In an exclusive interview with Finbold, Danielius Stasiulis, the CEO of Learnoverse by BitDegree, outlined how the cryptocurrency sector and the financial system will co-exist in the coming years. He highlighted why the crypto sector is essential to the survival of the traditional financial system.
During the interview, Stasiulis also explored the importance of integrating blockchain and cryptocurrencies in the formal education curriculum and how adoption will be impacted in the future.
BitDegree’s cryptocurrency-related eLearning platform went live in April 2018. Since then, how have consumers’ desire to learn changed?
“Today, when we talk about crypto and blockchain, we still assume it is in the early adoption phase, despite the massive growth that we have seen recently.
When we launched the Bitdegree platform in early 2018, the situation was radically different – even as pioneers of crypto education, we were somewhat too early; there was a general lack of interest in learning about crypto and even less aptitude among users to use crypto payments.
We made some adjustments to appeal to a wider audience – introduced courses on various digital skills and began building a digital-savvy community supported through blockchain technology, using various forms of tokenization, such as: allowing fiat and token payments, offering extra incentives to use the latter, various scholarships and implemented an early learn2earn model rewarding our students for course completion.
From the very early days, we believed that crypto is the future, so we took further action and went to institutions like the European Commission, and the U.S. Department of Education to advocate using blockchain and crypto in education, as well as established partnerships with various universities, traditional education providers, and vocational training providers but that, did not help much to bring actual change and spike interest, in terms of using blockchain in education.
The breakthrough happened in 2021 when the crypto community tripled and reached 300 million – that was the moment when we saw a tremendous increase in demand.
It was a delight to see people entering the blockchain space with great enthusiasm to learn and explore blockchain, tokens, NFTs, and DeFi. We realised we can finally go back to our roots – educate about crypto using crypto; just this time, both the learners’ desire and our offerings have advanced.”
With the Metaverse now regarded as one of the biggest trends in the technology sector, do you expect it will eventually go mainstream? How will it affect our daily learning experience?
“The Metaverse is here already; we just don’t know how to look for it. I believe at the very essence of the Metaverse stands the following: digital asset ownership, user-generated and user-centered content, as well as transparency and transferability. We already have that now in various crypto ecosystems, and the Metaverse or different sorts of metaverses will only change the way we interact in the digital world.
In Learnoverse, our own learning Metaverse, we will add different layers for interaction to make learning experiences more immersive, an ability to come and earn in the Learnoverse with your unique personal assets and fully operate there as well as take and display your NFT diplomas whenever you like.
We also added a unique tokenomics approach that will create an economic system where users are actually rewarded with tokens for learning, and teachers are incentivized to provide the most excellent and up-to-date courses on all things crypto. Earning a certificate will also automatically open various opportunities in the digital world, including access to alumni and instructors’ communities and your diploma because it will be stored on the Blockchain as an NFT. We are also looking forward to new advances in blockchain technology, such as soul-bound tokens for the diploma use-case implementation.
In the future, video clips and reading will be replaced by immersive 3D experiences; you will be able to ride your digital longboard and chat with your instructors, have real-time discussion groups with like-minded students or jump into a first-hand experience of learning by doing and actually building things in the Metaverse. We will also work for our daily learning experiences to become much more engaging than they are today.”
With BitDegree, users are already able to develop their crypto abilities by taking courses and receiving certifications from prominent blockchain organizations. Why have you decided to launch ‘Learnoverse’ – as you say, ‘1st ever open crypto learning metaverse’? How can users benefit from this product, and ‘what’s the catch’?
“We are not here just to build yet another learning platform, we are here to radically transform education in crypto, with crypto, for crypto, and the Learnoverse is a rather natural next step for a more immersive and rewarding user experience.
For example, if you enroll in a course at Learnoverse, you would not only receive the course and the textbooks, but you will also be able to directly contact your professor as well as your fellow students on the platform. On top of that, you will be able to experience and learn about the learn2earn concept, take a part in the extensive gamification, NFT economy, and crypto community culture, all with your own unique identity, which is transferable between different parts of the digital world.
There is no catch, to be honest, as everything on the blockchain and Learnoverse is transparent, and we have a fair share of experience in making education both accessible, enjoyable, and useful that we can now implement due to great technological advancements in the blockchain sphere.“
Given that the crypto market is currently in a bear market and additional regulatory challenges may come up, do you think BitDegree will sustain the users’ general interest in learning about cryptocurrencies?
“Bull and Bear markets come and go; this is how our current economic system functions. We are here for the long game, it might take decades to achieve the full vision we have today, and we believe this is a great time to be building the Learnoverse.
Yes, the general audience might be less inclined to learn about cryptocurrency these days, and that is fine. We do not see a complete community extinction that we witnessed in 2018. Bitdegree has 1.1 million users as of today, which is just a fraction of the whole crypto community that has reached 300 million people worldwide. We are working hard to make BitDegree’s Learnoverse the number one global crypto educator, and the bear market has very little to do with it.”
Can you advise our young readers on how to get a higher education without a student loan? How realistic is this scenario in 2022?
“To be honest, most of the higher education diplomas are not worth the money if you already know what you want to do in your life. However, it is an established rite-of-passage that is good for improving the general framework for thinking and definitely great for keeping your parents and grandparents happy.
There are studies that show only 10% of the population is able to study without supervision, so if you are among that percentile, I would suggest that you could ditch the traditional higher education route and enroll in some relatively low cost-courses, look for scholarships (there are quite a few in the crypto space, especially for builders), and get involved in what excites you.
If you want to start a career in Web3, just join online communities, get first-hand experience on entry-level jobs, and of course, come to BitDegree; we have quite a few free courses to get you started.”
Do you think universities should teach students about cryptocurrencies? Why?
“Yes, they definitely should. I have personally visited some universities and schools as a guest lecturer, and I have seen great enthusiasm from both students and pupils.
Crypto is becoming mainstream – during one of my visits to a school, I asked sixth graders whether they knew what cryptocurrencies are, and to my surprise, 70% said they did, 50% owned cryptocurrencies, and 30% were actually earning through staking and play play2earn games.
At the same time – the teacher knew practically nothing about the subject. There are great opportunities that cryptocurrencies open, and I think we should not let children and students miss on those opportunities or lag behind.“
Recent trademark filings by Arizona State University suggest that the university may have plans to hold classes in the Metaverse. Do you believe that real-file learning can be replaced by metaverse learning?
“I really applaud Arizona State University’s effort, and I believe it is great they are taking leadership amongst universities to enter the new era of learning. However, it is important to note that we cannot take the old concepts of education and put them into the Metaverse and say that we achieved something great, which might be a risk if already established traditional educators move to the Metaverse.
I believe the Metaverse will transform the way we learn and can eventually replace real-life learning completely, but it will be a long process, and we as creators/users will have a lot of influence on how that transformation will happen.”
Can cryptocurrencies help to evolve a financial inclusion globally? Should traditional banks be worried about digital assets’ role in this process? Or maybe, can cryptocurrencies and the traditional financial system coexist?
“There will be no traditional financial system without cryptocurrencies. Digital assets and cryptocurrencies are the inevitable next step in our financial systems. However, if you remember, what Bitcoin aspired to do in their 2008 whitepaper is to remove the third party in value transfer operations and allow peer-to-peer trustless payments, and this is what we do today at BitDegree’s own platform – we allow peer-to-peer scholarships, direct crypto payments for courses already omitting the traditional banking and credit card use in our day-to-day operations to some extent.
As of today, cryptocurrencies and the traditional financial system are coexisting, and I believe, they will evolve into something new containing the best of both in the long run. “
In your opinion, what’s next for the crypto market? How could the industry change in the next 5 years?
“In my opinion, in the next five years, we will see mass adoption of digital assets in all major social platforms, we can see the beginning of that today, especially on the crypto-loved Twitter, but I heard Instagram is also moving fast to add NFTs to their platform as well as digital assets in the USA.
We will see the new generations of platforms with extensive digital ownership across all of them. I am confident we will reach 1 billion users of crypto in 2027. What I hope is that the space will become much more user-friendly, secure and stable. When I look back on how the crypto market looked five years ago, I am confident we are moving in the right direction, there might be some bumps on the road, but we are building a new kind of world that will be much more inclusive and accessible to the entire population.“
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