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Juan Llanos

Innovative compliance, operations and technology executive leveraging emerging technologies, management and leadership best practices (and, above all, common sense!) to empower businesses and compliance professionals for success.
Juan Llanos has written 51 posts for Juan's Blog

“Bitcoin Is the Perfect Way to Transfer Money Globally”

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Interview with Alan Safahi, founder and CEO of ZipZap

Last July, at the Inside Bitcoins conference in New York City, one speaker in particular made a comment that caused the loudest round of applause in the entire conference when he said: “This country was founded on a separation of church and state.  I think we should also add separation of bank and state.”  It was Alan Safahi, founder and CEO of ZipZap, Inc., a San Francisco-based start-up that aims to revolutionize international money transfers around the world.

Alan has graciously accepted to talk about his company, his vision and the future of digital currencies.

Juan: Please tell us about your background and how you got involved with Bitcoin.

Alan: I am a serial entrepreneur with 28+ years of experience with several start-ups under my belt in technology, telecommunications and financial services.  I was an early adopter in the evolution of prepaid cards in the 1990s, so I have been part of the problem for the longest time!  I got involved with Bitcoin in 2010 and have since been a vocal supporter and activist of digital currencies. I currency sit on the Advisory Board Continue reading

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2013-12-01 Crypto-Timeline

Here is a log with relevant legal, regulatory, law enforcement and business risk milestones in the crypto-currency race to maturity with links to trusted sources.

The  Key November 2013 Crypto-Events were:

“If Bitcoin Startups Don’t Self-Regulate, Government Regulation Could Get Insane and Hurt the Industry”

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Interview with Sebastián Serrano, founder and CEO of BitPagos

One of the highlights of this year for me has been to meet Sebastián Serrano, an unassuming yet deeply intelligent and highly confident young entrepreneur from Argentina who is determined to grab Latin America’s e-commerce and payments system by the horns.  And not let go until it’s completely upside down.  Read on for Sebastián’s insights on the big payments problem facing Latin America, his experience incubating BitPagos in Silicon Valley, and the challenges facing crypto-preneurs.

Juan: Please tell us about your background and how you got involved with Bitcoin.

Sebastián: I’m a software developer and entrepreneur.  Before BitPagos I ran devsAr, a software development company that provided services to technology ventures around the world.  I’ve known about Bitcoin for a few years now. I was initially intrigued by its amazing technology and started mining a little bit last year.  I bought bitcoins for the first time early this year when the price was at around $30, unfortunately not as many as I should have.  I grew up in Patagonia, southern Argentina, and have lived and worked near Buenos Continue reading

2013-11-01 Crypto-Timeline

Here is a log with relevant legal, regulatory, law enforcement and business risk milestones in the crypto-currency race to maturity with links to trusted sources.

The  Key October 2013 Crypto-Events were:

Bitcoin Vegas Coming Out Party

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This week history was made in Las Vegas when, for the first time ever, digital currency entrepreneurs prominently showcased themselves at Money2020, the largest payments and financial services technology conference in the world.  CoinX, Bitpay, Kraken, Blockchain.info and Coinbase had booths on the expo floor and a lot of digital currency investors and entrepreneurs were in attendance, notably Nejc Kodric and Damijan Merlak of Bitstamp, Stan Stalnaker of Ven/Hub Culture, Gabriel Sukenik of Coinapult, and Meyer “Micky” Malka of Ribbit Capital.  See photos below.

As expected, the event was largely dominated by traditional players, and only three of over one hundred panels were directly related to Bitcoin and virtual currencies, which qualifies as a drop in the ocean.   However, the words “bitcoin”, “ripple”, “digital” and “currency” were heard everywhere both in and out of the formal sessions, especially in connection with two other key words: regulation and disruption.

Here are a few things that stuck in my mind:

  • In the panel “Bitcoin & Beyond: Math-Based & Virtual Currencies”, masterfully moderated by Continue reading

2013-10-01 Crypto-Timeline

Here is a log with relevant legal, regulatory, law enforcement and business risk milestones in the crypto-currency race to maturity with links to trusted sources.

The  Key September 2013 Crypto-Events were:

Please point me to any events that you consider important and would like to see on the log.

For ease of tracking I’ve decided on the following discrete categories to classify all events:

  1. Banking: Refers to decisions made or stances taken by banks and other traditional financial Continue reading

The Value of a Necessary Evil

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Over the past few years, I have been polling compliance professionals around the world, anonymously, of course, on how compliance and risk management are treated by their senior management within their organizations.  Consistently and overwhelmingly, the preponderance of responses has fallen on the A side:

A

B

A huge burden

A bearable burden

A cost

An investment

A wrench in the business engine

A lubricant in the business engine

A source of pain

A source of competitive advantage

An after-thought

A priority

A necessary evil

A valid inevitability

The truth is that, whether we acknowledge it or not, a focus on compliance and risk management has always been a hard internal sell.  Although compliance professionals are partly to blame for that, I believe most of the Continue reading

No Banking, No Bitcoin

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Last Friday’s news that the Internet Archive Federal Credit Union (IAFCU) had shut down Tradehill’s account must have sent chills down the spine of every virtual currency entrepreneur.  If it didn’t, it should. The IAFCU was supposed to be one of the few, if not the only, Bitcoin-friendly financial institution in the U.S. rescuing virtual currency exchangers from ‘banking oblivion’.  At this point, we can only speculate about the true causes of this unfortunate situation, and we certainly hope it gets resolved favorably, promptly and permanently.

Let’s hope it’s another case of entrepreneurial immaturity, as that would be the lesser evil compared to other potentially more devastating ones.  However, with all due respect to the parties involved in this particular case, there is, in general, a fine line between immaturity and stupidity; one that cannot be ignored in a nascent industry that is riddled with risks, and in which a few bad apples could set the entire industry basket back by years.  My point is: Are convertible virtual currency exchangers doing their homework?

News flash #1 to virtual currency exchangers: you are financial institutions!

Being a financial institution requires a heightened degree of governance –organization, discipline and Continue reading

2013-09-01 Crypto-Timeline

Here is a log with relevant legal, regulatory, law enforcement and business risk milestones in the crypto-currency race to maturity with links to trusted sources.

The  Key August 2013 Crypto-Events were:

Is Bitcoin Selling its Soul to the State?

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This question or some variation of it has actually been posed to me by many virtual currency enthusiasts over the past few months.  It so happens that the financial services regulations applicable to many new virtual currency businesses have been seen as impinging upon the core features that make Bitcoin so innovative and potentially disruptive.

First, the hope for complete anonymity was shattered by the statutory obligation to implement know-your-customer procedures at the currency translation points.  Second, the irrevocability of transactions was dampened by the federal consumer obligation to provide for delayed executions, cancellations and refunds.  Is financial privacy next? 

One of Bitcoin’s most salient and innovative attributes is that its block chain, the public ledger where the entire history of every transaction ever conducted is stored, is publicly viewable by anyone with the right tools.  Given this unique window into their virtual currency wallets, are Bitcoin users not at risk of giving up the right to the private use of a currency that cash affords them today?  I say at risk because it may still be possible to Continue reading

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