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Interviews

This category contains 9 posts

“My Taxes Pay Regulators, so I Expect Them to Treat Me With Respect”

[Reading Time: 9 minutes]

Interview with Aaron Greenspan, Harvard graduate, original creator of “The Facebook,” payments innovator, and autodidact non-lawyer.  (PART THREE)

Aaron was generous both in his time and in his responses, which led me to split the interview into three parts:  In PART ONE: REGULATION AND INNOVATION IN THE UNITED STATES, Aaron talks about United States money transmitters laws and identifies, with unusual clarity and depth, what he believes is wrong with them.

In PART TWO: BITCOIN, COMMUNISM AND THE SURVEILLANCE STATE, Aaron lays out his controversial point of view on Bitcoin.

Read on for PART THREE: A YOUNG FINTECH ENTERPRENEUR’S DAY OF RECKONING, the final and most controversial one, in which Aaron has no qualms about naming and shaming some of the individuals that have not “treated him with respect.”  Again, here is a brief intro on Aaron, for the benefit of those who haven’t read the previous posts.

Having been a teen tech entrepreneur, during college at Harvard in 2003 Aaron created the predecessor to Facebook, Inc., which also happened to be called “The Facebook.”  In 2009, he entered into a settlement Continue reading

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“Bitcoiners Are Repeating Forgotten History, and Are Accordingly Doomed”

[Reading Time: 8 minutes]

Interview with Aaron Greenspan, Harvard graduate, original creator of “The Facebook,” payments innovator, and autodidact non-lawyer.  (PART TWO)

Aaron was generous both in his time and in his responses, which led me to split the interview into three parts.  In PART ONE: REGULATION AND INNOVATION IN THE UNITED STATES, Aaron talks about United States money transmission laws and identifies, with uncommon clarity and depth, what he believes to be wrong with them.

Read on for Aaron’s point of view on Bitcoin, preceded by the intro to the first post for the benefit of those who haven’t read it, yet.

Having been a teen tech entrepreneur, during college at Harvard in 2003 Aaron created the predecessor to Facebook, Inc., which also happened to be called “The Facebook.”  In 2009, he entered into a settlement agreement with Facebook, Inc. as well as his classmate Mark Zuckerberg, and then had the opportunity to figure out what he wanted to do next, so he followed a long-standing interest in payment Continue reading

“US Money Transmission Laws Are Worthless and Unconstitutional”

[Reading Time: 10 minutes]

Interview with Aaron Greenspan, Harvard graduate, original creator of “The Facebook,” payments innovator, and autodidact non-lawyer.  (PART ONE)

Having been a teen tech entrepreneur, during college at Harvard in 2003 Aaron created the predecessor to Facebook, Inc., which also happened to be called “The Facebook.”  In 2009, he entered into a settlement agreement with Facebook, Inc. as well as his classmate Mark Zuckerberg, and then had the opportunity to figure out what he wanted to do next, so he followed a long-standing interest in payment systems and decided to try and tackle mobile payments.  From 2008 through early 2011, he invested essentially every piece of time, energy and capital at his disposal into making his payments initiative, called FaceCash, widely regarded as a success—until he was told that he would be thrown in federal prison by a state bureaucrat.

As you will soon see, to say that Aaron does not mince his words is the understatement of the century, so I am aware of the risks I am taking by presenting his strong point of view here. However, even Continue reading

“Bitcoin Is the Perfect Way to Transfer Money Globally”

[Reading Time: 8 minutes]

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

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

[Reading Time: 8 minutes]

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

“Compliance-Enabled Legitimacy is Key to Bitcoin’s Survival”

[Reading Time: 9 minutes]

Interview with Megan Burton, founder and CEO of CoinX

Early last month, at a Bitcoin pitch contest organized by Ultra Light Startups, the winner, Atlanta-based CoinX, beat the competition by a landslide.  To be precise, the show-stealer was actually Megan Burton, its founder and CEO.  John Frankel, partner of venture-capital firm ff Venture Capital, one of the three expert judges in the panel, said to me: “It was a strong presentation.  She came across as someone who has done her homework and her strategy seems sound.”

Megan, whom I was delighted to meet in person last week at the Inside Bitcoins conference in New York City, has graciously agreed to an interview.  Enjoy!

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

Megan: My background is in internet and payments security.  I first came across Bitcoin in the spring of 2012, when reading an article on the BBC website about a foreign currency exchange that had been shut down as a result of a security breach.  Nothing out of the ordinary, except that this breach had been due to an encryption Continue reading

Bitcoiners In Denial + Compliance Just the Beginning (Redux)

[Reading Time: 4 minutes] 

For the benefit of those whose low tolerance for verbosity may have caused them to miss my insights-laden interview with David Landsman, Executive Director of the National Money Transmitters Association, the industry’s leading advocate for the rights of state-licensed US money transmitters, I have abridged it considerably and converted it into a more digestible format.

In PART ONE of the interview, David talked about the image problems that all money transmitters have in the United States, the fragmented regulatory regime and the likelihood of a federal license, now that the Bitcoin community has begun to join the fray.

In PART TWO David offered his strong viewpoint on US banks, federal and state regulators.  Also, he provided more details about the legal and PR efforts in fighting the closing of accounts, including anti-trust, administrative and civil rights causes of action.

On the fragmented US regulatory regime and the likelihood of a federal license Continue reading

“Bitcoiners Must Understand that Compliance is Just the Beginning”

[Reading Time: 15 minutes] 

Interview with David Landsman, Executive Director of the National Money Transmitters Association (NMTA) – PART TWO

Longer post than usual, I’m aware, but well worth it –the closing of bank accounts, the Bitcoin Foundation Cease & Desist Order from California…  David comments on it all and gives links to valuable resources!

In PART ONE, David talked about the image problems that all money transmitters have in the United States, the fragmented regulatory regime and the likelihood of a federal license, now that the Bitcoin community has joined the fray.

Read on for David’s strong viewpoint on US banks –very timely, given the increasing closing of Bitcoin operator accounts in the US–, and the reasons why many legal and PR efforts in fighting the closing of accounts have so far been fruitless.

PART TWO Continue reading

“Most Bitcoiners Are Unaware or In A State of Deep Denial”

[Reading Time: 8 minutes]

Interview with David Landsman, Executive Director of the National Money Transmitters Association (NMTA) – PART ONE

In the past couple of weeks I have noticed in my conversations with cryto-preneurs a growing, yet begrudging acceptance of the inevitability of having to comply with United States regulation if their ventures are to be viable.  However, many remain unperturbed and some even defiant.

After writing extensively on America’s convoluted regulatory regime, and the challenges ahead for Bitcoin entrepreneurs, this week I thought I would seek the thoughts and opinions of someone I respect a lot, who knows the money transmitter industry inside out, and who has for decades advocated for regulatory rationality and fair play –David Landsman, head of the National Money Transmitters Association, a U.S. industry advocacy group for small and medium-sized operators who toil through some of the same issues as the Bitcoin community is facing today. Continue reading

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