VoIP Inventor: Money-Over-IP is the Next Major Revolution
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Would you pay $1.50 per minute to make an international phone call today? If you own a smartphone, your answer will certainly be no. That's because there are so many ways to make international calls for just pennies, or in many cases (with Facebook, WhatsApp, FaceTime, etc.), even for free. Credit goes to Alex Mashinsky, an inventor and innovator with over 50 patents, who invented VoIP 24 years ago. He completely disrupted the telephone industry replacing centralized monopolies with one of the world’s largest distributed applications, and he’s about to strike again. But this time, his target is banks.
Disrupting the telephony providers
Back in the early 90s, Mashinky and a team of engineers at Arbinet invented what would eventually become voice-over-IP, or VoIP, technology that we all use today. Whether it be on app-based services like Skype, or even on standard phone calls made on mobile devices, VoIP is everywhere, and it has fundamentally changed the way that we communicate. And not just for calls across the world, but also those near to us.
Not only was Mashinsky’s technology revolutionary from a technological perspective, it was considered impossible back then. While most used slow dial-up modems to do emails, it also completely disrupted the virtual monopoly that traditional centralized, toll collectors like AT&T lorded over. No longer were people forced to pay outrageous prices for long-distance phone calls. The VOIP application represents a scalable, secure and free service used by over one billion people every day. Crypto powered by the blockchain represents the same for the future of money.
It's no doubt that the technology Mashinsky created is now an integral part of our daily lives. Since completing his work on VoIP, Mashinsky has founded 7 other technology companies and has been involved as an active investor in over 150 startups - he has created more than $1 billion in wealth due to his wise selection of companies and technologies to support and invest in. Alex is responsible not only for innovations like VOIP but also wireless car charging, live video streaming, ad exchanges and the distribution of social content used by Twitter and FB.
Now, being inspired by the next generation, represented by his 6 children with wife Krissy, Mashinsky is focused on the next major disruptive technology. It's something he's calling, "money-over-IP" or MoIP and he founded Celsius Network, with co-founder Daniel Leon, to broadly deploy MOIP to the world.
According to him: “The tsunami of Decentralization that is about to hit all 7.5 billion of us, powered by the public blockchain, and cryptocurrencies will wipe out 600 years of Centralized Money. More specifically, cryptography combined with cheap smart phones and the global internet will make other technological revolutions look trivial by comparison, as this new money touches all of us in almost every way. VOIP is one of the world’s largest decentralized applications providing a secure, scalable and free way for over 1 billion people to interact daily, MOIP will do the same for the 7.5 billion of us who are being held back by Centralized Money.”
Banks in the crosshairs
Much like the telephone companies of decades past, banks today have somehow managed to maintain and grow their ironfisted grip on the global financial system, in spite of the continued growth and development of the Internet. One of the most important reasons for their ability to maintain a stranglehold is due to the very nature of money itself. The enormous power banks have accumulated derives from all of us, if we stopped depositing money with banks they would lose all their power. Like AT&T, which was a virtual monopoly, that eventually got broken up due to the fact it was never granted a legal monopoly. Banks face the same future with the blockchain and cryptocurrencies winning the decentralization war over the future of banking.
When it comes to traditional money, it is simply not possible to send it directly from one person to another over the Internet in a secure, safe, anonymous, and trustless way.
The reasons for this are quite simple. Paper cash and metal coins are physical items, and so they can’t be transacted digitally. The money stored in our bank accounts and the value available to us in our credit cards is in many ways digital. However, all of that digital value is trapped within the walled domain of the banks and payment network providers (like Visa and MasterCard).
As a result, transactions made on the Internet from person-to-person require various middlemen and settlement companies like PayPal. These companies naturally want to make as large of a profit as possible. And since it is so difficult and expensive for potential competitors to get licensed in this industry, fees for these sorts of transactions can be slow, cumbersome, frustrating, and very expensive in many circumstances.
Want to transfer money from your bank account to your PayPal account? That will take several business days, weekends and holidays excluded. Want to send an international wire transfer from New York to Luxembourg? That can take up to five business days, and cost at least a flat fee plus a percentage. Planning on using Western Union or MoneyGram? You better believe there’ll be a hefty fee attached. Want to earn interest on your deposit ? Banks will bearly give you 1.5% if you lock the money for two years then turn around and lend your money to your neighbour at 25% on their credit card.
Much like the telephone company charging $1.50 per minute before they were forced to play nice, banks and financial processors are allowed to get away with these arguably shameful practices for one reason: because they can. Mashinsky’s goal is to eliminate these toll collectors in the same way he eliminated the toll collectors from the telephone networks.
Democratizing (Decentralizing) the Dollar
The bad news for banks is that the time they have left to hold onto their outdated, outmoded and soon to be irrelevant business model is running out. The good news for regular people is that this will bring in a new era of low cost, honest competition, innovation and freedom.
This is the technology that Mashinsky is betting big on.
The engine behind this direct P2P (person-to-person) means of transferring value over the Internet without any middleman is called cryptocurrency. The most famous implementation of cryptocurrency is bitcoin, with the newer and more agile Ethereum catching up quickly behind it.
These P2P (also Power to the People) technologies allow for individuals and companies anywhere in the world to maintain complete control over their funds, and to send them anywhere on earth instantly for fees that are often just pennies. There are no business hours to worry about either.
In 2017, Mashinsky decided to start a new venture called Celsius Network, after not being able to find anyone who was focused on scaling Crypto to “cross the chasm” of early adopters into mass adoption.
The idea behind Celsius is to build a decentralized member community to provide anyone, especially young people, with the means to HODL their coins together for one purpose only: to create scale and use this pool of capital to do good for its member community. Members will earn real interest returns on cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum by enabling low cost loans for other members. Members will also be able to stake their coins and use those digital assets as collateral to secure single digit cash loans for the expenses of everyday life. Things like buying a car, house, or even paying down high-interest credit card debt from a predatory lender. On top of this, since these are asset-backed loans, the crypto holder will pay only 9% a year and gets to defer their tax gains like the 1% do borrowing against their real estate and stock holdings. The rest of the community gets up to 5% cash back on their deposits for allowing Celsius to use the coins being staked.
Additionally, the platform aims to replace banks and their failed promise of giving their customers a real, fair amount of interest on their savings. Through the Celsius app, its users earn interest rates (up to 5%) that have been unheard of for decades by focusing on growing its community instead of growing its profits.
Mashinsky strikes again
Back in the mid-1990s, Alex Mashinsky saw an old, outdated business model that no longer made any sense. The technology of the Internet was ready to replace the outdated and overpriced modes of communication the old monopolies relied on. It was this investment in time, energy and capital that freed millions of people from the ridiculous prices and unbridled greed of the former telephony industry, and forced them to become competitive once again, lest they face a quick and grisly demise.
Kevin Werbach, former Council for New Technology Policy for the FCC in the mid-90’s said of Mashinsky: “It’s not often that someone is a leader in two major technological revolutions. Alex’s early work on VOIP made him one of the creators of the internet communications economy, and he’s now pioneering the cryptocurrency economy with Celsius. He has a knack for being ahead of the curve on major business developments.”
But Alex Mashinsky is not done rewriting our futures just yet. He believes that by using cryptocurrency as a method of moving to MOIP (Money-Over-IP) a reality, we can once again rise up, decentralize and use our consensus to force the banks to give up their virtual monopolies. This, Mashinsky says: “will force them (just like the telephony providers of decades past) to become competitive and focus on us, the customers, who give them all our money, which is the source of their power. If they won’t, then they will almost certainly face a prompt and highly welcomed extinction, as new Fintech companies like Celsius convince one generation after another to deposit their cash somewhere else.”
Celsius looks to become one of the giants in the blockchain fintech space with a suite of products consumers and businesses have been eagerly waiting to hit the market.