can make a dramatic impact. And you don’t have to be a handful of Silicon Valley-based technology-forward companies; You can contribute from anywhere in the world.
Crypto innovations are more democratic and grassroots than other industries.
Insane and “steady”
Almost every part of technology likes to brag about how fast it is moving. But crypto itself is a world.
One day, the blockchain was invented. The next day, smart contracts allow us to create decentralized financing. Stablecoins off. The digital art NFT, created by some rappers and celebrity artists, is suddenly worth millions of dollars and sold through Sotheby’s.
Crypto is not for the faint of heart. You have to constantly learn. If you’re at the top right now, it could be a novelty from crashing on you.
In crypto, we have “stagnation” for a few years and then the price of flamboyant bulls skyrocketed. These bull markets are a powerful way to bring millions of people into crypto, but in the winter when a lot of innovation happens.
Ultimately, today’s crypto is a great opportunity to get the best education of your life every day.
In the early years, crypto was made up of misfits: nation-states, gold bugs, people seeking the death of anarchists. The more rational you are, the more you will be able to see the possibilities. Although crypto has moved into the mainstream, it still values these established principles.
For example, being misfit or outsider can give you a unique perspective. After all, challenging a millennial financial system requires thinking outside the box and a willingness to challenge long-term assumptions.
Have a misconception about accessing crypto?
More than paying crypto
To external observers, the most obvious use for crypto seems to be to pay. International remittances are huge, it can take a few days for funds to arrive and the fees are far from 0.
In reality, crypto is a financial disclosure technology that will depend on each of our assets. It could improve payments, but it would also transform other industries from nding to trade.
In short, we are creating an internet of money. Instead of money instead of money, crypto is the rail on which each of our financial products will ultimately survive.
It’s never too late
First, it is never too late. When I first started playing crypto in 2014, I was sure it was too late. The price of Bitcoin skyrocketed and all the exciting things seemed to be done. I hardly knew.
Even today, the vast majority of the world does not use crypto. We need to do more to make crypto accessible, usable and secure for all. Crypto is a unique moment where small groups of people can work to change the world.
Need passion and learning, not engineering experience
Second, you don’t need to be a crypto expert to enable the crypto revolution. One has the most experience in crypto over a decade, and even then, the space has changed dramatically enough that even lessons from a year ago are no longer applicable. Unlike other spaces, “experts” in crypto aren’t just too far away from the joiner.
You don’t have to be an engineer or a technician to make an impact. The Internet needed software engineers, designers, hardware engineers, telecom experts, policy makers and entrepreneurs. Similarly, crypto requires smart contract engineers, web engineers, design, user research, compliance, law, economists, financial experts, cryptographers and many more. Crypto will not grow without discipline and a wide tent of different perspectives that communicate together and dream.
What matters is a passion for what crypto can enable – a global, open financial system – and a desire to learn continuously. Without it, you can’t continue to innovate dramatically daily and stay inspired through the inevitable down cycle.
In crypto, we have one thing to say: the moon. It takes a village to get there.
Coinbase Voices: It wasn’t too long before cryptocurrency was originally published in The Coinbase blog, where people continue the conversation by highlighting and responding to the story.