Q&A With Perry Steegen, Whaleclub’s CEO
Whaleclub is a trading platform powered by bitcoin. The company is pioneering the future of finance by applying bitcoin’s best features–efficiency, anonymity, and speed–to online trading in global markets. The success of the platform can be attributed to their sleek UX, sophisticated engineering, and responsive customer service. This explains why it’s so popular among BitTrust users who consistently give it five-star reviews.
To learn more about the company and its leadership, BitTrust reached out to CEO Perry Steegen with a few questions on his background, the mission at Whaleclub, and his long term view on cryptocurrencies. We hope you enjoy!
BT: Let’s begin with your early years. What were your influences leading you to bitcoin and eventually bitcoin-trading?
PS: I first heard about bitcoin at a costume party thrown by friends of friends in early 2013. My first reaction, as a former banker, was to dismiss it as another geek’s toy coming out of Silicon Valley. But I was curious enough to run a Google search about it when I got home and that’s when I discovered Satoshi’s white paper and truly fell in love with it.
I’ve traded every asset you can imagine in my career and bitcoin seemed like the next logical step at the forefront of innovation.
Tell me about the background behind Whaleclub’s mission. Did you think Whaleclub would be successful, and, if so, why did you think your idea would be successful? Has Whaleclub evolved over time with the changing dynamic of Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies?
Whaleclub’s vision is to build the future of trading. Whaleclub started with the idea that a trading platform powered entirely by digital currency can operate at significantly less cost than traditional alternatives. And those cost savings can then be passed on to customers in the form of low spreads and zero execution fees.
In essence, bitcoin enables a global, low-cost, fast, and private trading experience that you just can’t get with fiat.
Whaleclub actually started out as a community where bitcoin traders could share ideas and technical analysis. It then evolved into a sort of demo trading platform, and when we took over, we started working on a product to offer live trading with real funds.
The first market we offered for live trading was BTC/USD in January 2016, and that was our only market at the time. We followed up with EUR/USD and Gold a couple of months later, then opened up trading to over 40 markets a few months after that. We’re planning on adding 40 more markets in the coming year spanning cryptocurrencies, forex, commodities, and stocks.
The initial response from the bitcoin community blew us away. We actively engage with our customers and the broader community and strive to build out and prioritize features based on true measured interest from the market.
For me, one of Whaleclub’s many appeals is that it is focused on frictionless international trading. Do you see the future of capital markets moving towards digital currency platforms that offer speed, low cost, and greater liquidity?
This is without a doubt the experience we want to create. A frictionless way to start trading any market, from anywhere in the world, in just a minute. Bitcoin enables that — it’s impossible to do with fiat currency. Bitcoin also enables lower costs and spreads.
Whaleclub provides a significantly better trading experience with instant deposits, low-latency execution, worldwide market access from over 190 countries, low-cost spreads, full privacy, and great customer service.
What’s the team like, are you hiring from software firms and traditional finance intuitions? And how do you assess whether a potential employee is a good fit? How much interaction do most employees have with cryptocurrencies outside of work?
We love software engineers and focus on hiring them most. It’s company policy to hire only people with some experience in trading (doesn’t have to be bitcoin trading), because that’s what our product is all about. It’s hard for someone who’s never traded to understand the trading world and by transitivity understand the needs of our customers. It’s also better for us as a company to hire people who can hit the ground running because we build and iterate on the product quickly.
We strive for excellence in everything we do and only hire the cream of the crop.
I imagine that the volatile BTC environment makes it difficult to run your site. How do you manage fluctuations in the coins exchange rate, regulatory environment, and even reputation?
We monitor the regulatory landscape very closely and act accordingly. In general, it’s still a gray area with little to no regulatory framework regarding services that run on bitcoin only, like ours.
Our target market is people who hold some amount of bitcoin. Generally, they have already been exposed to what bitcoin can do and need no convincing of its power and adaptability.
How should BTC be regulated–as an asset or a currency? What are the risks?
Bitcoin needs a smart and global regulatory framework. Bitcoin can’t and shouldn’t be regulated on a country-by-country basis because of its inherent global nature.
Depending on the bitcoin company, regulation may or may not play an important role in protecting end consumers. Exchanges need to be regulated because there’s the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing. But how do you regulate a bitcoin-only service? Regulating for consumer protection in this case may not be very effective in our day and age where the merit of new services are openly discussed in online forums and on review sites, such as Bittrust.
What is an important, but underreported, factor in BTC’s, or more broadly, cryptocurrency’s, future? How do you see the digital currency shaping up in the next five years?
The fact that you can hold and transfer value cheaply, globally, and quasi-instantly is an incredible facet of cryptocurrency that I think most people don’t think twice about. This alone has the potential to revolutionize industries and civilization itself.
I see no other choice for bitcoin but to grow. It has reached and surpassed a tipping point and there’s no going back. A catalyst such as global turmoil or currency warring could accelerate its adoption into the mainstream.
What are some lessons you can offer to folks interested in getting exposure to BTC but know little about the technology?
Get a hold of some bitcoins. Whether you buy them from an exchange or broker or get them from a friend, it’s important to actually live through the practical experience of holding and sending bitcoin to truly understand and see with your own eyes how bitcoin is unlike anything you’ve seen before.