Who’s Who in Crypto: Dr. Eric T.K Lim, Founder of UNSW Crypto Clinic
With crypto being such a new and transformative technology, academia is diving deeply into everything from its social, cultural, ethical and environmental considerations, through to the technologies that underpin it and the potential for innovation.
Dr, Eric Lim is a senior lecturer at UNSW Sydney as well as the founder of UNSW Crypto Clinic. Within this group, he is working with industrial partners to understand how to leverage on cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and fintech to expand their business potential and tackle their business problems.
He took the time to speak to CryptoVista to discuss his vision for crypto into the future.
What are your priorities for the next 12 months?
My plans or goals for my involvement with cryptocurrencies have never changed. When I was taken over by the ideals of cryptocurrencies, I set myself three goals.
One, I wanted to learn as much as I can about this space and keep refining my understanding of it and keep myself as closed to the latest development as I possibly can.
Two, I wanted to create and maintain a platform to allow me to disseminate what I know or come to know about cryptocurrencies to help others who might not have that time nor inkling of understanding of where to start to understand this domain better. This was manifested in the form of the UNSW Crypto Clinic that I founded.
Three, I want to use this knowledge I have gathered and internalized to create and build an educational/research innovation in the form of a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) that will empower education providers/researchers and consumers for a self-directed educational/research experience. I have never wavered in these three goals so I will continue towards them for the next 12 months.
What does crypto mean to you and what drew you to it?
What crypto means to me has something to do with the fact that I am an academic from the Information Systems discipline. Most people don’t even recognise that money is a form of information system that has massive, if not, the most significant impact on the entire human civilization depending on how this particular information system is designed. Therefore, what crypto means to me is the ability and audacity for us, as a people, to ask if this current design of our global money information system is long due for a redesign.
What drew me to crypto is a really interesting question. If I were to pontificate about it, it would take me hours to talk about it. But essentially the first thing that drew me to crypto was the energy in this space. I am not talking about the energy or mania coming from speculators or moonboys who are there to make quick profits. Nothing against them but I just don’t identify with them. Also, make no mistake, I am absolutely horrified and have nothing but contempt for some of the blatant shamelessness of some entities in this space. But what I love about crypto is the energy of people who are creating meaningful projects and their audacity to believe they could make a difference.
What is your long-term view of crypto?
There are two parts to this question. One is on my view of the ideals of crypto and the other is my view of crypto as instantiations of those ideals.
I will answer the easy one first. As instantiations of the crypto ideals, there are currently thousands of projects in this space. Most of them are not likely to survive. It is fine. Nothing that purports to change the world, or its current regime comes easy and without a significant amount of experimentation with a good measure of scams and opportunistic bad actors thrown into the mix. So yes, such is the process that is necessary for the space to mature and to separate the wheat from the chaff and it will be painful and there is no guarantee that it will not fail.
The second answer to this question is about the ideals of crypto. Like the mythology of fire that is given to mankind by Prometheus, it can’t be taken back. The ideals of crypto is akin to the gift of fire, a technology that is now disseminated and its ideals propagated in the minds of people. There is no way it can’t be taken back. I have seen how once the ideals have been understood by people in my crypto clinic, their eyes light up and their internal fire starts to kindle, and they know they are on the cusp of a positive and meaningful historical change in their lifetime. Therefore, from this perspective, I am hopeful about crypto in the long term.
What advice would you give people investing in crypto?
Because I am not a licensed financial advisor, I can’t give people financial advice. What I can say however should be construed as commonsensical that I think any parent would give their child. Educate yourself and do your own research on any crypto projects that you want to put money in. No YouTubers or social media influencers are going to have your interest at heart. You should only use what they say as starting points from which to do further research. The second thing is simply to never put in money you are unwilling to lose. If you are going to treat crypto investing like a casino, the house is almost always going to win.
How do you feel about the way the world is regulating crypto?
This is a complex question that requires a complex answer or even a thoughtful and deliberate process that cannot be resolved within a single interview. Therefore, I would simply offer a high-level view I have of this particular domain. Personally, I believe that at this stage, under-regulation is probably the correct direction than that of over-regulation. Despite Bitcoin having been introduced in 2009, the cryptocurrency space is still extremely immature. You can see cryptocurrencies as the stem cells of a new and wondrous financial and economic ecosystem. So, if regulators were to step in now and over-regulate the space and force it to define what it is, we are going to risk stifling its potential.
However, as I alluded to earlier, I understand completely the risks involved in relation to the presence of bad actors and opportunism in this space. But as in the mythology of Prometheus and the gift of fire, the philosophy of cryptocurrencies is a hopeful one and assumes that mankind is capable to use this gift responsibly. This is the spirit with which I founded the UNSW Crypto Clinic, which is to assume that if individuals are armed with the necessary knowledge, they can go forth and make informed judgements about their lives and actions and live with the consequences of their own misjudgments and irresponsible actions. We simply cannot keep depending on bailouts from the governments or regulators to protect us from ourselves. After all, the “not-my-fault” mentality is antithetical to the crypto space.