Interview by David Berger, CEO of the Digital Currency Council, with Jad Mubaslat – Founder and CEO of BitQuick.co – a marketplace that connects buyers and sellers of bitcoin locally and provides arbitration for each transaction. BitQuick.co has conducted over 6900 transactions since its founding in August 2013
David: Jad, you’ve been involved in Bitcoin for a long time. What is your background before Bitcoin? And how did you discover Bitcoin?
Jad: Outside of the Bitcoin world, I’m going to receive my BS in Biomedical Engineering at The Ohio State University in May, I’m the founder and President of the Ohio State Bitcoin Group, the treasurer of the OSU Biomedical Engineering Society, and ran a private internet marketing firm that managed to accrue over $80,000 in revenue during my freshman year in University.
Back in September, 2011 I first stumbled upon Bitcoin while looking for PayPal alternatives. I attempted to obtain some bitcoin but quickly found the process to be too difficult at the time and there wasn’t any real motivation to look into this seemingly experimental technology. It wasn’t until the April, 2013 price rise that my interest picked back up. I began trading Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in an effort to make a quick buck but found the process to be riddled with hurdles. I had gotten hacked for 21 BTC on Mt. Gox and scammed for over 10 BTC on Bitcointalk.org. A rather rough initiation to the Bitcoin world I suppose, but I’m certainly glad I never turned back!
David: What has you so excited about Bitcoin that you’ve decided to build a new venture in the space? Could you share with us about BitQuick?
Jad: At the time, I launched BitQuick more out of necessity than excitement. I figured there had to be a better way to facilitate Bitcoin trading; the current options were sketchy, slow and expensive. The answer came in a forum post in July, 2013 from a Bitcointalk.org user displaying his new basic website. It was a simple escrow service that allowed users to list their Bitcoin for sale. I thought it may be able to offer a solution and offered to purchase it for $300. I quickly launched it as BuyBitcoin.us, but in August rebranded to BitQuick.co. The platform quickly gained traction; my roommate and best friend, Chad Davis, hopped on board in October, 2013. He brought with him his idea of our Breast Cancer Awareness Month promotion, in which we managed to raise over $1,100 for charity!
Since then, the aura at BitQuick has surely been filled with excitement; we’re going to soon release a smooth order matching wizard to streamline the trading process further, expand our international presence, complete our BISON certification and provide users with insured deposits, thanks to Xapo, in early 2015.
David: How is BitQuick different than other marketplaces where one can buy or sell bitcoin?
Jad: At its core, BitQuick is a marketplace that connects buyers and sellers while also providing streamlined, consistent arbitration for each transaction. Buyers always receive their coins within 3 hours from providing proof of payment, pay with cash deposit or SEPA transfer, and are given 3 hours to complete payment; sellers often receive cash deposits from buyers for their coins the same day if their coins are priced reasonably close to current market rates, have 3 hours to confirm or dispute payment, are protected by BitQuick’s seller guarantee, and are never subjected to any fees.
One of our customer testimonials from BitTrust put it perfectly: “What’s really great about this service is that BitQuick acts as an insulating party (or interface) between you and the buyer/seller. Why is this great? Because it removes any hassle or stress that might occur if one had to deal directly with the counterparty (buyer or seller). BitQuick’s staff are excellent at spotting potential issues (read: potential scam attempts or errors) that a regular person might miss if they had to deal direct with the counterparty. This particular aspect is what makes the service stand out from say, a LocalBitcoins. Read a LocalBitcoins forums about the various scams that have been pulled on both buyer and seller alike. Such things don’t happen with BitQuick.co. ”
David: What do you see as the risks for your business? How closely is your business tied to the overall Bitcoin economy?
Jad: You might expect the top risk to be regulation, but we do not believe that will be our primary concern and that regulation will be able to be appropriately addressed (putting some faith in the intelligence of regulators).
The primary risk we face is not having the proper resources to market and develop BitQuick quickly enough; as Bitcoin adoption continues, the exchanges with the strongest online presences will naturally acquire most of the newbies. To address that, we are in the middle of a fundraising round and still seeking investors. Venture Capital funding is rapidly flowing into the Bitcoin space, resulting in various new competitors. We’ve done a fine job building a solid foundation with a bootstrapped team, but it’s now time to take BitQuick to the moon!
David: What do you see as the government’s role in Bitcoin? Is there one? How has regulation impacted your company?
Jad: As many individuals in the Bitcoin space have advocated, for the next few years the government needs to sit back and watch. They ought to also clear the water and give Bitcoin businesses the thumbs up to continue operating without fear of government crackdown. Ultimately the government’s responsibility will be to protect consumers and prevent money laundering while at the same time promoting job growth and innovation. A specific issue I believe should be addressed is the archaic state-by-state MSB system, as it provides far too many barriers for startups.
Regulation has impacted BitQuick in that we need to constantly stay aware of the growing regulatory regime around the world and ensure our business model is compliant and actively deterring criminals. We never handle any FIAT and are always working to develop technologies (working to implement multi-sig) that keep us more separated from customer Bitcoin funds while still being able to provide secure arbitration.
David: What is the best professional advice you’ve received with respect to your venture?
Jad: I remember Marco Santori, attorney for the Bitcoin Foundation, telling me and Chad at the Chicago Bitcoin Conference to not let regulatory uncertainty hold your business back; just go for it until you hear otherwise. I think that’s a really important message and that our innovators ought to just go out and innovate! Be safe, but don’t be too cautious, or the next guy or gal might pass you up.
David: What are you looking for when hiring regulatory counsel for your business? Have you been able to identify and retain counsel that has the expertise on both Bitcoin and the regulatory landscape?
Jad: We’re looking for individuals with experience in the space. When you consider how young the space is, it’s all about experience. You want to make sure they understand Bitcoin lingo and the specific nuances of the ecosystem. While it is difficult to find individuals well versed in both Bitcoin and the regulatory landscape, more and more of them are popping up these days. We have been able to find reliable legal counsel from multiple individuals; Marco Santori definitely does stick out as a first for us though!
David: When you were getting up to speed on Bitcoin, there were few resources to educate oneself. Today, there is a lot of information available in different formats and it can be overwhelming for some. What is most critical for newcomers to understand about Bitcoin?
Jad: This is my classic go-to Bitcoin elevator pitch: “Bitcoin is a decentralized, open-source program and more notably a digital currency that for the first time in history allows anyone from around the globe to send any amount of money to each other instantly, without a fee, and most importantly, without a third party intermediary like a bank or PayPal. As long as you have access to the internet, you have complete and total control over your money.”
I think past that, Bitcoin.org is a fantastic educational resource, while the Bitcoin subreddit community (http://reddit.com/r/bitcoin) provides the best breaking news content.
David: Jad, thank you very much for your time, insight and support of the Digital Currency Council.
Jad: My pleasure, thank you and the DCC for servicing the growing community of Bitcoin professionals!