Monday, 13 January 2014

Interview with the Bitcoin Queen

Margaux Avedisian from New York will be the special guest of the next BXB, which will take place on January 18, 4pm.

How did you get involved with Bitcoin?

While living in Silicon Valley, I heard about Bitcoin around 2009. In 2010 I thought about mining - wish I did! In 2011 I met the former COO of Tradehill, the first American bitcoin exchange. This was right when Tradehill decided to relaunch. Bitcoin was something that I really believed could actually disrupt the financial industry and truly change society on a global scale. You hear about a lot of startups in San Francisco but a Bitcoin related company was the only thing that really got me excited.

What did you do in your "Bitcoin career" so far?

I helped relaunch Tradehill as VP of Business Development. I spearheaded raising money, hired a few key employees, participated in operations and wrote the client policies. Then I was CEO and cofounder of a bitcoin exchange that pivoted by becoming an exchange licensing platform. Now I broker deals of large amounts of Bitcoin between private buyers and sellers at my company Bitcoin Capital Partners.

Which projects are you working on now? 

Besides Bitcoin Capital Partners, where I orchestrate large sales or purchases of Bitcoin, I consult for financial institutions. I'm launching a Bitcoin video blog soon called Bitcoin In English. I'm advising a couple of Bitcoin companies and the production team of a Bitcoin movie.  And I'm also involved in a "secret" project that will hopefully launch soon.

How has the Bitcoin scene developed since its early days from your point of view? Which are positive, which are negative developments? 

The Bitcoin scene was very, very small even a year ago. Everyone knew everyone - or at least who they were. There also weren't that many bitcoin companies. The positive developments are that there are more Bitcoin companies and a lot of money going into making the Bitcoin infrastructure stronger. I wouldn't call this a negative, but there is now mainstream appeal - which is great! - but there just isn't the level of trust that existed before when the scene was just made up of enthusiasts.

You have recently moved from San Francisco to New York - what are the differences between the Bitcoin communities in these cities? 

The San Francisco Bitcoin scene is very small. There is really only one major Bitcoin meetup and that is only once a month. In New York, there are many Bitcoin meetups every week, at least two a week. The SF scene is more engineer based and the NY scene has a lot of finance people interested in Bitcoin.

What are the most interesting new Bitcoin projects you are aware of at the moment?

There are a few in the remittance space that I am watching. The ones in Africa are really exciting. I think they can make a huge difference and really lower the fees associated with sending money to their families in their home countries. The Bitcoin ATMs are also something I think can really accelerate the space.

Which threats and problems do you see for Bitcoin in the near future? 

There is so much news about Bitcoin every day. Misinformation is a huge problem. Also a lot of countries are figuring out regulations and sometimes that process isn't in favor of Bitcoin, which then causes the price to fall. Volatility doesn't help Bitcoin, but I think there will be more stability next year. Control over the network is something to watch out for as well. Currently a mining pool has over 51% of the network and says it has no interest in attacking the network while also promising to make changes to limit the amount of stake in the network. That doesn't mean other entities will be as benevolent, especially if large companies get involved. You only need 33% to execute an attack.

What's your vision of the Bitcoin economy in some years from now? 

I think people will be using Bitcoin without even knowing they are using it. Payments will be seamlessly integrated to browsers and smart phones, so making payments will be easy, with Bitcoin as the primary mode of settlement.

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