Brains of Crypto: Discussing Blockchain with Fantom CEO Michael Kong

Daniel Urbánek
Daniel Urbánek
May 24, 2023
Interview, Fantom

Join us for an interview with the CEO of Fantom Foundation Michael Kong, as he shares his journey, the unique approach of Fantom, and his vision for the future.

At the intersection of technology and commerce, you'll find innovators like Michael Kong, the CEO of the Fantom Foundation. We have invited Michael over to CoinBrain to provide some insight into the current market situation, developments of Fantom Blockchain, future prospects, and much more. 

Key Takeaways:

  • Michael Kong is the CEO of Fantom Foundation. His role lies mainly in steering Fantom's direction, promoting the project, and overseeing its development.
  • Mainstream adoption is crucial for the future of crypto and blockchain. Big brands entering Web3 could help build relevance and introduce new users.
  • Fantom will soon be launching FVM (Fantom Virtual Machine) and new storage technology, which further increases its scalability and security.
  • Fantom Foundation is pursuing a banking license with the intention to start its own crypto-friendly bank. The process is, however, slow and bureaucratic.
  • According to Michael, it is important to not get too caught up in the market conditions or hype and instead focus on building and understanding the technology.

Early Days - From Bitcoin to Smart Contract Development

Michael’s interest in blockchain began in 2012, with Bitcoin grabbing his initial attention. This curiosity grew into a fascination when Ethereum and the world of smart contracts came into the picture. 

“My initial experiences with smart contracts involved a lot of tinkering and experimenting in order to fully understand how they work. During my degree, I was required to undertake a major software research project. I had the luck of conducting this project under the guidance of Professor Bernhard Scholtz, who is now an integral part of our team.”

Michael saw blockchain as a technology that could address issues that traditional technologies were struggling with. His interest in this potent technology culminated in joining a research group at the University of Sydney, developing software to check smart contracts for vulnerabilities. This work eventually became the basis for his academic thesis.

The Role of Fantom CEO

As Fantom's CEO, Michael shifted from coding to steering the company's strategic path. This role involves overseeing various activities and teams, from technology and marketing to business development while managing essential administrative duties. Michael also plays a crucial part in promoting Fantom and its developments to the world, although his involvement in in-depth software development has lessened. 

Lessons from Market Cycles and Current Trends

Michael has a pragmatic perspective on market cycles, viewing them as periods of learning and evolution rather than phases of uncertainty. He believes in building and refining Fantom's offerings, irrespective of market conditions.

“Having experienced numerous market cycles, I've learned not to get overly attached to them. Instead, the focus should remain on building, developing, and keeping an eye on long-term objectives. For Fantom and the entire ecosystem, the priority remains in improving the fundamental technology.”

Past market cycles have brought valuable lessons to the forefront, from the decision to cancel the NFT marketplace project to understanding the temporary distractions brought about by meme coins.

“One of the lessons I learned working is that you don't really want to focus on stuff that's not under your control.”

Challenges and Advancements of Blockchain Technology

“Like any emerging technology, it often begins slow, imperfect, and not particularly useful. But with time, it invariably becomes faster, better, and much more beneficial.”

Despite the meteoric rise of blockchain, Michael acknowledges the hurdles it must overcome to reach mass adoption, with scalability being a prominent one. Nevertheless, he’s optimistic about the rapid pace of advancements in the field. For Michael, the evolution of blockchain technology is akin to the growth of the internet, albeit at an accelerated pace.

“When it comes to transaction ordering, we have used a concept that was developed all the way back in the 1980s. We adapted this concept and merged it with several others to create the consensus mechanism we use today.

The essence of this technology is that its individual components already existed, but the true innovation stems from combining these distinct parts into a unified software package. A similar process is to be found behind Bitcoin and many other new technologies. They're all based on pre-existing concepts and mathematical proofs. The innovation lies in how these elements are assembled into a comprehensive system”

Another significant aspect is maintaining security while scaling the blockchain. Fantom strives to achieve this through technological advances, particularly in its consensus mechanism, which, according to Michael should make no compromise in increasing both security and scalability.

“In blockchain, confirming transactions over multiple computers naturally takes longer due to the replication involved. There's an inherent trade-off between the number of systems involved and the time taken for confirmation. 

At Fantom, we're striving to minimize these trade-offs, focusing on efficiency without compromising functionality. We enhance performance through asynchronous transaction processing, allowing us to handle multiple transactions simultaneously and optimizing system potential.”

The Web3 Landscape -  Big Brands and User Adoption

The entrance of big brands into the Web3 landscape is a major sign of relevance and potential of blockchain technology. Michael recognizes the current constraints such as unclear regulations and lack of understanding of the blockchain technology that are causing some companies to hold back. However, he strongly believes that these brands’ presence in the Web3 space will foster overall user adoption in the long run.

“It's clear that big brands are showing significant interest in blockchain technology and the Web3 space. They're keen to explore various avenues within this domain. Such interest suggests they recognize the authenticity and potential of this technology, at least to some extent. This development is a positive sign for the entire blockchain industry.”

What is Fantom Working on right now - innovations and development

The developer teams over at Fantom are currently occupied with further improving the consensus and scaling mechanisms, such as the FVM. Michael also hinted that they have been experimenting with various improvements to P2P messaging and consensus.

Fantom Virtual Machine (FVM)

Fantom Virtual Machine (FVM) is Fantom's own technology that aims to address some of the current shortcomings of the widely used Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM). The FVM optimizes the execution of smart contracts, which could significantly increase the scalability of the whole blockchain.

“With the introduction of our new virtual machine and storage system, we're able to maintain high-performance levels even as the chain expands. This improvement enables us to process transactions faster, effectively reducing what we refer to as 'time to finality', or the confirmation time for transactions.”

Kong has suggested that the FVM is pretty much completed internally and is now in the phase of a thorough testing process with a possible launch by the end of 2023.

Potential New Crypto-Friendly Bank

In April, Fantom founder Andre Cronje hinted on Twitter that there may be a new crypto-friendly bank emerging from one of Fantom s entities.

We asked Michael about these speculations and he confirmed that Fantom has in fact been looking into starting its own crypto-friendly bank. However, he also made clear that the project is in an early stage, so they cannot confirm any results yet.

“We're still in the early stages of possibly acquiring a banking license. The main goal here is to tackle the banking challenges often faced in the blockchain sector, mostly due to regulatory uncertainties. By establishing our own bank, we aim to have greater control over these challenges. 

While we are indeed on this pursuit, it's important to remember that the process involves overcoming numerous regulatory issues and bureaucratic complexities, which may take a long time.”

Projects on Fantom and Visions for the Future

Michael is personally fond of many projects on Fantom including long-standing ones such as SpookySwap and SpiritSwap. We also talked a bit about future niche market opportunities:

“I see numerous unexplored use cases for blockchain technology. For instance, P2P insurance is an area of great potential, theoretically allowing for community-operated insurance that could offer numerous advantages. 

Another significant, underutilized opportunity lies in supply chain management. The ability to verify different aspects of physical goods via blockchain is a practical application that, while experimented with before, hasn't been fully realized yet”

Those two are, according to Michael, meaningful and potentially low-competing applications of blockchain. That is because no project has yet been successful in creating a working version of such applications.

To wrap things up we agreed that for genuine advancement and adoption, it is critical to bring the technology closer to people so they can actually try it for themselves to see how it works. To steer the focus more from hype and memecoins and more to technological innovation and real-life applications.

With that, I would like to thank Michael Kong once again for his time and insights. If you are interested in the Fantom network check out more in-depth descriptions and real-time data here. Big thanks also goes to you, our readers, who joined us for this interview, stay tuned on CoinBrain Blog for more!

Disclaimer: The content of this piece reflects the writer's opinion. This article is not intended to provide financial advice and is meant solely for entertainment and educational purposes. Investing in cryptocurrency involves significant risk. Capital is at risk, and returns are not guaranteed. Always conduct your own research.

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