Anyone who’s been following Canadian media attention on Bitcoin lately may have heard the name Anthony Di Iorio, whether he’s been quoted in articles or been seen as the man driving several Bitcoin-related initiatives.
As a friend recently posited that new, unproven fads in technology such as Bitcoin (whether it turns out to be legitimate or not) tend to attract the “nuts,” who have yet to accomplish anything significant, willing to throw themselves and their money at something obscure. Of course this is a generalization, and all kinds of new technology also attracts stable people, those who have done their homework on the new tech and believe that there’s something that could change the world for the better.
In speaking with Bitcoin Decentral’s Anthony Di Iorio I got the immediate feeling that he wasn’t one of the “nuts” at all. Rather, he’s a proven successful businessman who held a bullish belief in the power of Bitcoin.
This is the guy that seems to be involved in everything Bitcoin linked to Canada. He bought several thousand dollars worth of the cryptocurrency when it cost just $11 a few years ago and quickly became engaged in the community, organizing the Toronto Bitcoin Meetup Group once a month.
But he felt that those who were acting as Bitcoin experts in the media weren’t giving it the fair rap it deserved, and so he put out a nation-wide call for supporters of a national Bitcoin group. Today that group is called the Bitcoin Alliance of Canada, a national non-profit organization for Bitcoin in Canada that has over 1000 members in all provinces. He’s also involved at the international level too, with the Global Bitcoin Alliance, centred in Berlin.
After that Di Iorio founded Bitcoin Decentral, a Toronto-based coworking space for Bitcoin entrepreneurs, and the home of a soon-to-be accelerator for Bitcoin startups. Di Iorio was also integral in getting Toronto’s first Bitcoin ATM installed at Bitcoin Decentral. Finally, he’s in charge of organizing next month’s Bitcoin Expo 2014, set to be possibly the biggest Bitcoin conference yet, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
So yeah, he likes Bitcoin.
Bitcoins are created by a process called mining, in which computer network users provide their computing power to verify and record payments into a public ledger in exchange for transaction fees, and newly minted bitcoins. Users send and receive bitcoins using wallet software on a personal computer, mobile device, or a web application. Bitcoins can be obtained by mining or in exchange for products, services, or other currencies.
Di Iorio made his money in the Toronto real estate market from 2005-2012, invested a bit of money in gold and silver and subsequently started issuing mortgages, working with a capital management company.
Naturally, my first questions focused around the spectacular collapse of the former Tokyo-based Bitcoin exchange Mt.Gox, after it filed for bankruptcy amid the loss of 750,000 of clients’ Bitcoin.
Di Iorio doesn’t understand why people would entrust their Bitcoin with a third party like Mt. Gox in the first place. “I have always been a very strong advocate of not letting other people hold on to your bitcoins. One of the fantastic things about the system is that you can be your own bank and only you can have access to your bitcoins.”
That’s why its so appealing to countries like Cyprus or Argentina, he explained, where governments can easily raid peoples’ bank accounts. “You just can’t do that with Bitcoin.”
So when people entrusted Mt.Gox with hundreds of millions of dollars, especially with so many red flags over a year, “it really is unfortunate,” he said. “However I think people are going to learn from that and it’s going to ensure that other third parties around the world are going to have better security systems,” Di Iorio told BetaKit. “I think its going to make the community stronger, I think the important thing is that it wasn’t Bitcoin that failed, it was a private company that failed and it was a combination of letting somebody else hold on to your money that caused that.”
He calls Bitcoin an “amazing system”, and now that the drama surrounding Mt. Gox is over, people can be more cautious and do more research on storing their Bitcoin.
Going forward, the entrepreneur feels that the “decentralized” nature of Bitcoin will not only spell its own successful future, but will actually initiate a worldwide change in technology. Not only is Bitcoin a currency, but it’s also a network with a “block chain” that records every single transaction, like a ledger. Di Iorio said because of this block chain, Bitcoin’s system can be used for so many other things now, like ownership of property, with contracts between people that are open, transparent and don’t require third parties to arbitrate, and much more.
But the real next step involves companies and applications working, via the cloud, through a decentralized network. It’s all because a programming language can be added to the block chain, which is exactly what one company called etherium is working on right now. (Etherium also happens to be the Bitcoin Expo’s biggest sponsor this year).
“We think it will be a societal change, not just financial transactions, you’ll still be able to do a lot more financial transactions now, but we’re realizing that if you can put a full programming language on the block chain, it really opens the door to some amazing things that I think will be world changing.”
Everything that Di Iorio and his organization are pushing for revolve around decentralized, distributed networks. “All apps in the future in my opinion are going to be decentralized, distributed apps that have their own token system, and that’s what runs them. You’ll have a Dropbox system where people will store information on a decentralized and secure way on their own computers in a distributed fashion, and they’ll be rewarded coinage in order to give up space on their computers to run this whole network. So we’re going to see a move from centralized applications, like Dropbox, into decentralized, distribute networks.”
But to get there we need to be cautious, yet not cautious enough to stifle what he calls Bitcoin’s “massive” potential for growth in the Canadian, and global economy. There has to be regulation, but not a heavy hand by government, “because there could be huge opportunities”.
Photo of Di Iorio by wn.com