As part of the Digital Currency Council’s Continuing Education partnership with I nside Bitcoins, the DCC’s VP, Sarah Martin, had the opportunity to interview the thought leaders that will be speaking at the Inside Bitcoins Conference in Hong Kong on May 14-15, 2015. Today, we share an interview with George Harrap, the Founder and CEO of Bitspark .
Sarah: Tell us about how and why you got involved in Bitcoin and digital currencies.
George: Hi Sarah, I got involved in Bitcoin back in 2011 as an electronics engineering student looking to put his computer to use to make some extra cash on the side via mining Bitcoin and other currencies and from there I started to educate myself on other financial concepts and ideas and quickly realised the immensely disruptive nature of Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies.
From humble beginnings with home built miners I progressively upgraded my setup to the point where I was one of the first to buy custom built FPGA and later ASIC miners which gave me the start to explore other areas of Bitcoin I hadn’t been involved in yet.
Sarah: What led you to found Bitspark? What makes Bitspark unique?
George: From having used nearly all of the current crop of Bitcoin companies products I was frustrated with how unreliable, difficult to use, untrustworthy and limiting they were – this lead me to the conclusion that I’d try my hand at building my own Crypto product so I quit my job to found Bitspark. Bitspark is the world’s cash in cash out remittance service leveraging Bitcoin as the means of transmission. We transfer money for our customers at <1% between many booming markets in then APAC region: Hong Kong, Philippines, Indonesia, Australia and China. Our customers need not even know about bitcoin to use our service as we keep it simple, quick and cost effective which is what the product needs to be.
Sarah: Bitspark is servicing an active remittance market. Tell us about some of your partnerships in the region.
George: Bitspark has a number of great partners in the region: Artabit, Rebit, Melotic and others, we are happy to help bring together Bitcoin vendors in the region and see if we can provide a service that can benefit all of us and bring some real value to consumers. Remittances are a market that is ripe of disruption as generally the only way to send money is via an established bricks and mortar service at high cost. Different countries are different so its important to have a partner on the ground who understands the local systems and can work within that.
Sarah: What are you most excited about in digital currencies and blockchain technology right now?
George: I think things that bring real world use case benefits to consumers. Sending money is one obvious one, also paying for stuff cheaply online or investments that can generate high returns where anyone can invest is also very important. All of these things must be easy to use and bring down the barrier to entry for new users into the Bitcoin ecosystem.
Sarah: What do you see as the greatest challenge facing the industry?
George: New services getting launched in a timely manner and quality startups arriving on the scene. There is no shortage of great ideas in the Bitcoin ecosystem, it’s about execution and actually doing it. I think this is something that will play out this year and by the end of the year there will be some new products on the scene quite different to last, perhaps more ‘Blockchain’ focused too.
Sarah: What’s on the horizon for you? What can we look forward to seeing next from Bitspark?
George: Bitspark will be announcing our new Remittance product later this month at Innotribe in Singapore which is the focus for the company going forward. Remittances is the area we see a lot of growth in and it’s something we think our on ground, first hand knowledge has put us in a good position to capitalise on. You’ll see Bitspark expand our serviced countries, provide a quality online platform built from the ground up and be an enabler for anyone anywhere to leverage the benefits of Bitcoin.
Sarah: Thanks very much for your thoughts, George.