The latest "craze" in alternative cryptocurrencies is creating country specific coins, which mainly targets the citizens within that country. The coins are usually created with an agenda to help out the country's economy or to "free" the citizens from strong economic laws and can help the citizens spend money more easily and freely than otherwise.
One of those coins is Gaelcoin, a cryptocurrency created mainly for the Irish citizens. Gaelcoin has been created by Antonie Geerts, a 31-year-old analytics expert with a past in coding and as a technical architect, who took the task of trying to create a cryptocurrency for the non-technical Irish people to make them interested in cryptocurrencies and to try and make them understand the purpose of them.
Geerts is not from Ireland himself, but born and raised in the Netherlands. In 2004 he moved to Ireland and became involved in cryptocurrencies through a co-worker who had been in the community since well before the Bitcoin hit the mainstream news. We interviewed Geerts about the Gaelcoin to get a better insight in his goals with the coin and how he wants to achieve those goals.
Gaelcoin - How it started
One of the most common questions asked to any alternative coin creator is, how their coin differs from other coins and what purpose it serves. While technical specs may not differentiate a lot from coin to coin, the purpose of the coin and the overall strategy is of tremendous importance in the cryptocurrency world.
"Gaelcoin was created as a personal pet project to better understand crypto currencies and how the fascinating technology behind it works. I wanted to give non-technical Irish people an opportunity to see how cryptocurrencies can help change and shape the current financial system," Geerts explained.
While the cryptocurrency community provided a bit of help, Geerts himself did most of the work on the Gaelcoin. He did however finance the whole project on his own, believing that the Gaelcoin could provide some needed change in the way the financial system currently works in Ireland.
One of the ways to spread the word of Gaelcoin, as well as get the coins into circulation in Ireland, was through giving away 50 free Gaelcoins to Irish citizens. A 1% premine, equal to 6.5 million coins, was done prior to launch, where five million coins went to the first 100,000 early adapters from Ireland, while 1.5 million coins were saved to pay early technical adapters, such as freelancers, mining-pools and developers as well as for hosting and marketing.
Verifying the users asking for 50 free Gaelcoins is a difficult task for any coin, as the security issue in asking for personal documents from users could lead to identity theft. Gaelcoin decided to go in a different direction.
"It’s a difficult process. We currently have a sign-up form that looks at IP location and wallet address, however we are looking into a better solution without having the risk of Identity theft. As you might have seen, many country-based coins are looking for a large amount of information that can lead to serious problems in relation to identity theft if any of their sites or servers ever gets hacked. It also is a barrier that will lead to many of the high 50% pre-mined coins to remain unclaimed, which as a result creates a very unstable currency with a small minority guarding a large amount of the total currency ever created."
When we asked Geerts how the community responded to Gaelcoin, he said that there were ‘mixed responses’, which he had anticipated. Launching a new coin into a market that seems crowded is a difficult task. Many coin creators and supporters of other coins don’t like additional competition and thus react negatively towards any new coin. The response in Ireland was completely different though.
"The Irish people have been very interested. Since the launch I’ve received a lot of positive remarks through email and Twitter and I've been asked to do interviews and talks throughout Ireland about it. There is even a documentary film maker who contacted me for an interview about crypto currencies which is a great help to expose the potential benefits that crypto currencies as a technology has to offer,” Geerts said.
Antonie Geerts doing an interview in local Irish newspaper Sunday Business Post
As Gaelcoin is primarily targeted towards Irish citizens, we asked Geerts if he felt that Gaelcoin was interesting for non-Irish cryptocurrency holders, "Most definitely, my aim with Gaelcoin was to create a crypto currency test bed in Ireland. Because for the last 15 years, Ireland has been a tech hub for major international companies who setup their Europe Middle Eastern and Asian (EMEA) homes here and that relationship with the International tech community can help make this coin work."
Another important question is how the Gaelcoin differentiates from not only other altcoins, but also from other country-facing cryptocurrencies. Geerts responded that he was not interested in miners getting a large amount of coins, in order to avoid a potential "pump and dump" scenario, which could potentially ruin the value of the coin. To avoid this scenario, the starting difficulty of Gaelcoin was raised to a higher level than most other coins, which has helped avoiding exactly this.
Geerts however also noted, that the difficulty is still at a level where almost anyone can compete and get good rewards. He mentioned that it is still possible to solo mine the coin and that mining pools are running quite well. As Gaelcoin avoided ASIC miners, the difficulty has not gone through the roof in no time and is still a good long term coin to mine.
Making Gaelcoin Grow
Gaelcoin is far from one of the bigger cryptocurrencies in the market as it is right now, but as a relatively new coin and with several competitors "shutting down" on a weekly basis, there is plenty of time and space for the coin to grow. We asked Geerts how he plans on making Gaelcoin better known in Ireland as well as in the community.
"To be honest the promotion happened by itself, I am asked to give a talk about crypto currencies for the university in Limerick and have been added to the Board of Directors for Bitcoin Ireland. I am not aiming to promote Crypto currencies as a technology that can make a change more than just promoting the Gaelcoin."
However Geerts does plan to create different services, which users can use their Gaelcoin for. Several online shops targeting Irish people have been in contact with him to set up payments with Gaelcoin and different payment processors have also contacted him in order to try and integrate Gaelcoin as a payment method through them. Geerts however cannot afford to do these agreements as it is now, hoping that within a few months it will all be sorted out.
We asked if Geerts was looking to find investors that could help him with the financial side of things in order to quicker establish payment gateways for Gaelcoin. He said that he is not contacting individuals, but instead hopes that the investors will come to him, which in his terms is "a more organic approach".
The Future of Gaelcoin and Cryptocurrencies
Geerts believes that the future of Gaelcoin looks very good and hope that it will have a significant impact in Ireland and help shape future payment processing and businesses. "I hope that Gaelcoin becomes a currency of discovery for the Irish and that eventually it will be picked up by the younger generation as a base to develop a whole new way of payment processing and doing business."
"We are working on an Android wallet, which we hope to beta test this week that will allow a whole new range of users to start playing around with Gaelcoin but as I mentioned in other interviews before as well, I’m not in it for profit unlike most of the Crypto currencies out there hence the 1% pre-mine with most of that 1% to be given away. What I want to get out of it is awareness that payments can be done instantly, and transaction fees don’t need to extort you and transparency in a financial world is possible."
Overall Geerts strongly oppose the coins that have been created to make a quick profit, disappear and then create a new coin for the same purpose. He sees them damaging the cryptocurrency industry and believes that education is the way forward.
"People see a method of creating profit and with that damage crypto currencies as a whole. That’s why I’m all for education and for easy accessible crypto currency as part of a more regulated system to avoid all these scammers."
- How do you propose that the community can educate not only themselves, but also non cryptocurrency people, to avoid scam coins going into circulation in the future?
"Well I do think a form of regulation setup by the community would be a great starting point, myself I’m lecturing and actually writing a book about crypto currencies which hopefully gets the interest of a publisher next month"
Our final question to Geerts, on how he feels about regulating cryptocurrencies, as the whole point of cryptocurrencies is the decentralization and anonymity, he responded as following. “I’m for a level of regulation, which could clarify the differences and risks between the different cryptocurrencies, which then could eliminate many of the "pump and dump coins".
"However too much regulation will destroy innovation so this regulation needs to be done not by those who regulate the current financial markets and economics, but by those who have the technical understanding of crypto currencies and understands the risk of them".
You can find more information about Gaelcoin by visiting their site http://www.gaelcoin.org/, where you'll find all the necessary information about the coin, mining, stats and everything else.