The founders of Bitcoin startup Coinbase, Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam, are on a mission possible. Their mission is to spread Bitcoin use to the masses around the world.
It is their mission to convince the masses that Bitcoin is not some left-wing plot to bring down governments. It is their mission to end the perception that Bitcoin is a scam. It is also their mission to educate everyone that it may perhaps become the most singular invention of the 21st century. Indeed, one bit step and a giant leap for mankind.
The experience of the two co-founders puts them in good stead for this task. Fred Ehrsam is a former forex trader at Goldman Sachs. Brian Armstrong is a former software engineer at Airbnb Inc. When both of them talk about bitcoin, one can sense their enthusiasm and seriousness.
Seriousness is what enabled them to build Coinbase. Coinbase is a brokerage that enables customers to open accounts through which they can trade bitcoins and dollars on a mobile app. Their money comes from the commission fee of 1% that they take for exchanging dollar and bitcoins.
Making Bitcoin the coin of the global realm is not going to be an easy feat. Many governments around the world are still blowing hot and cold over how to handle Bitcoin. Some have been willing adopters, giving Bitcoin free rein in their jurisdictions. Others have adopted a wait-and-see approach while others are not about to wait and see, but have instead decided to ban and jail.
Bitcoin scams have not helped matters much either. When one thinks of Bitcoin scams or security scares, names like MtGox, Silk Road and lately Huobi come to mind. In addition, small time hackers and users misplacing their wallet addresses and passkeys have made others lose everything overnight. According to Armstrong and Ehrsam, the focus right now should be on making people feel safer about using Bitcoin.
Bitcoin Needs a Makeover
According Armstrong and Ehrsam, Bitcoin’s image now requires an intervention. Bitcoin can solve many of the problems that have made commerce especially on the Internet so challenging. There is the whole issue of credit card security on the Internet. In addition, huge markets globally have been locked out of online commerce due to the lack of regulatory and technological systems. These are problems that Bitcoin can solve efficiently.
Then again, the fees that are associated with credit cards are also making online commerce expensive, in contrast with the minimal fees that bitcoin transactions cost. The mission of Armstrong and Ehrsam is therefore to convince everyone that bitcoin is indeed the way to go.
Coinbase is a bitcoin startup that has received funding from Y Combinator, Union Square Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz LLC. In the first round of funding, the company got $5 million in investment. The second round the company attracted $25 million in investment from Andreessen Horowitz LLC in December 2013.
Marc Andreessen is a keen enthusiast of Bitcoin technology. According to him, it fills a yawning void that has been there on the Internet. The Internet has always needed a payment protocol that would enable anyone send money over the Internet in the same way we send email.
Images from Coinbase and Shutterstock.