Gulden, a Netherlands-based cryptocurrency named after the now-defunct Dutch currency, has thrived by prioritizing user experience. Now it is way ahead of its category in terms of merchant adoption, thanks to an aggressively development strategy.
As a result, the relatively unknown cryptocurrency, ranked #76 on coinmarketcap.com, is able to claim an impressive 55 merchants that accept it as payment. Additionally, because of the Nocks mobile payment system’s seamless transfers, users are able to spend Gulden anywhere Bitcoin is accepted.
Cointelegraph spoke to Rijk Plasman, founder of Gulden, about the cryptocurrency’s ease-of-use-first approach to development.
Common man’s currency
Cointelegraph: What prompted the creation of Gulden? What great need were you seeking to fill?
Rijk Plasman: Bitcoin is not used by the common man, at least here in the Netherlands it isn't. I believe that's because it's too complicated to use. We change that. Also Gulden is something people know and miss, by using that name we make crypto friendlier. “Hey, Gulden, I know that. Oh is it digital now? Cool.” We received a lot of responses like that. And the unexpected effect in other countries is that is sounds like Golden. We started with a focus on just the Netherlands but soon that changed because we got users from all over the world.
CT: How does the currency itself, and its distribution method, differ from Bitcoin?
RP: We have a lot more supply and our block reward doesn't halve. We did that to reach 1 euro = 1 Gulden in a few years. Of course we can't predict that but Bitcoins supply wouldn't be enough for the Netherlands. Technically there are many differences. We developed our own diff algo called DELTA. It smoothens the block times and makes mining fairer. We've introduced PRIME, a system that allows 0 confirms and 51% attack prevention. PRIME is currently being developed and funded by our community. PRIME is very important for our merchants and adoption. We need to be realistic about getting more merchants. We can't tell bigger companies to wait for 5/10 confirmations. So 0 confirms is a must.
User experience a priority
CT: How is it less complicated to use than Bitcoin?
RP: The user experience is very important to us, we focus a lot on that. Our recently launched iOS and Android apps are very simplistic and anyone can use it without a manual, but that's just the first step. In the coming months it will be even simpler. All the stuff that raises questions when people are introduced with crypto we will make easier. Our competition is not crypto, it’s fiat. And if you look at fiat apps, we have to be better than that. For example, we have our own takeway.com in the netherlands called thuisbezorgd. They accept Bitcoin and not yet Gulden, but because we added the Bitcoin payment functionality, people can pay with Gulden at Thuisbezorgd in a seamless way. And people like it, they tweet about it “Hey I ordered my food at thuisbezorgd and paid with Gulden.” Make payments easy and fun, people want to use it, tell their friends about it, without having to know the technical details. At this moment with crypto it all starts with the technical details, stuff most people don't understand and scares them away.
CT: So is it fair to say you went for a more human approach rather than catering to "nerds"?
RP: Absolutely, but with our development we are still interesting for the”nerds.” We have “nerds” in our team, but I am a UX designer. Still a nerd though, haha. But yeah, human approach, but more importantly a realistic approach. We've spend a lot of time talking with our merchants about the tools they need to accept Gulden.
CT: You mentioned being able to use Gulden where Bitcoin is accepted. How is that possible?
RP: Through Nocks.co. We work closely with Nocks and they are the first Gulden blockchain based company. They instantly convert Bitcoin/euro to Gulden. We integrated that functionality into our mobile apps (iOS/Android), but seamlessly, so users won't even know they use Nocks for Bitcoin payments. Nocks is extremely fast growing and getting a lot of attention here in the Netherlands in the fintech scene. Blockchain is a big deal here and Nocks is actually developing something, instead just the talks about “what could be possible,” they show what's possible.
CT: So if I'm to understand correctly, Nocks allows Gulden to be converted to Bitcoin which is then sent to the merchant?
RP: Yes. And you can imagine, now it's Bitcoin, but it's a small step to the Euro.
CT: Are there any extra fees or delays involved in doing transactions that way?
RP: No delays and the fee is so tiny, a user would never notice. Depends on the amount also.
Focus on merchants
CT: I've noticed an impressive number of merchants are claimed to accept Gulden. Is this Gulden directly, or Bitcoin/other through Nocks?
RP: At the beginning we started with a focus on merchants. Our thought was, a lot of merchants brings a lot of users. That focus brought us around 100 direct Gulden merchants, including Subways and the Pirate Party. We are very proud at this, but there were also many closed doors or even merchants who had contracts with Bitcoin payment providers. We learned that for merchants the most important thing is customers/users. That changed our focus from merchants to users, so now we make sure people can pay at as many places as possible. Everywhere where Gulden is accepted, but also where Bitcoin is accepted. When we have a lot of users, we become interesting for the bigger merchants again.
CT: The user/merchant relationship is one of the chicken/egg, one needs to come before the other, but which one first? What strategy was employed to convince merchants to get on board?
RP: Exactly, and it always changes, so we need to be able to change strategies quickly. But now we feel this is the right way, because new merchants are getting interested because someone paid with Gulden at their place. Offering them a tailor made solutions, a lot of chats where about what they needed to make payments easier. I noticed a lot of Bitcoin merchants with a tablet on a stand somewhere hidden behind the counter. Because they couldn't just place that stand on the counter due to theft. It looked good, but was never easy to use. So together with Nocks we are changing that to better terminals.
Here the user experience is very important again, but the merchant is the user. Nocks as a payment provider is offering very good and easy to use tools for merchants and something that almost always works: it's cheaper than current fiat systems. And of course in the beginning our name helped, for some merchants accepting Gulden is like a statement.
CT: How did the nostalgic branding play into adoption?
RP: Only at the very beginning we used that a bit, “the Gulden is back,” but now it's not needed anymore and the younger generation only knows Gulden from their parents. But Gulden has always been a strong name here, something people were proud of. And there is still a lot euroscepticism, which also helps. Gulden is independent and not controlled by the government or banks, people like that. People often say: “When we had the Gulden, everything was better.” So people have positive associations with the name.