This week BTCC CEO Bobby Lee was in London to discuss the recent launch of his new Bitcoin-driven mobile wallet Mobi. We caught up with the business mogul to find out more about the product.
You’re at London Blockchain Week to talk about the launch of your new e-wallet Mobi. What you are most excited about with the new product?
Mobi is a mobile wallet, it allows anyone to pay anyone globally. You can send money to anyone, anywhere in the world.
PayPal uses one currency base, but the reality is you are going to want to send money to people all over the world. PayPal doesn’t solve that problem. And it uses complicated email addresses and log ins, with Mobi you can send money to anyone with a mobile number.
The wallet contains multiple currencies that you can custom to the payments you wish to make. There are over 50 countries to choose from, which you can select and deselect if you travel from country to country.
It only take a few minutes to set up a Bitcoin wallet, which you can do either before or after you have received your first Bitcoin. That wallet is then yours for life, it is tied to your phone number. You can send money to anyone in any currency, and you can receive bitcoin from other people or via QR codes.
How long has the product been in development?
We spent the better part of last year developing the product, but it is now fully launched. We introduced the concept to the market in Las Vegas at Money20/20.
We launched the wallet on Jan 1 2017, we’ve already had 20,000 people download the app. We hit 5,000 downloads within a week and a half, 10,000 within two and a half weeks, and 20,000 in approximately three weeks, so there has been a tremendous take-up of the wallet. We’ve also seen users from 90 countries already, so it’s great to see how much we’ve grown geographically as well.
In terms of transaction costs, is the wallet a cheaper way of exchanging and sending money than its competitors?
We don’t charge anything in network, it is simply all blockchain within the Mobi network. When you convert we charge a very small fee, but the rates are much better than at services like banks.
You can give me cash and buy bitcoin in one country, and then sell the bitcoin to someone in the country you are travelling to or want to acquire currency for and this will sidestep the heavy transaction costs of exchanging money that are currently found in the marketplace. It is a great tool for tourists.
Are there any similar competitors in the market at the moment?
Nothing comes close. A lot people are developing wallets that are pure Bitcoin, or they are developing wallets that are trying to solve some of the current issues in the market only through cash currencies. We are the only wallet that is solving issues using both, so you can have money, and Bitcoin, and send them anywhere in the world.
We think that today your mobile phone number is your identity, so anyone with a mobile phone number can issue and receive payment. And you don’t even have to be a big believe in Bitcoin. You can send cash to people who are sceptical. You don’t have to be Bitcoin literate to understand, you can simply make transfers between currencies without fully understanding that Bitcoin is underpinning the system.
Can you use the wallet as a payments tool?
Today we don’t have support from merchants, but in theory I could pay a bill using the app. It would mean an individual accepting Bitcoin from me via the wallet and then paying the bill on my behalf. Which isn’t a smooth transaction, but it could be done – the bill would be settled.
As a further phase of development we will build out the network to include vendor-consumer transaction, but that will take a little time. Right now we are purely consumer-consumer. The project is to build an empire of a payment network, but it takes steps, we won’t rush what will take a good amount of development.
Do you think Bitcoin will be the premier use for blockchain technology for the foreseeable future?
Blockchain is just a technology. All it means is it’s an open distributed global ledger. Think of it as a blackboard on the wall. It’s just a space for data. The question is: “What should we write on it?” A key characteristic of blockchain is that anything that is written on it cannot be erased. If you make a mistake you can write something underneath the mistake to correct, but it doesn’t disappear. It keeps a record of everything.
And anyone can write on it. The questions here though are: “What are the consensus rules? What are you allowed to write?” And then once that is figured out, we as a society have to determine what would be the best ways to use these concepts, where can this way of storing data be most useful.
Bitcoin is the world’s first and most successful permissionless global ledger that utilises blockchain technology. We think Bitcoin is the killer app of blockchain. There may be other uses for it, but by far for most people Bitcoin will be their most useful interaction with blockchain.
Do you find yourself strongly disagreeing with other professionals who profess other ways in which blockchain technology would be more useful than Bitcoin?
I think what other people say about how they use blockchain doesn’t really matter that much. It’s their prerogative, they can use it however they want to. But I certainly believe that when the day is over, there are only certain use cases that are truly useful. It’s like using a laptop computer as a door wedge – you could, but it’s not really worthy of the craft needed to build a laptop to then use it as a door wedge.
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