Blockchain Bank Bitwala Takes On Transferwise & Western Union

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Bitwala Marketing Manager Robert Harrison on why the startup has decided to use the most interesting technology breakthrough & what the future of Blockchain holds for banking.

How would you describe Bitwala in a few words?

Bitwala is a Blockchain Bank bridging the gap between cryptocurrencies and the old fiat system and combining the strong aspects from both worlds. Our services range from international money transfer, cryptocurrency to a prepaid bitcoin card, bitcoin wallet and much more.

Blockchain Bank Bitwala Takes On Transferwise & Western UnionHow are the services of a blockchain bank different from those of money intermediaries, say Transferwise or Western Union?

Transferwise has a strong business model and has had great success with it, but it’s not perfect. The idea behind Transferwise is that all outgoing and incoming transfers into and from all countries will be balanced out in the end so that no money really needs to be sent internationally. This doesn’t work all the time so Transferwise needs to substitute some of its currencies. This is not the case for Bitwala. We utilize the Blockchain and other crypto technologies to transfer money around the world the fastest and cheapest way possible.

Western Union is well-known for its cash to cash money transfer system. This is not an area where Bitwala wants to move in because we believe the future lies in digital money and fair access to a bank account for everybody.

The Blockchain is a hyped technology with few grasping its full potential. How would you explain it to a layman?

The Blockchain technology allows people and companies worldwide to work together without the need to trust and control each other. Blockchain is a decentralized ledger system that takes note of all transfers and can’t be manipulated by any party. This allows new partnerships to grow extremely fast.

Your aim is to open banking, making it faster and cheaper. Personally, how do you imagine the future of banking and money transfers?

We believe in a future where the access to banking services isn’t a question of where you live or in which country you were born. This isn’t a given for around 2 billion people worldwide. Having access to banking services is absolutely necessary for everybody to be able to escape poverty and to start a business. The Blockchain technology can offer banking without a “bank” in between and therefore making, for example, fund transfers between users fast and safe at a minimal cost.

With other banking services like N26 and Transferwise on the market, the competition appears to be fierce. What makes Bitwala stand out of the crowd? What is the key differentiator?

Bitwala has decided to use the most interesting technology breakthrough since the Internet changes the way banking is done from the ground up. Most of our competitors are only improving on an exciting technology to make minor changes. We are not saying that N26 and other companies are not doing a good job but the race is not over.

Are you using Bitwala internally? How does that affect the viewpoints in the development team?

Everybody at Bitwala is using our service to some extent and this is very important to us because we need the direct feedback from the team and our user base to improve all aspects of our service. Several members of our development team are using our service very frequently to send funds back home to their loved ones.

What is the biggest challenge that the company has faced?

Because we are using one of the most progressive technologies it isn’t easy to find great talent to achieve our vision with. Furthermore, the legal regulations are lagging behind the technology. We had and still have to invest time and money to work with the government to clear the way for the use of the Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Only now – two years later – we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and are heading towards a great future for both, Blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

What is the most memorable moment throughout the history of Bitwala?

Before we set out with the creation of Bitwala we had a lot of talks with existing banks and payment providers to test our concept and idea. The response wasn’t as expected, to say the least. After two years, we have processed tens of millions of Euros and other currencies for our 30.000+ customers around the world. This gives us satisfaction in what we do and motivates us to strive for more. I would say that sharing this journey with our awesome team and having them by our side is the best thing.

What’s one piece of advice you can give to fellow founders for their startup?

We have benefited by working with friends that we can rely on during hard times. This has now become a vital part of finding new team members. Even though we are a startup that has to meet deadlines and work, we find time to hang out together and be there for each other. I think this is also a big part of our success and I would recommend founders to chose people they like working with because you will be spending a lot of time together.



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