Edan Yago, a core contributor for Bitcoin DeFi protocol Sovryn, discusses his outlook for the crypto industry and the decentralized finance ecosystem amid ongoing regulatory pressure from lawmakers across the globe.
Our next guest is a veteran of the Bitcoin world, having been around for all four halving us. He also founded EPI Fight, one of the first Bitcoin Remittance companies and is now a core contributor to a entity firm called sovereign, the leading Bitcoin DFI protocol. Uh And joining us now to discuss that is Eden Yago. Welcome Yago. Can you hear us first? I can. Yes. Thanks for having me. Yeah. Yeah. Now it's great to, great to have you on. Uh We have several questions. Do you just want to start with hearing as much as you can tell us about your, let's say interesting story or your background and how you came into the world of Bitcoin and Sovereign, how it has connections in, in, in World War two and in apartheid, South Africa very briefly if you could just explain why that brought you to this, to this place. Sure. Well, uh I grew up in a family that had uh rarely experienced the 20th century. On the one side, my family were Holocaust survivors. And the way that they survived the Holocaust was um they managed to convert what money they had into precious gems and smuggle those gems uh through their adventures trying to survive. And that was the money that they used, uh, to survive. And in South Africa, my family, um, I grew up in apartheid, South Africa, my family were active um against the apartheid government and at some point when I was a young boy, uh part of my family were declared by the apartheid government to be terrorists and who were forced to flee the country. And um, so I as a young kid, I was smuggling money to them to get money out of South Africa. And the way we were doing this was uh I was smuggling gold on my person. And so that was, you know, those were the stories I grew up on and that was my formative experience. And many years later when I was older, um in 2011, I came across the Bitcoin white paper and for me, it clicked immediately, the realization of how important gold was and self sovereign money was to individual liberty and the ability for people to maintain their freedom in the worst situations, uh clicked for me immediately. And when I saw the opportunity to have digital gold, it um it was something I became very excited about and wanted to have a hand in helping spread to people, especially before they knew they needed it. But have we, have we seen that actually happen? Because, uh, you know, we we're seeing, of course, a bunch of things happening in the Cryptocurrency world. Now, in the centralization uh aspect of uh crypto in terms of markets and, and the institutions that are coming into it, um regulation that's, that's increased in, in crypto uh maybe not touching directly Bitcoin, but nonetheless, having an effect. I I is it, is it really becoming that self sovereign money if you will or is it just uh you know, not living up to its dreams and a potential failure even? Well, Bitcoin and crypto right now is going through a very important and difficult puberty. Um On the one hand, pulling at its soul is everything that you just said, right? Move fast break things, regulation institutions, number, go up all of the, the things which are effectively creating a caricature, sort of a less regulated version of the current corrupt world of finance and the unreliable world of government currency. And on the other hand, we have hundreds of millions of people around the world who actually are discovering the ability to uh carve out a degree of self sovereignty that they've never had before. People like me and probably like you hold Bitcoin as a way to have access to funds that they have anywhere in the world. Hundreds of millions of people, especially in the developing world who use it as a hedge against inflation or as a way of uh performing Remittance or performing transactions um outside of capital controls, uh you know, I I, one of the first companies that I was involved in in the Bitcoin Space was a company called Epi Fight. It was one of the first Remittance companies in the world and what that used Bitcoin as its rails. And we were sending funds from Europe to Thailand, to Zimbabwe, to Nigeria, to Brazil, all these countries, what uh unified them was very significant capital controls. Um People could not transact freely and uh Bitcoin for them. And today Bitcoin and stable coins have represented a way and are representing a way for them to um transact. Uh I uh know people and we, we work with people, for example, in Nigeria, um who have small businesses, uh you know, maybe the turnover of $250,000 or a million dollars a year. Uh One of them, for example, is importing car parts from Japan, used car parts. Uh They can't use traditional rails to manage their business. And so what they do is they actually have and this is apropo, but we, you, you guys were talking about Binance, they have a Binance account and they use us DT to pay their suppliers in Japan. And um and that's how they perform business. And the same thing we see in Venezuela and in Argentina and in Zimbabwe and in South Africa. So um this is absolutely something that is happening and right now we're in the middle of a battle for crypto Salt all Right. Ok. Uh You know, I just want to get into something very interesting. Uh that's happening right now with world coin, uh you spent considerable time in Africa. Um And you know, you followed the entire world coin story, Kenya suspended world coin operations officially and was the first country to do so. But it is also emerging now that uh effectively uh world coin is saying that, well, we, we kind of like paused it on our own or we did before the suspension. It's not clear what the reasoning was. And you know, we're trying to understand how governments really function in that place because, you know, they were given approval, but now it seems they're suspended. It's not very clear and, and that's something that we are seeing across the world with these, let's say, delicate uh investigations into world coin uh without laws in governments uh in, in nations that actually can stop them, for example, in India, you know, uh so I just want to understand what your take on that is. Yeah, so what world coin are tackling? The problem that they're tackling is a very important one. It's how can we create identity in a digital world and in a crypto world? And ideally how can we create identity which isn't controlled by a corporation or a social media platform like Facebook, but that is controlled by the individual themselves. Um So I think the problem that world coin are attacking is very important, but the way they're going about it is dangerous. Uh and suboptimal. First of all, world Coin is a company. So we haven't achieved this uh uh a creation of an open protocol which isn't run by a company. We've just replaced Facebook uh with World Coin. The second issue is the way it's actually constructed. So uh in order to get a World coin identity, you scan your iris, uh you give them a biometric fingerprint and um this is a very dangerous way of going about it because that can get hacked. It can get stolen. There's no way to recover it. It's very easy for people to then impersonate you or for that identity to be sold to third parties. My understanding is that they don't actually collect the, the biometric data that it's used as a key if you will. Uh or, or like they, they, they turn your eye, they turn your eye scan into a key and that they, they, they, they collect the data of your IRS and they turn that into a hash and then you get a private key from that. But that doesn't change the fact that if you have an insecure device or if you're a scammer and you, you know, collect people, you pay people to collect their, their ID, now you can impersonate them. Uh and, and the system becomes immediately insecure what a lot of people don't realize is that there are actually better uh alternatives which are truly decentralized platforms uh and are seeing massive traction. Probably the most important of them is the Ion protocol, which was originally developed as an open source protocol by Microsoft. And the way Ion works is instead of just having one particular source of an identity, uh you have multiple different attestations of who your identity is. So for example, the college you go to, can say this uh is a certificate that I'm giving you saying that you went to a college, a company that you worked for can give you a cryptographic certificate and you collect these certificates and choose yourself which to share and which not. And together they create a well rounded profile of an identity and an identity isn't really just a single point. It's a social thing. And, and what's interesting about Ion is it's already being accepted by the largest universities in the United States and in Europe, by the largest companies in the world and it uses Bitcoin uh to secure itself. So everything is secured by the world's most reliable and secure uh uh Blockchain. And so this is more traction uh and, and, and better foundations but is less famous right now because it doesn't have its own token and it doesn't, it's run by the guy who runs Skynet. So, yeah, nice one, nice one, Lawrence. All right. Uh We're completely out of time. Uh Yago, we, we'd love to talk more. Uh But that's where we got to put a cap that was Southern core contributor Eden Iago. Thanks so much for joining us. Thank you.