This week BTCC CEO Bobby Lee was in London to discuss the recent launch of his new Bitcoin-driven mobile wallet Mobi. We caught up with the business mogul to discuss how developments in blockchain technology could drive other areas of fintech in the future.
You’re at London Blockchain Week to talk about the launch of your new e-wallet Mobi. What you are most excited about with the new product?
Mobi is a mobile wallet, it allows anyone to pay anyone globally. You can literally send money to anyone with a mobile phone, anywhere in the world.
PayPal uses one currency base depending on where you register, but the reality is these days thanks to globalisation you are going to want to send money to people all over the world. PayPal doesn’t solve that problem. And it uses complicated email addresses and log ins to access the service, with Mobi you can send money to anyone with a mobile number.
The wallet contains multiple currencies that you can custom to the payments you wish to make. There are over 50 countries to choose from, which you can select and deselect if you travel from country to country.
It only take a few minutes to set up a Bitcoin wallet, which you can do either before or after you have received your first bitcoin. That wallet is then yours for life, it is tied to your phone number. You can send money to anyone in any currency, and you can receive bitcoin from other people or via QR codes.
How long has the product been in development?
We spent the better part of last year developing the product, but it is now fully launched. We introduced the concept to the market in Las Vegas at Money20/20.
We launched the wallet on Jan 1 2017, we’ve already had 20,000 people download the app. We hit 5,000 downloads within a week and a half, 10,000 within two and a half weeks, and 20,000 in approximately three weeks, so there has been a tremendous take-up of the wallet. We’ve also seen users from 90 countries already, so it’s great to see how much we’ve grown geographically as well in such a short space of time.
What are your major goals for BTCC for 2017?
We have a global vision. We believe one day everyone will use Bitcoin as a standard form of currency, so it is with that in mind that we are planning our business. People will either use Bitcoin knowing that they are using Bitcoin, or they will use it not knowing that their transactions are being powered by Bitcoin, similar to the different functions of using Mobi.
With that in mind our plan is provide the whole world with the most convenient, most trustworthy payments technology, using blockchain to provide payments services.
Do you think Bitcoin will be the premier use for blockchain technology for the foreseeable future?
Blockchain is just a technology. All it means is it’s an open distributed global ledger. Think of it as a blackboard on the wall. It’s just a space for data. The question is: “What should we write on it?” A key characteristic of blockchain is that anything that is written on it cannot be erased. If you make a mistake you can write something underneath the mistake to correct, but it doesn’t disappear. It keeps a record of everything.
And anyone can write on it. The questions here though are: “What are the consensus rules? What are you allowed to write?” And then once that is figured out, we as a society have to determine what would be the best ways to use these concepts, and where this way of storing data can be most useful.
Bitcoin is the world’s first and most successful permissionless global ledger that utilises blockchain technology. We think Bitcoin is the killer app of blockchain. There may be other uses for it, but by far for most people Bitcoin will be their most useful interaction with blockchain.
Do you find yourself strongly disagreeing with other professionals who profess other ways in which blockchain technology would be more useful than Bitcoin?
I think what other people say about how they use blockchain doesn’t really matter that much. It’s their prerogative, they can use it however they want to. But I certainly believe that when the day is over, there are only certain use cases that are truly useful. It’s like using a laptop computer as a door wedge – you could, but it’s not really worthy of the craft needed to build a laptop to then use it as a door wedge.
Do you think that there is a different attitude to blockchain in Asia as opposed to the West?
I think Bitcoin itself is used differently in different parts of the world. But one of the best things about Bitcoin is that is a constant globally. It’s like the internet. The internet is used differently in different parts of the world. The websites that are popular in the UK are not the same websites that are popular in France. It’s more than just a language thing, it’s a culture thing that goes to the root of how the internet is used in a particular country.
In China people use the internet differently to how it is used in the USA, and I think these small nuances are healthy. Bitcoin is exactly the same, in some parts of the world people use it to buy coffee in the high street, in other parts of the world people use it to buy drugs, some people use it for intraday trading. The main thing is, whatever the use, Bitcoin is global money and that makes it a killer app.
Bitcoin as a form of payments may be the future, but it can’t be considered a legitimate currency if it can’t operate as a store of wealth. Its volatile price is precluding this at the moment, do you think this will change any time soon, or will its nature always cause it to fluctuate in value?
I think Bitcoin’s price will continue to fluctuate, but long term the price is going to be very high. There are only 16 million Bitcoins in the world, and 21 million in total, so only five million left to be mined. So for that reason it is a very scarce asset. If one day we have a billion people using Bitcoin as a currency, we can see how valuable those 21 million bitcoins will be. The denominations of valuable Bitcoin will become so small that the value of the currency will be driven upwards. Overall I’m very excited with where we are heading, one Bitcoin is valued at almost $1,000 now and the trajectory is upwards.
Bobby Lee was speaking exclusively to bobsguide at London Blockchain Week.
Image: Matteo Giachetti Photography