The bitcoin community has grown substantially since the beginning of 2009. As the community grows, so does the number of businesses that build the bitcoin infrastructure. Many early bitcoin businesses stop being able to compete and fade into oblivion. The ones who have stuck around though have become the foundation of the industry. QuickBT is one of those businesses that has stuck around in Canada and is the place where thousands of Canadians have gone to purchase their first bitcoin. We spoke with Jamie Robinson, CEO of QuickBT about his perspective on the industry and his future plans.
Michael Gord: Hey Jamie, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today!
Jamie Robinson: No problem!
Michael: How did you get into Bitcoin?
Jamie: I first heard about bitcoin a long time ago and didn’t pay any attention to it until early 2013 when the price was moving from 30 dollars to over a hundred dollars and I had a few people from different sections of my life, who didn’t know each other, ask me about bitcoin in the same week. The first person I replied “Don’t worry about it it’s a scam”. When the second person asked, I thought it was time to give it some more thought because I had heard about it twice in one week and thought maybe this is something I should take a look at… especially because the price was going through the roof. I did some digging and ever since my attention has been on Bitcoin. At the time I was still doing consulting work and weaned off consulting to work with Bitcoin full time.
Michael: What motivated you to start QuickBT?
Jamie: I realized how difficult it was to buy a small amount of Bitcoin. I tried using an exchange, a self service bitcoin exchange, and I saw how difficult it was to buy bitcoin, especially in the shoes of the average consumer. I started thinking about it… I knew I was going to show bitcoin to people and suggest they buy bitcoin because I was enthusiastic about it but the process to buy some was so unattractive that I identified it as a huge barrier for Bitcoin success and I asked myself whether I can make this easier for Canadian consumers and whether I can make a living doing it. Can I quit my job and do this? From then on I started doing the research and figuring out everything.
The original concept was credit card and I would go out to the market and buy all the Bitcoin and do a preauthorized transaction for everything. I coded it to work with a credit card company and then I got my first denial. They got me all setup and ready to go and when I was about to go live my account was terminated so it was back to the drawing board for a few months from May to July. In May, I incorporated QuickBT and made the website but it wasn’t until July that I realized that Interac had a online payment method. From then on I got setup and since August 2013, we’ve been live.
Michael: How do you see the bitcoin community has changed since you started QuickBT?
Jamie: When I started, the bitcoin community was comprised completely of IT people. It was all people who were technically inclined, almost completely male and there was a narrow 20-40 computer nerd demographic. I think this was also the case from the beginning of bitcoin, a bunch of young computer guys.
From there the community has opened up and I think the next group of people that joined were all the investor types that thought they could make money when they price of Bitcoin was going from a couple hundred dollars to over a thousand. Almost right after we launched in August the price started going up and a lot of young technically inclined people that wanted to make a quick buck were buying the hype train and got involved. Those people did however they did… some sold and some still have their bitcoin, but the market began to open more widely as more places started to accept bitcoin. Definitely more women began to get involved. There are a lot of people that don’t have faith in the current financial system, who are looking at the current financial climate in the world and thinking that they want to own digital assets that are real. They are looking at their money in their bank accounts and realize it’s all inflated numbers on the computer. Money in the bank is not as tangible a digital asset.
What’s interesting about all these phases and everything about the community is that very few people drop and the community is only getting bigger. Once you have the magic moment, you can’t undo it in your brain. Maybe some greedy people have fallen out but they’ll be back.
Michael: Where do you see QuickBT going moving forward?
Jamie: I think that the most important place is nowhere. Were going to still be here and that’s critical because there are a lot of businesses that have tried to do what we’ve done and failed. There are dozens of examples in Canada and if you look at the businesses that are competing with QuickBT, a lot aren’t that profitable. We’re a healthy business, we’ve been profitable from the beginning and we’re going to continue to be here to onboard new people to Bitcoin. We’re always working on new features and we would love to accept all types debit cards including visa debit cards in our future because right now we only accept certain debit cards.
Michael: Any new projects you’re working on that you’re excited about?
Jamie: I’m really excited about AcceptBT.com – it’s our way of enabling merchants to accept bitcoin. It works great for restaurants, retail stores and is super easy and requires no Bitcoin education. AcceptBT has already completed a first retail event in Montreal with many businesses on St Laurent, a main street downtown Montreal, accepting Bitcoin with AcceptBT. Now, we’re planning another similar event in Toronto and all the venues who have tried it are excited about it too.
The other project that I’m working on is called SpendBT.com which is also open and has been beta tested but we’re now looking for a better payout method. SpendBT is a really easy way to sell your bitcoin directly back to your Canadian checking account. It started as a way to pay off your credit card using bitcoin but now we’re working on a way to pay Bitcoin directly to your Canadian checking account. We’re really excited to re-launch SpendBT as soon as we have something we’re proud of.
Michael: Where do you see the bitcoin community moving forward in 2016 and beyond?
Jamie: I see the bitcoin community growing quite large. I think the community with continue to grow and continue to get easier to use. As it gets easier to use, I see more people getting disenfranchised by the current financial system – so whether they just don’t like what’s going on or whether they’re kicked out, bitcoin will continue to bring more and more people in.
Personally, I think we’re going to start to see large companies and government buying and owning bitcoin which will be the difference between a three digit price and a seven digit price. Once governments and large corporation start to hedge in bitcoin it’s going to be crazy. I think that’s coming soon. You see it happening already… in Barbados the economists suggesting that the government hold bitcoin. By the time the government wants to get involved there is not going to be very many bitcoin available for sale. If we start to see a rush of governments and big business buying bitcoin because they lose trust in the dollar system that is the cherry on top.
Michael: Thanks for your time and good luck with everything!
Jamie: Thanks, you too!