We asked the founders of mobile Bitcoin wallet Eastbit, Patrick van Ek and Junanto van der Veen, to engage in a Q&A for AllCoinsNews. This is how they responded to our questions.
What “in a nutshell” is the Easbit business model?
Easbit is a company in (mobile) software development for cryptocurrency. At Easbit we genuinely want to contribute to get Bitcoin mainstream. The key to achieve this from our perspective is to make software: mobile, extreme secure and VERY easy to use. Using cryptocurrency should be easy as spending a fiat Dollar or Euro. Otherwise it is just too complicated and you will never gain the thrust of the critical mass.
Our Mission: to make cryptocurrency easily accessible to everybody by providing mobile VERY easy to use and secure software solutions so the unbanked have a fair chance to participate in (international) transactions.
Our Vision: to be among the top 5 cryptocurrency wallet providers in the world. We are focused to make international and/or remittance transactions as efficient and effective as possible.
We eat, live and breath Bitcoin at Easbit. We are true Bitcoin believers. This is our passion. Real passion is tangible and cannot be faked. Besides these core values, is being as transparent as possible for all stakeholders also one of our leading pillars. We believe in long term relationships not in quick profits. Transparency will gain thrust which is crucial to survive in the financial industry. That is why we work with a clean profit model and no hidden fees and/or back doors.
Globally, the trust in traditional financial institutions is waning and the individual is ready to embrace a financial system that is transparent and cannot be manipulated by governments or any third party for that matter.
As the global financial crisis emerged and stories about overpaid CEO’s and ridiculous profits made by banks were proliferated in the news, the individual who provides these banks with their business kept getting the short end of the stick. It is with this in mind that we first began thinking of ways to make cryptocurrency more easily accessible to the average person.
How did you start Easbit?
Junanto and Patrick met once at a birthday party of a mutual friend about 7 years ago. Since that day we get along very well. As well as privately and business wise. The both of us can sincerely say that we have established a true friendship which will last for life, so called “brothers in arms”. We do have though totally different personalities and skills. But we accept each other as we are. We respect each other’s opinion and philosophizing is something we love to do while enjoying a glass of wine. That makes us a winning team.
On top of this we are truly passionate about what we are doing. And real passion is tangible and not something you can fake. People instantly notice why we love to do what we do. It almost feels like: this is why we were born.
Junanto has been an experienced senior financial adviser in the banking industry for many years. He also did IT-projects on behalf of his own company Merrit for all the major system banks in The Netherlands. Most of the projects were transaction / ATM related. Here was the passion born for IT and especially on making transaction more efficient.
From direct contact with the end user of Internet banking we have extracted a lot of useful information. All the knowledge is used and applied during development.
Combining the background and the potential of the Bitcoin the idea for a mobile Bitcoin wallet was born.
Who are the founders? What are their backgrounds?
When it comes to SEO/Marketing Patrick is our man. He is capable of extensively branding primarily because of his persuasive network style. His abilities will lead to reviews, being published on mainstream media and arranges interviews to gain the right attention which is spot on. He is also very skilled at SEO. Creating the right and high quality viral traffic is just one of the results.
Junanto is the SCRUM-master of our team. His has successfully developed a mature mobile Bitcoin wallet app for Android from totally from scratch. He was involved from A-to-Z. Creating maximum security and extreme user-friendly software is what he excels in. From assembling business requirements to put in production he has done it before. He is also used to work with cross boarder teams. His banking and especially transaction knowledge looks like the perfect background for Easbit.
There is some ugliness in Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency that scares away many people. Usability and intuitiveness are thus obviously key to making Bitcoin more acceptable to a wider customer base. How is Easbit achieving usability and being “granny proof”?
Bitcoin nowadays still has the image of being not user friendly and that usage is only meant for IT people. We want to accomplish to get rid of this image for Bitcoin. Bitcoin is meant for everybody around the globe! One thing which really distinguished ourselves from the competition is that we have found a very user friendly way to handle the user unfriendly long Bitcoin addresses. Therefore all that counts for us is developing a wallet which meets 100% the needs for all kind of users. Which means: keep it stupid simple, but with high quality. Our goal is everybody should be able to use our app. And by everybody we mean everybody who uses cash today. We like to call this granny proof.
You indicate on the easbit.com site that you decided to go with an Android OS app because of a larger market and security. How is Android more secure than Apple iOS? (BTW I use an LG Android phone which has its own encryption).
We have not primarily chosen for Android because it could be more secure. It is in general hard to say which of the OS’s is more secure than the other.
You could say if it has a significant larger market share it could be more vulnerable to hackers. Simply because they can target for e.g. malware on a larger group so it is more likely to succeed. Statistics so to speak.
Let’s be very clear about this. Nothing in the world can be a 100% secured. But there are still a lot things which are in your hands to make it at least a lot harder to get hacked.
- Using complicated passwords
- Not using public WIFI
- Encrypted email
- Using latest updates
- Using unknown sources
These seemingly easy precautions can make a real difference.
When it comes to hosting and hardware we have chosen the highest possible equipment and services available. When you want to deliver extreme results in terms of stability and security hosting and hardware are critical factors in creating this foundation.
The hardware is capable of delivering outstanding results under extreme circumstances when necessary, for example in heavy user loads scenarios. The environment is also equipped with Cisco hardware firewalls and the latest advanced anti-virus scanners. When it comes to hosting the facility can be seen as top-notch in the world. Again extremely reliable with 99.99 percent uptime backed by a heavy SLA.
So summarizing it’s not only the OS which provides security. Software always needs a 360 degree approach. Which means all elements should be of the highest possible standards to provide maximum security and still than it remains a game of who is the smartest.
Apple is launching encrypted phones. Will you consider an iOS app at some point?
Absolutely. With everything we do we try to do it as perfect as possible. We rather taking it step by step than ending up with half functioning features.
We are currently transforming step by step from a startup into mid stage company. Which means we are getting international attraction and get boots on the floor when it comes to branding.
Tnext update will be available on multiple OS’s.
If the bitcoins are stored on the users phone, how do you provide cold storage services?
This is our mistake we have removed this from our website. Initially this was included in the first release. But due to time and funding limits we had to schedule it to the second release.
How do you not have a complicated wallet address?
Granny proof means in reality we have replaced the Bitcoin address by a user name.
For e.g. John wants to send Bitcoins to Sue, his sister. John opens the app see in his contacts his siter. He simply taps on her name, fills out the amount he would like to send, adds a message and presses send and off you go. How simple can it be?
We will of course continuously improve our app. And we keep focusing on security and granny proof software.
What if people lose their phones?
We are providing backup features within the app. People can easily fill out there email address and a secured backup will be sent to their email. The backup contains the actually private and public key. So it can be uploaded in any kind of wallet software.
If there is a backup on your servers, isn’t that storage of Bitcoin info?
First of all the main principal of Bitcoin is decentralization. This is a matter we do not like to interfere in. So we do not store any Bitcoin related data on our servers. The Bitcoins are stored locally on the user’s end, just like somebody would carry cash in a wallet. Which means somebody is ALWAYS really in charge of the Bitcoins. Such thing which happened at Mt Gox is simply not possible, because we do not store any Bitcoins, private keys, public keys or any kind of cru-cial data. We only provide secured transactions and we will be hosting user friendly services to make the usage of the wallet as easy and secure as possible. We also encrypt all stored and exchanged data.
We do not store any critical data on our servers. The backup is real time and created from the private and public keys which are stored on the users end. They can be shared through several channels of choice so you have always access to your Bitcoins in case of losing the phone.
How will your startup make money? What are your revenue streams?
We are a commercial company so we have to make a profit one way or another. But there is one thing which is always leading for us and that’s transparency. From our perspective we are active in the financial industry. Without the thrust of the critical mass cryptocurrency in general will never go mainstream.
That’s why we have chosen for a fee-per-transaction profit model. This is regardless the amount a user would like to transfer. There are no hidden fees or charges. Being transparent is absolutely necessary in order to gain thrust which is a must for financial applications.
Are you looking for seed investment or venture capital?
At this stage I can only say when we partner up with a certain party it will be officially released in our press release.
Did you read that Facebook is launching free P2P payment over their messenger network? I don’t see how they will make money from this but will it hurt Bitcoin transactions?
We live in a world of technology. Today’s technology produces massive loads of data. The data will be one of the most valuable assets in the world.
There will always be monopolists in this world. Large corporates can have advantages in terms of efficiency and effectiveness due to the size of a company and scalability. The requirement here should be that a company acts so it will actual benefit the customer and delivers true added value. One of the main disadvantages is centralization of power. The one who holds the data is the most powerful one. That is how the financial crisis basically emerged.
Bitcoin showed us for the first time in history how a global network can function decentralized and still be transparent. No single point of failure. I think the new trend will be disruptive companies who are extremely scalable, efficient and effective and provide decentralized services. This is certainly not limited to cryptocurrencies only.
If we are projecting this on Easbit it will become solely a payment service provider. It does not hold and/or contain the actual critical data (private and public key). It only provides an infrastructure to execute payments in a safe and reliable environment.
Coming back to the question: will Facebooks P2P free payment network hurt Bitcoin transactions? No, because the payments are centralized controlled. We all know how the financial crisis emerged. Counting from 2008 till now we are 7 years down the road. And look at the today’s headlines pretty much nothing has changed in the financial industry. There will be a day in the near future that people say enough is enough and the critical mass will look for substitutes to execute their payments. Cryptocurrency will be definitely one of them. In conclusion decentralized networks will be one of the most important innovations of today.