High Finance Takes On Peer-To-Peer With Roolo P2P Bitcoin Trading Platform

May 3, 2015 10:58 UTC

Peer to peer bitcoin trading site Roolo was launched in February 2015, aiming to be the world’s fastest, safest and most inexpensive p2p bitcoin trading site. Based in London, Roolo is owned and operated by experienced professionals who have spent considerable time in traditional finance.

Roolo features multisig wallet technology, with instant transfers and fees of 0.5% on one side of the trade only, making the platform half the cost of LocalBitcoins.

Roolo offers only ‘on the blockchain’ transactions, which ensures that bitcoins are never mixed and are always visible.

Roolo has partnered with San Francisco based Block.io so that any coins transferred from a Block.io green address will be instantly confirmed on Roolo. Coins purchased on the site are instantly confirmed and can be transferred to a private wallet without delay. Roolo was conceived and developed by Anthony Culligan and Nicholas Pennington.

Pennington hails from financial services with a history in technology development and implementation, as well as experience trading derivatives, risk management and hedge fund analysis. Pennington has experience coding as a trader dealing in real time with institutional capital at risk.

CCN spoke with Roolo CEO Anthony Culligan, who began his career as a programmer in the 80s, having deployed his skills in traditional finance as a quantitative fund manager, derivatives trader and an investor in complex hedge funds. He has worked as a director at Rober Fleming Securities, JP Morgan and Aida Capital, as well as CEO of F&C Partners.

Pennington and Culligan had a clear vision when forming the p2p platform. According to Roolo’s website:

The vision is to create environments where real people can come together and trade freely with each other in an atmosphere of trust and without the need for an intermediating institution.

What is the goal of Roolo?

The goal of Roolo.io is to bring together buyers and sellers of bitcoin and to provide an evironment where they can build trust and trade between themselves.  We aim to be the cheapest, fastest and safest peer to peer bitcoin trading site.  To do this we will engage with the p2p community, understand what their needs are and relentlessly improve our services to meet those needs.

A wider goal is to stimulate the adoption of bitcoin in the world of traditional finance. With this in mind we are running a series of talks in the City.  (See Bitcoin in the City)

Why did you choose to build a p2p trading site over a centralized model?

The most interesting aspects of bitcoin is that it is p2p.  It defines ownership as control of the private key or keys. Centralised exchanges, while they can provide apparent quick changes in ownership, do not transfer ownership until the user withdraws their coins or their cash. In reality this can take days!  Centralised exchanges also disintermediate bitcoin owners so that they do not have to address p2p trust and identity.  We found this to be a compelling and interesting problem to work with and one which has a much bigger and broader reward in the long term. Finally, as a business a centralised exchange currently has a single point of failure – ie its payment provider.  We did not want to take that business risk.

Could you tell us a bit about the evolution of the Roolo Brand?

The foundation of the Roolo brand is that we believe in bitcoin as a concept as well as a technology.  We embrace the social aspect of bitcoin and are loud and proud about them.  We are liberal at heart and believe that uncensored access to a payments system is a good thing that will stimulate person to person relationships globally and will forge a powerful network of human interdependence.  This far outweighs the impact of bad actors who, historically, have relied upon isolation of their populations to maintain their power.  Overall its a force for good and we want our brand to be associated with that.

With respect to our name, we started life as ‘uBTCx’.  We had two ‘brand changing’ experiences.  We hired a penetration testing firm to black hat test our site.  They hacked the wrong site.  Even our suppliers could not remember our name!  Second, a friend half joking tried to actually phonetically pronounce the name over dinner and ended up emitting small food particles.  We knew it was time to change.

What did you learn via the branding experience? Why did you wish to stay away from the words “bit” and “coin” in your name?

We went to the list of exchanges on the BitcoinAverage site. (There are about 50 or so publishing data).  Any name that contained or ‘coin’ ‘x’ or ‘bit’ was simply camouflaged in the list. We resolved that we needed something which was memorable, stood out and was pleasant to articulate.  We used Proof of Work, the media consultants to help us get to Roolo.  We are very happy with it.

Where does Roolo derive from?

Roolo is the phonetic version of rouleau or roll and can be used to describe a roll of coins. The logo contains a little representation of a roll of coins and the

What does Roolo allow bitcoiners to do?

It allows bitcoiners to trade trade bitcoins safely between each other using whatever currency and settlement method they agree between themselves. The site will hold the bitcoins during the transaction and release them to the buyer when both parties agree that the fiat payment has been made.

How is Roolo a step forward for P2P technology?

Roolo is focused on deploying the best, latest and fastest technology to the process of p2p. For example; Roolo has full multisig wallets on site.  We use block.io as the wallet provider. We provide each user with two keys, we keep two keys and block.io has one. The ‘shared’ multisig wallet requires 3 of 5 to move coins. In the event that either Roolo or Block.io failed, there would be sufficient keys to move the coins to an alternative wallet.

Roolo will shortly be providing private multisig wallets. These will require the user to sign in browser for coins to be moved. In effect they are external wallets that will not be under our control.

We will also be providing 2 of 3 multisig escrow accounts where we will hold a single arbitration key. One key will be given to the seller and one to the buyer.  For properly completed transactions, neither the coins or the fiat will ever be in our control.

We currently work with greenaddresses provided by block.io. That means all coins instantly confirm as they move through our site.  If a user has an independent block.io wallet the instant confirm extends to movements into and out of the site.

How importance is transparency, speed and trust to the Roolo platform?

All movements of client coins are ‘on the blockchain’. That means that we never mix client coins into omnibus accounts and there is full transparency through any blockchain browser.

The greenaddress facility gives us blistering speed.

We will be implementing ‘quickaddresses’ which will be a conduit address between counterparties that deal frequently. Sending coins to a quickaddress will automatically trigger a trade.  When this is implemented we expect to set new world records for p2p speed.

How does it all work?

It works fantastically. We are always improving so – you can see our direction.  We have spent our first 8 weeks of public release listening to clients and are working hard on pushing out new features in response.

What else is Roolo involved in?

We are ardent supporters of the bitcoin ecosystem and spend a lot of time looking at what other people are doing.  We tweet and support other companies when we like what they are doing. We are big supporters of Bitrated, purse.io, Bitreserve, Changetip and many others.  It is our view that the more innovation there is, the more embedded bitcoin becomes and the stronger its future will be for all of us.

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