Bitcoin and blockchain, the digital ledger used for bitcoin, have been headlining news. Bitcoin, once associated with illicit online transactions, is being recognized by big banks. Just this week State Street, one of the oldest banks in the US, made headlines as it set up its own innovation lab to deal with blockchain technology. JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, with more banks to come, backed R3, a blockchain consortium. To understand Bitcoin, blockchain and the crypto future we sat down with Tim Lee, founder of ArcBit bitcoin wallet, who has been dealing with the blockchain much earlier before the general public, or even large banks, heard about the Bitcoin or its digital ledger. Tim comes from the start-up background - similar to the Bitcoin and blockchain founders and disruptors. Byte Academy is excited to announce that Tim Lee will be doing a blockchain workshop October 16 in addition to other part-time classes.
Why did you decide to enter the Bitcoin market?
Although there are many wallets out there, we've still decided to enter the Bitcoin market because it is still early days. Bitcoin has not yet reached mainstream adoption, so until that happens there are a lot of opportunities for new Bitcoin startups.
Please provide some insight into the fact that although prices have fluctuated of Bitcoin the trading volume has stayed stable - unlike what would be the case with US currency?
The price of bitcoin is very volatile, but that's because we are still in the very early stages of bitcoin. People can think of bitcoin as an early stage startup, in that nobody yet can figure a fair evaluation for it so the price/evaluation is subject to a lot of movement.
Also there has been a lot 'bubbles' in the past, but if you look at a chart from a logarithmic scale, the price of bitcoin is continuing to stabilize overtime. For example the crash from 32 to 1 dollar in the early days of bitcoin is a lot bigger then the currently fall of 1200 to 230 dollars.
Overtime I believe the market find a stable price for bitcoin. I'm a big believer in the free market, which is one of the reason I got very attracted to Bitcoin. The price of bitcoin is fully determined by the market so unlike traditional currencies that are centrally managed, it is not prone to human error.
Please comment on the interest and attitude of Bitcoin and blockchain in the Silicon Valley v. Silicon Alley (New York City).
Silicon Valley really gets Bitcoin, and they are proving it with the amount of VC money going into the system. Total VC investment is about to reach 1 Billion. See http://www.coindesk.com/bitcoin-venture-capital/.
New York City is slowly warming up to the blockchain, but less so on Bitcoin, but what they haven't yet figured out is that there is no blockchain without bitcoin and vice-versa. Marc Andreessen made a very funny tweet about it here.
What are your plans for growth?
Currently Arcbit is only available on iOS, so for the near term we plan to build out the web and Android application to reach a bigger audience.
What is your sense of the competitive landscape?
There is a lot of competition out there. The market out there for bitcoin payment applications is heavily saturated, and with good reason. If a company manages to become the portal for people to interact with the Bitcoin/Blockchain ecosystem, they can become very valuable.
Thoughts/plans to merge?
I don't have plans to merge, but I don't have some thoughts to partner up with some exchanges to more seamlessly convert traditional currencies into bitcoin and bring them onto our platform.
How do you suggest we educate more on Bitcoin and blockchain?
A great place to learn more about cryptocurrency for developers is here https://bitcoin.org/en/developer-reference. And as for the general population https://bitcoin.org/en/faq is a good place to start, but ultimately the end goal is that the advantages of cryptocurrency technology is immediately obvious so hardly any education is needed. And in order for that to happen the infrastructure and ecosystem of blockchain/bitcoin tech needs to continue to improve.