Blockbid COO David Sapper discusses the creation of Australia’s first regulated cryptocurrency exchange, which allows beginner retail investors and pro traders to feel safe and secure when trading multiple FIAT and crypto currencies. Blockbid are looking to support most major global FIAT currencies as well as bitcoin and the various 1,300+ cryptocurrencies which are available to trade in today’s market. The exchange is targeting a mid-year release for a full public live launch.
James West: Hey, welcome back to Midas Letter Live. My guest in this segment is David Sapper. He’s the Chief Operating Officer of Blockbid, and we’re talking to him today from Melbourne, Australia, where it’s 6:30 in the morning, David?
David Sapper: Yes, that is correct. A normal day!
James West: Right! So let’s start with an overview: what is it Blockbid does?
David Sapper: Blockbid’s goal is to help facilitate the onramp for day-to-day or pro traders, and help provide a secure platform that no matter which background you come from, whether it’s your first time to market, or whether you’ve been around before, you feel safe and secure.
James West: Okay. And this is to trade just bitcoin?
David Sapper: This is to trade multiple FIAT currencies with multiple different cryptocurrencies as well. Our goal is to facilitate our highest volume of trade across various different cryptocurrencies, anywhere from bitcoin all the way down to the various 1,300 different cryptocurrencies that are available.
James West: Wow. So do you actually, using your platform, we were checking it out, we were playing with it a little bit. So can you actually arb in real-time between these different currencies?
David Sapper: Sorry, I didn’t catch that. Arb?
James West: Arbitrate, like do arbitrage between price fluctuations between different currencies in real-time?
David Sapper: Oh, you may, using API. You can participate in arbitrage opportunities if you would like to. But in most scenarios it will allow a trader to be able to come aboard and to be able to use an on-ramp to be able to participate in a market that is not available in many other cryptocurrency exchanges at the moment.
James West: Oh, okay. So then, what are most people using your platform for? Who’s your, you know, what’s your most core customer?
David Sapper: We are going through a multi-stage rollout at the moment, and we’re really looking to attract the first-time user. We’re going to train them, explain them through videos and tutorials, and hand-hold them through the process of purchasing cryptocurrencies with FIAT, what it means for them, how do they do it, and what are the risks that are involved with it, and understanding how to store their own cryptocurrencies off our exchange as well. And as we move into more advanced situations, which will allow users to understand the market orders, understand the liquidity within the actual coin itself, various other different types of cryptos, while also having access to a news feed as well as to understand the background of that particular cryptocurrency itself.
James West: Interesting. So is it mostly Australian people who sign up to Blockbid, or do you have a global audience?
David Sapper: We do have quite a bit of interest from overseas as well, as we are looking to support seven different FIAT currencies, and that is ranging from Australian dollar to US dollar, Canadian dollar, Hong Kong dollar, Japanese yen, Euro, and pound. So it’s quite a diverse group of different overseas and different foreign interests in our exchange itself.
James West: Okay. So if I wanted to take $1,000 Australian and buy whatever I could get in bitcoin, what would the fee be for me to use your platform?
David Sapper: So if you’re coming from an overseas account, you’ll be sending it into our Australian bank accounts. You may pay an international transfer fee, which could be anywhere as low as between $0.25 to up to about $10.00, depending on your banking institution. Once it does arrive on our site and has been confirmed as well, then we will allow you to purchase bitcoin at the current price for a minimal fee of 0.1 percent.
James West: 21 percent?
David Sapper: Point one percent.
James West: 0.1 percent. I was going to say, that’s better! Okay, now, how about if I was to – so, can I use my bitcoin or FIAT wallet, do you have a wallet that goes on a smart phone?
David Sapper: The wallet is accessible to you whether you’re on a tablet, whether you’re on a smart phone or laptop, as long as you are able to pass your security questions and your security tests, such as to obey every single time you logged in. So we do hold the ability to be able to help you manage your wallets for you, and you log in like you do to Facebook, although you do have a few extra security measures that allow us to confirm that it is you, and does allow us to make sure that we feel secure about who we’re allowing onto our site as well.
James West: Okay. So being in Australia, I guess you have the burden of compliance with Australian KYCAML rules and laws, and is that built into your platform?
David Sapper: Yes. Any user that does come to our site does have to complete KYC as well. We have recently partnered up with also a fraudulent detection monitoring system, and a transaction monitoring company called ThreatMetrix. They’re an Australian-based company that was recently bought out by an American company called LexisNexis. Between them, they are providing us with full KYC and AML and CTF procedures as well, on our site.
James West: Ah. So I guess in the context of a crypto platform such as BlockBid, compliance with the rules governing both the national and the international sort of financial system regulators is key to being allowed to conduct business across borders?
David Sapper: Yes. Since its inception, BlockBid was born from a group of traders that was been trading across many different platforms and moved over to cryptocurrency in early 2016/late 2017. And we realized that there was quite a gap in the market for fully regulated cryptocurrency exchange and ones that were sort of willing to provide that peace of mind or that sense of security to their users, which was missing from all the rest of them.
And for us, working with the regulatory bodies and having the regulatory sort of oversight may, for some exchanges, seem like a bit of a pain, but for us it means that we can allow users to trade with confidence, which is our tagline, and something that we can stand behind since the inception of BlockBid.
James West: Aha. When did you get started?
David Sapper: August 2017 was the inception, the formal inception, although it was being pieced together for quite a while before that.
James West: How many users on the platform?
David Sapper: There are currently, we’ve just started our collaborative QA testing process where we’re working with beta users to understand the user stories right across our platform and help us through our rollout. We are looking on target for our mid-year release for full public live launch.
James West: Oh, okay, great. Then so, is your operation based completely in Australia?
David Sapper: Yes. It’s something that we’re very proud of. We started in Melbourne in quite a small office, probably about 30 square metres, and we’ve moved up to an office almost 10 times the size at the moment, at around 300 square metres, where we have almost the entire team working there on a day-to-day basis, and we have a support team there as well. The only part that we don’t have that’s working in the office at the moment is marketing; they currently work autonomously, under CMO Emma Hoffman.
James West: Interesting. So then, did you just conduct an ICO? Because I see you’ve got on your website, 3,518 Ether contributed and 1,810,780 BlockBid distributed. What exactly does that mean?
David Sapper: So during the process of BlockBid’s inception, while we were putting together funds to build the company itself, to raise awareness, we decided to run with an ICO. ICOs were quite hot last year, and they allowed you to build a community, and they allowed you to reach out to the community as well and share with them your idea. And the way that we sort of took the understanding what ICO was that it’s a bit of a mixture between an IPO and a Kickstarter project, to explain it in sort of quite a broad sense. And we ran an ICO between November to December, was the general sale; we did have one month of pre-sale bonus rounds right before the general sale, and we were able to raise 3,518 Ether if I remember correctly, during this two-month process.
James West: Wow, okay. Well, that’s great, David. We’re going to leave it there for now because we’ve sort of gone to our time limit, but really interested in hearing how it develops, and invite you to join us again in the future and we’ll have another conversation. Thanks so much for your time.
David Sapper: Thank you very much for your time as well.