Earlier this fall, Gem launched as the first Bitcoin startup to ever compete in the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield, presenting a full-stack API for digital currency developers that will eliminate the pain of building Bitcoin security infrastructure into apps.
Gem is building a platform that makes turnkey Bitcoin transaction security possible, letting users pass money around in Bitcoin form without risk.
You can see the demo video from the TechCrunch Disrupt event here.
Even as Bitcoin continues to struggle with the growing pains and security snafus intrinsic to scaling Bitcoin's technology (and continues to have high value to hackers, as evidenced by the recent BitStamp hack), there are many leaders in the community trying to patch those holes sooner rather than later.
In the wake of several recent industry security challenges resulting in the loss or theft of over half a billion dollars’ worth of Bitcoin, Gem is helping to build the only digital currency infrastructure to protect Bitcoin balances that doesn't require developers to be experts in security or cryptography.
Back in September, Cointelegraph reported that the California-based Bitcoin API developer had not only completed a US$2M seed funding round, but had also welcomed former Paypal executive, Ken Miller, as Chief Operating Officer.
Cointelegraph had a chance to ask Ken Miller about some of the initiatives Gem is working on in the coming months and about Bitcoin’s security concerns as a whole.
- Gem COO, Ken Miller
Cointelegraph: What are the most pressing problems with Bitcoin security right now?
Ken Miller: To date, nearly one in 10 of all Bitcoins has been lost or stolen. This is primarily due to inappropriate security with the Bitcoin wallet provider or exchange and/or vulnerabilities with the individual consumer because they have not been provided appropriate tools to secure their own Bitcoin. Thus, to-date Bitcoin security measures have really been the equivalent of a password, which we all know by now is not reliable.Cointelegraph: What are the most pressing problems with Bitcoin security right now?
“[T]he biggest security issue facing Bitcoin in the coming months is really adoption of these new security solutions.”
The good news, though, is there are now technical security solutions coming to the market that would help dramatically reduce the chances of these security breaches going forward. But in order for that progress to grow roots, exchanges, wallet providers, and payment processors all need to adopt the new technology, and sometimes change can be daunting or de-prioritized by those that haven't been victimized just yet. So the biggest security issue facing Bitcoin in the coming months is really adoption of these new security solutions.
CT: How does Gem’s API address those issues?
KM: At Gem, we have invested significant amounts of time, energy, and creativity to build a platform that has embedded into it 2 of 3 multi-signature capabilities, multi-factor authentication, bank-level controls and monitoring, and several more cutting edge features and new standards we'll be announcing in the coming weeks and months.
“[S]o literally with less than 10 lines of code, developers everywhere can have access to and integrate into their existing product a highly secure Bitcoin wallet without needing to be an expert in cryptography, security or Bitcoin protocol.”
Our API has taken all of that underlying security infrastructure and abstracted all of the complexity away from it, so literally with less than 10 lines of code, developers everywhere can have access to and integrate into their existing product a highly secure Bitcoin wallet without needing to be an expert in cryptography, security or Bitcoin protocol.
CT: I am not a developer and have no previous experience coding. How can I build my own applications using Gem?
KM: Generally, building your own applications requires some coding experience, and fortunately we've built the Gem platform in a way where integrating our API will be the easy part of that effort. The coding hurdle for you will be in finding the killer app developer, or getting experienced enough yourself to build the broader application that you want to incorporate Gem into. Then, all you (or your developer) need to do is plug our API into your app.
Additionally, we are going to soon be announcing a number of partnerships with other companies using our platform, so individuals without coding experience will still be able to access our services through our partners.
CT: Back in September you secured a US$2 million dollar funding round. How has this money been allocated and are you planning more rounds in the future?
KM: Most of the funding has been set aside for building our team. Gem has 10 people on the team, 8 of which are software developers, so we take product development, ease of use, and security incredibly seriously. In fact, to highlight how serious we are about having a solution that is more secure than any other (and eradicating the Bitcoin theft issue), we even have a full time security engineer who does nothing else but try to exploit our own internal systems and API to ensure we are thinking about every angle of security.
“I wanted to be a part of something special much like I did in helping get PayPal off the ground.”
CT: You (COO Ken Miller) were the former Vice President of Risk Management at PayPal. What was the reason you decided to leave Paypal and get into a Bitcoin startup? Do you see more potential in the blockchain compared to legacy payment systems?
KM: The answer is yes for a couple of reasons. Banks and financial services companies arrived on the scene to help protect our funds and give us access to those funds wherever we were. But that protection and access has come with an unacceptable bounty. Paying 3-15% to get paid by a customer, access your own money through an ATM, or send funds to a relative in need is borderline disgusting, and with the advent of Bitcoin is now unnecessary. I saw that promise and wanted to help make it a reality and change our future for the better.
I also appreciated that the blockchain technology had applications well beyond payments and access to funds, and the potential revolutionary effects it could have on contracts, voting, healthcare and more was to me the arrival of the most important technology since the internet and mobile, and I wanted to be a part of something special much like I did in helping get PayPal off the ground.
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