Katie Graham, Tim Clark, and Sam Blackmore have a vision. They want to give everyone in New Zealand the same savings opportunities, but instead of saving cash, they want to bring cryptocurrencies to the masses.
Born in Takapuna, Sam went to school in the UK, ping ponging back and forth between there and New Zealand before officially settling in Auckland. “I have my feet in both countries, and have three very Kiwi kids.” Sam started his development company Webscope.co.nz in 2011, building custom business software, platforms, products, and native phone apps. A few years ago, Sam and his co-founders decided to create their own product, MyBitcoinSaver. It took a few years of testing the processes, developing the software, and understanding what the users wanted before officially launching in November 2016.
“We were into Bitcoin for years before we decided to create our own product around it. We saw it as this incredible technological opportunity that was going to change the world, and it is changing the world as we speak.”
Don’t believe the Naysayers
For Sam, the future of Bitcoin is bright. When I ask him about the risks, he’s pretty firm about his thoughts on how the media depict this vital cryptocurrency. “You only ever hear about Bitcoin in the media when there’s some kind of heist. Generally, it’s incredibly secure. The Bitcoin security network is greater than the computing power of Amazon and Google combined.”
So, if all we’ve heard are the negatives about Bitcoin, who really knows how it works? Sam does. “With Bitcoin, you’re essentially your own bank. You have a wallet that you control with your passphrase. There’s a lot of liberty that comes with a voluntary banking solution that you can opt in and use - but of course with this level of liberty comes a responsibility.” Which doesn’t seem all that different from the personal responsibilities we all have when it comes to our cash finances. “But people are apathetic - we rely heavily on insurance companies, the state, and banks to look after us. Cryptocurrencies encourage a change of mindset. You have to be savvy and switched on. If you are, they’re completely secure.”
The future of currency
That bright future Sam is banking on, so to speak? He thinks that Bitcoin is future of currency. He explains that there are three eras of currency: “First, there’s commodity based currency, this is when we used gold and silver to underpin the value of the currency. Then, there’s a political currency, known as fiat currency. This is where we’re at right now enabled by Central Banks and fractional reserve banking. I’m not an economics expert, but this system is under a lot of pressure, and very easily impacted by localised events and authorities e.g. Brexit. The third era of currency is mathematical currencies, Bitcoin is an example of this, the main difference being that you’re putting your trust in immutability of mathematics. Personally I trust mathematics, more than I trust Trump!”
Sam adds that Bitcoin will eventually have the same impact on the world as this thing you may have heard of before: the Internet. His goal is to make access to Bitcoin easy for New Zealanders and the world. “It’s a great alternative to get ahead with your savings.” Currently, it’s difficult to buy Bitcoin. He explains the process: “First you have to exchange it into US dollars, then you have to know how to use the exchanges (which happen to be ultra-hi-tech), and only then can you send it back to New Zealand.” The best part of his plan is that you don’t have to buy 1000s of dollars of it. And it’s working. MyBitcoinSaver already has over 500 users signed up and have grown by a cool 450% since last November. I can hear his smile when he tells me that the transaction side to the business has grown by 1000%.
Democratisation is innovation
We’re talking about growing wealth, which in traditional ways would mean we’re talking about the rich getting richer. But I believe Sam when he tells me that at the heart of MyBitcoinSaver, he’s really just trying to help people who can’t get ahead. “Particularly millennials,” he says. “I don’t need to tell you that house prices are crazy.” MyBitcoinSaver is essentially a microsavings platform that exists to help people without fixed assets to get ahead in life. To all the naysayers out there: it’s happening. Sam is trying to create an alternative way of wealth management.
“I’m just trying to help normal people, like you and me.”
It’s a growing market overseas. Stash Invest and Robinhood.com are successful micro investment companies that have managed to hustle $170 million in investment from the smartest venture capitalists in the states. “And we want to do that with the cryptocurrency market. There’s no worry about transferring money overseas and no need for clunky verifications on Bitcoin exchanges. “This is digital gold. The Japanese have just made it legal tender. In Japan, you can pay for all your taxes and bills with Bitcoin.” We’re just helping NZ stay in the level playing field with other countries.”
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