With Bitcoin SV, the ceiling is only as high as the developers on the ground’s imagination; just one person armed with initiative and an idea has the power to leverage the blockchain to transform the world. That makes the communities built around the technology especially important, not only for their technical output and contributions, but for the role they play in bringing other innovators into the Bitcoin SV ecosystem.
In the UK, Cambridge has emerged as a focal point for blockchain innovation, centred around – perhaps unsurprisingly – its world-leading university. Cambridge University has been proactive in incorporating blockchain technology into its academic offerings and research, with the school’s Centre for Alternative Finance taking a lead, offering internships and publishing the annual Global Cryptoasset Benchmarking Study.
However, as a representation of the benefits of investing in talent, there is perhaps no better example than the Cambridge University Metanet Society. Launched in 2019 by PhD candidate Robin Kohze, the Metanet Society was established to support students learning about and developing applications using the Bitcoin SV protocol, blockchain and digital currency.
Through a series of workshops, discussion forums, hackathons, masterclasses and more, the Cambridge University Metanet Society has amassed a core group of students now regularly meeting and building on the Bitcoin SV blockchain. The Society is sponsored by Bitcoin Association, who provide both financial and logistical support, as well as helping to connect the student-led organisation with leaders from the wider Bitcoin SV ecosystem.
The Cambridge University Metanet Society played host to a recent BSV virtual meetup, with Bitcoin Association Founding President Jimmy Nguyen making an appearance, guest-hosting the evening’s proceedings and confirming that Bitcoin Association would sponsor the Society for a second consecutive year.
‘The Metanet Society are doing a lot of great things to provide opportunities for students at the university to learn about Bitcoin, learn about development, then have the opportunity to participate in competitions and activities to put that knowledge into practice,’ said Nguyen, kicking off the event.
Following some introductory words, a pair of experienced hands from the Metanet Society, Kohze and Adam Bishop, took the stage to detail a range of recent developments to emerge from Cambridge in its first year of activities.
‘Over the past twelve months, we have hosted many high-profile events with hundreds of attendees, each of which could easily be declared the highlight of the year,’ said Kohze.
‘But in fact, it was rather the growing group of students that joined our weekly events, discussion rounds and coding tutorials that made all the difference. The Bitcoin protocol and its implications for the world economy are extensive, which demands it be weighted and analysed from various perspectives across different disciplines and backgrounds. Those events and the diversity of people who joined ultimately made the Metanet Society what it is today.’
A well-catered-to student body with adequate support and resource has the ability to foster and develop outstanding leaders – with Cambridge and Kohze no exception. His passion has led to contributions being felt across the entire Bitcoin community, with the platforms he has built (and continues to build) set to enable and inspire future developers to follow in his stead.
‘When we started the Cambridge University Metanet Society, we were a small group of students with an initial vision for what the society might eventually become,’ explained Kohze.
‘Bitcoin Association has been a cornerstone in helping to make those plans a reality. With Bitcoin Association, we have a reliable partner that not only provides financial support and access to the broader Bitcoin SV ecosystem, but also essential expertise to help master the many challenges of larger projects and events.’
As the President of the Cambridge University Metanet Society and a second-year PhD candidate in genomics, Kohze already has an intimidating workload by just about anybody’s standards – but the multi-talented student has made a name for himself as a blockchain developer and was awarded the inaugural Satoshi Nakamoto Scholarship in 2019 to support his efforts.
Looking at the ecosystem which has sprung up around Kohze already, the value of the investment at the grass-roots level is obvious. But Kohze is taking the all-important next step too, in taking his work to the commercial domain. Earlier this month, Kohze unveiled The Vaionex Corporation, a business building several Bitcoin-based platforms (all of which are geared towards making the use of and development on blockchain more accessible) of which he is the founder and CEO.
‘At Vaionex, our philosophy is to build the best user experience possible with seamless integrations between platforms to not only provide value, but to make those values accessible in a rewarding way,’ Kohze explained.
‘Ultimately we are just getting started and after reaching some platform maturity, we will release our second wave of platforms.’
Kohze and Vaionex are a good illustration of the symbiotic and self-fulfilling nature of blockchain communities that are properly nurtured and developed. Not only is Vaionex giving back directly through the platform’s offerings being developing, but the fledgeling business has drawn heavily from the Cambridge University network.
‘We recruited half of the Vaionex team directly from our academic environment,’ said Kohze.
‘Some of them came from the Cambridge University Metanet Society directly, others from development activities that the Satoshi Nakamoto Scholarship enabled.’
The Vaionex Corporation’s offerings
Built from the Hive protocol which took second place at the 2nd Bitcoin SV Hackathon, Raspora is a blockchain-based platform that works to organise the abundance of media and information online into content node-based knowledge networks.
Satolearn is a platform which offers courses and resources focused on Bitcoin and Blockchain education. Currently, Satolearn offers a wallet workshop, with five further courses planned:
- Pay with Bitcoin
- Smart Contracts
- File Pay
According to Kohze, Satolearn still has some surprises left to announce, which he says will make it the most rewarding learning platform to onboard to Bitcoin SV. The platform also allows other developers to create ‘course extensions’ – essentially their own classes – so that the full breadth of community and user knowledge can be both captured and shared.
API and Me
API and Me is an API marketplace which allows users to find and share APIs, either for free or at a cost – often just fractions of a cent, such is the power of Bitcoin SV and its minuscule transaction fees.
‘After just 3 weeks of development, we reached feature parity with the leading API market platform at a fraction of their fees and will now integrate even more performant routes to serve APIs,’ he enthuses.
‘Bitcoin enables P2P payments and in our next releases, we will enable P2P API requests with no “data-middleman” to enhance privacy and speed. Our second focus is cross-integration with our other services (such as Satolearn, Relysia and Block-Codes), where we utilise technological network effects to compete for the best user experiences in the ecosystem.’
Block-Codes is a marketplace for Bitcoin code templates. It allows companies of any size to adopt Bitcoin at a fraction of what traditional development costs would run. The aim is to enable seasoned community developers to commercialise their code, templates, and libraries, while making Bitcoin integration easier for developers and non-developers alike.
Relysia is still in development, but it is planned as a service to read and write data to the blockchain without changing traditional developer database routines and frameworks.
‘Instead of re-inventing development, we just adopt and provide best-cloud-practice to integrate applications with the blockchain.’
The building Bitcoin SV momentum in Cambridge is quickly demonstrating the tangible value of investment in budding blockchain communities. From Kohze and his ongoing success with the Metanet Society and the emergence of the Vaionex Corporation, through to the growing base of users and developers taking part in events and forums, Cambridge is showing that a little nurturing can go a long way. And under his leadership, Kohze is confident this is just the beginning, even in the midst of an uncertain 2020.
‘My core motivation has always been to build and share value to a wider community, both in my role as President of the Cambridge University Metanet Society and as the founder of Vaionex,’ he says.
‘This year, the Metanet Society will focus on digital learning experiences, cross-disciplinary virtual discussions and start-up project acceleration. Due to the weekly changing situation and related university guideline shifts, we have to remain flexible in our planning, but hope to return to our initial event structure as soon as safely possible. Until that point, we plan to keep the momentum and host regular online events.’
Bitcoin Association hopes Cambridge is just the beginning and seeks to cultivate similar Bitcoin SV communities at more academic institutions around the world.