BTCS: Bitcoin Clearly Has a First Mover Advantage
BTCS’ goal is to enable users to engage in the digital currency ecosystem through one point of access – their universal digital currency platform. Coin News Asia had the chance to speak with Michal Handerhan on this pioneering platform.
Coin News Asia: Every Bitcoin enthusiast has gone through a journey – how long did it take you to launch BTCS? What are some specific challenges you’ve encountered in mounting it?
Michal Handerhan: Our company was founded in June 2013 and it took us three months to successfully launch our ecommerce marketplace. In February 2014 we expanded our team and went public making us the only pure play bitcoin/blockchain focused U.S. publically traded company (Ticker: BTCS). Since then we have had numerous challenges; though most notable is keeping up with the grueling speed of development in the industry.
However since inception we have broadened our ecommerce marketplace, made 5 strategic investments in the ecosystem, and shifted our core focus to securing the blockchain through our transaction verification services business. We believe securing the blockchain through transaction verification services (i.e. mining) is the cash cow in the industry and are positioning our business to be a leader in this segment.
For me personally, especially since I was raised in communist country ( Czechoslovakia) the idea of a global currency outside of any governments’ control, completely electronic and fully trusted has always been huge interest to me. Bitcoin does just that. In addition blockchain technology can be used for many different transaction-‐based industries where trust is a key requirement. To list just a few: voting, digital rights, crowd funding, healthcare records, title records, wagers etc.
CNA: What can you say is the best thing about your venture in comparison with other crypto-‐related ventures?
MH: As the only pure play U.S. public company and one of only three public companies in the word we have a very simple mandate: Create shareholder value. It’s our everyday responsibility to make sure our decisions are focused on executing on that mandate and navigating between “distractions” and “viable long-‐term opportunities.”
CNA: What do you think is preventing Bitcoin from going mainstream?
MH: We’ve become so used to credit/debit card payments and rarely think of the extra money we pay for transactions since it’s part of the cost of purchases, we don’t thing about data-‐mining happening behind the scenes, the huge personal data market each transaction contributes to. We don’t think about the endless security breeches of credit card numbers or the relatively long transaction processing time; sometimes taking days for the charge to show up on our statements. In addition Bitcoin payment options are still rare in our day-‐to-‐day transactions, coffee, groceries, gas. Bitcoin should go mainstream when the customer is presented with both options -‐ Bitcoin vs. traditional credit/debit card and pros/cons of each are clearly communicated and understood.
CNA: How do you think Bitcoin will affect the Asian market in particular?
MH: The only personal experience I have had in the Asia region is my travels throughout India. I was fascinated to see the majority of citizens having cell phone even in areas with very high poverty levels. By using their cell phones Bitcoin could allow individuals to effectively have a bank account. That is something I believe could greatly showcase the value of Bitcoin in certain Asian countries.
CNA: What do you consider have been the greatest accomplishments of BTCS?
MH: Bitcoin and blockchain technology are constantly evolving at a very fast pace, it’s an amazing accomplishment for our CEO -‐ Charles Allen to navigate through it all and to put our team on the right path towards growing our company and bringing value to our shareholders. Flexibility and adaption are the two most important characteristics any Bitcoin focused business must have to survive.
CNA: What can you say about online gambling laws and cryptocurrency legality and regulation?
MH: Laws regulating online gambling are very complex and differ from country to country so it’s difficult to say. However, over the past few years we’ve seen an increase in regulator interest in the space and a willingness to learn about the technology.
Regulation has the ability to stifle growth and lack of regulation can be as problematic. Finding the right balance is a tight rope act and it is still early days.
CNA: Do you think a superior altcoin will supersede Bitcoin in the near future?
MH: It’s very early to say, however Bitcoin clearly has a first mover advantage and the pure size and power Bitcoin’s network will make it very hard to de-‐throne. Bitcoin’s blockchain can be altered to make it competitive with or superior to other altcoins whereas other altcoins don’t have nearly as many well funded companies building solutions on their blockchain.
CNA: What can we expect from BTCS in the near future?
MH: The most important near future plan is to complete the ongoing merger with Spondoolies-‐Tech, and expand our transaction verification services business. We are extremely excited to work with the Spondoolies team and build a leading blockchain focused company.
CNA: Do you have a Bitcoin price prediction?
MH: I’ll let the psychics with crystal balls answer that question
CNA: Finally, for those who don’t get Bitcoin, do you have any suggestions?
MH: I would ask them: “Think about the value of your current money. Read about countries like Greece, Zimbabwe, Argentina, are you sure your money will have the same value tomorrow as it does today? Do you really trust your government to keep it safe?”
CNA: And anything more that you wanted to add?
MH: I love the following response to one reporter:
Reporter: Why won’t Bitcoin die?
Interviewee: Because it’s math. You can’t kill math.
CNA: Thank you very much, Michal.