Nicholas Gregory is a Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur and Software Engineer involved with bitcoin since 2012. Nicholas co-authored BIP175 of the bitcoin specification and helped design bitcoin protocols such as MainStay and the Mercury Wallet's first bitcoin Statechain implementation. In this AMA, Nicholas tells us about bitcoin, wallets, privacy, open-source, technology and entrepreneurship.
This Slogging thread by Mónica Freitas, Nicholas Gregory, SuperSaiyanProgramming, Cris Silva, Sara Pinto and Jack Boreham occurred in slogging's official #amas channel, and has been edited for readability.
Hey @channel, please join me in welcoming our next AMA guest, Nicholas Gregory. Nicholas is a cryptocurrency Entrepreneur, Software Engineer and has been involved with bitcoin since 2012. Providing start-up support, Nicholas co-authored BIP175 of the bitcoin specification and has been instrumental in designing bitcoin protocols such as MainStay and the Mercury Wallet's first bitcoin Statechain implementation. Nick recently presented at Bitcoin Miami 2022 and has been quoted in many major publications regarding cryptocurrencies and advisory work for government trade bodies.
Please feel free to ask Nicholas anything about:
Hi Nicholas Gregory. It's great to have you with us.
Could you start by telling us a bit about your background and how you got involved with crypto?
Thanks for having me on.
I got involved in Bitcoin around 2012. At the time I was in NYC, USA (now in London). I was building technology on Wall Street.
Hey, Nicholas! What makes Mercury wallet different from the dozens of other wallets out there?
Thanks for doing this AMA by the way.
Well, it's a layer 2 wallet built on Statechains, so transfers are instant and private.
I've used wallets and traded crypto but I'm not too knowledgeable about the technical aspects. So I apologize but aren't all crypto trades pretty much instant and private? I know I must wait a few minutes sometimes depending on what I'm trading.
When you're trading, you are normally using centralised services, which are custodial.
Nicholas Gregory, how was your experience on Wall Street? How did that experience influence your journey in tech and made you turn your focus to crypto?
I started off as a software dev building distributed systems and compute grids for generalised software. When trading firms started getting into more high-performance computing I was poached.
Nicholas Gregory, why did you bet on bitcoin specifically? There are a lot of crypto coin options nowadays. What made you stick to it and create things like Mercury Wallet around bitcoin?
Regarding Bitcoin, I was initially fascinated by the network computing aspect of it. How it used proof of work for consensus. Was fun to see the network and ecosystem grow.
Working in banking, you see how inefficient traditional finance is.
Did not want to stay at blockbuster video, when I was seeing Netflix being built.
What bitcoin gives you is a personal choice. If you fear managing private keys, etc, you have the option to go with more centralised solutions. MercuryWallet is more for people interested in privacy and instant transfer.
Hi, Nicholas Gregory! What more can be done regarding technology in the crypto and web3 ecosystem? Everyone talks about wallets, VR, AR and so on, and we're still in the early stages on Web3. But is there a piece of technology we absolutely need, and it's still nowhere to be found?
Cris Silva, I think if you're spending more than 50% of your time on a PC, phone or tablet, I think you are already living in Web3 🙂 My view is we need better privacy, we have seen how data can be used to control and manipulate us.
Nicholas Gregory, why did you create Mercury Wallet? What market need do you think it is answering to?
Cris Silva, Mercury Wallet was simply about building a wallet that would make bitcoin easier to use with regards to scalability and privacy.
Nicholas Gregory, that's an interesting point. I saw a piece of news regarding how bitcoin has become an official currency in the Central African Republic. Taking advantage of your experience in the sector, do you have any thoughts on how crypto being adopted as an official currency might affect a country's economic environment as a whole?
Mónica Freitas, I have mixed views on countries adopting bitcoin. It is volatile and there are issues with it being a national currency. What I want to see is countries have favorable taxation and regulation so that individuals can easily use bitcoin. Bitcoin is really about being permission-less and giving people an option where banking and financial systems don't exist or are not favorable.
Could you also tell us a bit about the bitcoin protocols you helped create, like the MainStage? Nicholas Gregory
Mónica Freitas, Mainstay is about using bitcoin as a time machine on data. Anything that is recorded on the bitcoin blockchain is permanent and Mainstay is a service that facilitates the attestation of data.
Hey, Nicholas Gregory, it's great to have you here! What do you think is the future regarding traditional banking and Bitcoin? Will we eventually leave traditional methods behind?
Sara Pinto, I would say it's already converging. I don't think there are traditional finance firms not looking at bitcoin. I think the end state is traditional finance will be a lot lighter industry, we won't need 50+ databases to transfer money around the world...
Hey, Nicholas Gregory, great to have you here! How do you think Bitcoin will evolve as a cryptocurrency in the next decade?
From a technical point of view, you will see only a few changes on the protocol level. MercuryWallet is a layer 2 solution, so protocol changes that improve bitcoin even subtly give us more options for scaling bitcoin.
Adoption will continue. I think you will see more traditional products, like bitcoin mortgages and other institutional rails.
Nicholas Gregory, would you say taxation and regulation are the main reasons for the lack of crypto adoption? Europe is still a bit behind on it, for instance.
Mónica Freitas, regulation for sure, there is still no clarity. Although news from France today was good.
Oh, that's awesome! Could you explain a bit about Bitcoin Layer 2? What does that mean in practical terms?
Bitcoin layer 2 is the second layer to bitcoin.
Like most technologies bitcoin needs to scale in layers.
Nicholas Gregory, that's an interesting take. I guess when it comes to Web3, the issue is that each person is responsible for ensuring their safety online, through whatever means they wish. This is great because we're fully autonomous, but if we don't know what we're doing, we can lose our assets. So what are the main aspects one should consider when choosing a wallet?
Cris Silva, I would always say, ease of use and being open source.
Nicholas Gregory, and what can still be done in terms of privacy when it comes to wallets?
Explore more privacy networks like I2P, making wallets easier to work with a full node, so they are not reliant on third-party services.
Nicholas Gregory, thank you for your insightful answers! It's been so great to have you on, but unfortunately, we will have to wrap up this AMA. Do you have any final thoughts for our readers or something you'd like to promote?
Come have a play at http://MercuryWallet.com
Thanks for having me!