Chasing the Bitcoin train in India has been a challenge beyond expectations. Of course, no one expected this to be easy. The patterns that emerged from Europe, US & China have been similar to the patterns across India. Mining interest came first, followed by Exchanges, and now eCommerce has started, possibly to be followed by gaming.
Lightspeed Ventures, Maninder Gulati’s prediction of USD $100 mn rolling into the Bitcoin ecosystem through VC funds promises to make 2014 a year to reckon with. It would be great to see a percentage of those funds reaching India.
So, where exactly are the legendary technology people from India? Agreed that the world has seen tremendous contribution from them, but what about India. Several global Bitcoin startups have emerged with Indians at the helm. But hardly any have grown out of India. Where does the problem lie?
The lack of clarity in regulation could be a large part of the problem, apart from Bitcoin being rendered as an investment vehicle above all else. Most Asian Countries have stayed cautious towards Bitcoin as its gaze grows stronger over these regions as well. India, not to be underestimated, engages some of the strictest capital controls. Tough as it can be to get money into Indian businesses, it is just as hard to purchase things from outside.
Bitcoin brings a level playing field in this space as crowd funding projects for Crypto in India becomes easier, as crypto currencies are as global as email. Several Crowd funding platforms exist where any project that is well thought of can be funded from around the world. This is another use case for Bitcoin in India, where the world gets to vote on a project to succeed.
There are millions of other uses that are gaining traction with 2.0 protocols coming to life in the form of Etherium, hybrid alt-coins, Open Transactions and several other innovative products based around this vibrant technology. These are still at a stage of early adoption and are in dire need of ecosystems to grow.
Highkart seems to be a great step in the right direction for India. A superb effort from a Delhi group of entrepreneurs, this is a great move towards building up the blocks that will form a stronger case for the community to use as a value addition. Everyday products that can easily be purchased by Bitcoins, makes for a pressing statement. Lower transaction fees and a better control over the customer cycle enables businesses like this to grow quickly and stimulate the economy.
Greater innovation is demanded in this ultra fast world of Cryptcurrencies, where we have total control over our audience and effort. The world has come a long way from the time of exchanging shells and we finally have reached a solution where a certain form of democratic money has been achieved. There are specific implementations that can be achieved through colored coins and decentralized verification systems; These will rapidly change the way we identify with all facets of the future.
As the regulatory authorities failed to provide any form of clarity, suggestions, open discussions or direction towards Bitcoin trading, a strong movement to gain clarity has arisen from Hyderabad. Led by Badravada Venugopal, the ‘fan’ of Bitcoin has filed a notice through Chaitanya Associates from Bangalore to gain answers from the regulatory authorities. An Independent effort, this is a testament to the effort in place to gain some ground across India. The PDF copy of the notice can be found here.
The community in India moves on, with active meetup groups across 6 cities and a growing sense of urgency to grab a piece of the pie. India needs its fair share of Bitcoin and the longer we delay, the harder it gets to catch up with the rest of the world. Cryptocurrencies are still in their infancy and have not yet reached their potential. If current laws are applied to a future technology, no one is going to get it right.
To learn more about Bitcoin and to get started, do check with Coinsecure’s chat support. This service runs from 10:30am to 5:30pm IST and is aimed mainly at Indians who want to learn about getting started with Bitcoin.
Jeff Garzik makes up for a substantial portion of the Bitcoin development team. Self-described as a Husband, father, Linux kernel, cloud computing, Bitcoin, armchair foreign policy nerd & kinda sorta libertarian.
Jeff Garzik is an American Red Hat engineer and Bitcoin developer. He studied at the Georgia Institute of Technology and currently is employed by Red Hat as a kernel developer. He is also the founder of BitcoinWatch, a website for statistics in Bitcoin. Garzik wrote the original push-pool daemon used by all of the pooled miners today. He’s also the original author of ethtool. As an advocate of Austrian economics, Garzik argues that the deflationary aspect of Bitcoin makes it a superior currency and that the decentralized nature means it’s a fairer means of commerce.
Bitcoins technical side has been covered in great volume, so I requested a few opinions from Jeff Garzik during our discussion below.
Chinwag with Jeff Garzik
Question: What is the most non-technical way to explain Bitcoin?
Answer: A global Internet currency with no central bank or controlling authority.
Question: When is Bitcoin-qt likely to come out of Beta?
Answer: When “lightweight client” mode is fully functional and tested.
Perhaps a year or two.
Question: Do you see Bitcoin as the end product or are there forked technologies that may take over as the anonymous currency of choice?
Answer: Bitcoin is just the beginning of a brand new category of algorithms. Bitcoin itself may fail, but it is the first of a new category of “crypto-currencies” based on the proof-of-work algorithm method.
Question: How is the Bitcoin development team funded?
Answer: Gavin Andresen is very recently employed full time by the BitcoinFoundation. All other developers are unpaid volunteers.
Question: What is your Vision on the future of money?
Answer: Bitcoin, the Euro, the US Dollar, China’s RMB will all exist on an even playing field. You may choose which type of currency you hold in your wallet, and transact with.
Question: Any thoughts on Bitcoin in India?
Answer: Would be great! Among other things, Bitcoin is great for low-fee remittances from relatives overseas to those at home.
2013 was expected to be a big year for Bitcoin in India, with small Exchanges emerging and IndiaBitcoin coming up fast as a one-stop-shop for Bitcoin in India. As Jeff’s last answer had suggested, remittance is a huge opportunity for Bitcoin in India and there is an initiative being planned for a service rollout this year as well.
Remittances is a growing market in India. Currently dominated by banks or Hawala operators (Interpol Hawala Document), Bitcoin can instantly change this market bringing about a tremendous positive change to the way remittances can occur. Thanks to the global ledger capabilities in the blockchain. This change can even be driven and adopted by the remittance companies and banks currently operating in India.
I caught up with the COO of Gogreensolar for a quick Chinwag on their initiatives and Business model.
Harold Tan: COO of Gogreensolar
1.Tell us a bit about your vision and mission for Gogreensolar.com.
Hi Benson, our vision is simple – change the world with green energy. Our environments are toxic, communities are exploited, and we’re on a collision course for a dead end if things don’t change. We’re here to help make that change, and our mission achieves it by bringing awareness and access to effective green energy solutions.
2.Would be great if we could see a graph of Gogreensolars growth since inception.
Unfortunately we can’t provide that graph, but we can say that we’re undergoing tremendous growth and can always utilize more team members!
3.How did you hear about Bitcoin? How did you’ll make the decision to go with it as a payment option?
From a good friend in the financial services industry. The values of Bitcoin and energy independence seem to be aligned. Bitcoin is a decentralized economic tool, and we see energy moving toward a decentralized model. We support systemic decentralization (like the internet), and partner with entities of similar values.
4.Any Bitcoin orders so far?
Yes! Big thanks to Redditors for helping get the word out. Sorry for any initial confusion on the checkout process, we’re waiting for Shopify integration to have the purchase experience completely seamless, but we definitely do accept Bitcoins for any orders by phone or email.
5.What plans are in store for 2013-2014?
We have some very big projects lined up with major municipalities that I can’t talk about quite yet. But it will make news headlines. We have a lot going on behind the scenes beyond just selling parts 😉 We are also in talks with traditional investors regarding these big projects, but are exploring new investment models like crowd-sourced funding.
6.Any plans to go international with Gogreensolar?
We currently already service international clients, but don’t have any physical presence overseas. If there’s anybody international reading this article that would like to partner, drop us a line!
7.Any partnerships planned in the near future?
Many! The growth of our business ultimately depends on partnerships and relationships. Without people, without an integrated web of support, we would just be another retail shop buying and selling matter. We’re here to do much more than that, we’re here to improve the way we produce and consume energy. Join us!
That was a nutshell of Gogreensolars plans, vision and dedication to Energy and Decentralization. I am hoping that a few Business cases can emerge based on this adoption of Bitcoin.
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.
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.