Ishan Pandey: Hi Max, welcome to our series “Behind the Startup.” Would you please tell us about yourself and the story behind peaq?
Max Thake: My name’s Max and I’m one of the founders of peaq. I grew up in Malta before moving to Berlin in 2017, where I met Leo and Till, my co-founders.
Berlin was a hot spot for blockchain technology at the time. We were surrounded by a mix of experts, dreamers, enthusiasts - and people who thought we were totally crazy.
We all took our own trips ‘down the rabbit hole’, as we like to say in crypto, and quickly realised that blockchain technology had the potential to change everything.
I’ll never forget first hearing about it from Leo, the ‘a-ha moment’, and the three weeks that followed, packed with little other than maté (caffeine-rich tea), doner kebabs and researching everything possible on Bitcoin and blockchain till I wrapped my head around it and its potential.
Leo and Till had done the same before me, as had other members of the group at the time, but it was the intersection between the future of machines and blockchain which made us dream, which really sparked our interest - and for which we committed the next years of our lives.
Ishan Pandey: Although DeFi has a lot of potential, it also brings up a lot of new legislative and regulatory issues. According to you, what can be some high-level implications of DeFi for the present financial system?
Max Thake: DeFi is to traditional finance what Bitcoin is to conventional currency. Bitcoin represents an open, transparent and decentralised alternative means to store and exchange value created by people, which the people govern. DeFi is an open, transparent and decentralised alternative to finance as a whole.
It’s a new financial system that will do all the same things that are currently possible in traditional finance, and more, without the manual and often all-too-human constraints.
An enormous amount of traditional finance is the work of intermediaries, brokers, agents and middlemen. This is literally exactly what blockchain was built to replace.
Bitcoin was created as a ‘peer-to-peer electronic cash system’. DeFi is peer-to-peer finance of all kinds - with no intermediaries. I can imagine financial executives reading this and raising their eyebrows, and I don’t blame them - it may seem inconceivable, but things that never happened happen all the time.
Ishan Pandey: What are your views on regulating DeFi?
Max Thake: The regulation follows innovation. It has to. Any kind of preemptive regulation will likely stifle innovation or at least determine its course.
We are witnessing with DeFi and Web3 at large the most important innovation in over a quarter-century. It’s truly paradigm-shifting - a global movement that seeks to undo the damage done by Big Tech, Big Finance - Big Everything - and provide an open, inclusive alternative, an open, inclusive future. So to regulators, I would say; watch closely - but let it run its course.
There will be red flags and these should be appropriately addressed, but overall I would advocate a laissez-faire approach.
Regulators’ time might be best spent understanding how the same technology powering DeFi can and will re-shape what it means to regulate in the first place. This is coming, just a bit further down the line.
Ishan Pandey: As someone who has been in the crypto industry for quite a while now, what will be your advice to beginners and inexperienced crypto holders who want to start investing in virtual assets?
Max Thake: I guess I’ve got to be careful with handing out investment advice so I’m definitely not going to say you should definitely check out peaq.
Jokes aside, I’d advise people to start from ground zero, from the fundamentals. Why does the asset exist? What purpose does it fulfil? And then dive into the details, in favour and against, to try to figure out how likely achieving that purpose would be. Who’s behind the project? Is their roadmap achievable? What are red flags and are there any?
Take your time to understand the project and once you do, buy to hodl. We’re still early, so the chances are that if you find a gem, there’s ample room to grow. Invest because a project is fundamentally sound and you believe in it, not because a chart looks pretty or your friend’s up 50%.
Ishan Pandey: JYP Entertainment, a prominent K-pop juggernaut in South Korea, has teamed up with a local blockchain firm to build a non-fungible token platform that makes use of JYP artists’ intellectual property. Do you think we are slowly moving into an era of major mass adoption of blockchain technology?
Max Thake: There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind about this. Blockchain, like the internet, will seep into every nook and cranny of our world. But, like the internet, it will take time to do so.
The blockchain-powered Web3 era is riding on existing internet infrastructure, so some things will move faster, but there is also an enormous amount of building and rebuilding to be done. So yes, we are ‘slowly’ moving into a mass adoption era from a macro perspective, but it’s 100 miles an hour on the factory floors.
Ishan Pandey: Web3 deployment in philanthropy, according to Kimbal Musk’s latest tweets, might unlock twelve-digit funds for the philanthropy industry. What is your take on this belief?
Max Thake: Kimbal Musk wants to create a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) as a means to disrupt traditional philanthropic hierarchies.
This intuitively makes sense as DAOs can be made fully transparent and democratic with a lot less red tape. So in principle, I’d say the idea is sound but eager to see how it plays out in practice as I’m no expert on the barriers and problems people face in the philanthropy industry.
Ishan Pandey: The use of energy by bitcoin and other such blockchain networks has drawn them into a larger discussion about sustainability in recent months. What are your views on the carbon footprint of Bitcoin and other public blockchains?
Max Thake: In the case of currencies other than bitcoin, energy is practically a non-issue because almost no other project uses the energy-intensive Proof-of-Work consensus protocol. ‘Green bitcoin’ - bitcoin mined using renewable energy, is catching on, but it’s worth noting that fossil fuels don’t power bitcoin. Bitcoin is powered by electricity.
Bitcoin doesn’t care where the electricity came from. It’s up to us to switch to renewables. At the same time, I believe the first question we should ask ourselves is; ‘if bitcoin becomes the first digital unit of value to be globally recognised and fully decentralised - how much energy is too much?’
If you think bitcoin is fake money, the answer is obvious. But if you understand it, it’s a lot more complex.
Also, how much energy does the US dollar eat up per year as a point of reference? I think journalists slamming bitcoin for being bad for the environment without talking about these points too are probably more interested in clicks than encouraging change.
Ishan Pandey: Please tell us a little bit about the peaq network? Further, what are Machine NFTs and how do they work?
Max Thake: peaq is the sum of two parts, peaq enterprise and peaq network. The peaq enterprise focuses on migrating companies and machines from Web2 to Web3, through research and developing dApps (decentralised applications) for the community and providing software solutions and consultancy to enterprises.
The peaq network is the public network and token side to peaq. Since day one, we’ve had our eyes on this second piece of the peaq puzzle but chose to focus on the groundwork - research, development, consulting stakeholders - before launching the public network. The network and token are now due to launch in early 2022, introducing key new concepts to Web3.
One such concept is Machine NFTs.
A Machine NFT is a unique contract of ownership of a machine or group of machines that anyone can independently verify.
Verifiable ownership rights grant other kinds of rights, such as the right to govern and profit. In the context of machines such as vehicles or devices, Machine NFTs enable people or communities to co-own and therefore co-govern the machines that power their communities and earn from them too. It aligns everyone’s incentives - everyone wants the machines to earn as much as possible, and machines do this by providing the most possible value to people.
Ishan Pandey: What new trends are we going to witness in the crypto market, especially in the post-covid-19 era? Also, what does the roadmap ahead of peaq look like, especially in terms of its expansion within the crypto space?
Max Thake: The covid-19 era has limited physical interaction. Probably not coincidentally, the metaverse has taken centre stage. Vibrant virtual worlds that we can access, see, feel and interact with from the comfort of our own locked-down homes.
The metaverse will continue to grow in relevance with or without covid, but post-covid-19, I believe it will begin to live out more of its potential in relation to the real world. The metaverse is not just for gaming. The metaverse will be an extension of the real world, allowing us to do things more efficiently and simply.
The real world is also where peaq will have the largest impact. Vehicles, machines and devices are becoming smarter and more able to perform tasks better, faster and cheaper than we humans ever could. They are well on their way to becoming the primary workforce. At peaq, we believe that the people who use these machines should be the ones owning them and not centralised corporations.
Ethereum and Web 3.0 is Going to the Economic Infrastructure for Tomorrow
So we see Web3 as a turning point, as an opportunity to own, profit and govern the machines that power our communities and our collective future - together. That’s why we’re launching the peaq network and token - to enable us to own the machines that serve us via Machine NFTs collectively, earn from them via Machine DeFi and govern them via dApps and DAOs.
These are new concepts that will positively disrupt all kinds of machine-related horizontals and verticals, and we’ve never been more excited.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to remove informational asymmetry existing today in our digital markets by performing due diligence, asking the right questions and equipping readers with better opinions to make informed decisions.
The material does not constitute any investment, financial, or legal advice. Please do your research before investing in any digital assets or tokens, etc. The writer does not have any vested interest in the company.