Cointelegraph spoke with E-coin founders Pavel Matveev and Dmitry Lazarichev about competition in the bitcoin debit card market, the importance of multi-sig security, and crowd investment with BnkToTheFuture.
Since launching their first Bitcoin debit cards to the public in late January 2015, e-coin has been working to build out its platform and push Bitcoin adoption mainstream. In an effort to offer users a convenient way to spend bitcoin wherever Visa is accepted, the company is looking to strengthen its position as a major player in the cryptocurrency debit card market.
Cointelegraph: What is currently going on with e-coin?
E-coin: We are currently shipping cards to 130+ countries, having 20K+ registered users and around 1.8K cards shipped. A month ago we started shipping cards denominated in EUR and GBP. Currently, we are working on our mobile app, virtual cards and preparing to issue cards with our own design. Also, those in the United States can expect us to start shipping there by the end of the year.
“Everyone can order our bitcoin debit cards with no limitations, waiting lists, pre-orders etc.”
CT: At what rate are you seeing new user growth?
EC: We are seeing a 50% increase every month. Today, we ship 15-25 new cards every day.
CT: Many people in the Bitcoin space have heard of the Xapo Bitcoin debit card. What is your competitive advantage over Xapo?
EC: First of all, unlike Xapo we have successfully passed our Beta stage. Everyone can order our bitcoin debit cards with no limitations, waiting lists, pre-orders etc. Secondly, our cards are denominated in three different fiat currencies (and some more currencies are coming soon). Third, we care about our clients and we believe that great customer service is the key to win clients. We make every effort to answer support tickets in a very timely manner.
The great advantage of our solution compared to Xapo’s is that users can lock the bitcoin price in fiat currency (let’s say in case of rally on the market) by transferring funds into any of their cards, and later, if they want, they can transfer them back. Just to illustrate: let’s imagine you have 200 bitcoins in a Xapo account and a Xapo card (if you are super lucky), the price on the market is quickly going down and you want to convert it to fiat ASAP. You have 2 options:
- transfer to exchange (add high fees to speed up transaction) and sell there;
- run to an ATM and use the Xapo card. If it works you will hit a US$400 withdrawal limit, so you won't be able to convert all the funds.
With our E-Card there is no such problem, just a couple of clicks.
Last, but not least, is the verification process. You can start using E-Card without uploading any documents - it can even be anonymous (limit US$2,500). On the other hand, with Xapo everything starts with uploading your documents, verifying your phone number, etc.
“We don’t use one big hot wallet with all user addresses in one place, instead every user has a fully-functional wallet.”
CT: Let’s switch gears and talk about security. Why should customers feel secure using their bitcoin with e-coin?
EC: We use multi-sig wallets provided by BitGo. Every user in our system has their own multi-sig wallet with 3 sets of keys: one is kept by BitGo, one by E-Coin and one more is used for disaster recovery. We don’t use one big hot wallet with all user addresses in one place (this is very common among Bitcoin exchanges), instead every user has a fully-functional wallet.
In addition, every wallet has velocity and limit policies in order to prevent suspicious activity. There is a good article written by Ben Davenport from BitGo describing how all 3 sets of keys work. Not to mention, we implement two-factor authentication for access control as well.
CT: You recently implemented an affiliate program. Why was it important to create one? How has it been going?
EC: It is an easier alternative to API, even to our “reseller” package. Existing customers can now refer their friends, followers or clients and earn bitcoins. Customers registering via referral links receive a 25% discount on the price of the card (with standard delivery), and the affiliate partner earns a commission on all their transactions forever. Unlike most affiliate programs out there, ours offers instant payouts, so the partner doesn’t have to wait for the end of the month or quarter to see the report and receive the payment. Bitcoin is sent to his/her wallet immediately after the referral’s card load transaction.
It is quite an important part of our marketing effort – nothing speaks better about a product than its existing users. And apart from individual existing customers, we are seeing a strong interest from bloggers, professional affiliate campaign partners, etc.
The program is running quite well. We see good numbers of new signups, and the proportion of customers referred by someone and ordering cards is much higher than in general.
CT: There has been speculation of the company launching a crowd investment campaign. Is there truth to this? If so, when can we expect the launch?
EC: Yes. We will launch our campaign on BnkToTheFuture.com within the first two weeks of September.
CT: Why have you decided to go with BnkToTheFuture?
EC: We see that investors there are quite aware of the Bitcoin industry. This means they can appreciate our solution easier.
CT: How much equity is the company offering?
EC: We are offering up to 10% company equity.