Nicolas Katan On His Cryptocurrency Vision: Simplicity
Cryptocurrency advocate and analyst, growth hacker
No matter how complicated the theories behind it may be, money is one thing to most people: simple.
People Need Money to Just Work
You have a plastic card or two; you deal in cash and coins; if you have $20 in your wallet, you know what it represents (a movie for two, date at McDonald’s, a few vape refills, whatever you want). Massive efforts have been made over the past decades to make spending money easier: from checks to credit cards, ATMs everywhere, online payments and transfers, contactless payments…
Still, that’s only for the lucky ones. In many parts of the world, that kind of simple access to money is only a dream, and one that’s not likely to come true given how little interest traditional players show in making progress there. And so many people remain unbanked, unable to access either loans or cash, and held back in their economic development because of it.
For many in the cryptocurrency world, solving that problem is one of their goals. But despite having existed for over 10 years now, no one could say that cryptocurrency has even gotten close, let alone arrived at, the level of simplicity that money enjoys in developed economies. In fact, the argument can be made that things are only getting more complex: after all, in the beginning, there was just Bitcoin, while today there are thousands of cryptoassets.
That complexity is one big reason why the vast majority of mainstream investors haven’t gotten on board with cryptocurrency - even in an investing world that was desperate for better returns, even before the coronavirus sparked the current recession.
Many who deal with crypto on a daily basis recognize the problem.
For example, Binance has added
the ability to buy cryptocurrencies directly with Visa, and MasterCard. Changelly
is targeted to provide a simple and secure way to buy crypto. Coinbase even pays
for those who want to learn about crypto.
I interviewed about the topic Nicolas Katan, CEO of Bitit
, one of the cryptocurrency platforms from France.
They claim their mission is to let users access crypto seamlessly
, no matter a level of expertise. And Nicolas noted that most cryptocurrency solutions force their users to work much too hard:
“You’ve got to be familiar with blockchain technology, put in a lot of effort to navigate and try to understand how to use the exchanges. And if you aren’t really tech-savvy, you won’t even get past step 1. Just because you’re not comfortable with all that, does it mean you should be left out of the digital banking revolution? We don’t think so.”
Answering my question of whether it is possible to crypto space to include friendliness as a feature, Nicolas said:
“It’s not about the object, it’s about frictions. We’ve got to reduce the number of steps people need to take, and we’ve got to make the process actually friendly for users. All the old sites were made for enthusiasts and specialists, in a lot of ways they didn’t want newcomers to have an easy time. They figured they’d had to learn it all, others should too. But you’re never going to democratize access to cryptocurrency like that. The future of crypto isn’t in unfriendly products.”
Which measurable metrics that can reflect simplicity did you achieve so far?
"The platform is having a wide range of available cryptoassets (over 50 at the time of writing), accepting multiple payment methods (including credit/debit cards but also Neosurf and Cashlib vouchers which can be bought using cash in over 150K locations around the world), and an increasing number of local currencies accepted (15+ currently). And it’s all presented in a simple, ergonomic online interface (which will be available this year as an app as well)."
Why did they decide to take this path?
“We’re French, we like it when things are pretty. We hate bureaucracy and red tape, because we’ve dealt with it our whole lives. So as entrepreneurs, the goal was simple: we had a concept that we loved, we were in crypto from the very early days. And we wanted to deliver a product that people actually enjoyed using, while still doing everything needed in terms of compliance.”
What will help to facilitate the movement between traditional money and cryptocurrencies?
Speed and security are the keys here, which is made more difficult by the negative attitude toward cryptocurrency held by many major corporations and financial institutions. We’ve worked really hard on building partnerships with banks, providers and regulators - if you don’t have all 3, it’ll be really hard to satisfy a broad base of customers.
Can you point to an example of what exact actions you are taking to comply with regulators?
Bitit has been taking the necessary steps to comply with France’s PACTE law of 22 November 2019, meaning they’ll soon be one of the first fully regulated platforms in France.
After all, if anything is the future of cryptocurrency (hopefully, at least!), it’s that broad base: not a world populated only by specialists and the technically-inclined, but instead one that provides clean, easy-to-use experiences to users around the world.
Disclaimer: I have a vested interest in Binance, because I hodl their BNB tokens, I don't have any vested interests in any other mentioned projects.
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