A superb event at the Centre for Internet & Society was organized on the 23rd of January 2013. The all star team at the CIS (http://cis-india.org/) was awesome at organizing this event for Bitcoin. Live Streaming, Mainstream Newspaper coverage and Twitter based Q&A made this the first Bitcoin Event in India that leveraged these mediums of information transfer.
Aaron Koenig gave a talk on the creation and use of Bitcoin, and on a payment system designed for the voting process of the Bitfilm Festival for Digital Film. Since the year 2000, the Bitfilm Festival has been showcasing films that use digital technology in a creative and innovative way. It takes place on the Internet. However, physical screenings of the films will be held in Bangalore and in Hamburg. Each of the 59 nominated digital animations has its own Bitcoin account, and users worldwide may vote by donating Bitcoins to the films they like anonymously and without any transfer costs. The donated money will be divided among the most popular films (the films with the most votes/Bitcoins).
A strong knowledgeable speaker, Aaron brought forward his tremendous knowledge of Bitcoin, Art & Economics.
The Twitter based Q&A can be viewed on the Twitter ID’s of
The Newspaper Articles where Bitfilm & Bitcoin made their news in India were
Blink.li is a new magazine that is in its 4th publication.
Blink is being maintained and published by the MD of Bitfilm.com
The main topic of new BLINK issue will be the new digital currency Bitcoin.
With articles by Thorsten Polleit, Rick Falkvinge, Mike Hearn, Dominic Frisby and many others.
Bitcoins will be used for the voting and as prize money for the Bitfilm Festival Awards
The Bitfilm Festival for Digital Film will be the first film festival worldwide that uses Bitcoins for its online voting and as prize money. Its opening event will take place in Bangalore at Jaaga Art Space (68, KH Double Road, Shantinagar) on January 17, 2013, 6.30 p.m. This event will mark the beginning of a worldwide online voting action for the Bitfilm Awards in 3D animation, 2D animation, hybrid digital films and Machinima (films shot live in computer games).The worldwide audience will decide which films will win the Bitfilm Awards, to be handed over at the Bitfilm closing event in Hamburg (Germany) in April, 2013.”Our closing event for 2011 was in Bangalore, and we have met so many interesting and creative people here, that we decided to come again to do our opening show this year”, explains Aaron Koenig, Bitfilm’s founder and director, who is in Bangalore for the Launch of the Competition.
Bitfilm has been showing films that use digital technology in a creative and innovative way since 2000. For the first time, Bitfilm will use the new digital currency Bitcoin for the voting process and as prize money. Each of the 59 nominated films has its own Bitcoin account, to which film fans may transfer money anonymously and without any transfer costs. The film with the highest number of donated Bitcoins and votes per category will receive the award. The donated money will be divided among the three best-ranked films per category.
“We are very fascinated by Bitcoin. It is a new kind of money, which has the potential to revolutionise the world as much as the Internet did” says Aaron Koenig. “Bitcoin is an open source currency that needs no central bank and knows no inflation. It is also a new worldwide payment system that makes money transfers around the globe cheap and fast.”
In Bangalore, Bitfilm will present a selection of 12 nominated films which represent a huge variety of genres and styles. There will also be a talk about an Indo-German co-production by Aaron Koenig and Vijayaraj D. from Bangalore, who have been working on a number of short animated films together, the most popular one is about Bitcoins: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eb0xHN1Dq7M
Localbitcoins.com has easily been the most pervasive Bitcoin Exchange of 2012. A Plug and Play system which allows for Face to Face or Local area transactions.
Localbitcoins.com comes with an inbuilt Escrow, multi-factor authentication and an inbuilt wallet. Built on GPS technology, this nifty service tracks the location of users who wish to buy and sell Bitcoin.
I was fortunate to catch up with Jeremias Kangas (Chief of Localbitcoins) for a quick interview on his initiatives for Bitcoin.
Interview with Jeremias Kangas @kangasbros
Tell me a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What was the tipping point for you to get involved in Bitcoin? How big is your team?
I’m from Finland, been programming since I was a kid. I first heard about Bitcoin on november 2010, just before I went backpacking to India for a month. After that I started working on various bitcoin projects as a hobby, and soon noticed that it is consuming 90% of my time. Then I decided to go full-time retard on Bitcoin, move on from my previous work. Now I’m trying to make a living as a bitcoin entrepreneur 🙂
Our team consists of me, my brother and couple of part-time freelancers. My brother is currently doing a master thesis at university, so I have loads of work trying to keep this going forward! I hope my brother completes his thesis quickly 🙂
Do you think that Bitcoin is ready for the mass adoption and use? If No, Why not? If Yes, How can it spread faster?
I personally believe in solving the scaling problems as they come. Engineers tend to overstress scaling issues, even when they aren’t a real problem yet. Look at twitter, for example – it was constant failwhale when the site was becoming popular, still the concept succeeded pretty heavily.
I think the best marketing strategy for Bitcoin is to market it towards startups and innovative small companies. I have been myself doing this kind of promotion in the finnish startup scene. I’m pretty sure that soon we will be seeing startups popping up around bitcoin like mushrooms!
Big companies tend to be conservative and slow, and one of Bitcoin’s strengths lies in enabling new kind of business models. This is the reason why I believe that startups will bring the change faster.
I see that you are involved in several Bitcoin projects. Would you be able to give us a short summary of all the initiatives that you are working on.
– LocalBitcoins.com – our main effort currently, and probably the most known project
– Bitcoin/payments-hackathon – Have been organizing these events in Finland and once in Berlin. The idea is a weekend of completing some Bitcoin-related project, and publishing it. I really like this kind of “hacker events”.
As Localbitcoins is a well known site, any future plans of adding an international online exchange as well?
We are doing tools for those who want to do online trade as well. However not traditional order-book-based exchange. More like a toolset for setting up a fixed-rate online exchange – allow anyone to setup fixed-rate online exchange in any country, with any payment methods! That is the vision anyway, let’s see how it will look in practice.
We just recently released this “escrow” feature in localbitcoins. It basically tries to automate the selling process, making it both safe, efficient and quick for both participants. We have been getting some good feedback, and plan working on the concept based on how people use the feature etc.
Any road map for 2013? Any partnerships envisioned?
I will be working 24/7 on everything bitcoin related, but localbitcoins will be the main focus. No partnerships yet, however we are open to any ideas.
Any thoughts on Bitcoin in India?
I love India! Have been backbacking there couple of times. I think bitcoin would be much more revolutionary in country like India, than for example country like Finland. Some things:
– When I was traveling there, smaller shops had often change problems. Bitcoin could solve this in the future 🙂
– Online bookings (hostels, trains, etc) were pain in the ass, I never got my international visa working. Bitcoin could help with this as well.
– I’ve heard India has nowadays more and more native, born-global startups, and there is strong startup movement emerging. Bitcoin could be really the technology to get Indian startups off the ground! Cost-effective way to pivot your product on global marketplace.
I hope that I will be able to do my next backpacking trip to India with Bitcoin! 🙂
Localbitcoins.com is the most recommended Exchange in India right now. This has enabled a lot of trades and people get onboard every day.
Wishing everyone a Happy and prosperous 2013 and hopes of effective solutions to enable the permeation of Bitcoin into our everyday lives.
Yes, Seriously. WordPress and Paymium aside, Coinabul is a Bitcoin company that provides more validation to the success and stability of Bitcoin. Coinabul is the first Bitcoin to Gold resource available to the Bitcoin marketplace.
I caught up with the Chief of Coinabul Jay Shore and got a few thoughts from him about Coinabul, Bitcoin & regulations.
1. Tell me a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What was the tipping point for you to get involved in Bitcoin? How big is your team?
I’ve got a background in computer science dating back more than a decade, with an emphasis on web application development. We’re based in the USA, and the key figures in our team have been involved in Bitcoin for years- I personally have always found the technology appealing from a development and day-trading viewpoint ever since I heard about it around the later part of 2010.
2. Do you think that Bitcoin is ready for the mass adoption and use? If No, Why not? If Yes, How can it spread faster?
Bitcoin is certainly ready for widespread adoption. Whether it’s viable for someone who is not technically inclined to become a Bitcoin user is relatively undetermined- as young as Bitcoin is there are a lot of services which make it easy for new users who are not technically savvy to use the platform, and large corporate supporters such as WordPress who advocate for and provide tools for widespread adoption. The main thing that will bring Bitcoin into a more widely consumed state will be market stability, I feel- this will let new users feel more confident, veterans less skittish, and new businesses join in without hesitation.
3. Any big news to be announced to the world? Something new from Coinabul which is right around the corner?
There is nothing particularly new happening for Coinabul customers with the exception of even faster processing times, as well as cheaper shipping for all of our international clients. We have recently renegotiated rates with our shipping carriers such that we are able to bring our rates for clients down a fair bit.
4. What is your roadmap for 2013-2014?
Mainly, our goal for 2013 is to increase efficiency as we scale, and continue to grow as substantially as we have in 2012. This entails a huge amount of work in various ways, which I won’t get into here as it’s really quite mundane and tedious. However, I will outline some of our primary goals: grow the amount and variety of stock we have on hand at any given point, increase the number of employees and premises we have, decrease processing times, and increase the frequency as well as size of orders which we process.
5. Any Partnerships that you envision to enable faster growth of Coinabul?
We are exploring critical growth partnerships with various entities to help us continue to improve our product offering, although I cannot really get into that in a public medium.
6. What are the legality aspects of Coinabul? Does Metal to BTC/ BTC to Metal rest in the grey area of law or is it unregulated?
BTC/precious metals exchange is a very complicated endeavor both from a legal and a logistics perspective. We encounter huge amounts of legal constraint as a fringe service operator in a regulated market, but we have amazing legal minds who keep us compliant within, and voluntarily above and beyond, the bounds of regulations that we are obligated to follow.
7. What kind of effort goes into running a growing business like Coinabul? Any challenges that are pressed at you every day?
The primary hurdles we overcome tend to be fairly standard in terms of a company experiencing massive and rapid growth. As a fixture in the Bitcoin community for more than a year, we have established a huge amount of trust which generates larger and larger daily volumes for us. While we grow, we have to do all of the fun things that are required for expanding businesses but on a much more accelerated curve.
8. What advice can you share for budding entrepreneurs?
As far as advice I can give to budding entrepreneurs, I can only recommend a few things:
Do what you love;
Stay dedicated to your projects, but if it’s not taking off you have to cut your losses and move forward or reformulate your model;
Don’t quit your day job until your startup requires you to do so;
Build the right team early on since you can’t do every task by yourself as you scale;
Don’t be afraid of change- it is innovation as well as hard work that powers your startup.
9. Any thoughts on Bitcoin in India?
India is a growing Bitcoin market, and I see more and more services and users coming out of India day to day.
In a world of Bitcoin entrepreneurs, Coinabul seems to have taken some of the biggest risks in the market and listening to Jay talk about their viral growth, there is no doubt that they are an entity to watch as Bitcoin covers the globe.
Maintaining 24/7 updated prices, a provision for voice based customer service, dipping shipping costs and a well accredited team makes these guys one of the earliest Bitcoin success stories.
Mobilecozy came into the payments market earlier this year and have been pursuing an effective & steady drive to network and promote their white label mPOS product. They are currently in a pre-launch phase.
Sainath Gupta is founder & CEO of MobileCozy. An entrepreneur and businessman from a remarkably early age, Sainath is forging a path through rough regulated waters to simplify card payments.
Sainath Gupta, CEO Of Mobilecozy @sainathgupta
As with any software company, Mobilecozy is also working on a SaaS project with a European client. The project they are working on is an NFC + Bitcoin initiative. As a consultant to their Bitcoin project, I was requested to present Cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin & Paradigm shifts in the Indian Payments ecosystem at the summit as part of a panel discussion.
Knowledgefaber is facts based consulting and research firm. With technology advancements, consumers today can pay for their transactions in more than one way. But 97% of people in India still complete their transactions using cash. This is seen by them as a huge opportunity for new methods & technologies for payments and is the reason behind this summit.
The summit aims to bring together experts from Prepaid, M payments, other payment players, BFSI, Payment tech enablers & software companies and discuss the way ahead.
The conference had a mix of traditional bankers and emerging payments companies in the audience.
The Panel Discussion
The topics of discussion were:
Emergence of new payment methods – How the increasing use and adoption of payment methods like prepaid cards, m-payments ( Mobile card readers, NFC based payment systems, mobile wallets etc.), electronic payment gateways and e-wallets are challenging incumbent methods (credit/debit cards etc.)
Payment landscape in developed v/s emerging countries – How the affluence and technology maturity in various countries affect the choices of payment methods (Special emphasis on India)
Which payment methods will face least resistance in terms of consumer adoption and why – globally and in India?
Which segment of new payment methods will see maximum competition? What will be the niche areas to target for new entrants?
How various entities/stakeholders, currently active in payment industries have to evolve to stay relevant? (Banks, Visa/Mastercard, Payment gateway companies, merchants etc.)
Conclusion: Identifying next winners in the payment industry – globally and in India.
I was honored to be a part of the panel which included:
Vipul Vohra – Engagement Manager at Knowledgefaber & Moderator
Neel Chowdhury – Co-founder and COO, Giftloop and Former CMO, Obopay
Kunnal Sharma – Business Head, Global Remittances, TimesofMoney
Bhavin Satikunvar – AVP, Internet and mobile banking, Dhanlaxmi Bank
Vipul Vohra started the discussion by presenting us with a few numbers from the global cash based economies.
USA has a cash usage of 60%.
EU has a cash usage of 78%.
India stands at 97% cash usage.
This outlines the number of opportunities for players who want to involve in the payments landscape. Electronic & Mobile wallets, gateways and micropayments are forming a strong area of opportunity.
Speaking about the global trends in payments, Kunnal painted a picture of the payment landscape in the US. He also spoke about mPesa in Kenya and how the landscape was shifting in India. He spoke about the history of payments and the evolutionary path.
He felt that people were not ready for Mobile in India and going mobile will not solve too many immediate problems. He had an approach which was to respond to demand rather than to create demand. He attempted to drop a few case studies similar to Brett Kings Bank 2.0 in terms of future bankers of our youth.
He spoke about the lack of infrastructure and the poor 3G networks in India. He mentioned that most phones in Japan were waterproof because most youth bring their phones to the shower. He felt that the RBI was progressive, supportive and willing to enable more players in the money market.
He reacted negatively when he heard about Bitcoin being open source. He mentioned “If trust and convenience is there, the payment industry lets you make money. I am of the firm opinion and I don’t really like the players who come to the market and say that it’s free to the consumer. No, the consumer wants to pay money. The payment industry need to make money at the end of the day and if we start to discount products, then the industry is not going to make money.”
Neel Choudhary @neelspeak
A thought leader in India today, Neel is the Co-Founder and COO for Giftloop. A social payments company, Giftloop is in a pre-launch stage. His vision for emerging payments rests with Mobile & Social payments.
He was vocal about the success of mPesa in Kenya and spoke of the issues regarding India. Adoption and Awareness are two areas of opportunity in India. He stressed on the security of Mobile Payments, when he stated correctly, ‘is Safer than Cash’. He feels that cash will never die, however transactions with cash will reduce.
Mobile payments will take off; it is only a matter of time. He feels strongly that mobile payments and mobile money will explode in India due to its 1.2B population. Neel rightly pointed out that technology builds are not a high cost problem these days.
He predicts social payments with mobile as a principal driver in payments. Collaboration will play a pivotal role in bringing in newer payment methods to challenge cash.
A banking veteran, Bhavin brought forward several consumer level problems such as ease of use and adoption. He maintained a non-opinionated stance and spoke about a progressive India. He mentioned areas of awareness as well. Customer on boarding is also a problem being faced by Banks today.
Bhavin rightly pointed out that the B2B payments market is yet to explode in India as well, and there is a dire requirement for it. The interchange charge reduction was also proposed by Bhavin.
He praised the RBI (Reserve Bank of India), mentioning that they were extremely cooperative and are working closely with Banks to encourage more initiatives to cover the unbanked population in India.
I presented my views of unbanked Indians. At 41% of the population unbanked, it is a huge opportunity for Cryptocurrencies and emerging payment methods. I spoke of the viral growth of Bitcoin in the recent years and its inevitable entry into India.
I mentioned the paradigm shift across the planet, bringing forth new technologies in banking such as Dwolla, Carrier billers and even the cash based network in Pakistan got a mention. Mobile money is inevitable. It is safer, faster, cheaper and more pervasive than cash or cards.
I spun a few heads when I went through a checklist of Bitcoins features.
No POS required.
Over US $ 100mn in circulation in just 3 years
Instant Money Transfer
Powerful P2P network
Global Ledger Book
No Double Spending
I finished my bit by evangelizing the movement of even lower income individuals from feature phones to Smartphone’s. Bitcoin & Mobile are here to stay was my prediction.
Inspiring to hear that the RBI is open yet cautious. ‘RBI is the most progressive regulator in the world.’ was stated by all my co-panelists. I would most certainly want to see what they have in store for Bitcoin in the coming years.
Needless to say that Bitcoin is way ahead of its time in India. The traditional bankers were certainly not ready for Bitcoin, and the emerging Payment companies had a smile when they heard about it.
Our 3rd Meetup in Bangalore
We wound up our 3rd successful Meetup with 5 Bitcoiners last Thursday. We discussed easy ways to get merchants to adopt Bitcoin and several points of true value were discussed during our meeting. A few monetary systems were discussed post which, we were teased with the knowledge that a working INR – BTC exchange was around the corner.
Post the Meetup I received a mail from a friend in a neighboring state requesting me to represent his company at an Emerging Payments Summit in Bangalore. Due to a last minute shift in plans, the CEO of the progressive mPOS solution company called Mobilecozy was unable to make it to the event.
CARTES is the worlds leading smart Technology Event for Security, Payment, Identification & Mobility. All the industry channels are present: from products and equipment (manufacturing of cards, accessories, etc.) To trusted services and solutions. CARTES is not only the largest exhibition in its sector but is also an international conference that brings exceptional added value and offers SESAMES Awards for top innovations, recognised by the profession worldwide. Business opportunities in identification, financial services, transport and telecommunications coexist today as a result of NFC projects, machine to machine and cloud computing market developments.
Leading global event in the digital security and the payment solutions market, CARTES will take place at the Paris-Nord Villepinte exhibition centre from 6 to 8 November 2012.
“CARTES 2012 will be decked out in the colors of India and we are delighted to put in the fore the achievements of this large, fascinating and complex country. We expect to see more Indian visitors attending the show this year and wish to promote exchanges between the demand and supply sides, the international players and the decisionmakers in the Indian market.”
– Isabelle Alfano, Exhibition Director
Bitcoin at Cartes – Paymium
Gonzague Grandval – CEO Of Paymium
Bitcoin has been at the centre of attention as it has been one of the best financial investments of 2012. I happened to reach out to the CEO of Paymium, Gonzague Grandval, who connected me to his COO Pierre Noizat to announce a statement on the current work being done by the Paymium Team.
Paymiums Latest Announcement & An Important Bitcoin Banking tie-up – By Pierre Noizat
Pierre Noizat – COO Of Paymium
These days, we are actively preparing the “Cartes 2012” trade show where we are exhibitors on the Galitt booth (Galitt is an investor in Paymium with over 20 years of payments expertise).
We will be introducing our “Paytunia” app (web and mobile) in its “multicurrency” version: Payments in Euro are processed through the Bitcoin network.
Merchants using “Paytunia Pro” can accept payments from Paytunia app users and/or from Bitcoiners using any other “Bitcoin-enabled” payment app.
Merchants do not need to display prices in Bitcoin because Paytunia Pro will calculate the equivalent Bitcoin amount from a price denominated in Euro. Paytunia Pro provides merchants with the benefits of using Bitcoin (easy set up, no chargebacks, low fees, immediate payments, regardless of a customer’s country of residence) without the need to display prices in Bitcoin (a difficult step to take for most merchants).
To roll out its new payment app to the consumer market, Paymium has signed an agreement with a banking partner.
Thanks to this agreement, funds deposited in Euro to Bitcoin-central or Paytunia will enjoy the same level of legal protection as any other bank account in France.
Paymium has some of the most talked about products in the Mobile Bitcoin Space.
– Paytunia – Bitcoin Wallet with cloud based storage. No download of Blockchain required.
– Instawallet – Anonymous Bitcoin wallet. 1.3m wallets in existence at the time of writing this article.
– Bitcoin-Central – Bitcoin Exchange
– Instawire – Purchase Bitcoin directly via Wire Transfer
Paymium bridges the gap between legacy payment companies and the newer generation of Bitcoin companies by providing solutions for Consumers, Developers and Enterprise.
With Paytunia Pro, now allowing POS & Multi-Currency capabilities in EUROs, we can expect viral growth in the company as well.
With the financial backing of a payments veteran & exposure to CARTES, It would be great to watch the Paymium growth across Europe and the rest of the world.
Needless to say, Mobile wallets are a large area for Bitcoin to penetrate and Paymium seem to be getting it right on every count.
This is a tremendous victory for Bitcoin to be introduced at this massive Payments stage at CARTES.
No doubts that Paymium will be one of the stronger Bitcoin players going forward.
Jorge Timon (@timoncc) captured my attention through his in depth knowledge of Bitcoin. I managed to get a few questions past him. Jorge Timon is the founder of frecoin, a Bitcoin fork which he explains to be an economic improvement compared to Bitcoin. Heavily involved in the Ripple project, Jorge has involved even Jeff Garzik’s opinions to his projects.
Known as jtimon on the forums, here is a look at some of his opinions and contributions to Cryptocurrencies.
An Interview with a Rising Star
Ben: Tell me a bit about yourself. (Web resources will help as well)
JTimon: I will make a quick summary, but most it’s distributed among different forums,
so pretty chaotic.
Apart from being involved in the ripple project and helping to spread the word, I proposed freicoin (not much technical value, but an economic improvement compared to bitcoin IMO). Mark is making most of the development for now, but I hope to help soon.
Here’s a summary of my near future plans I’ll reuse (after Jeff Garzik’s quote “if people are interested”): https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=117800.msg1293663#msg1293663
Ben: What projects are you currently undertaking with your participation in Bitcoin & Ripple?
JTimon: Only discussion (design) for now and proposing many crazy ideas. But I’ll finish university this Friday and I hope to contribute with something soon. Maybe find a less time consuming job too (and more interesting, hopefully related with some of this).
A lot of diffusion too. I gave a virtual conference for the 5th spanish conference on complementary currencies.
Ben: What are a few ways that Bitcoin & Ripple can integrate?
Implementing ripple through coloured coins (discussion with Jeff Garzik)
There’s more discussions on coloured coins on bitcointalk.
I make some examples of ripple transaction using coloured coins here:
That conversation with Jeff is pretty technical, but the basic concept is to use Satoshis to represent ripple IOUs. We must agree outside the chain that those Satoshis represent credit and not only Bitcoins
Ben: What is your Vision on the future of money?
JTimon: Ideally, everyone would issue his own credit money (through an implementation of Ripple). Probably local and/or specialized communities will have their own LETS-like currencies too.
Cash monies will be digital, like Bitcoin and Freicoin. Hopefully gold will be demonetized (because people has chosen not to use it anymore, not by decree). Ideally all cash monies will have demurrage and interest rates will be near zero without any authority manipulating it, just the free market with demurrage cash and abundant credit (anyone can issue money through credit instead of only the banks).
Probably the various levels of the state will issue cash too. They will create it directly by spending it and it will be “backed” by nothing but taxes. Ideally the state will stop borrowing and the peoples will suffer the excesses of politicians fast trough taxes increases and inflation. We won’t be as vulnerable to inflation as we are today anyway.
Credit won’t be denominated in cash units, but in indexes defined as non-existent basket of commodities (see Bernard Lieater’s Terra) or CPI’s. After all, debts are contracts.
Take into account that this is a very personal view.
Hopefully not a distraction from our usual banter, here are a few resources for those who are eager to know about freicoin as well.
In 2005, Y Combinator developed a new model of startup funding. Twice a year they invest a small amount of money (average $18k) in a large number of startups (most recently 84). The startups move to Silicon Valley for 3 months, during which YC works intensively with them to get the company into the best possible shape and refine their pitch to investors. Each cycle culminates in Demo Day, when the startups present to a large audience of investors. But YC does not end on Demo Day. YC and the YC alumni network continue to help founders for the life of their company, and beyond.
Coinbase is the first Bitcoin related company to get a shot in the arm through this funding. Totalling US$600K +, this is remarkably similar to the funding received by Facebook during its early days. Coinbase captures my attention due to its innovation and problem solving methods. Setting up shop in a fairly crowded Bitcoin space, Brian has been working meticulously on safe storage of Bitcoins, and an easy method to obtain them.
An Interview with the CEO of Coinbase Brian Armstrong
Brian Armstrong – CEO of Coinbase
Brian Armstrong is the CEO of Coinbase and a software engineer with the disruptive Airbnb. Touted as the PayPal for Bitcoin, here are some of Brian’s views.
Ben: Ever gave Bitcoin in India a thought? Is there a future? The biggest problem here is our inability to obtain Bitcoin.
Brian: I’d love to see Bitcoin in India and all over the developing world – in my mind this is one of the biggest opportunities for Bitcoin, to open up international trade (with low or zero fees) and provide an inflation proof currency to everyone in the world. I agree the ability to buy/sell Bitcoin is harder there, and also an opportunity.
Ben: What methods for adding funds are planned for Coinbase?
Brian: We’re starting with the buy/sell piece in the U.S. since it’s a larger market and it makes more sense if you have to pick one place to start. But we have a near term plan to open up the buy sell piece in developed countries (would rather not share details on this until it’s launched), and a longer term plan to open it up in more difficult places – probably by crowd sourcing it (again probably can’t say much more here).
Ben: How much time do you spend at work every day?
Brian: I normally work 8-12hrs a day on it, try to take time off on weekends.
Ben: When do you expect to move out of Beta? What more needs to be built?
Brian: We might move out of beta in a year or so, once we have a team and infrastructure build up.
Ben: Touted as the PayPal for Bitcoin; is that something that was on the initial drawing board?
Brian: The general idea was to build something that was trustworthy in the Bitcoin space and made things easier to use. This is a large undertaking and will take many years and many people, but it’s a fun project so I’m really enjoying it so far.
Coinbase is the first Bitcoin Company that was awarded a VC grant from YCombinator. Similar in value to the first funding of Facebook, time will tell us how effective Brian’s vision is.
What is the difference between Coinbase and every other Bitcoin wallet service?
There are several good online wallets for Bitcoin, and open source Bitcoin clients for the desktop.
Why should someone use Coinbase instead?
Here are a few ways Coinbase tries to be different:
They try to make Bitcoin easy to use for non-technical users. This means they avoid asking the user to deal with private keys, encryption, or any topics they might be unfamiliar to them.
They try to make buying and selling Bitcoin with your local currency as simple as possible.
They handle security and backups for you so don’t have to worry about losing your device, or forgetting to back it up.
(Note that all of these may not be built yet, but this is their goal for the product.) They understand there are a variety of users in the Bitcoin ecosystem from beginner to advanced, and they certainly do not claim to be the best solution for everyone.
What is the difference between Coinbase and PayPal?
Coinbase uses a different currency underneath (Bitcoin) which is a distributed, open-source protocol for transmitting money. Bitcoin is still relatively new, but they believe it is a good platform to build on top of due to the following properties:
Low (or zero) transaction fees
Payments arrive instantly (at about the speed of an email) and are confirmed within the hour
They try to make Coinbase easy to use and help avoid transaction fees when making payments.
Coinbase does not maintain fractional reserves, and as a company that has been crowd funded to the tune of US $600K +, Brian Armstrong has demonstrated his ability to garner trust. Trust has been a barrier in creating a more viral offering from Bitcoin and Coinbase is working hard on solving this problem as well.
Through the utilisation of a cold-storage offline facility to enable secure storage of Bitcoin, Coinbase is an important step in the correct direction.
You can look at Ripple as Hawala with automated routing.
There is no API to Ripplepay yet and Ripple still has a few problems to solve. It has the strong potential to be a monetary system to work alongside Bitcoin. Similarities can be found in the PayPal exchange website Bitcoinary.com.