Today at CryptoNewsZ, we are joined by Ben Jones- the CTO, acting CEO, and Co-founder of Bitwala. A London School of Economics graduate, Ben previously taught programming in Ghana, founded Big Blog Map, and was an economist in the UK civil service. He was also the CTO and Co-founder of BitcoinsBerlin, a Bitcoin Startup Incubator. From January–September 2015, Ben served as the Technology Fellow at Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST).
CryptoNewsZ: Ben, you have extensive experience in your career, our readers would love to know more about your journey through the last few years.
When we founded Bitwala in 2015, we were three guys and a dog. Today, we have customers in all of the 31 countries inside the European Economic Area (EEA). We are offering the world’s only banking account service with an integrated Bitcoin Wallet on the blockchain. It’s the easiest and most convenient way to switch between Euro and Bitcoin, and we merely charge a 1% fee, the account is free.
I never dared to imagine Bitwala to grow into such a thriving business with so many talented people and thousands of customers across Europe. In a nutshell, we are offering a bridge for both mainstream users and blockchain buffs, who want to interact with the web 3.0 – the growing digital economy spreading across the globe. It really has already been a humbling experience to see the ecosystem grow and for Bitwala to play such an important part in that
CryptoNewsZ: Lola, the dog, is an integral part of your core team. Does the dog take important decisions at the organization?
Lola is our Chief Happiness Officer. Running a startup is stressful, so it’s a very good idea to have a dog in the office.
CryptoNewsZ: You hold BSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science; what attracted you towards the blockchain domain?
That’s a long story, which I once summarized in this blog post. But this is how it all began: In 2013, two years prior to establishing Bitwala, I walked into a Berlin coworking space after seeing a Facebook post from a friend about a freelancer WordPress gig. The night before I read the Bitcoin Wikipedia page and thoroughly confused myself. In the space, I found my future friends and co-founders, Jörg and Jan, in their first venture: Bitcoins Berlin. We matched instantly. The logic behind the business was simple: Bitcoin has enormous potential, no one is using it, let’s get people to use it.
CryptoNewsZ: According to you, how are Bitwala accounts better than the traditional bank accounts?
Bitwala is a bank account for cryptocurrency users. We enable customers to trade Bitcoin directly out of a current account. Hence, the high legal and technical standards make Bitwala the safest, fastest, and most convenient way to trade and manage Bitcoin holdings.
Bitwala also only charges a competitive one percent fee for Bitcoin trading, while the current account and the Bitwala Debit Card come free of charge. The Debit Card from Mastercard can be used to withdraw money or pay at 40 million places around the world.
CryptoNewsZ:What are the conditions to open a bank account through Bitwala?
You can sign up if you’re a resident of the EEA or Switzerland. There are a few exceptions, unfortunately, such as U.S. citizens. (You can see the full list of supported documents here.) Other than that, we made it as easy as possible to open the account. The fastest way is to download our app and go through the video legitimation process in a matter of minutes.
CryptoNewsZ: Bitwala offers the highest industry standards with ‘No compromise on security.’ Could you please elaborate on Bitwala’s specialized security measures?
Security is a key concern for anyone handling money. Our customers, regardless of their respective country of residence, are all benefiting from Germany’s strict legal safeguards. For example, Euro deposits of up to 100,000 Euro are protected by the German deposit guarantee schemes and Bitwala is fully compliant with European banking provisions at all times.
What is more, we protect customers’ Bitcoin holdings in a decentralized fashion, as Bitwala is offering non-custodian multi-signature wallets. This means the private keys remain in the hands of the individual customers.
CryptoNewsZ: Bitwala announced the launch of its smartphone app for Bitcoin banking on iOS and Android; what was the idea behind this product launch?
The App has sped up our customer growth. People simply love it. It not only reduces the time to open an account with Bitwala to just a few minutes for new customers – but you can also manage your Bitcoin on the go. If you need some cash before you get your salary, you can sell some Bitcoin on the move and have the euros available to spend on your bank balance within one hour. The new app really is the easiest and one of the safest ways to buy, sell and store Bitcoin on your smartphone. We also added features for peer-to-peer functionalities making it fun and easy to swap Bitcoin between friends and family.
CryptoNewsZ: From your perspective, what seems to be the significant challenges in bringing a blockchain banking experience?
Getting regulation right. That’s also why we are still in Germany, one of the most credible regulatory jurisdictions in the world. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.
CryptoNewsZ: Bitcoin bank accounts are launched by Bitwala in 31 European nations; do you have more plans for introducing Bitcoin bank in other countries?
We have many contacts around the world. But there is still plenty of growth potential for us in the EEA.
CryptoNewsZ: Ben, what advice would you give to novice entrepreneurs who have entered the crypto space?
Persistence and a great team are key to success.
It was a pleasure speaking with you, Ben; we at CryptoNewsZ, thank you for your valuable time and wish you success for all your future ventures.