A few days ago, I managed to get a hold of Safello CEO Frank Schuil, and he agreed to a small written interview with CryptoArticles. In the light of the recent turmoil surrounding Bitcoin exchanges, we thought it would be a good idea to get the opinion of an actual exchange’s CEO. Here is what we discussed via e-mail.
Name of the interviewer : JP , name of the interviewee : FS (Frank Schuil)
JP : Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions Mr. Schuil. First of all, allow me to wish you a belated Happy New Year from everyone here at CryptoArticles. On to the first question I wanted to ask: Have you noticed any particular trends during 2014? This could be ranging from the amount of (active) users on the platform to the amount of Bitcoin being bought or sold, or anything that comes to mind?
FS : The Bitcoin market and price developed in opposite direction. Where many startups received funding and big names like Microsoft started accepting bitcoins, the price kept steady-state. Safello’s volume took a dive in January 2014, but unlike the market we have seen a steady increase of our volume throughout the year since then. Of course we would rather see the entire market go up, but for us those numbers count. The problem we do phase is a potential delayed adoption due to the Mt Gox and recent Bitstamp hack. Although us insiders know what is what, the average joe takes tokes events at face value reaffirming that Bitcoin is not to be trusted.
JP : Would you agree that Bitcoin has been less volatile in price during 2014 compared to previous years, or are you seeing a different trend emerge?
FS : Assessing any timeline other than the logarithmic scale since 2009 is foolish. Long term Bitcoin is still on its exponential upward trend, although admittedly its on its lowest band right now. The price will not be stable for years to come, but services like Coinapult LOCKS provide a great way to practically counter that.
JP : We have noticed Safello managed to secure a strategic partnership with a UK bank in order to service customers in the United Kingdom. Have those efforts paid off so far, and is there anything more you can tell us regarding this partnership?
FS : Other than what has been disclosed in the press release I cannot share much more. We are in a rather unique position and it has been all eyes on us since the launch. My inbox was piling with competitors congratulating me while reminding me that this relationship will soon come to an end. Time will tell. Currently the United Kingdom is growing the fastest in terms of Safello’s user base as UK bitcoiners find their way to our Faster Payments, CHAPS and BACS support.
JP : What about customers from other countries? Has there been an increase or decrease in users from certain parts of the Europe, or are things at a comfortable status quo in that regard?
FS : Currently we support 32 countries through common European payment methods like SEPA. It’s easy to state that you support this many countries and many do, but it is harder to actually penetrate the markets as you need to localise your platform. In the UK we definitely hit a sweet spot with this and during 2015 we plan to expand on these efforts as we have gained a deeper understanding on how to tackle this.
JP : In regards to daily operations at Safello, what have been some of the most and least fun moments in 2014?
FS : Fun moments: gettings funding, launching the website, releasing new products and partnerships and the occasional Bitcoin conference. Not too pleasant moments: seeing your competitors destroy bank relationships, having to deal with fraudsters and major market set backs like Mt Gox.
JP : Even though 2015 has only just begun, I’m sure Safello has a plan in place in order to become a bigger and better exchange. Can you tell us anything about those plans at this time?
FS : We plan to support more local markets. And as pre-announced at Sthlm Tech we will launch a wallet. This will be on a first-come-first-served basis, so I do recommend claiming your spot on the waiting list (https://safello.com/wallet). Aside from that, we continue to do out-of-the-box things like the donation pages (https://safello.com/donate), the bitcoin news page (https://safello.com/news) and the learn page (https://safello.com/learn) to keep things interesting for us and our users.
JP : How do you envision Bitcoin, and potentially other cryptocurrencies in 2015? Or what are your hopes for these currencies in 2015?
FS : Frankly it could go either way. We are not off to a good start with Bitstamp dropping the ball much like Mt Gox last year. At the same time, much of the investment money has now been put to use to build great products that should go live in 2015. This is also true for some of the stronger altcoins like Ethereum. Until one of the altcoins changes the game by a factor 10 and gets the community behind it I don’t see any threat to Bitcoin though. Personally I am more intrigued by initiatives like Blockstream and Strawpay that try to leverage the existing infrastructure and build on top of or around the blockchain. Once the velocity of money increases a clear winner will stand up. Right now there is no contender to Bitcoin.
JP : Will Safello be represented at any of the Bitcoin conferences this year? Or are you planning to attend one or multiple conferences yourself?
FS : Absolutely. In May we will be at Collision in Las Vegas and in February I will give a TEDx talk in Stockholm. In Europe we plan to attend the largest Bitcoin conferences.
JP : Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers at CryptoArticles.com?
FS : For those of you who are trying out Safello, please us know what you like and dislike. You can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or me personally via frank at safello dot com. And now, to the moon!
The entire CryptoArticles team would like to thank Mr. Schuil fort aking the time to answer ou auestions, and we wish Safello the best of luck for 2015!