Seven Dutch Bitcoin companies have collaborated to establish an association in order to counter fraud and collectively represent their shared interests. The association, which goes by the name Verenigde Bitcoinbedrijven Nederland (Associated Bitcoin Companies of the Netherlands or VBNL) was formally established in December of 2014, and plans to increase its presence this year.
Although several of the associated companies had been informally sharing some mutually beneficial insights since 2013, the initiative to formalize this collaboration and establish the VBNL was taken in 2014. The main reason for the delay was the high level of fraud experienced by Dutch Bitcoin brokerages, as fraudsters would often abuse the Dutch payments system iDEAL to trick their victims into buying them Bitcoin.
One of the shared interests comes when dealing with government institutions or banks. The association will also seek to install a membership quality standard, through which it hopes to manage a level of self-regulation in order to guarantee a high standard for the Dutch Bitcoin industry.
“By forming this association, its members hope to learn from one another, hence further strengthening the Bitcoin industry in the Netherlands as a whole,” Jouke Hofman, CEO of bitcoin brokerage Bitonic and one of the initiators of the VBNL, told Cointelegraph. Another initiator, Anycoin Direct CEO Lennert Vlemmings, added:
“On a business level, most of us compete with each other of course. But at the same time we are all facing very similar problems, which could potentially slow down or perhaps even damage the adoption of bitcoin in the Netherlands. That is obviously bad for all of us all, so it made sense for us to establish the VBNL.”
Currently, the VBNL consists of seven brokerages, namely Anycoin Direct, Bitmymoney, Bitonic, BTC Direct, Coinvert, Happycoins and Litebit. A notable exemption from this list is bitcoin exchange CleverCoin, while several other Dutch companies are as of yet missing as well.
-- Bitonic CEO Jouke Hofman and Anycoin Direct CEO Lennert Vlemmings
“This is mainly because we started out as a cooperative to counter some very specific forms of fraud,” Hofman explained.
“As bitcoin brokerages, all of us use similar payment tools, and as such we often suffered from the exact same types of malice. But it's certainly possible that more Dutch Bitcoin companies will join the association in the near future, especially as we increase our presence and broaden our goals.”
A somewhat noteworthy aspect of the VBNL is that it is a whole new organization, and as such circumvents existing alternatives, such as the Dutch Bitcoin Foundation and the Bitcoin embassies in Amsterdam. This is particularly notable because the VBNL was launched shortly after Hofman himself had stepped down as a board member from the Dutch Bitcoin Foundation in September 2014. Both Hofman and Vlemmings emphasized that the two events are entirely unrelated, however.
“I believe there is room for both a Dutch Bitcoin Foundation, as well as the VBNL, as they serve different purposes,” Vlemmings said. “While the foundation aims to be a representative body for the whole of Bitcoin and all of its users in the Netherlands, we are specifically geared towards Dutch Bitcoin companies.”
Specifally referring to his stepping down from the Dutch Bitcoin Foundation, and the discord within the Bitcoin Embassy Amsterdam, Hofman concluded: “The VBNL had been in the works before any of that happened. The timing is purely a coincidence.”
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