Today’s Q&A opportunity is with George from Satobit. He has kindly responded in regards to my questions as to what it is like to operate here in the UK and overall paints a bright picture. My aim is to share honest information on what it is like to operate in the UK, both good and bad. I feel that sharing this information will allow the Bitcoin community to address issues and with time allow the Bitcoin industry to mature.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is George Lloyd and I am a software engineer by heart and a businessman/entrepreneur by day. Most of my youth from a very young age revolved around tinkering with my C64 and later on, Amiga. I spent a few years after college working in accounts offices, I figured it was the best route to learn how businesses “tick”.. knowing that I would start my own one day. I then moved on to complete a degree in Software Engineering and started a web & software development company with my childhood Commodore-buddy, that was 10 years ago. Today that company is still running and using the experienced gained I believe satoBit is a smooth and secure platform.
Have you any involvement in the cryptocurrency scene and how has it shaped you and your business?
I first discovered Bitcoin in late 2012, by early 2013 I was playing about with mining and transacting, also Litecoin which was more accessible for someone to mine and play around with at the time. By mid-2013 I could not stop thinking about digital currencies, every day I was testing something or writing notes. I use Stack Exchange, Reddit, Twitter and in the past the BTC-e Trollbox and Slashdot… these keep a steady stream news available, I try to contribute where possible – specifically UK related Bitcoin news. Unfortunately other than satoBit I have not committed any code to the crypto community though I do contribute to the BTC/LTC/NMC networks.
How did satoBit come to be?
A couple of years ago I was an active localbitcoins.com trader, I’d often be helping people set up with bitcoin and putting their mind at ease… LBC is great but its not ideal for newbies. Finally a good business idea that would be viable – locally available gift vouchers for bitcoin. The aim was to create a service that is useful for complete technophobes and tech geeks alike and it worked, our range of customers is diverse.
Do you feel it is currently easy enough to procure Bitcoin and if not do you feel this is holding Bitcoin back from reaching mainstream adoption?
If you know what you are doing and are comfortable with it then it is easy to buy bitcoin in the UK. But, even the screen-glued youth of today aren’t going to hop onto localbitcoins.com and feel comfortable first time. The problem is with our banking, with no domestic transfers available to exchanges the only option is to use peer-to-peer sites like BitBargain, LocalBitcoins and Bittylicious.. even Coinfloor have had to adopt this method. This makes bitcoin relatively expensive in the UK and removes a layer of protection. Yes, it’s holding the UK back!
How do you feel your service can help those who wish to purchase Bitcoin?
Simple. It makes it simple. Tangible, fast, flexible and about as fool-proof as is possible but still caters for experienced users too. The minimum purchase is £10 and you can receive your bitcoin instantly – if you wish. One of the things that pleases me most when looking at our customer data is to see a customer buy a single £10 voucher and redeem it to their mobile or email (thus creating a wallet for them) and then returning another day to purchase more – redeeming directly to a bitcoin address. Welcome to Bitcoin, new user. We also have savvy customers who load up on vouchers over time and redeem when the price is low, these customers know what they are doing and use the service as an instant way to get cheap bitcoin 24/7 when there’s a dip in price. Finally we have unbanked immigrant customers who use our service and bitcoin to avoid heavy fees charged by the likes of Western Union when sending money home.
What hardships have you faced if any by operating in the Bitcoin industry here at the UK?
Local MP = Awesome.
Government = Open, rational, encouraging, interested.
HMRC/Treasury = Awesome.
Banks. What banks? Banking in the UK is not possible for Bitcoin companies at all, it is the missing piece and it needs to be forcibly resolved by the government. It is a major issue stifling growth.
In your personal opinion, where do you see the Bitcoin industry in a few years from now?
That is a really hard question to answer. There are so many hats you could wear to answer that question and each one would produce a different scenario. I have spent 2 years thinking about this topic, as a businessman looking for opportunity but also as a bit of an idealist longing for more freedom – Bitcoin, or digital currencies, are fruit for the entire globe no matter what your background or where you are. It seems to me that after 7 years it is impossible that this “thing” does not have multiple applications around the globe. Blockchains are sure to play a major part.
I will however throw in a personal prediction, why not. Within 3-6 years we will have settled on a select few blockchains for public usage. Governments and institutions will certainly have private blockchains too. Each public blockchain will have it’s mining incentive (maybe in different forms) and each blockchain will have a bias towards a specific purpose while still retaining a general consensus amongst blockchains on the most part – i.e. a lot of shared code. It makes sense to me that we’ll have an Asset Chain, an ID/Record Chain, a Currency Chain, a Storage Chain and a Computational Chain. You could analogise those to Bitcoin, Namecoin, Litecoin, Storj and Ethereum right now but we are sure to see a continuing flow of new blockchains and the strongest ones will win.
Do you feel it is favourable to operate here in the UK?
Aside from the banks it is perfect here in the UK. Our government really seems to “get it” and to push London and the UK in the global Fintech market they need to understand it. The floodgates will open when banking allows Bitcoin businesses here.
Have you anything you wish to add?
Horde/HODL if you like – but spend it too! You can always buy more. Bitcoin isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, it’s a fantastically useful tool that we’ve only scratched the surface of so far. Be a part of the future, use your coins – even if you’re just buying pizza on takeaway.com 🙂