I was recently able to interview Eric Larchevêque, CEO and co-founder of Ledger, a Bitcoin security service that is now internationally famous for its Ledger Bitcoin wallet. Started in France at La Maison du Bitcoin, Ledger recently completed a 1.3 million euro seed funding round and is planning to move to the United States. Here at Bitcorati, we are dedicated to bringing quality and poignant interviews to the public and people like Eric at companies like Ledger are a key part of our vision. How one secures one’s bitcoins is undoubtedly the greatest pickle of bitcoin adoption, currently. The Ledger hardware bitcoin wallet allows users to use their bitcoin securely, hopefully motivating them to secure their own coins instead of leaving them in Gox-like exchanges. Whether you are in the Czech Republic, Kenya, or France, bitcoin is coming your way.
Bitcorati Interview with Ledger’s Eric Larchevêque
What is Ledger’s vision for Bitcoin’s future? How should the end user be handling and controlling their bitcoins securely?
If you don’t possess your private keys, then you don’t possess your bitcoins. But some people don’t want to get by the hassle of protecting their keys, because it’s not easy at all. That’s why we created Ledger, to bring simple to use yet very secure solutions to handle and protect bitcoins. By architecturing our products around secure elements, we ensured best in class design as well as affordable price. In the end, we want hardware wallets to be a commodity, in the hands of everyone, be it a device or a virtualized stronghold inside the trusted execution environment of a smartphone.
What have Ledger sales been like thus far? What do you predict for your company in 2015?
We have sold a few thousands of units in the first weeks of commercialization, showing that the response to our product has been very positive. Our product line will expand with the Trustlet, a virtualized hardware wallet running inside a smartphone, and the Ledger Blue, an advanced hardware wallet with NFC/BLE (contactless) capabilities. Everything is centered around our Ledger OS, which can be ported to any kind of secure execution environment. This way, wallet developers can leverage all our solutions with the same API.
Congratulations on the funding round! How does it feel to have backing from investors and users?
It is a very important milestone for our company. We are a team of more than 10 engineers, with heavy R&D investment. Security hardware company is not the kind you can boostrap, especially on a market like Bitcoin where mass adoption is – while certain – quite slow.
Can you describe the virtual hardware wallet that Ledger has worked out with GreenBits?
This is the Ledger Trustlet. Basically it’s our Ledger OS, running in a secure enclave of the smartphone’s microprocessor. It’s running exactly the same code than in the secure element of the Ledger Nano, but it is virtualized. This way, any wallet can delegate the critical security parts such as storing and handling private keys to our trustlet. For now, only a few kind of smartphones (having a Trusted Execution Environment) are compatible, but we expect massive adoption before the end of the year.
What is the average French Bitcoiner like?
They are not very different from the other kind of bitcoiners, the only thing is that they are quite few. France is not in the lead regarding adoption of cryptocurrencies. By tradition, we are often late to the game.
Do you think that those living outside of the “first world” have different motivations for pursuing the furtherance of digital currencies and decentralization?
First world users mainly see Bitcoin as a speculative opportunity, third world users see Bitcoin as a real solution to hard problems their encounter everyday.
How has digital currency and blockchain technology personally helped your life?
It gave me new perspectives and new opportunities to explore. This is a new area, with a massive potential of disruption. It may take 5 or 10 years, but it will take the world by storm.
How has the world been changed by this new technology?
It hasn’t changed yet. Impact of decentralization and blockchain technology is close to nil right now. Everything is to come.
How do you think the world will be changed by this new technology?
By allowing trust to be decentralized, blockchain technology empowers populations as well as machines to build applications we can’t even think about yet. Exactly like in 1995 we couldn’t conceive a Twitter or a Facebook, because we hadn’t yet the concepts to envision it.
When and how did you first hear about Bitcoin?
In 2012, with Silk Road. Initially I was a bit dismissive and didn’t really look into it.
When did you first decide to dedicate time to digital currencies; how much of your time do you dedicate? Is this your full-time job?
In 2013 I wold my previous startup and was actively looking for a new venture. By chance I looked again into Bitcoin, and this time I got stuck. I spent days and days reading everything about it, trying to understand it. Being CEO of Ledger is my full time job, with a 100% dedication.
Bitcorati would like to thank Eric for his time and wishes him and Ledger the best in the future.