In this interview, Ashton Addison is speaking to Adam O’Brien, the CEO of Bitcoin Solutions, a Bitcoin ATM and service provider based in Canada. They will be discussing the adoption of Bitcoin across Canada, how the pandemic has affected Bitcoin markets, and the upcoming deal which will make Bitcoin Solutions the first Bitcoin ATM company to become a publicly-traded company with a listing on the TSXV stock exchange.
The history of Bitcoin Solutions
Like most of the Bitcoin ATM companies, Bitcoin Solutions started as an individual initiative. Adam says that he fell in love with Bitcoin in early 2013, but at the time found it very difficult to acquire it. The only options were to either buy it from a guy in a back alley or by wiring the money to Russia. As he didn’t like either of the options he firstly created a peer-to-peer network in Edmonton and Alberta which started the Bitcoin Solutions story. Later on, in early 2014 they deployed their first Bitcoin ATM in Alberta, followed by the second one in Saskatchewan just months later. Until then, Bitcoin solutions deployed over 70 Bitcoin ATMs across Canada.
What makes Bitcoin Solutions unique
The Company mission from day one was to make Bitcoin accessible and understood. Having that in mind, they put a big focus on customer interaction making sure that anyone who gets in touch with their services gets a well-rounded experience and a satisfying answer to any question, tailoring the knowledge that the customer needs.
Another big focus of Bitcoin Solutions is the non-custodial buying and selling of Bitcoin, which means that at no time is anyone’s Bitcoin exposed to any intermediary. So, when you use an online exchange or a bank, you put your funds in somebody else’s hands and that’s not what Bitcoin Solutions believe in.
The thing that is really unique is that you are able to go to the Bitcoin Solutions website and use Bitcoin to pay your bills. You just need to follow the procedure where you can enter your EPCOR bill, the account number, the amount that you owe and simply send the Bitcoin to pay that account off.
Further on, they are working on launching some merchant services that will enable people to walk into a store and pay with Bitcoin. From there, they plan to integrate lightning network applications that will definitely improve the overall usability of Bitcoin.
The first Bitcoin ATM Company to be publicly listed
Certainly, the biggest plan for Bitcoin Solutions in the nearest future is to become publicly listed on the TSXV stock exchange. Adam states that the main benefit of this move is that the company will gain credibility. He explains how a number of different exchanges went dark which gave a bad image of the complete Bitcoin industry in the mainstream media. Being that Bitcoin Solutions is a company that prides itself on security and customer safety, they plan on showing the investors that investing in the Bitcoin market is a smart thing to do. Their aim is to prove that one can make a profit on the crypto market by investing in a stable company rather than investing in Bitcoin itself. As Adam explains, that way the investor can make money in both bull and bear markets, regardless of Bitcoin price.
Apart from the extensive market knowledge and optimized efficiency which makes them attractive to investors, Adam states that they invest as much effort and resources to offer their customers the best possible experience through advanced security. They aim to protect their customers not by doing anything for them but by teaching them how to do it. They developed an anti-fraud software that displays a questionnaire to customers, forcing them to think twice about why are they performing this specific transaction so they can really figure out themselves if they are subject to fraud.
The Pandemic impact
The biggest topic for any business in 2020 is definitely the influence of the global COVID-19 situation. Adam claims that their massive expansion plans for this year were delayed due to the fact that three-quarters of the world was shut down at the beginning of Q2. That, of course, includes a large chunk of Bitcoin Solutions locations. As per Adam, 75% of their active locations were closed. Having in mind that they were also unable to deploy any new locations because of the lock down, the logical step was to shift their focus to online deployments.
In April they formed a partnership with Bidali, so they were able to sell gift cards on the website. But, the great move was that they enabled their users to fund their Bitcoin Solutions account through Canada Post offices. So, anyone could go to any of the six thousand post offices all over Canada and top up the account.
After the lockdown was over, they started to deploy the planned ATMs at the beginning of Q3, so it seems that they adapted pretty well. Adam also explains how they adjusted their location selection criteria, in a way that they are now looking for locations that will be beneficial in the event of a next wave.
Although Adam himself claims that he is bad at predicting, he thinks that in the last year a lot of things came to place. Especially the fact that they are officially an MSB since June, so now that the regulations are in place and they have some guidance they can really put the foot on the gas. So, he thinks that the Bitcoin ATM Business will experience growth even in the midst of the pandemic.
At the end of this interesting interview, we can notice that Adam’s monetary advice would be to perform your transactions without putting your money in somebody else’s hands, or how he likes to call them non-custodial transactions. Also, if you run a Bitcoin ATM company you should look to improve your credibility, thus helping to improve the credibility of the whole industry, as well as offering your customers as many options as possible where they can use Bitcoin as regular currency. That way you can stay attractive to both customers and investors.