Kosala Hemachandra, the co-founder of the leading online wallet service for Ethereum, MyEtherWallet, is warning the cryptocurrency industry that it is not yet ready for widespread use by the general public. In an exclusive interview with BitcoinBro.com, the first time he has spoken publicly since the highly public split with his business partner, he has suggested that many players in the crypto market still haven’t managed to combine the need for high security with ease of use by retail investors.
In February, MyEtherWallet created headlines after Taylor Monahan, who founded the company three years ago alongside Hemachandra, announced that she had launched a rival called MyCrypto which intended to offer similar services to those of MyEtherWallet.
At the time, Monahan had suggested that:
MyEtherWallet LLC was sufficient for the early stages of growth. MyCrypto is designed with next-level scaling in mind from the beginning. The team I have assembled over the past 9 months and I will now be [sic] building, providing support, educating, and ensuring the security of https://mycrypto.com and all future products.
The split between the two founders was by no means clean. One key area of conflict related to the companies verified and widely followed Twitter account. Monahan, without the prior permission of Hemachandra, changed the MyEtherWallet account into her own MyCrypto.
Hemachandra had been expecting Monahan to break away from the company and had been building up his own small team. Now they work from an office in down town Los Angles. Additional members of the company work remotely from around the world. Given that MyEtherWallet was so central to the growth of Ethereum there were concerns that the break up could reduce investor’s confidence in the market. Monahan had remarked at the time that,
I was terrified — am terrified — at the potential harm this change will have on myself, the team, and/or the Ethereum community.
Yet this “harm”, according to Hemachandra, has not materialised and clients continue to use both the original MyEtherWallet site and Monahan’s new firm MyCrypto. Hemachandra remains optimistic about the future and claims that MyEtherWallet is well prepared for mass adoption of cryptocurrencies.
Hemachandra was reluctant to discuss further details of the split citing the ongoing legal action that he launched in December.
Hemachandra describes MyEtherWallet as a,
free, open-source, client-side interface that allows you to interact directly with the blockchain while remaining in full control of your keys & your funds.
The need for such a service arose in the early days of Ethereum when the only way to access the Ethereum network was through the command line. MyEtherWallet’s business model which is simply a channel through which non-technical users can access and move their Ethereum remains almost unchanged.
According to Hemachandra, services of this kind will be of “great importance during the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies.” As he sees it, a financial product is useless if it is too overwhelmingly complicated for the average user.
And yet, for all the excitement concerning so called “mass adoption,” it could be these non-technical newcomers that cause security issues. Hemachandra recalls his “frustration” with the number of users who had asked him, “to recover their [lost] private keys.” It’s clear the newer, post 2016, clients are far more concerned with convenience and ease of use than the early adopters.
It’s in this area where Hemachandra hopes to specialise. Already, on the MyEtherWallet website, an extensive “Help” section exists which aims to ensure users keep their funds safe. Hemachandra also promises a brand new educational section.
One consistent headache Hemachandra faces is phishing. As MyEtherWallet gained in popularity, thousands of websites, all with near identical URLs and layouts, attempted to trick users into giving their details. MyEtherWallet’s open source code combined with decentralised nature of Ethereum caused the site to become a particular target for phishers. The company maintains a “black list” of a staggering 6,400 examples of fake websites set up by these phishers on their site.
So what can the company do to tackle this? Not much, says Hemachandra, apart from “more thorough education.” MyEtherWallet has, however, been recommending MetaMask a browser extension that can be found in the chrome store that automatically blocks phishing websites that are on the blacklist.
Hemachandra claims the company is working on a project which would allow users mobile phones to effectively become hardware wallets. This would provide an extra layer of security for users ensuring their private key is not stored anywhere online where it could be compromised.
The story of MyEtherWallet is typical in the cryptocurrency market. The exponential growth of the website, set up by two young hobbyists, was integral to the emergence of the multi-million dollar ICOs that were so common in 2017. Yet it’s clear that companies of this nature must mature if they are to meet the requirements of the market going forward.
The newer, less technical users, who are used to customer oriented and centralised banking services, are becoming more conscious of the casual and unstable nature with which firms in the crypto market conduct business. Maintaining the confidence of such users, and providing them with financial services with the stability and professionalism with which they are used to, is vital. As Hemachandra himself admitted, the key issues for the market going forward are “educational not technical.”