One of the offerings of Argentina to the Bitcoin community is SatoshiTango. This startup proves to be a player and a believer in the cryptocurrency movement. I had the chance to speak with Matías Bari to talk more about expansion plans and of course the potential of Bitcoin in the industry.
Jay-R Gatdula: Every Bitcoin enthusiast has gone through a journey– what led you to be interested in Bitcoin and how long did it take you to launch your business?
Matías Bari: It took us 6 months, most of the time developing the platform. When you operate a startup everything is challenging, moreover if it’s a bitcoin startup. Lawyers and accountants know nothing about bitcoin yet, so it was difficult to even ask them about it. But when you have the vision and your goals are clear, you manage to solve this type of problems. By the way, we are bootstrapping the company. “Financing” is definitely a challenge that most of the startups need to face.
I first read about bitcoin when travelling through Indonesia, on holiday. It was an article about the Silk Road and this new crazy “digital currency.” I am a chemical engineer so I‘m really into math, but I knew nothing about cryptography. It blew my mind away. I still remember thinking: “this changes everything”. When I got back from that holiday I talked to my partner Mariano, the developer of the team, and asked him “have you heard about bitcoin”. He knew nothing. We started fooling around, buying, selling, sending, and receiving. We were astonished. And then we thought about starting a business.
JG: What can you say is the best thing about your venture in comparison with other crypto-related ventures? Can you share some definite advantages of operating it?
MB: We focus on user interface and usability. And that’s what our users love about our platform. For example, we have our own Visa debit card that you can load funds to by using bitcoin. And you can manage every single operation through our platform and mobile app. You can check your balance and your transactions on both environments (desk and mobile), load funds to your card, and request a new one. It’s a very friendly UI. And we also focus on support. That’s something I got from my father and grandfather. They own a wholesale business in Buenos Aires and they always used to tell me that the relationship with the customer was the most important thing. And we try to apply that to a tech startup with the obvious differences of a physical wholesale business in the middle of the city.
We try to make our platform easy for the Average Joe, although bitcoin itself it’s still difficult to use. But as I told you, we focus on user interface and usability. That’s the core of our business: to make it as easy as we can for people to use bitcoin. That’s why we have a fixed price and not an order book, or “bids” and “asks”: you don’t need to know about finances to use bitcoin or at least you shouldn’t need to.
JG: Interesting. What do you think Bitcoin needs to become a more prominent and reliable form of payment? What’s preventing it from going mainstream?
MB: My mother don’t know what bitcoin is, although his son has a bitcoin company. We are far away from going mainstream. But it was the same when the internet came up: the early adopters knew a lot about protocols, TCP/IP, etc. But as the ecosystem started to grow, people around the world started to add layer over layer until we reached the iPhone and its amazing easy to use interface. We are still a few years away from that. But it will come sooner or later. It will happen faster than it would have 15 years ago, because of the internet itself: people from all over the world are now interacting in a way that we still don’t get it but it is a powerful driving force.
JG: How do you think Bitcoin will affect the Asian market in particular?
MB: I understand that the remittances market is huge in Asia, with India, China and the Philippines as key players. Bitcoin is disrupting this market, lowering fees and making it easier for companies to send and receive money in just a few minutes.
JG: What can you say about online gambling laws and cryptocurrency legality and regulation?
MB: Regulation will come, whether we like it or not. I hope that regulators don’t step on our heads and let us develop this amazing new way of sending value online.
JG: Do you think a superior altcoin will supersede Bitcoin in the near future?
MB: The technological jump made by the creation of bitcoin and the Blockchain comes once every 15, 20 years. It is similar to the invention of the internet itself. There will be a superior alternative to bitcoin, but not by changing a few things to the existing technology.
JG: My favorite question to ask, do you have a Bitcoin price prediction?
MB: No. Every bitcoin prediction I made was wrong haha. Ask my friend Martin, he is not very happy at the moment haha!
JG: What can we expect from SatoshiTango in the near future?
MB: You’ll be hearing about us for sure. We have expansion plans…we are developing our European platform with prices quoted in EUR. You will be able to buy and sell bitcoin and request a debit card in EUR. Also we plan to add new features to the existing platform, like the possibility to pay your bills with bitcoins. We are a multiservice platform that uses bitcoin to reach every country in the world.
JG: Finally, for those who don’t get Bitcoin, do you have any suggestions?
MB: Bitcoin is going to change everything we know about money, value and the financial system. You don’t need to understand the way it works. My grandmother uses Facebook and she knows nothing about TCP/IP. But know this: you will be using bitcoin in the future without even knowing. Bitcoin is a game changer.
I would like to thank to our customers in Asia for trusting us. We have many people from Asia requesting our debit card and we would like to have even more.
JG: Thank you very much, Matías.