Cover Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin speaks at ETHDenver. (Photo: Getty Images)

Here's why crypto could be dangerous and how Vitalik Buterin, the founder of the world's second-largest cryptocurrency, wants to change it

Last week, Vitalik Buterin, the founder of blockchain company Ethereum and arguably one of the most influential voices in the cryptocurrency space, was interviewed by Time Magazine.

While everyone was certainly keen to hear his take on the future of blockchain technology, Buterin instead spent the interview talking about the worrying trends he has been observing in cryptocurrency as well as the dangers that it could cause if it continues this way—something that is often overlooked as cryptocurrency continues to soar in popularity. 

If you missed this riveting piece, here are three key points to note from his interview.

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1. Crypo has the potential to be very dangerous

In his interview, Buterin spoke passionately about how crypto can be dangerous when powered by greed and overeager investors who don’t mind the shameless displays of wealth that tend to pervade the public’s perception of crypto. 

“The peril is you have these US$3 million monkeys and it becomes a different kind of gambling,” he said about Bored Ape Yacht Club, an NFT collection of primate cartoons that has, over the years, become a symbol of wealth. Celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon and Paris Hilton snap them up and the art trades for over a million dollars. 

“Crypto itself has a lot of dystopian potentials if implemented wrong,” Buterin explained. Cryptocurrency mining is known to contribute to air pollution, and some crypto users have even exploited the decentralised blockchain technology to evade taxes or carry out money laundering and scams.

2. Crypto can be used for philanthropic causes

Though Buterin emphasised that greed can cause crypto to turn dangerous, he has also said that it can be used for good in the right hands. 

One major example was when Russia invaded Ukraine. Almost immediately, cryptocurrency became a tool of Ukrainian resistance. Over US$100 million in crypto was raised in the invasion’s first three weeks for the Ukrainian government and select charities. Crypto also proved useful for Ukrainians who were fleeing the country and who had no access to banks. 

It is a stark reminder, according to Buterin, that investors need to ensure that there are tangible effects to what they are doing.

"The goal of crypto is not to play games with million-dollar pictures of monkeys, it’s to do things that accomplish meaningful effects in the real world," he said.

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3. Ethereum is not just about money

During the interview, Buterin took the time to emphasise that he believed that cryptocurrency, and Ethereum as a result, should be more than just about money.

Despite its rapid growth, from trading at US$114 for 1 ETH two years ago to US$2,792 today, the man behind the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency believes that it should not be overcome by greed as that doing so can cause significant issues in the world.

He continued by admitting that he has had to take on a bigger public role in order to shape the future and perception of the company.

"If we don’t exercise our voice, the only things that get built are the things that are immediately profitable. And those are often far from what’s actually the best for the world," he said. 

Since then, Buterin has worked tirelessly to ensure that Ethereum is a launchpad for fairer voting systems, urban planning, universal basic income and various public-works projects.

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