Five Questions With: Frank Aiello

Frank Aiello is the founder and president of the Rhode Island Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Association. The association is currently hosting various panel discussions to educate people about the ever-evolving world of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. The group has an upcoming event on April 12 at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Those interested in attending can find more details here

Aiello talks with Providence Business News about the new association, what its trying to accomplish and how cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are evolving.

PBN: Can you tell our readers about yourself and the Rhode Island Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Association?

AIELLO: My name is Frank Aiello. Prior to learning about the blockchain, I have had a successful career as a seasoned sales and business-development professional with over 15 years of experience in advertising, media, IT [information technology], technology, recruiting and blockchain industries. I have facilitated over $100 million in revenue with expertise in monetizing new technologies, developing strategic partnerships and driving organic sales growth.

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In addition, I founded the Rhode Island Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Association. The RICBA’s main goal is to facilitate blockchain and cryptocurrency education from both a technical and investing perspective in the form of speaking engagements and advisory services throughout the southern New England region. I see a lot of large-scale events throughout the region but most cost anywhere from $500-$1,000 to attend. It’s my goal to help bring the expertise to the common investor (myself for example) for free or a small fee.

PBN: Who are your members and how would you describe the local network of people and businesses interested in this field?

AIELLO: Our members are quite diverse. More commonly, we see a good amount of folks simply interested in getting in on the hype with little to no knowledge of how or where to get started. We also see a good amount of legal and advisory organizations looking to adapt their businesses as well as technical personnel interested in refining their skills to center more around blockchain technology.

PBN: How should folks cut through all of the volatility and fanfare surrounding cryptocurrency and blockchain technology and be thinking about it in practical terms, so to speak?

AIELLO: Well, this is sort of a complex question, so I’ll do my best to break it down. Start with the basics, just like I did. I was only introduced to cryptocurrency about eight months back and when I started, I treated cryptocurrencies like buying stocks. In many ways, it is like a stock but it’s not. It’s not traded on the NYSE [New York Stock Exchange] and there is no governing body overseeing your investments or trades. The purpose and reason why I was so excited about cryptocurrency is because of the free nature of what it means to give power back to the people and out of the hands of the 1 percent, which we can get into much more detail during our next event.

In practical terms of understanding the blockchain, we first need to define what the blockchain is. The blockchain is a digital ledger in which transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are recorded chronologically and publicly. Think of it like a poker game, but at the poker game everyone forgets their cash. They all decide to keep a separate ledger of who wins and loses each hand. At the end of the game, they all compare ledgers and if anyone shows discrepancies, they are automatically eliminated from the game. This would mean one block of transactions have been completed on the blockchain. The foundation of blockchain is based on trust, which is the fundamentals of what Satoshi Nakamoto created when developing this genius [technology] to allow one person to exchange with another without a middle man or governing body taking a fee for the transaction. It is complete decentralization.

PBN: How should people be evaluating it as an investment opportunity?

AIELLO: First and foremost, never invest more than you can afford to lose. I chose to start investing in cryptocurrency several months back and I’ve seen tremendous gains. I want to share exactly what I did with the members of my group.

Secondly, you should do your research. Start by browsing coinmarketcap.com, the site that lists every cryptocurrency available to buy and what exchange to buy it on. For beginners, I always recommend starting with just buying bitcoin. I started with Coinbase.com, but their fees I’ve found to be egregious. Open an account at Gemini.com, a [New York] registered exchange and link your bank account. Start with investing $50 and watch that investment over the course of a few weeks. If you see a gain, withdraw your money back to fiat currency.

It took me going through this very basic practice to trust the system that I was investing my money with. Additionally, before you ever decide to invest in any altcoins, you should always do your research on the organization and understand what economic problem they are set to solve. However, for beginners, I wouldn’t look too far past bitcoin, ethereum and litecoin.

PBN: Can you tell our readers about your upcoming panel discussion and why the association is holding these types of events?

AIELLO: Our upcoming panel discussion will be our best one yet. We have rounded up four very senior-level resources all from the Boston area that have generously volunteered their time, not for gain, not to push their products or services, but simply for education. Again, we are in very exciting times and through the blockchain, the way we transaction with one another is changing for the good. You can think of this as web 2.0 with enhanced features that allows me to book a room with the use of Airbnb or any other travel site. I can order an Uber directly from a driver without Uber. It’s complete decentralization, which we will get into much more detail during our event.

Eli Sherman is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Sherman@PBN.com, or follow him on Twitter @Eli_Sherman.