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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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As of May 1, the state of Texas became the second US state to explicitly require foreign-located money transmitters (including Bitcoin exchangers and administrators) to obtain a state money transmitter license if their customers are residents of Texas. The state of New York had taken a similar stance back in March of 2011.
In no ambiguous terms, the Texas Banking Department ruling, states that:
” […] it is the Department’s position that any money transmitter who allows Texas consumers to initiate transactions through its website is subject to the licensing requirements of the Money Services Act, regardless of where the transmitter is physically located.”
Equally clear had been the state of New York Banking Department in 2011 when ruling that:
” […] there is no doubt that businesses located out-of-state are subject to the jurisdiction of the state in which they do business. […] Likewise, it is clear that businesses located out-of-state that do business Continue reading
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On March 4, 2013 I gave a talk titled just like this post at the New York City Bitcoin Meetup. The talk blurb read:
If you are a Bitcoin ecosystem participant (user, entrepreneur), you may be aware that there is a myriad of rules and regulations, at the federal, state and even international level, that may apply to you. Why? Because Bitcoin is technically a “value transfer” system, and such systems are heavily regulated to protect consumer rights and deter financial crime, including the financing of terrorism. Join us for a lively discussion of potential obstacles to the growth of the Bitcoin ecosystem.
The rather hyperbolic title attracted a few dozen very smart (and gracious) entrepreneurs and geeks, most of whom, unsurprisingly, were not aware that the United States has a very convoluted and onerous regulatory regime that can potentially stifle innovation or, at a minimum, slow down the spread of virtual peer-to-peer value transfer systems like Bitcoin. Continue reading