FintekNews is pleased to bring you our new series #BlockchainProfiles – featuring thought leaders within the blockchain and digital currency space. For the second feature in this series, we’d like you to meet Austin Kimm, IR Director & Co-founder of Crypterium, a digital cryptobank aiming to provide a complete vertically integrated service to its customer base.
NAME: Austin Kimm
TITLE: IR Director & Co-Founder
WEB ADDRESS: www.crypterium.com
How did you personally become involved in blockchain?
Like many people blockchain for me was something I had heard about but didn’t really understand.
All these strange terms such as ‘mining’ ‘cryptowallets’ ‘hot and cold storage’. It was like trying to understand my teenage children all over again, except this time I was talking with adults. So sadly I can not say that I was one of those smug people who bought bitcoin when it was $1. I was brought into this new world in the old fashioned way, a company need some business consulting and asked for my help. That company was PayQR which has one of the leading mobile payment platforms in Russia and this in turn led to the idea that we can take this capability and create a technological marvel that is Crypterium.
What does your firm do/offer within the blockchain sector?
Crypterium is one of the last pieces in the conundrum that is cryptocurrency. A currency that has real value but nobody can actually spend it. Go to startbuck and ask the cashier if you can pay in ‘Dash’ and they will think you have gone made. That’s where we come in. Using our mobile application from any reasonable smart phone that has contactless payment capability you can simply use your phone to pay for your overpriced coffee with potentially hundreds of different cryptocurrencies and millions of payments terminals practically anywhere in the world. We make what is unspendable spendable! By the end of this year I predict that there will be over 100m Cryptocurrency owners, and we can provide each an every one a way to spend them in a real world environment.
What is your role within your firm and what do you do there on any given day?
Right now I am the COO, but in fact I am pretty much doing everything you can imagine a new company needs to do to get up and running as fast as possible. Yesterday for example, I was in Singapore meeting with potential heads for our Asian operations; I met with 3 payment platforms that want to work with Crypterium, I had telephone calls with the project managers for our European payment card solutions; wrote several press releases for our forth coming listing on HitBTC exchange, reviewed the facilities of our new office and of course a constant steam of emails and messages. Today it is Hong Kong to meet with representatives of Union Pay, one of China’s most important payment solutions. In fact in the past 18 days I have been to London, Moscow, Washington, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, and finally back home to Edinburgh tomorrow. I least my airmiles are looking good!
What area/s of blockchain do you believe will grow the most in the coming 5 years?
Blockchain will have many uses, particularly in processing and product development, from core resources to final customer delivery. Consider for example the problem of knowing whether or not the diamond that you want to buy was appropriately sourced and not a so called ‘blood diamond’. With blockchain, every single aspect of the process from the first stages of mining to the final jewellery sales is tracked on an unalterable distributed record of events. People who are worried about the sweat shops of Asia might want to buy their cloths or phones from companies that can prove that they work in a fair trade way. I think this is going to be huge.
But let’s not forget that the blockchain was created to support Bitcoin. It is the engine that makes it work. So ultimately it will be money that is the key driver of blockchain usage, particularly payment transactions, from person to person, but also cross border, company to company replacing the US$ as the main transactional currency. And Crypterium expects to be right in the middle of all this helping shape this new financial world
What do you believe the next major innovation in financial technology will be and why?
If cryptocurrencies are not enough, then I would have to say that it will be biometric payments. It’s impossible to chose which technology will win out, but it’s not a hard stretch of the imagination to believe that where we now have facial recognition and finger print identification on our phones, that this will develop at an almost frightening speed so that the need for traditional payments solutions will disappear. You may know about the experiment that Amazon is conducting with no checkout stores. Add to this facial recognition technology or other suitable biometric solutions and before you know it your body will be your wallet, simply walk into a store, take the products you want and leave. Pay your taxes with a retina scan!
Couple all this with cryptocurrencies and it really will be the realms of science fiction, but its all being tested now.
What are the biggest problems facing the blockchain industry in the future?
Simply put we need to find real uses for it and show people that it is of real value. I have heard so many critics say that there are no blockchain uses yet. This is simply not true and we need to get this across to the wider community. Once people will understand what it can do, they will demand services that use it.
What has been the biggest success in your firm to date?
As a start-up company I cannot yet point to huge performance data or awards, but we are very proud of the fact that during our token sale we have a possible world record in the number of token buyers. 72,000 from 140 countries. Most ICOs get 3,000 to 5,000, we had 72,000. So out of approximately 1,500 token sales, we are number 1. Not bad.
What has been the biggest failure in your firm and how did you adapt?
Our biggest challenge was driven by our biggest success, the number of token buyers and our difficulties in sending the tokens out to so many people at the same time. Tokens are prepared and sold via specially prepared platforms. We chose one of the market leaders, but it simply failed to cope with demand. It’s a bit like when you try to buy a ticket for a hot concert and the site crashes. We had to almost rebuild the platform and it took us several weeks to resolve. Token buyers were naturally upset but there was little we could do until we built a platform that could cope with our volumes. In the end everybody got exactly what they bought, but not before we spent many hours of manpower time to fix a problem that shouldn’t have happened.
What blockchain leader do you admire the most and why?
It has to be Vitalik Buterin. Not only is he a visionary but he speaks common senses. I get the impression personal wealth is the least important thing in his life therefore he says what needs to be said and does not care what the implications are for the price of the currency.
If you were to personally invest in just one blockchain firm (other than yours), which one would it be and why?
There are many interesting projects, but I like those that are going to hit the largest number of buyers. One I particularly like is PlayChip which will link many on-line gaming sites so that its users can move their tokens from one game to the next without penalty. Many people will probably have bought an online game and then paid a little extra for a few more lives or a better looking gun. Eventually you get bored and you give up. That hard earned digital money that you might of won or bought will be lost forever. But Playchip changes that. It can go between gaming sites. That’s why Crypterium has decided to partner with them. Tens of millions of users monthly and eventually everybody wants to cash out!
Austin Kimm, IR Director and Co-Founder of Crypterium, is a definitive industry expert and a quintessential thought-leader on cryptobanks.