An interview with Marek Kowalski, CTO at Rumble Fish Software Development and mentor in Blockchain Training Hub.
Marek, you have over 15 years of experience in the IT industry, you started as a Software Developer. Do you remember when you first took an interest in blockchain?
The first thing that picked my interest was Ethereum. It was around 2015 when a client of ours who was an investment banker working in London brought it up. He was very much interested in blockchain and believed that this is the future and a whole new universe of obligations and, as a matter of fact, he was right. However, at the time, it was very hard to imagine, but I remember we took an interest in Ethereum and we started doing some internal research about it. I remember our toy project was meant to just use it to settle lunch debt between developers, which is very funny considering transaction costs.
So would you say you’re a self-taught blockchain expert?
I guess at that time everyone was, they haven’t been teaching that in universities like I’m sure they do now.
Being active in the blockchain field for a long time now, what do you see as its biggest challenge in the coming years?
There is a lot of uncertainty regarding regulations and about what is legal and what is not and how businesses and individuals can legally interact, make payments, and earn money. It’s not clear why after so many years we haven’t been able to establish a regulatory framework that is clear and makes sense. But especially during the last years, it’s been evident that especially in the United States, it’s in regulatory purgatory pretty much right now. So I think this is a very big challenge and I understand that there are different groups of interest including actors who would like to see crypto gone. There is also a subject of competition: if one country stays behind in terms of regulations, it’s an opportunity for another country to provide a good regulatory framework and attract investors and crypto startups. I think this area will have to improve quite a lot.
Regarding development in itself, is there a field within blockchain development that you think will have the biggest impact on the future of blockchain as a whole?
In recent years we have seen a lot of advancement in the subject of zero-knowledge proofs. There has been tremendous progress and the entire technology is 20 years old or maybe not even that. It’s moving extremely fast and it’s a very complex subject in terms of mathematics, but very smart people are working on it. Five or seven years ago, we were all collectively amazed that something like Zcash was possible where people can make private transfers and not disclose the balance yet be sure that they don’t overspend. I remember when I first heard about it, I started wondering if the universe isn’t broken because it shouldn’t be possible to prove to someone the validity of a statement that you do not disclose. Using common sense you’d think that to prove something, you have to tell someone what you are proving, but apparently that’s not the case. And from this very simple toy example, now we are at a stage where we can prove the validity of, for example, if a machine learning model has been applied correctly or if cryptographic functions have been calculated correctly. And this makes you think of where is the limit. So this is definitely a very important subject in years to come. Another big issue is the need to simplify some of the tools to enable wider adoption of crypto and Web3 apps. Crypto wallets, for example, have been with us since the beginning of crypto, yet evidence shows that for most users the concept is still not simple enough. People are being asked to make backups and they are scared that they can lose it or someone can steal it and somehow, based on this fear they trust their funds to some sketchy crypto businesses. Essentially, they end up keeping their money on centralized exchanges and this has to stop. There are solutions to self-custody, but for the majority of the population, this is just way too complicated and this is why we have so much drama and scams like FTX for instance.
Speaking of FTX, what are your predictions regarding the changes in blockchain development when it comes to the security aspect?
One major recent development that kind of flew under the radar was a rollout of the ERC-4337 standard which is pretty much the account abstraction. It was released in March and we haven’t yet seen a full-fledged product like a wallet based on the standard. But there is a lot of excitement around the subject, and the key to it is that you will be able to interact with Ethereum and other EVM-compatible chains, having the smart contract wallet. Yet there will be a way for you not to have to rely on a private key. So you will still need a private key because like without private key security, it could be hard to tell if you’re the owner of a wallet but still, the flow of regaining control of your wallet becomes possible. As developers, we are now given much more options and can reach for solutions known from other aspects of the industry, like biometrics or multi-factor authentication.
It remains to be seen how exactly will they be realized and what kind of products will roll out as a result. There are a few teams out there who are working to make a wallet based on the standard and essentially solve the recovery aspect of it. I think that the recovery aspect, and the fear of losing funds, just by losing the private key for many people has been a deal breaker in terms of self-custody. This is why some people thought it was a good idea to keep it on a centralized exchange where we know that funds could, and have been misappropriated. I’m looking forward to seeing these solutions being rolled out and made mainstream. The hope is that much more people will feel safer investing in crypto and stop trusting people who shouldn’t be trusted.
Rumble Fish is known for having the best Blockchain engineers, engineers on board as CTO, you supervise all of them. What’s your secret?
We rely on a standardized training program throughout the years. Based on the projects we’ve done, and close observations of the market, we came up with a list of exercises and topics that a wannabe blockchain developer needs to get familiar with. As a result, we created a Blockchain Training Hub which is a program that we offer to developers who are new to blockchain and would like to become pros. We have a way of quickly ramping them up and by quickly, I mean it usually takes 4 weeks. So we have to put in 4 weeks of work and exercise and part of it for me is doing code review, giving comments and remarks, and over time these people become knowledgeable and able to work on a real blockchain project. But really the secret is that you have to give it to people who are interested in a subject. It’s so much easier if this is something that drives you because you have to keep on reading, watching YouTube, and following the Web3 projects. So not only one needs to stay invested to be on top of the ever-changing world of blockchain, but also try to contribute and be involved in the projects that they believe in. For example, at Rumble Fish, we created a very useful tool for blockchain developers called EVM Debugger. It’s an open-source project that enables really easy and user-friendly analysis of Ethereum smart contracts. Our debugging tool gives out detailed information about state changes, logs, gas usage, and all calls made by the transaction. It’s through projects like this that you show dedication and real interest in enabling wider blockchain adoption. And this is exactly what we do at Rumble Fish.
Marek Kowalski is a Chief Technology Officer at Rumble Fish Software Development. He has nearly 20 years of experience in leading the most innovative and cutting-edge IT projects for global customers. Marek stands at the forefront of blockchain technology, being one of the first engineers worldwide to bring its advanced concepts to life. He’s led blockchain projects for companies like MakerDAO, building decentralized cryptocurrency exchange platforms and token trading apps. One of his roles as a CTO is to share his extensive blockchain expertise. He created an entire training hub for developers who wish to learn blockchain and use it in real-life Rumble Fish projects. As a very involved mentor, he cares deeply about guiding them to learn, grow and become fully independent Blockchain experts.
Marek holds a Master’s degree in Theoretical Physics (his great passion along with maths) from Jagiellonian University in Kraków. When outside the office, he can be found sailing or playing chess.