As part of the Digital Currency Council’s Continuing Education partnership with Inside 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, the Co-founder and CEO of Gatecoin and Co-founder of the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong.
Sarah: Tell us about how and why you got involved in Bitcoin and digital currencies.
Aurélien: I had always been drawn to technology and finance. I first learned about Bitcoins in 2012 when I was still working as an investment banker.
The more I learned about it, the more passionate I became as digital currency involves the application of technology in finance. So, I decided to leave the world of traditional banking and dedicate my knowledge, expertise and passion in digital currencies.
Sarah: What led you to co-found Gatecoin? What makes Gatecoin unique?
Aurélien: A friend of mine, who is also managing the electronic market making desk in a major investment bank, was also extremely interested in this new technology. Having found the right industry and a partner who shares the same passion and vision, we decided to take the plunge and co-founded Gatecoin.
Gatecoin is unique because of the banking background, influence and expertise of its co-founders. This allows Gatecoin to establish solid and transparent partnerships with banking partners and other financial institutions (FIs). We build trust and reliability by being transparent to all stakeholders: our customers know who they handed their money to, our bank network know and support what we do, and we are self-regulated to a higher standard than traditional FIs to reassure government entities that we are a legitimate business focused on exceeding customers’ satisfaction while remaining a role model in compliance.
Sarah: Tell us a little more about some of the challenges (or benefits) of operating a digital currency exchange in Hong Kong.
Aurélien: First of all, the main benefit of running a digital currency exchange from Hong Kong is the favorable environment for fintech startups like ours to thrive as well as quality of life in general. Its unique location in a fast growing Asian market that has a lot of untapped potential for bitcoin is another advantage.
There are two major challenges that a digital currency exchange in Hong Kong typically faces. The first one is the negative public perception surrounding bitcoins and its association to criminal/illegal acts. The second challenge is the lack of traditional banking support which is a serious risk for a business like ours.
Sarah: What are you most excited about in digital currencies and blockchain technology right now?
Aurélien: There are two things that excite me about digital currencies and the blockchain technology:
- All the applications of the blockchain that aims at providing more transparency and reliability to existing industries and processes, such as Ethereum, Xnotes or Input Output HK
- All the government-led projects to issue digital currencies such as what bank of England is working on or what the city of Nantes in France has just released
Sarah: What do you see as the greatest challenge facing the industry?
Aurélien: Regulation is currently the most important challenge. We need to have a regulation strict enough to give credibility to the industry and protect the customers, yet balanced enough not to stifle innovation or discourage newcomers. The next challenge will be to find applications and interfaces allowing a mass adoption.
Sarah: What’s on the horizon for you? What can we look forward to seeing next from Gatecoin – or coincharities.org?
Coincharities.org, our bitcoin donation platform is still in alpha mode. The last few months have been very intense with the release of our core service offering of the online exchange. Most of our time has been dedicated to improving our platform and serving our customers. We still had some time to prepare new products and new partnerships. For instance we have found a new business partner that will commercialize our prepaid cards and remittance solutions to its 35,000 customers across the world. We are also currently about to close a large investment round that will allow us to develop new exciting features and expand our reach.
Sarah: Thanks very much for your thoughts, Aurélien.