“The market capitalisation of Bitcoin is higher than the market cap of Twitter” – The Nicolas Cary Interview

For this week’s interview, Chain Reaction, tracked down entrepreneur and educator, Nicolas Cary, President and Co-Founder of Blockchain, to talk about programmable money, world currencies and bitcoin recycling bins:

“Hi Nic – You spend a lot of your time speaking to total newcomers about bitcoin and blockchain technology, what are the types of questions you get asked most often?

It’s really hard to explain what bitcoin is and what the blockchain is without providing some context and history, partly because many people are intimidated both by mathematics and by technology. I tend to talk about this topic at the usability level by providing some examples of how technology advances. For example, in the past you had physical VHS tapes that you had to put inside a machine; now you have streaming services. Once you had to buy books and records; now you have almost every book or song in the world available online at the touch of a button. The bitcoin blockchain is basically a digital network that makes it possible for anyone to exchange value online. So when people ask how it works I try to talk about it on that level. Of course, everyone learns differently and some people want to get deeper into technical explanations but usually I start at a more functional level. People also want to know – Where it came from, who created it, and will this become a world currency?

What was it that first attracted you to start your company, Blockchain – was there a lightning bolt moment or was it a more gradual process?

There was definitely a gradual process of learning about the technology but if there was a lightning bolt moment it happened when I really thought about how important digital scarcity really is. Human beings attribute value to things that are both useful and scarce – such as gold and oil, for example. The core innovation of the bitcoin blockchain is in replicating these properties digitally. As a result of this innovation, it’s now possible to launch purely digital currency, create more secure identity systems and web certificates, trade stocks and shares in a new way and even build more advanced applications like smart contracts in which certain actions are triggered under specific conditions. The potential is enormous. We now have programmable money.

What are the types of new innovations you are trying to build at Blockchain?

Blockchain’s mission is to build an open, fair and accessible financial future. The three core services we provide to drive the ecosystem are Wallets, our block explorer and our Developer API Platform. We build the world’s most widely used system for storing and transacting digital assets. Our wallet makes it simple and easy for anyone in the world to securely send, receive, and manage bitcoins. Essentially, we build software which allows people to ‘be their own bank’. With our block explorer – blockchain.info – we have created a search engine for understanding data and analytics. We host valuable metrics on the history of the blockchain and our site is regularly used by media organisations to report on the status of the Bitcoin Network. We also host a developer platform which has allowed thousands of developers to use our APIs to build a huge array of products and decentralized applications. These range from digital games, to new types of wallets for encouraging saving, to inventive schemes like a ‘green bin’ which rewards users with a small amount of bitcoin for doing their recycling.

Do you think Blockchain is really best viewed as a financial technology or can it also transform other sectors?

In many ways financial sector is still relying on decades-old technology so there are some large unrealized efficiency improvements to be gained. Before blockchain technology can achieve its full potential we have a lot of work to do. This is one of the reasons we are working on a project with The Digital Asset Research Lab in partnership with Imperial’s Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering in London to develop some super-high capacity transaction networks, among other initiatives. Outside of finance, meanwhile, there is some compelling early work happening in healthcare, energy, humanitarian aid and more.

How can Blockchain projects take off when there are so few developers who are expert in this field?

It’s true that there is a dearth of technical skills globally in computer science, not just in our industry. Though there may be a greater scarcity of talent in deep cryptography and distributed computing but it’s not just limited to those areas. The good news is, you don’t have to be expert in mathematics or distributed computing to build on top of many APIs.

Do you think Bitcoin will eventually become a global currency to rival the dollar or the yen?

I think all currencies will ultimately become digital and bitcoin will be just one of these currencies competing against the rest. If you look at history as a guide, bitcoin has been the best performing global currency in 4 out of the past 5 years. This technology is doubling in size every year and that type of exponential rate of change is rare. Once it sneaks up on people that it is vastly more affordable to use the bitcoin blockchain than to use traditional banking infrastructure, more people will come to rely on it than already do today. The market capitalisation of Bitcoin is already higher than the market cap of Twitter so we are on the right track”.

You can find out more from Nic on Twitter or at Blockchain.


"Very well organised and provided our team with a great opportunity to make many useful connections"

Startup Showcase winner

"Unblocked Events designed and delivered a 4-week virtual hackathon for us. It’s not over yet, but we are already planning another & will definitely use Helen and her team. Unblocked delivered everything, holding our hand 7-days a week and delivering not just the developers that we needed but also high profile government support, celebrity endorsements, judges, mentors, specifications… and a whole host of other crucial elements that we would have been likely to overlook."

Richard Hallewell - CPRAS

"a pioneer in Blockchain and emerging technologies and a champion for women in blockchain. She is an accomplished policy analyst and writer and is a leader in the London Blockchain ecosystem, especially exploring industry verticals like health."

Dr Jane Thomason - Fintech Worldwide

"It has been wonderful working with Unblocked. Helen Disney is an expert in the blockchain and distributed ledger space, having been an early proponent of the technology. I've learned so much from her, and she has provided valuable consulting services to us"

Christian Hasker, CMO - Hedera

"An excellent event in all ways"

CEO - Proxime Solutions

"Attracted a high quality of delegate and speaker that led to some genuinely unique and interesting conversations."

Programme Manager, Health and Social Care - techUK

"Superb content and speakers"

NHS Consultant

"It was a great experience! We listened to amazing, influential presentations and acquired important networks. Loved it!"

CEO, PCL Health

"Great events with great participants, discussions and topics. A must-attend every year!"

CEO - Autolomous

"a cut above the rest - a unique smart agenda designed to unwrap pertinent topics wrapped up in a naturally cosy atmosphere where you can really connect with people. If impersonal blockbuster events leave you cold, reconnect with Unblocked Events."

Jenny Creed Geraghty - Clinical Genetic Scientist

"As informative and insightful as it was entertaining, with the distinguished panel offering diverse opinions on blockchain's manifold applications. Networking opportunities were ample and the good food a real bonus."

James McKay - McKay Research

"Unblocked's events are always highlights in the calendar - interesting, informative and inspiring in equal measure"

Frontier Technologies Association

"Unblocked continues to curate exceptional events on how industries and processes can be enhanced with the introduction of Distributed Ledger Technologies"

Start up Founder

"A truly worthwhile event"

Bridget Greenwood - The Bigger Pie

"I had the pleasure of meeting Helen Disney last year when she organised what I would have said was the premier event in Blockchain."

Genevieve Leveille - Founder, 0tentic8

"One of the best curated series in London - or globally. A great opportunity to learn new things and going ons in the space."

Blockchain startup founder

"An extremely high quality, cutting edge event with expert speakers and well informed audience - thoroughly enjoyable and excellent learnings"

Dr Jane Thomason - CEO, Fintech Worldwide

"a rich, intelligently designed agenda and a chance to network with go getters"

Healthcare Unblocked 2018 attendee

"a seminal event"

Chair, Frontier Technologies Association

"A really great and informative session with a lot of impressive speakers"

Big Innovation Centre

"World-class events"

Founder - Braxxis Partners

"Healthcare Unblocked was the first healthtech event we’ve attended that truly covered new ground, spoke in line with the sector, and exhibited extremely well-informed speakers and audience."

Imogen Bunyard - Co-Founder and COO, Qadre

"One of the best conferences ever with a level of relevant and real-world examples that are not always found"

Conference Speaker, Healthcare Unblocked

"I was most impressed by the quality of speakers and delegates. We are at the challenging phase of moving from theory to practice for many of the potential users of blockchain. Your events are certainly helping to bridge the gap!"

Conference delegate, Healthcare Unblocked

"Your healthcare event was brilliant. Glad to see that London still leads the way in terms of international innovation."

Matthew Gardiner - Catch London

"The most succinct explanation of what Blockchain could do for our sector to date"


"Very interesting and a proper glimpse into the not-too-distant future. The talks felt particularly relevant to my area of work so I'll be investigating further."

MS Society


We are always delighted to hear from you about Blockchain events, information and news – whether you are a newcomer or an expert, get in touch and let us know your comments and questions.