David Boveington-Fauran is a Bitcoin entrepreneur based in Belgium, co-founder of the European Bitcoin Trading Machine (EBTM), a Bitcoin startup holding the ambition of a creating a network of BTMs across Europe.
Boveington-Fauran shares his impressions of the Belgian Bitcoin market and the future plans of his company. While digital currencies are gaining in popularity in Europe, the entrepreneur believes there is still a lot of work ahead, particularly in Belgium, where Bitcoin is still considered as "drug money" by a few.
Cointelegraph (CT): David, we haven't heard much about your startup the European Bitcoin Trading Machine (EBTM). Could you tell us more about your Bitcoin business?
David Boveington-Fauran: EBTM is a commercial venture set up by two Bitcoin enthusiasts, Arnaud Kodeck and myself. We started early this year and decided to import Belgium’s first bitcoin vending machine that would be bi-directional. People can buy and sell Bitcoin very easily with this machine.
David Boveington-Fauran introducing EBTM's Bitcoin machine
CT: What is the ambition of EBTM?
DB: We hope to build up a network of Bitcoin vending machines in Belgium and then the Netherlands. Compared to the Netherlands, Belgium is behind in BTC adoption. Only a few places accept it so far. However, we got our machine up and running in summer, and our bitcoin vending machine will soon be commercially available in Antwerp.
This is a new field and it is very difficult to make profit forecasts. Our machine takes 5% commission, which is pretty standard in this field; I have even seen some machines with 10%!
I think offering a full-service is essential: if customers can get their bitcoins and spend it easily, it is living proof that it works. This will spread Bitcoin adoption. In our case, Coffeelabs in Antwerp will be accepting bitcoin payments for drinks and fares.
CT: When do you plan to launch the bi-directional BTM in Antwerp? Could you tell us more about this device?
DB: In another two weeks; the machine is in beta and the address to test it can be found on ebtm.be. It is open to the public.
The machine is from the Canadian start-up Bitaccess. We received the machine in April and did a beta-launch early summer.
We worked a lot with the manufacturer to make it multilingual and compatible with EU legislation. The machine offers 4 languages and has a disclaimer function and ID scanning. It is however very easy to use. It is one of those things that look simple but behind it there is a lot of work.
CT: Did you meet any challenge when completing this project?
DB: Although Bitcoin is gaining in popularity, finding a location was a real uphill battle. As an anecdote, we had a marketing guy go to several pubs and cafes for us. One owner near Grand Place, the main square in Brussels, threw him out saying his establishment would not deal with drug money… Some misconceptions die hard!
We now have a deal with Coffeelabs, a great location in downtown Antwerp. This prestigious start-up incubator will host our machine and the café will also allow patrons to pay for their drinks in bitcoin.
We will be the first to launch a bi-directional machine in Belgium; this is scheduled for early October. There is already competition as Orillia installed commercially Friday their one-way machine in Ghent. So things are looking up for the Bitcoin community.
CT: In your opinion, what are the opportunities held by Bitcoin for the European market?
DB: As many bitcoin enthusiasts know, remittance markets are ripe for a shake-up due to their excessively high fees. Two-way Bitcoin vending machines could dramatically cut costs for sending money abroad. Our machine scans ID documents. It is easy to imagine a machine in another country where someone comes with a redeem code and their ID and collects in cash the Bitcoin sent from abroad.
If this is to happen Bitcoin needs a sound legislation to promote business and protect consumers because when you start sending money like that, and bitcoins are a currency in my mind, you are edging closer to a banking service.
I think as much as people want to enter the Bitcoin ecosystem you might want to exit it once in a while as I don’t think digital currencies will surpass FIAT currencies but rather run in parallel. So offering customers the possibility of exchanging their BTCs for cash is good. We even had some Korean tourists come to our machine last month and wanted to get euros for their trip in Belgium and sold some bitcoins!