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People & Culture
4 min read

Meet The Team Series: Q&A With Kelson Adams, Software Engineer

We discuss building new features, reshaping the entire infrastructure of financial transactions and systems on a global scale, making blockchain accessible, integrating large language models, and more.

November 20, 2023

Meet The Team Series: Q&A With Kelson Adams, Software Engineer

What is your role at the company, and what are your main responsibilities?

I am a Software Engineer at Portal. My role encompasses working on a variety of our software development kits (SDKs), including Native Android (Kotlin), Native iOS (Swift), React Native, and our Web SDK. I also contribute to the development of the Portal Admin Web App and various API services. My focus is on building new features cleanly and quickly and collaborating with the team to enhance our product offerings.

How long have you been working in the blockchain industry, and what sparked your interest in it?

I've been involved in the blockchain industry since 2017. I became fascinated with this field after I realized that, for thousands of years, the concept of currency has seen minimal evolution until the advent of blockchain technology. Once I understood that the field was not just about a new form of currency but instead about reimagining and reshaping the entire infrastructure of financial transactions and systems on a global scale, I was hooked. Being part of this monumental transition towards a decentralized monetary system is not only exhilarating but also humbling. It feels like being at the forefront of a historical movement, one that has the potential to even redefine how the world interacts with value itself.

Can you share a bit about your professional background and relevant experience?

I have quite a varied career in software engineering across multiple industries. In the government sector, my work with Deloitte and VA.gov involved modernizing applications that catered to 6-10 million users monthly. In fintech, I developed a stock trade information app handling thousands of transactions daily. My role in logistics included key contributions to expanding a company's software presence into Europe and growing their engineering team. In the entertainment industry, I created TV and web apps for Starz, achieving performance metrics that surpassed those of competitors. In the SaaS domain, I spearheaded the development of web and mobile applications for two Y-Combinator startups, directly contributing to one securing their Series A funding. 

Having gained experience in fintech, IoT, government, entertainment, SaaS, logistics, and other industries, I bring a distinct perspective that proves valuable in the blockchain industry, where diverse applications and innovative approaches are key.

Are there any specific crypto projects or developments that have had a significant impact on your perspective?

Working on the Web3 infrastructure at Portal has been eye-opening in understanding why crypto isn't more widely used. The core issue lies in the user experience. While blockchain enthusiasts might navigate the complexities of managing multiple wallets, keeping up with new cryptocurrencies, and avoiding very cunning scams, this is a seriously scary prospect for the average person. Compared to the simplicity and familiarity of fiat, credit cards, and banks, the current state of crypto can seem overly complex and risky. 

At Portal, I've really realized that the most significant barrier to broader crypto adoption is the lack of user-friendly infrastructure. The industry desperately needs simple, intuitive tools and solutions that make it easier for everyday people to leverage the benefits of blockchain technology. Being part of a Web3 infrastructure company at this moment in time feels incredibly meaningful. We're not just building technology; we're laying the groundwork for making blockchain accessible, practical, and useful for everyone, beyond the current enthusiast base. I believe this is where the true potential of blockchain technology lies.

What are some key challenges you've encountered in your role within the blockchain industry? 

One of the primary challenges I've seen in the blockchain industry is its laser focus on catering to current blockchain enthusiasts. In my opinion, this approach is narrow and short-sighted. By concentrating mainly on the existing blockchain community, we risk overlooking the broader potential of blockchain technology to address global needs and solve real-world problems. 

The key to unlocking the full potential of blockchain technology lies in expanding its appeal and utility beyond the current enthusiast base. This involves developing blockchain-based solutions that are beneficial for non-blockchain users as well. Our aim shouldn't be to merely increase the number of blockchain enthusiasts, but to utilize blockchain capabilities to create practical and meaningful solutions for the general populace. I see this strategic shift as vital for ensuring the long-term relevance and impact of blockchain technology.

How do you see the industry evolving in the coming years? Are there any trends or innovations that you find particularly exciting?

In the next few years, I anticipate the blockchain industry will undergo significant changes, but perhaps the most impactful change will be the introduction of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) in nations around the world. This will have a profound impact. While there are debates about the implications of CBDCs on personal freedoms, one undeniable effect will be their role in familiarizing the general public with blockchain technology. As people become more comfortable with digital currencies issued by central banks, their understanding and openness to other blockchain applications are likely to increase. This shift could bring an influx of new users and perspectives into the blockchain space, which will spark innovation and lead to the identification and solving of new problems. 

Another trend gaining momentum that I'm noticing is the integration of large language models (LLMs) like GPT-4 and Grok into the blockchain ecosystem, a development that wasn't present in the last bull run. These advanced AI tools are streamlining tasks that previously required specialized blockchain expertise. For instance, DAOs could use LLMs to summarize discussions, draft proposals based on community input, or even assist in decision-making with data-driven insights. LLMs are already being used to develop and optimize smart contracts. They are even being utilized for bug bounties to improve smart contract security. Additionally, Web3 wallets could leverage LLMs for personalized asset management advice based on current market trends. I think LLMs will also be crucial in educating and guiding newcomers through the complexities of blockchain technology. In the very near future, I imagine we will see LLMs and blockchain technology often being coupled together to make crypto more accessible and practical for everyday use.

Outside of work, what are some of your hobbies or interests?

In my time away from work, I'm fully dedicated to being a dad, a role I find incredibly rewarding. I have quite a lot of interests, largely centered around a quest for knowledge: I'm really fascinated by the lifestyles of ancient civilizations and enjoy reading historical and archaeological texts, and I'm captivated by the history of Earth and the evolution of life. I also enjoy the physical challenge of bouldering and engaging in philosophical discussions, and I have a deep fascination with the ocean's mysteries, highlighted by an unforgettable submarine journey I took to a depth of 2300 feet a few years ago.