Bitcoin Summer Recap : Day 1 — Beginners & Privacy
Last week in Montreal, from August 16 onward, saw Canadian Bitcoin exchange Bull Bitcoin host an absolutely mind-blowing series of workshops and presentations by various talented individuals from across the globe.
The week-long event was titled Bitcoin Summer and was offered as a unique experience for anyone to attend live, with limited places, in Bull Bitcoin’s offices in Montreal. With an intense Bitcoin-only focus on the menu, I was compelled to enroll immediately and plan for the week. As it turns out, it didn’t take more than 48 hours for the spots to sell out to capacity, a testament to Bull Bitcoin’s reputation and the quality of the content on offer, but also to Quebec’s passionate Bitcoin community.
The key individuals behind the organization of Bitcoin Summer were Gustavo Flores, Tristan Borges, and Maciej Cepnik; members of Canada’s Bitcoin exchange & Bull Bitcoin’s partners Veriphi. In fact, the week kicked off with a presentation from Bull Bitcoin’s CEO Francis Pouliot, announcing the acquisition of Veriphi and its whole team, effectively consolidating the forces from two of the most prominent and efficient Bitcoin services in Canada.
I will be writing articles for each of the five days of Bitcoin Summer which I personally attended and enjoyed thoroughly. My objective is to share details of my experience so that more people can benefit from the knowledge that was conveyed by some of the most knowledgeable people in the industry.
Before I begin, let me point out that the entirety of the presentations were live streamed on Bull Bitcoin’s youtube channel, and can be revisited at any time!
Bull Bitcoin acquires Veriphi
As previously mentioned, the audience was greeted by Francis Pouliot (live from an undisclosed location somewhere in the jungle), who was eager to announce to the world that Bull Bitcoin and Veriphi were now essentially one.
Bull Bitcoin has been non-custodial from day one, a crucial characteristic to their value proposition. Now, adding the six Bitcoin experts from Veriphi to their ranks, Bull Bitcoin’s mission will include the development of world-class Bitcoin self-custody products and services that will be offered on an international level to both individuals and institutions. The reach of the company now expanding beyond Canada’s borders. Exciting times ahead, to say the least!
Francis underlined to the audience how Bull Bitcoin never had to rely on any subsidy from the government and got where it’s at by building and offering solid and reliable services, while doing so at a “disadvantage versus custodial exchanges”. Actively creating the market and educating on self-custody is key to their mission and Francis is adamant on the fact that he wants to leave no one behind and aims for the rising of sovereign bitcoiners.
Emotions were transpiring during the speech, evidently marking an achievement in his career along with the laying of a cornerstone for a new beginning. Safe to say, we were off to a great start at Bitcoin Summer.
Get Started with BlueWallet
Back to the theme of the day; Beginners & Privacy. Maciej Cepnik gave a presentation on BlueWallet which is a versatile and user-friendly Bitcoin wallet that offers a great range of features and is ideal for onboarding new bitcoiners while simultaneously accommodating more advanced users with technical flexibility, such as coin control, ability to connect to a node, an offline mode, and the creation of Multisig vaults, just to name a few.
BlueWallet allows its users to seamlessly create Lightning network wallets within the app, an attractive feature which abstracts most of the technicalities behind the management of a Lightning node and channels. Being able to easily transact on Lightning significantly increases the usability of the software.
Maciej’s overview of the wallet was focused on showing beginners and new users how simple it can be to create a wallet and use it to take a step towards taking custody of your coins, a key point for bitcoiners to grasp.
Introduction to Wasabi Wallet
After lunch, which I enjoyed on the building’s terrace on that sunshiny Monday, it was time for Gustavo Flores to teach us about the fundamentals of privacy on Bitcoin and Wasabi Wallet.
Bitcoin’s privacy is imperfect and there’s a certain importance for users to maintain as much privacy as they can, as is their right. Gustavo laid out the fundamentals and explained how Wasabi Wallet allows users to get there via their desktop app.
The main feature of the app is CoinJoin which is, essentially, a collaboration between multiple users for more anonymity in a decentralized manner. The wallet lets users manage their UTXOs and visualize the ‘anonymity set’ for each of them. Mixing coins augments privacy because it helps breaking the link between UTXOs and, for example, KYC platforms.
Wasabi uses Neutrino SPV and enables Tor by default. Both features are crucial to the enhanced privacy which elevates the wallet above others in that category. It is worth mentioning here that Wasabi Wallet is an open-source project.
Max Hillebrand — Wabisabi
We were massively fortunate to witness a live presentation from Max Hillebrand, one of the main contributors to Wasabi and a true advocate of privacy and liberty. I would like to point out, on a personal note, that I was impressed by the quality of Hillebrand’s capacity to convey his message.
The audio presentation first begun with a history of how and why Wasabi came to be and the path it had taken to get there. From the outside, we are often unaware of the efforts it takes for these kind of projects to be built. More often than not, there are years of careful deliberation and work behind such projects!
Max introduced the crowd to Wabisabi, the upcoming update to Wasabi which will decisively upgrade the experience of CoinJoin. There are several features being worked on to add versatility and a better user experience on the app.
Users can expect an augmented privacy with coordinators, the ability to make payments and to open Lightning channels in a CoinJoin, as well as using it with hardware wallets, among other things. Greater flexibility with denominations (currently only approximately 0.1 BTC is supported for CoinJoin) is expected to highly benefit the experience for both low amounts and whale-type of amounts.
Overall, the slew of upcoming features brilliantly presented by Hillebrand outlined a fascinating roadmap ahead for the Wasabi development team. I recommend anyone that’s interested in this subject to watch the presentation here. Looking forward to the release!
Bitcoin Rant + Panel with Jonathan, Gustavo & Maciej
As you can probably tell, Day One was packed with content and Francis Pouliot once again joined us from the jungle, this time to rant about different topics related to Bitcoin, one of his main areas of expertise!
Ranging from Bitcoin’s supposed impact on climate, to inflation & taxes, to miners FUD and more, we had a fun time decompressing while listening to Francis. Although, unfortunately, the connection wasn’t stable and eventually the discussion had to be cut short.
Surprise local guest Jonathan Hamel joined us live for a panel alongside hosts Gustavo and Maciej. Hamel’s background includes many contributions to Bitcoin, he also provides business classes on Bitcoin and is a generally vastly knowledgeable individual on politics and economy with strong and interesting opinions.
The trio discussed the situation with covid 19’s impact worldwide and shared their perspective on the many challenges we are currently facing as individuals with an increasingly authoritarian government, especially here in Canada & Quebec. The panelists also expanded on Bitcoin’s energy usage and the way it is being painted wrongfully on the mainstream media.
Day One Conclusion
I had a blast throughout the opening day; from knowledge-packed presentations to meeting a ton of Bitcoiners, I could already feel that I was getting a lot of bang for the buck.
As we were wrapping up, the organizers invited us to enjoy drinks and barbecue on the house on the terrace outside, where we had a grand time discussing all things and getting to know each other.
Stay tuned for subsequent reports as I will continue to detail my experience from Bitcoin Summer!