Ziftr CEO Bob Wilkins thinks his e-commerce platform could be poised to introduce the next wave of adopters to cryptocurrency technology.
Ziftr itself predates cryptocurrencies, having been founded in 2008 as a way to make online shopping more user-friendly. Among the company’s first tools was a browser plug-in that compared prices across different e-commerce sites, sending users an alert when there was a price drop on something they were thinking of buying.
But in the last year, Wilkins has gone from hobbyist miner to crypto-evangelist.
On December 9, his company launched a presale of its own coin, ziftrCOIN, which will have a guaranteed value of US$1 when spent within the Ziftr shopping platform. Money raised during the presale will go toward developing ziftrPAY, an API that will allow shoppers to make purchases online via several cryptocurrencies, plus their credit cards, with the same one-click interface.
There will be 10 billion ziftrCOINs mined over the next decade, 4.5% of which are pre-mined.
The presale runs through January 23, when the price will rise from 1600 ziftrCOINs per 1 BTC, to 533 ziftrCOINs per 1 BTC. Then in February, the company will give away up to 300 million ziftrCOINs (max. 100 ziftrCOINs per customer) to bring on board users who would not have participated in a presale in the first place. Wilkins said,
“If you believe in the future of cryptocurrency and you want to see mass cryptocurrency adoption in the next couple years, the keys to making this happen are enabling retailers to easily accept not only Bitcoin, but the many popular altcoins, and getting the next 10 to 15 million users on board with cryptocurrency.”
Cointelegraph spoke to Wilkins earlier this week about his company’s plans for the presale, how it has gone so far, and how Ziftr can guarantee an exchange rate of at least US$1.
Cointelegraph: Tell us about your first experiences in cryptocurrencies. How did you get started with the technology?
Bob Wilkins: I first started getting into cryptocurrency when my son told me about it in 2013, and I began mining. I started mining dogecoin and litecoin in early January 2014 and slowly amassed graphics cards at my house. As I got further down the rabbit hole, I realized that I needed more space, so I brought the mining rigs into the Ziftr office in Milford, NH. I just recently acquired a server room that I’m now putting ASICs and everything else into. Admittedly, my staff is pretty happy about this because this means they’ve regained the half of the office that had been dedicated to mining.
Although I came into cryptocurrency from a mining perspective, I eventually started reading more of the academic papers, articles, and news around the technology. By that point, I had gotten my staff really excited about it, too (in spite of the mining rigs taking up their space). We absolutely believe that the technology is here to stay and want to do what we can to contribute to its success.
CT: Your team has recently developed an API that intends to make it easier for online retailers to accept cryptocurrencies. How does that work, and why do you feel it's better than what, say, BitPay is doing?
BW: Our talented software engineers developed the ziftrPAY API with a myriad of user-friendly benefits in mind for retailers of all sizes. The ziftrPAY API enables retailers to:
- Accept ziftrCOIN, Bitcoin, Litecoin and other types of cryptocurrency for any online orders — along with credit card payments, if the customer would like to use both
- Get real-time pricing and inventory updates within the ziftrVERSE
- Maintain complete control of their brand
- Access additional sales channels, including the Ziftr marketplace
- Quickly fix discrepancies in prices, product descriptions and more
While BitPay only enables retailers to accept Bitcoin, the ziftrPAY API works with multiple major cryptocurrencies and allows for credit card payments along with cryptocurrency payments for the same transaction. Ziftr also has a pre-existing relationship with tens of thousands of retailers in the e-commerce space, so we have a big advantage over BitPay and other APIs in that regard.
CT: Why create a new coin for the Ziftr ecosystem? Wouldn't Bitcoin be an easier sell for a mainstream audience?
BW: This is a great question. After putting a lot of thought into this, we determined that in order to introduce people to cryptocurrency and get them to actually use it, the ideal approach is to not only tell them about the benefits, but to incentivize them to try using it.
We conducted some research and figured out that to get people to try something new, US$100 is that magic number that really gets them interested. While we wish that we had enough Bitcoins to give away US$100 worth to millions of consumers, the truth is that we don’t. Instead, we decided to utilize our expertise in e-commerce and development to provide people with the same US$100 incentive via a new altcoin, and thus ziftrCOIN was created.
We’re giving away 300 million ziftrCOINs for free in 2015 and ensuring that each coin has a minimum redemption value of US$1 when spent in our Ziftr retailer network. We are confident that US$100 worth of free money is an effective incentive to persuade people into trying something new.
CT: How exactly is Ziftr guaranteeing the exchange rate of its coin?
BW: First, let me explain the US$1 minimum redemption value. The US$1 minimum redemption value for ziftrCOINs can only be used for a maximum 5% discount within our retailer network when the coins are trading for under one dollar on the open market. That being said, when ziftrCOINs are trading above US$1, the merchant will take them for their tradable exchange value and the 5% limit per order will no longer apply. This ensures that the user won’t lose money by shopping with us if ziftrCOINs are valued above US$1.
Here’s how we can guarantee this: When shoppers use ziftrCOINs through our retailer network, retailers give us a monetary reward for bringing them new customers. We're simply passing some of those advertising dollars back to the user in return for their ziftrCOINs at the time of purchase.
CT: Your coin also features a new mining algorithm that your developers came up with. Can you explain why you felt there was a need for another mining algorithm, and how ziftrCOIN's Sign to Mine is beneficial?
BW: We determined that proof of work is still the most proven and fair method of securing the blockchain. However, we find the centralization of miners into large pools to be worrisome and threatening to the security of the system. Thus, we created Sign to Mine, our unique mining protocol that enables the miner who solves the block to spend the reward for that block.
Essentially, miners can no longer mine for someone else; they have to be mining for themselves. That does NOT mean that there can be no pools mining ziftrCOIN, however. It just means that there must be trust established within members of the mining pool.
CT: How is the ziftrCOIN presale going, and what are your goals for it?
BW: It’s going really well! Better than we ever anticipated, actually.
After just two days, we sold over 3.2 million ziftrCOINs, worth over $450K. With 10x Venture Partners, a New Hampshire-based investment group, leading the way by purchasing $150,000 in ziftrCOINs on the first day of the presale. The feedback from both the Bitcoin community as well as the traditional business community has been extremely positive so far, which is really encouraging.
We’re excited to introduce millions of new consumers to cryptocurrency and bring cryptocurrency into the mainstream for both consumers and retailers. The money raised during our presale will help fund these efforts, which we’ve already put millions of dollars into ourselves. All the details can be found at www.ziftrCOIN.com/presale.
CT: What can we expect to see in the future from Ziftr?
BW: During our presale (which runs until January 23rd, or until coins run out) we’ll be coming forward with a few big announcements, so keep an eye out.
We really don’t want to give anything away too soon, but let’s just say that we’ve signed a major exchange partner, as well as a large credit card processing partner. Like I said, we’ll make a more formal announcement about this very soon.
Currently, we are working diligently with our beta community toward V1 of the ziftrWALLET, which, among other features, holds multiple cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin and Dogecoin. We also have the official release of ziftrCOINs, and our massive coin giveaway scheduled for 2015. We encourage everyone to sign up for our newsletter at www.ziftrcoin.com to receive all the latest news and dates for everything Ziftr and ziftrCOIN.
We’ve put a lot of hard work into our vision of bringing cryptocurrency to the masses, and we don’t plan to slow down until we’ve accomplished that goal.
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