We can be the new crypto Switzerland, and I want to be a part of it, says Jakub Vejmola

Jakub Vejmola

I would guess that Bitcoin will be here to stay as global money. My optimistic view is that we are heading towards more and more people realizing the power of Bitcoin, saving and storing value in it. And quite possibly Bitcoin, and this will take decades, will replace state currencies.

Author: Tereza Hrbková for fi.muni.cz

Jakub Vejmola, also known as Kicom, is a Bitcoin evangelist and brings people closer to the world of cryptocurrencies with his YouTube channel Bitcoinovej kanal. In this interview, he reminisces about his time studying at the Faculty of Informatics Masaryk University (FI MU). He talks about his work, his beginnings with cryptocurrencies, and their future.

Have you always wanted to study computer science?

I've always been drawn to computers, I was the first in my elementary school class to have my own computer, and I used to play games. Then I went to high school, and I kept hearing I was going to be a lawyer. But during my studies, I found that I naturally gravitated towards computers, and I ended up going to computer science in Brno because FI had an excellent reputation.

You studied applied computer science and program SSME. How do you remember your studies at the Faculty of Informatics?

During my first semester, I was horrified that I couldn't make it. My first class was functional programming, and I didn't understand it at all. I thought, if this is an introduction, I'm definitely not going to be a functional programmer. I always barely passed the core courses, and I was definitely not the best student. But I had a lot of freedom to choose the subjects that interested me. I took LEMMA, student film, and other visual subjects. I avoided being a programmer, and I was never a Linux guy either, so the emergence of the SSME field was a bit of liberation for me. It was a field that was supposed to educate T-shaped professionals to have a foundation in everything and deep knowledge in computer science. It may sound a bit like I wanted to avoid the hardcore computer science, but again, it was great that a major with a business overlay was created at FI because it was good for me and my future career. Plus, I did an internship at IBM where I solved ticketing problems. It was great that I could gain experience in a corporation. I worked in an international team, I had to speak English, and I got involved in the work process of a multinational company for five months.

What did you do after school? Was it video making?

I've been into video since I was 15 when I got my first camera, and I found it magical. You realize you have the power to create something. Then I discovered motion design. I was shooting weddings, but I didn't have much use for motion design because you don't really need to overlay graphics on the bride. Then I started doing commercial videos for companies, and suddenly there was a use for graphics. And then, I discovered a site called VideoHive, where you can sell templates pre-made in after effects. So I tried making templates. First, they rejected it for low visual quality, which gave me a terrible slap on the ego. But I didn't let that discourage me. I redid the whole thing, it passed, and someone actually bought it. So I did another project and managed to make a hit, which was the fourth most downloaded project that year, and suddenly it was generating like 30k a month for a whole year. I ended up doing it for seven years.

How did you get into cryptocurrencies?

I've heard about cryptocurrencies many times, but I've always waved my hand over it, saying that these people are idiots for buying some number in a database. I met someone in computer science in 2011 who told me about digital money, and I said it was stupid. Six years later, there was a big hype, everyone was talking about it again, and I thought I must be missing something because I'd already thought it was dead three times. I started to look it up, but there wasn't a lot of information at the time. Then I realized how money and the monetary system works, and it totally blew me away. And then, of course, the mindless investing started, the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) that Bitcoin was already expensive, so I bought litecoin, ethereum, and a plethora of exotic shitcoins. Then I bought Bitcoin as well, as I learned my lesson. I got my first purchase for $6100, and then it dropped even lower, so I bought for some $3000.

What led you to YouTube video making?

At that time, I slowly burned out at motion design, and I got bored with it. I was fascinated by cryptocurrencies, and I felt that relatively few people were reporting on them. There was untapped potential here on YouTube, nobody was doing it, and there were already adult channels being created. I saw channels like StandaShow, who did interviews, or Petr Mara, who did technology, so I thought YouTube was ready for the dads to get into it. I didn't really want to; again, it was stepping out of my comfort zone. But I thought I might as well give it a go. Even YouTube itself seemed like a phenomenon. Not that I necessarily needed to be a YouTuber, because there's a kind of aftertaste that if you're a YouTuber, you want to sell slime to kids. I didn't like that, but I figured I'd give it a shot, and if I didn't get a thousand subscribers by the summer, I'd give it a pass. But I did it. Then all of a sudden, I had 10,000, and today I have 70,000 subscribers, so it's somehow working.

Did you expect your channel to be such a success?

Now, this will sound a little immodest, but I figured if I went for it, it would either be a success, or I'd call it a day. I knew the moment I surpassed a thousand subscribers that the community was interested in it, and I thought if I did it right, the potential for a hundred thousand subscribers was definitely there because of this Bitcoin phenomenon. Some of it is my doing, but I'm just riding the Bitcoin wave. Because of the fact that it's here and that it's never going to die, or not in the next ten, fifty years, I knew I could describe something completely new, fascinating, almost magical. But to some extent, it’s the price. I always say that price is the best marketing.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Probably the thing I was most afraid of initially, and that's the interaction with chat on streams. And I also enjoy meeting the chat live, because I only know these people by nickname and imagine them in a completely different way. Then when I'm streaming, I already know who I'm talking to, and that's what I love about it. I suffer a little bit when I'm filming as I'm stepping out of my comfort zone. But when I've got it filmed, then I enjoy the comfort of the editing room. I sit down, I make a cup of coffee, it's cold outside, and I'm cutting, I find some memes, and I release it. And when I put out a new video, I look forward to seeing what kind of comments it gets, how many likes it gets and how many people watch it in 12 hours. It's a job about people, even though it doesn't look like it. They often write to me saying that they thought Bitcoin was stupid, but then they watched my videos and became die-hard hodlers. I've completely turned those people's perceptions around, and that makes me very happy. Plus, I've managed to turn it into a profitable business so I can do what I enjoy and make a living doing it.

What fascinates you about Bitcoin? Is it more the social or the technical aspect?

Both aspects are definitely phenomena. I started mainly with the technical one when I remembered the described problem of the Byzantine generals, which was also addressed at FI as something that nobody solved. And suddenly, I found out that Satoshi solved it for some set of problems so that you don't have to have a central authority for the blockchain. And I found it fascinating how that works. And then you get into concepts like anarcho-capitalism, or crypto-anarchy, which are things that I'm still getting into, and I think for many people, they're elusive topics, and I find them challenging too. But honestly, what got me into it was obviously the pumping price, and I think it was the same for many people. And I don't think there's any need to be ashamed of it either. But then, of course, what brutally appealed to me was what it can mean socially. Because it may well happen in my lifetime, I think it's quite realistic that some national currencies would disappear and be replaced by something global. And if I can be there and I can participate at least partially, I want to.

Why do you trust Bitcoin so much?

I think he's indestructible. It's been proven several times that it can't be destroyed, and even if a country, typically China, tells you they're going to ban it, Bitcoin doesn't care. It goes on working, and it goes on working for those people in China as well. And if China has banned it, that's a pretty good indicator for democratic countries to say it’s probably something we want to have. Also, to me, it's a better way to save today than saving in fiat currencies, which everybody actually admits there's more of and there will be more of. And what do you want to save in? Something that will be infinite, or something that will be 21 million? Moreover, the Czech Republic is quite important in the field of cryptocurrencies. Even though many people don't know it, we are a big player in that space. We have the oldest pool, a hardware wallet maker, and the second-largest Bitcoinmat producer here. And we can be ahead, we can be the new crypto Switzerland, and I want to be a part of that.

Is Bitcoin for everyone?

It's still for the more tech-savvy because you have to familiarize yourself with the hardware wallet, how it works and how it's sent. But I don't think it's any more complicated than the fintech apps or smart banking that we have on our phones today. Is it for everybody today? With some asterisk on top, yes, because I have seniors coming to me who maybe don't understand it very well but are able to take those steps to make purchases for their grandchildren, for example. And I've also seen that the children of seniors don't believe it, but the seniors do because maybe they lived through the currency reform in 1953, and they remember the devaluation of the government money. But there's still a stigma that it's being used for some purpose. But it's changed extremely in the last two years, where it's seen as an escape from the inflationary system.

What should everyone know about Bitcoin?

I think everybody should know that they have to take a lot of responsibility for their money because if they lose the keys, nobody will give them back. It's a tough one in this game because if you delete the smart banking app on your phone, you go to a branch, and they'll put it back on. If you lose your bitcoin key, you don't have bitcoin. Not your keys, not your coins. It's a bit challenging, and I'm curious how this will work in the future because I'm not sure all people are able to be accountable for their money in this way. I think probably in the cryptocurrency space, there will be something like neobanks anyway. I don't think we can completely avoid that.

What is the future of cryptocurrencies? Where do you think we are headed?

I myself am interested in what will be left of them. I would guess that Bitcoin will be here to stay as global money. My optimistic view is that we are heading towards more and more people realizing the power of Bitcoin, saving and storing value in it. And quite possibly Bitcoin, and this will take decades, will replace state currencies. The ultimate goal I'm pursuing is the separation of money from the state. Just as we historically separated churches from the state, and back then, they would have burned you for the very idea, I think there will be a separation of money from the state, but of course, that's a long run. And what will be left of cryptocurrencies? I don't know if the blockchain will have any other use outside of Bitcoin, but I'm increasingly skeptical. I've become a bitcoin maximalist, as people know, which angers some people, but I've come by it naturally, and I'm skeptical of all other projects. I'm watching the top ten cryptocurrencies change. There are a plethora of "revolutionary" technologies changing, and they don't deliver anything in 4 years, so they get replaced by something new that is "revolutionary" again. And I am even getting tired of watching that because the thing that doesn't change is the position one, where Bitcoin always stays. I'm still curious about Ethereum, because it's an interesting project, but currently, the main use is trading images, where those JPEGs are traded for millions of dollars, and I can't justify why, other than the classic economic bubble. I enjoy that, it's kind of my guilty pleasure. What fascinates me about NFT is the observation of human herd behavior. That's what Bitcoin has done in those bubbles as well, but it always survives, and it's not even where it shifts the tops that matter; it's where it shifts the bottoms. The way I see the future is that Bitcoin is here to stay with us, and what happens to the rest, I don't know, but I find it very interesting to watch.

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