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Exclusive Interview: NEM Foundation’s Jeff McDonald on Blockchain Centers of excellence in Malaysia and Europe

The NEM.io Foundation, the creator of the peer-to-peer NEM blockchain platform, has been making headlines with a number of initiatives aimed at taking the blockchain ecosystem forward.

Started only in 2014, NEM is already being used by a number of companies, including Xhai Studios and Hitachi. More recently, it announced its plans to set up a blockchain center in Malaysia and to expand its operations at a global level.

In an interview, Jeff McDonald, V.P. of NEM Foundation, discussed NEM’s current projects, future expansion plans, and the unique characteristics that set the NEM blockchain platform apart from other existing ones.

Here are some of the excerpts of the interview:

“The NEM blockchain platform…was started by really a community of volunteers from around the world…and kind of decided to build the ideal blockchain ‘smart blockchain’ platform from scratch,” he said.

Last year, Tech Bureau and open source project NEM announced a partnership to develop a new blockchain engine, codenamed, “Catapult” – a newly amended and augmented version of the Tech Bureau’s Mijin private blockchain technology. Speaking on the ongoing work, McDonald said:

“What people don’t know is that we also started on a new version of NEM about a year and a half ago and its actually taking a little bit longer to build Catapult even though the developers are more experienced and have learned a lot of valuable lessons and that’s because Catapult is putting in a lot of new technology that no other blockchain has ever seen before. I’ve have actually had the privilege of testing out Catapult and I’m quite happy with how it’s going so far. We are introducing a lot of new things with it. I am especially excited about one-time use smart contracts and a new smart signing system…as well as a lot of good tools for developers that no other blockchain is going to have”.

Elaborating of unique characteristics of NEM blockchain platform, he said:

“The great thing about the NEM platform is that it works and we found out that a lot of companies trying to build advance applications on other platforms, found it really hard to integrate. They had to hire new developers that had to learn new language and write complicated smart contracts that could never be edited or changed once they were released on the blockchain. NEM’s approach is a lot different…I have looked around at other blockchains and any real company wanting to build a real project usually has the quickest time to development and the safest and most secure solution on the NEM blockchain.”

The NEM.io Foundation last month revealed its plan to set up a dedicated cryptocurrency exchange platform, exclusive for the NEM cryptocurrency (XEM). Highlighting the reasons behind this decision, McDonald said:

“There are a lot of platforms that are catering towards ICOs and a lot of these ICOs are not exactly reputable ICOs…We want to keep our protocol and our economy and our ecosystem reputable and friendly to the people that participate in it. So, by creating our own exchange we can now list assets and currencies that are made by people using the NEM protocol so that on Day 1 their project can be traded and exchanged among its users.”

He also discussed a new project ‘Kchain’ in Korea. McDonald said:

“Kchain in Korea is a project that I’m involved in. We want to help build blockchain applications in Korea. Up until this time, the main blockchain platforms in Korea have mainly been bitcoin and may be Ethereum. They have gained a lot of news and attention but so far there hasn’t been a lot of real world projects launched in Korea. I believe with Kchain we can start to bring those projects and launch them so that people are really using the blockchain for real everyday uses.”

NEM.io Foundation plans to spend around $40 million in the next year to fund its global expansion programs. McDonald said that initially it will focus on Europe, where it is building a center of excellence; Malaysia, where it is setting up blockchain center; and the U.S., where it has hired additional employees to build its operations.

He further outlined immediate plans which includes a meeting in Malaysia this month to inspect the campus of the new blockchain center and finalize the global strategy. There are also plans to launch a new website soon, and COMSA ICO later this year.

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