Cointelegraph spoke to Miranda about his plans for the newly launched exchange, Bitcoin’s “untapped potential” in Latin America, and the increasing popularity of BTC in the world’s 7th largest economy, Brazil.
“[O]ur local currency is getting weaker everyday. This contributes for the perfect environment for the Bitcoin ecosystem to flourish.”
- Marcelo Miranda, FlowBTC Founder
FlowBTC is Brazil’s newest Bitcoin exchange that just launched today. "The problem with liquidity in Brazil is we have natural buyers, we have people who want to trade, but we don't have natural sellers," said Marcelo Miranda, a nine-year Deutsche Bank veteran and founder of FlowBTC, to CoinDesk.
This problem has been tackled via a partnership with AlphaPoint, a “software platform that powers exchanges,” as described by CEO Vadim Telyatnikov. As a result, FlowBTC will now be connected to other exchanges around the globe.
Cointelegraph: Why did you decide to establish FlowBTC in Brazil and how much of a demand is there for another domestic exchange in the country?
Marcelo Miranda: The digital currency market in Brazil is still in its infancy. Even if you compare to much smaller countries, the volume of bitcoins traded in Brazil is negligible today. The main reason for this is the lack of an anchor exchange that professional traders and institutional investors can rely on. We are launching FlowBTC to cover this gap.
“[W]atching closely people like Tony Gallippi and Roger Ver expressing their views about Bitcoin, I made a decision that this is what I wanted to do for a living.”
CT: Why did you decide to part ways with Deutsche Bank and focus on Bitcoin?
MM: While at DB I started to follow what was going on in the Bitcoin world. In late 2013, I decided to take a closer look and went to LABITCONF in Buenos Aires. There, by watching closely people like Tony Gallippi and Roger Ver expressing their views about Bitcoin, I made a decision that this is what I wanted to do for a living. When DB restructured their LatAm team in 2014, it was time for me to go all in with Bitcoin projects.
CT: Prior to the official launch, FlowBTC was in “volume-rich” live beta. How many users have you attracted and how many do you expect to join after the launch?
MM: We had around 200 live beta users, which was surprising given that we did a controlled roll out just to give us an idea of how much potential there is locally. We expect this number to grow at least 10-fold in the first few weeks of trading.
CT: Your website states that you use “the most thorough security and privacy criteria.” Given the recent hacks at other exchanges like Bitstamp, BTER and Bitcoin’s security concerns in general, how do you ensure that your customer’s funds are safe?
MM: We have the highest standards when it comes to security. For this reason we only work with the best possible technology partners. Our security and privacy standards are on par with some of the biggest Bitcoin exchanges in the world.
CT: Multi-signature security is starting to become standard among exchanges in preventing account hacks. Are you planning to implement this feature?
MM: We recognize the importance of multi sig and that's definitely in our plans for the short term.
“Brazil is the 7th largest economy in the world and as people become more aware of Bitcoin, we will naturally take the lead regionally.”
CT: The Latin American Bitcoin conference was held in Rio in December 2014 and in Buenos Aires in 2013. Is it too early to say that Brazil is becoming the epicenter for cryptocurrency in LA?
MM: I don't think it's too early to say that. Brazil is the 7th largest economy in the world and as people become more aware of Bitcoin, we will naturally take the lead regionally. The number of initiatives and new ventures that are popping up every day in Brazil proves this point.
CT: What do you think of the idea of decentralized exchanges that enable P2P, trustless trading (e.g. Coinffeine)? Would you consider implementing such features in the future?
MM: This is definitely the future but we have to go hand in hand with our market and customers. Right now we don't see local demand for that but it is surely in our radar.
CT: Do you think Brazil has some unique advantages that can help drive overall bitcoin adoption? (For example, the Boleto i.e. a paper invoice system used throughout the country for paying for all sorts of goods and services; utility bills, top-ups, online shopping, etc., which can be funded with BTC, essentially making it possible to pay for almost anything with bitcoin unlike in other countries).
MM: There are definitely some unique features in the Brazilian market. The boleto is one of them. We can also point out that Brazilian people spend a lot of time online (second only after Americans) and the penetration of smartphones is extremely high. In addition to that, our local currency is getting weaker everyday. This contributes for the perfect environment for the Bitcoin ecosystem to flourish.
CT: What’s your prediction for the BTC price by the end of 2015?
MM: That's a tough one especially with the volatility we are seeing. My best "guesstimate" is that we take a leg higher after the overhang from the US Marshals is over and stay in the US$300-$350 range for a while, but from now to December is a long time for Bitcoin.
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