By Rick Nassar
#HumbleHustler | Tech Startups & IoT | Founder @CoderClanHQ & @ioteire | @startupweekend Facilitator | PhD candidate @UCDDublin | Contributor @Irish_TechNews. See more articles by Rick for ITN here.
When do you know that you just witnessed the future in the evolving right in front of your eyes? It was the moment when I was listening to young ambitious developers with an ocean of knowledge in Blockchain. Sitting on the second row at the Blockchain Conference mesmerised by the unbelievable information these guys are offering that most would pay thousands to learn, just because they were only delighted to help.
Of course I couldn’t leave without a quick Q&A with the Founder and organiser of the Conference, Graham De Barra.
What was the hackathon all about?
The OI Hackathon hosted a range of professionals in development, procurement, payments and blockchain technology. We met over three-days in Opera Incubator and at the Blockchain Industry Conference. We worked on solving problems and thought experiments to achieve more adoption by the Cork community. A major point of discussion was the high volatility in cryptocurrencies which is the biggest obstacle for merchant adoption. The CTO of OI won the best idea with his Blockchain Stabiliser, a theory based on randomness in the financial market. You can learn more about this theory in Rapisarda’s “Micro and macro benefits of random investments in financial markets” or reach out to the OI team.
How many years has it been going?
Opera Incubator launched in 2017. We began in 2014 as Local Crypto in Ireland, Switzerland and Macedonia to promote education around blockchain technology. We hosted the first Ethereum meetup in Ireland under this group. We decided we wanted to build an industry and do applied blockchain development and we founded OI accordingly.
What was the inspiration behind it?
The hackathon was an invitation to the Irish developer community to work on problems and learn more about developer opportunities within OI.
What exciting things announced at the event?
Opera Incubator have launched a partnership with Dash, the fifth biggest cryptocurrency in the world and valued at half a billion dollars. We are working with Bitcart, an amazon.com gift card platform and our latest announcement is Festy, a wearable payment technology. There are many exciting projects coming in the pipeline for us and you can join our Slack to keep up-to date!
You also had some great sponsors, can you elaborate more about a few of them?
Our hackathon and Blockchain Industry Conference was sponsored by Bitcart and Dash. Bitcart is an Irish-based gift card exchange for acquiring major discounts on amazon.com aimed at the US-market. Dash reached out for a partnership recently. Dash are sponsoring OI projects and we are working very closely together to bring their payment technology to Ireland. Dash is a faster, cheaper and more scalable crypto currency compared with bitcoin and they have an excellent governance model which aligns with my philosophy. From here I am meeting local authorities and merchants in Ireland to adopt Dash. Merchants can avail of cheaper processing fees and eliminate fraud which is riddled in traditional commerce due to credit card chargebacks which can’t happen with Dash.
What opportunities were on offer for people / startups / investors and companies attending?
The first thing is networking. Attendees included the Dash Foundation, banks, blockchain developers, miners, traders, local entrepreneurs, local businesses, merchants and consultants. For such a niche technology, there aren’t many experts in Ireland so it helps people to host these kind of events.
Tell me more about Graham De Barra, how did you get involved with blockchain?
I began trading bitcoin P2P when I lived in France in 2013 because I couldn’t get a job with the language barrier! Money and bitcoin was the universal language that I spoke and so I advertised a trading service. I brought this service back to Ireland and while it started off very small (bitcoin was valued around €20 at the time) it quickly grew into one of the largest P2P services in Europe. I completed a philosophy degree and a LL.M in international human rights law since then and became intrigued about internet governance and blockchain as a human right. After working in the Council of Europe, I now work on my own projects relating to applied governance and business on the blockchain.
What is current business about?
We are mostly developing blockchain technology for the pharmaceutical industry, pub industry, tourism industry and music industry in Ireland. We are always looking to explore new opportunities and if anyone wants to work together they can get in contact with me.
How long have you been at it?
I’ve personally been over 4 years setting up the blockchain industry in Ireland and the rest of Europe.
I hear there is an incubator programme you have set up as well, can you tell me more about that?
Opera Incubator is a team composed of experts in blockchain with the aim to incubate global companies in Ireland. We train entrepreneurs on everything blockchain through our workshops and events. Our next certified training course will happen on 16 – 18 June in Cork.
Any other information you’d like to add for the readers?
For anyone with an interest in development or business, I would encourage you to research how blockchain technology works and apply it to your interest. If you need help you can always do our certified course or get in contact for consulting.