Phil Siarri talks to Raine Revere, software engineer at ShapeShift, a Switzerland-based startup offering a forward-thinking cryptocurrency exchange enabling you to trade any leading blockchain asset for any other in a safe and intuitive manner.

At ShapeShift, Raine is the lead architect for a new project called Prism: a platform enabling users to create a fund of different cryptocurrency assets, and be able to profit from the increase in price, similar to how a portfolio of the underlying asset prices increase.

Hi Raine. Can you tell us a little about your professional background? What led you to gain interest in cryptocurrencies?

I learned programming at an early age and have been programming for about 17 years. I’ve gone back and forth between programming and teaching programming, which I deeply love, in the latter part of my career.

Interestingly, I was moving away from tech, getting my graduate degree in Contemplative Psychotherapy, when I learned about blockchain. The social and economic implications immediately struck me. I spent six months getting up to speed with the basic technology and grokking the systemic implications before joining ShapeShift to build Prism.

Tell us about ShapeShift’s new project ‘Prism’. What are some of the key features of the platform?

Prism is a decentralised asset management platform– i.e. easily invest in a custom portfolio of assets such as cryptocurrencies without counterparty risk. The last part is really the key. Prism is one of the first products that allows one to invest in multiple cryptocurrencies with a single private key that’s fully under your control. This is accomplished by trusting your funds with a secure smart contract.

Another key feature of this system is its ease of use. You only need to have an Ethereum wallet to be able to create, rebalance, follow and sell Prisms. This helps bring the decentralised technology of ‘dapps’ to the average investor without them having to interact with complicated technical interfaces. You can control your portfolio securely through simple transactions from your wallet.

How far are you in the product development stage?

Prism is fully functional and in closed beta now! We’re very proud to release a working product. Access is currently limited, but we’re approving people every day. We’ll continue to expand entry as we fortify our systems for production, and will be undergoing a full security audit of all smart contract code and releasing it to the public at some point during the beta. You can sign up here.

What’s your opinion on the cryptocurrency and Ethereum hype that’s pushed by various media outlets?

As with all hype, the inaccuracy, exaggeration and tunnel vision detracts from what’s truly at hand. At the same time, every groundbreaking technology will have hype. Just dismissing something because there’s hype is a sure way to miss out on genuinely game-changing innovations. I believe that blockchain is one of these groundbreaking technologies. The key is to learn to differentiate the hype from the capacity of the technology itself.

I wouldn’t necessarily say the hype is a threat to the ecosystem, because the ecosystem will do its thing and grow on its own. It may confuse people though, and complicate adoption. Hype will rise and fall, bubbles will pop, but genuine advancements in technology will continue to move forward.

What’s next for Prism this year and beyond?

Prism is becoming more production-ready every day as our team adds features and streamlines the investment process. Opening up Prism from closed beta to open beta will be a big step. Also, the horizon is an official API, which will usher in important third party integrations. When the foundation is there, so many things become possible. The fact that Prism can be used with any asset with a trusted price feed means that this platform can even be extended beyond cryptocurrencies. It’s possible to short cryptocurrencies. We’re eager to move towards the larger vision of Prism. Until then, we’ll focus on bringing Prism to everyone!

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Photo by Zapp2Photo, Shutterstock.com

About the author

Phil Siarri

Phil Siarri is a senior adviser specialising in innovation research.

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