As of last week, our newest partner to the blueshyft platform, bitcoin.com.au, has gone live across the network. This wholly Australian owned and operated company functions as a bitcoin exchange, enabling millions of Australians to access one of the most exciting technologies of the last decade. To find out a bit more about bitcoin and how bitcoin.com.au plans to bring this technology to the Australian market, we spoke with Rupert Hackett, General Manager at bitcoin.com.au.
Tell us a bit about bitcoin.com.au. When was it founded? By whom?
Domenic Carosa, an Australian early internet Pioneer saw the potential in Bitcoin and decided to acquire strategic assets in the venture. A part of this was Bitcoin.com.au. After successfully running one of the largest over-the-counter exchanges in Australia for the past two years, we decided to take what we have learnt and apply it to our new exchange, Bitcoin.com.au. We believe it will be the fastest, cheapest and most trusted Bitcoin Exchange in Australia.
Bitcoin is a brand new concept for a lot of people. How would you best summarise what bitcoin is?
The problem with explaining Bitcoin is that it has many aspects to it. You answer one question and it creates two more questions.
Bitcoin is a solution to a 20-year old computer science problem, which is, how do you create a form of money which is faster, more secure and more trusted than anything before it? This is where Bitcoin comes in.
Before the internet, information had to be physically delivered from one place to another. The internet allowed for faster and more secure transference of information. Bitcoin is the same leap but for currency. Money currently exists in banks and surprisingly still requires a physical transfer between banks when money is sent between them. Anything which is sent digitally isn’t actual value, it’s simply an IOU.
Bitcoin allows financial transactions to be exchanged with the same transformative power with which the internet had to information.
The result; a faster, cheaper, more secure form of currency which can be accepted by anyone with no barrier to entry. Where this will go? Existing financial services will become cheaper, greater competition will spark further innovation, and new services will emerge that we can’t even imagine yet. There’s so many potential areas of innovation on top of this technology that its difficult to explain. But essentially you can take any type of financial transaction and make it into an app on your phone which can be accessed by anyone in the world and it will be cheaper and faster than anything before it.
It may seem hard to believe, but once upon a time we all used cheques and believed they were amazing, then it was credit cards. This process is no different, in fact, the leap from a credit card to digital currency is 10x the leap from a cheque to a credit card.
What are the benefits of using bitcoin over traditional currency?
It has economic properties similar to gold, with the translatability of a credit card. Imagine being able to instantly send gold to anyone in the world with next to no fees. This is a very tangible benefit. As we see with Bitcoin, it is incredibly liquid, around 15–25% of its entire worth is transacted daily. This is very different to existing systems.
Bitcoin has seen incredible returns, last year its price saw a net increase of 35% whilst the AUD saw a depreciation of 10.2%. This year, Bitcoin has seen a 25% increase in value so far.
Today, Bitcoin also offers a much cheaper alternative to remittance services. Bitcoin is just a currency, but what you can do with it once your apart of the system is truly transformative.
Bringing bitcoin.com.au onto the blueshyft platform will create the world’s first instant bitcoin exchange. How did exchange work before this and how will this change how people interact with bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a very new technology, its not even officially recognized as a currency. As a part of this, the channels to acquire it have been abstract and nefarious. One of the most successful exchanges, localbitcoin.com operates somewhat like an open forum allowing buyers and sellers to meet up. Bitcoin exchanges have lacked consumer trust, protection or even standards. As a result we have seen many companies disappear overnight often with their customers funds.
Bitcoin.com.au changes all this, with the first branded POS outlet network, we allow people to bring their existing wallets, and exchange cash for Bitcoins over the counter in a legitimate environment where the customer knows what they are buying. We are lowering the barrier to entry and creating a tangible experience, the two things Bitcoin has lacked prior to this. We believe this will continue to grow user adoption and subsequent network effect. Much like how the PC became more convenient for people to acquire, we believe that we are doing the same for Bitcoin, the latest innovative technology.
Bitcoin only seems to be gaining more momentum as it is more widely accepted across the world. Where do you see bitcoin in the next couple years?
This is a difficult question, as Bitcoin as a technology has huge transformative potential, way beyond just as a form of money. In the next couple of years you will see some big winners in this space. Mainly startups, who have created really impressive apps which deliver way more value than existing banking services at a fraction of the price. From a customer perspective, expect to see a lot more features from your banking apps at a fraction of the cost and seamlessly integrated with all services. Logging in to pay money or getting your credit card details stolen is going to be a thing of the past.
Beyond this, we will start to see money flowing freely like we see information flowing. The Internet of Things is the next big growth industry, estimated to be worth 19 trillion by 2020. We will start to see devices not only communicating with each other, but buying and selling, creating financial contracts and ultimately earning you money. You will start to expect devices to make returns for you, and you will only pay for what you use, we’re talking devices exchanging with millionths of a cent.
Apart of this, peer-2-peer exchange is going to be a huge area of growth, especially in the third world. Expect to see much cheaper services starting to emerge from developing countries as they are now a part of a global economy as they become accessible to modern financial services.
5 Billion people in the world still don’t have access to financial services. I would expect in the next couple of years we will see the next Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg come up overnight from a slum in a third world into a billionaire.
There’s great potential in this technology and this is only naming a few of the potential use cases. Like the internet, its hard to predict the future as there’s so many potential areas of disruption. However, it manifests, its going to be fast and its going to change what we consider normal.
Future plans for bitcoin.com.au on the blueshyft platform?
Continue lowering the barrier to entry until getting Bitcoin is as simple as getting change. Continue to add more value to the technology by offering new functionality behind Digital Currency, things which appeal to the every day user. This is the future of currency. This is the future of Bitcoin and Blueshyft.