Our new Disruption by Blockchain series aims to highlight companies that are leveraging the incredible potential of blockchain technology to disrupt and revolutionize their industry. Through one on one interviews, we'll speak directly with industry leaders to cut beyond the hype and get directly to the heart of practical use cases and examples of how it will change the world, one industry at a time.
The following is an interview we recently had with Minerva’s team.
1. What’s the history of Minerva? How and where did you begin?
Paul Petratos, Business Development and Head of Communications: Minerva was founded by U.S. based business partners Kevin McSheehan and Corey Jackson in 2017, who set out to create the most stable and business-friendly cryptocurrency to date. The name Minerva comes from the Roman equivalent for the Greek goddess Athena. The Owl of Minerva was the name of a coin minted by the city of Athens around 2400 BC, which had the head of the goddess on one side and her owl on the other. This coin was widely accepted in trade, as a medium of exchange, which is where the idea to name Minerva's cryptocurrency OWL came from. Kevin and Corey decided to bring the Owl Coin to the digital age, and create a cryptocurrency that would be widely accepted just like the Minerva coins were in ancient times.
Having witnessed the rise of Bitcoin, Litecoin, as well as several other cryptocurrencies that came after, both Kevin and Corey noticed a common trend among all of them: instability. Businesses are still struggling to accept cryptocurrencies without the use of 3rd party software such as BitPay, because of how volatile and unpredictable they are. Creating a cryptocurrency that would be used by the masses was not a simple task to take on. Many have tried, most have failed. They needed something more. Something that no one had done before.
Kevin and Corey, together with Jevgenijs Steinbuks, a PhD economist, developed the mathematical formula and original concept behind Minerva which allowed them to create a cryptocurrency and payment system built on the Ethereum blockchain using smart contracts that incentivizes businesses to accept OWL through the use of reverse transaction fees.
2. Who are the founders and key team members?
Kevin McSheehan, Founder / CEO
Kevin began his career as an Internet entrepreneur at a young age in his hometown of Lebanon, Maine. Now 31, he is a serial entrepreneur, software developer, blockchain enthusiast and hobbyist ethical hacker. His strengths are in network programming, automation, scaling and project management. He has found success through fruitful partnerships with like minded programmers and entrepreneurs, some of whom he has known since the days of AOL 2.5. Kevin has exclusively been an Internet entrepreneur throughout the entirety of both his adolescence and adult life, and he has no plans of slowing down. He is a proponent of enhancing general ease-of-life through advanced computer and financial technological innovation, ethical artificial intelligence, task automation and tenacious cybersecurity. He advocates the responsible and intelligent expenditure and management of financial, human and technological resources. Due to his experience in cybersecurity, blockchain technology and compliance strategy he has been featured in TheStreet, Softpedia, ETHNews and Wired.
Corey Jackson, Founder / CTO
Robert Forster, Lead Solidity Developer
Robert develops, audits, breaks and dreams in Solidity. He has been a crypto-enthusiast for more than 6 years but when introduced to Bitcoin he quickly saw the economic flaws preventing it from being a widely used medium of exchange, leading him to desire a better cryptocurrency. Rather than immediately attacking this goal, he instead attended college while developing an array of entrepreneurial websites and software and freelancing in the same fields on the side. He now has the ability to work on his dream currency and aims for the OWL of Minerva to become a mainstream currency through a combination of incentivization, ease-of-use, and stability.
Kol Shtufaj, Creative Director
Kol is a skilled Art Director who loves to create, inspire and innovate. With a keen eye and attention to detail, he takes pride in producing imagery that can captivate an audience. He is an expert in branding. In addition to designing, he enjoys producing music and recently launched a local restaurant. Kol graduated with a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Marketing and has been a designer for WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) for over 6 years, where he is currently a Senior Interactive Designer.
Paul Petratos, Business Development / Head of Communications
Paul is a business owner, entrepreneur, cryptocurrency collector, and blockchain enthusiast. He has over 5 years experience in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry, along with 10 years experience in sales & business development and 6 years in community management. Paul is very passionate about blockchain technology and believes it will become a world standard by 2025 and will revolutionize every industry as we know it.
Courtney Turner, Social Media Strategist
Courtney Turner is a social media expert.
A friendly and skilled community leader, she has taken a serious interest the crypto-space and enjoys engaging with the community.
Courtney has spent time familiarizing herself with the crypto-space, blockchain technologies and years mastering the art of social media.
Greg Bailey, Strategist
Greg began a career of systems and application programming in 1965, joining ATHENA Programming, Inc. four years later. While its business began in 1966 with software for Unisys mainframes, Greg shifted ATHENA's emphasis in 1975 to use of FORTH, creating high-reliability native operating systems and applications for numerous CPU types. During the past half century Greg's work through ATHENA has covered a wide variety of applications, such as network protocols, cryptography, military intelligence fusion, real-time control algorithms, directed energy weapon system battle management, real-time transaction processing, cartography, and physical security systems. In 2009 Greg helped found GreenArrays, Inc., a manufacturer of multicomputer chips with high performance and extreme energy efficiency, where he learned to design full custom CMOS as VP Engineering and where he now serves as President. Greg served in the US Naval Reserve including required active duty in 1969-70. In addition to his six grown children, Greg serves his community as a defensive firearms instructor and is fond of the outdoors.
Jevgenijs Steinbuks, Founding Economic Advisor
Jevgenijs is a quantitative economist with more than 20 years of experience in academia, government and private sector advisory. His key areas of specialization are computational macroeconomics, energy and environmental economics, financial econometrics, real estate economics and finance. He has written more than 20 research papers, many of which have been published in leading research journals in economics, finance and natural sciences. Jevgenijs holds his PhD in Economics from George Washington University and has been affiliated with the world's leading research centers, including the University of Cambridge and the University of Chicago. Jevgenijs is interested in blockchain technology because he views it as a highly promising technological innovation, which has enormous potential to improve efficiency in numerous markets, including payment systems.
3. What problem are you solving? Who are you solving it for?
Robert Forster, Lead Solidity Developer: We're seeking to solve the payments problem in the cryptocurrency space. Despite what the term cryptocurrency may suggest, most cryptos function terribly as a currency.
Cryptocurrencies allow businesses to avoid credit card fees only to then be smacked with exchange fees. If accepting cryptocurrencies is still profitable for these businesses when accounting for exchange fees, they're then faced with the prospect of enormous volatility, introducing more risk for a business that may not be able to sustain it. If the risk is still worth it for businesses, they need to then incentivize users to pay with cryptocurrency–why pay with Bitcoin when it could be worth ten times as much in the future!
These three big problems lead to a situation where neither businesses nor users–because their economic incentives stem from discounts and bonuses provided by businesses–have great desire to use cryptocurrencies for payments. By increasing profit and decreasing risk we aim to provide more incentive for businesses to accept cryptocurrencies and, by extension, provide bigger discounts to consumers for using cryptocurrencies.
4. What is your solution to this problem?
Robert Forster, Lead Solidity Developer: Minerva's solution to this problem is to create reverse merchant fees by creating a sort of decentralized centralized bank. By minting coins to businesses that accept our coin when the OWL price is rising and incentivizing the holding of coins when the price is falling, we hit two birds with one stone by steadying our price and rewarding businesses at the same time.
Our price is allowed to vary but we want to preclude any violent volatility so businesses do not need to worry about crashes for our coin. We are not a stablecoin but we are what we've deemed a “steadycoin.” When market price of OWL is rising, we mint new coins so it doesn't rise at an unsafe pace but we do not mint enough that supply will outgrow demand.
Partner businesses that accept OWL will receive bonuses on every purchase depending on the current reward rate. The reward rate is higher if demand is drastically outpacing supply, leading to more minted coins for the business and a faster steadying of price. If the market price is dropping at the moment, the reward rate will be 0 and businesses will not gain any extra tokens at the moment.
Through this system we solve both the incentive problem and the volatility problem in one fell swoop, making it one of the most advanced cryptocurrency payment solutions to date.
5. Why is your industry ripe for disruption?
Bryce Case, Jr., Advisor: Bridging the gap between institutional money and cryptocurrency is the proverbial gordian knot that many companies are currently trying to figure out. Adoption of disruptive technologies is much easier if you can hearken back to tradition and present analogous, relatable stories to your target audience. In the case of merchant processing, you can empirically verify a need at every gas station you go to that enforces a $5 minimum purchase for using a credit or debit card – store owners are getting their margins chewed into for microtransactions. The global pornography industry, long considered a vanguard in deciding formats a la VHS / Betamax and arguably widespread adoption of broadband internet, boasts a $96 billion dollar revenue stream. The landscape of pornographic material on the internet is peppered with sites offering microtransactions to tip performers. The amount of money those companies stand to gain by adopting a technology like Minerva would significantly impact their bottom line because they have no sign on the register enforcing $5 minimums.
6. What’s the future of your industry?
Kevin McSheehan, Founder: My biggest immediate future prediction would be sweeping, aggressive regulations in response to bad ideas and unethical projects. Some level of oversight is necessary to legitimize cryptocurrency, as well as to combat money laundering with stronger KYC requirements. South Korea recently made a move in this direction. While these practices defy the core libertarian doctrine of Bitcoin, I understand the necessity and accept the inevitable.
I do, however, worry about the potential for overly aggressive regulations stifling the real innovation happening in our space.
A recent example of unnecessary oversight, at least in the private sector, would be Facebook’s decision to outright ban any ads associated with cryptocurrency. This has left ethical token sales, cryptocurrency payment providers (e.g. BitPay) and elite groups moving the distributed ledger tech forward in the crossfire between “crypto bizop CPA” jokers and the hall monitors of Facebook ads.
This is an example of an organization instituting a mindless, sweeping ban rather than structuring a reasonable framework with focus on establishing a fair middle ground. I expect more from a company like Facebook because they’re fully aware that not every advertiser is Tai Lopez.