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Hackernoon logoThe first blockchain-funded COVID vaccine: An interview with George Mac, CEO of KELTA by@TonyToreto

The first blockchain-funded COVID vaccine: An interview with George Mac, CEO of KELTA

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@TonyToretoTony Toreto

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When the world went into lockdown in March, the blockchain event industry ground to a halt, and then switched to the online format. Fast-forward six months, and the first post-lockdown offline events are already being scheduled. We've chatted with George Mac – CEO of the mining platform KELTA – and the man behind the upcoming SLOBLOCO congress in Bratislava, Slovakia.

How does it feel to organize one of the first offline crypto events after a long break?

It's a lot of responsibility. All crypto eyes will be on us. So we're thinking through every tiny detail, especially the health safety protocols. We scheduled SLOBLOCO for November, so hopefully the current second wave will be almost over by then.

Isn't it a bit early for an offline crypto event?

No, I think now is the right moment. Conferences, summits, and networking are what drive crypto forward – they’re its heartbeat. Without events and pitches, there would be much less creativity. Virtual summits are okay, but if we want to blockchain to thrive as a technology, we need real events like SLOBLOCO. Of course, security is key, and we have to follow all the anti-infection protocols.

Why Bratislava?

For three reasons. First, Slovakia has the coronavirus under control, and the government finally announced that they are relaxing the restrictions on public events. Now it's possible to have 500 guests indoors and 1,000 outdoors. In many other countries in Europe, public events are still banned, or the risk of getting infected is very high.

The second reason is that Slovakia is in the heart of Europe, so it's easy for guests from Europe to reach Bratislava – an important factor, considering all the travel restrictions. Finally, Bratislava is the HQ of our blockchain platform, KELTA, so we have all the necessary connections there.

What about the crypto community outside Europe – users who cannot reach Slovakia?

We'll livestream the whole event worldwide. In fact, we're expecting up to 50,000 virtual attendees.

What are the main topics of the congress?

Our focus is blockchain in business and everyday life – the practical applications of the technology. We'll leave it to others to discuss code and consensus: right now, the world is in deep trouble and needs urgent solutions, which decentralized tools can provide. So we'll talk about blockchain in food and drug production, for example.

Tell us about your keynote speakers.

Our headline speaker is Ivan Miklos – a former deputy prime minister of Slovakia. He was also the minister of finance and minister of privatization before that. He was one of the key figures in Slovakia's economic transformation in the ‘90s and ‘00s. At SLOBLOCO, Mr. Miklos will talk about the challenges of the coronavirus in terms of economy and business.

Then we'll have Ina Beckova, CEO of Atlas Group and an internationally known expert on taxation in crypto. I myself will present the KELTA platform and its mining opportunities. We'll also have digital securitization expert George Salapa talk about the first independent COVID-19 vaccine.

What's the connection between a coronavirus vaccine and blockchain?

The vaccine is crowdfunded via blockchain – a global first. The project is called Covidax – it's being developed by a private biotech firm that's worked on Alzheimer's disease for 20 years.

Since they are independent, they can get the vaccine to trials and approval much faster than the big pharma.

There was also something about blockchain chocolate…

Yes, indeed. One of the partners of SLOBLOCO is Lyra – the world's first blockchain chocolate. They use a distributed ledger to track every stage of production. If you attend SLOBLOCO, you learn more about this premium chocolate brand.

Tell us more about KELTA, the organizer of SLOBLOCO.

KELTA is the world's first multi-cryptocurrency mining platform. Users rent hashing power from our data centers remotely and choose which coins they want to mine – up to four at once. This means a much higher ROI.

Since 2017, we've mined over 100,000 ETH for our clients. For the investors, this is the easiest way to earn a passive income from crypto mining: they don't have to buy ASICs, set them up, or pay for electricity. And if you live in or near Bratislava, you can even withdraw your earnings in cash from our crypto ATM.

How does the crypto ATM work?

A crypto ATM, or cryptomat, is a machine that allows you to buy and sell cryptocurrency with a bank card or even cash. It doesn't require any KYC processes: you just need to scan a QR code in a blockchain wallet on your smartphone. The ATM charges a small fee, but it's still much cheaper than buying Bitcoin on Coinbase, for example.

We work with Lamassu – one of the world's leading cryptomat manufacturers. As I've said, we already have one in Bratislava, and it supports BTC, ETH, LTC and ZEC. In the next few months, we'll expand our ATM network outside of Slovakia. Did you know that there are more than 10,000 cryptomats in the world but only about 2,000 are in Europe? We want to help bridge this gap.

What do you think is next for the crypto industry during the pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic is a tremendous human and economic tragedy, but its effects on the blockchain industry are more complex. I think that back in March, when the price of BTC collapsed following the stock market crash, many people thought for a moment that the crypto industry would be hit just as hard as others. But it recovered very quickly.

After that initial crash, crypto mining and trading were hardly affected at all. For startups that need to raise funds, things are much more complicated, because they can't do roadshows and pitch their projects. As for investments in crypto as a whole, the virus gave them a huge boost. Interest rates in banks are lower than ever, and stocks have become too volatile, so crypto is the logical choice.

George Mac is a well-known entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in various industries, from industrial machinery to telecom. For the past four years, he's focused on running the crypto mining platform KELTA.

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