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Saturday 19 August 2017
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Paul Puey CEO Airbitz

Jay Addison Technical and Media Advisor for CryptoBiz Magazine interviews Pau Puey CEO and Co-Founder of Airbitz at Inside Bitcoins Las Vegas. Airbitz is a company with a vision of Bitcoin mass adoption through ease of use and ease of security. Airbitz has been focused on delivering a great user experience to connect Bitcoin users and merchants through their Bitcoin Directory and integrated mobile wallet. Paul is an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science graduate of UC Berkeley with a wide range of technical skills from low-level 3D graphics engineering to development of custom web CMS systems. He held lead engineering positions with Nvidia Corp and Chromatic Research. Most recently he owned and operated several non-technical small businesses where he implemented solutions to streamline the intersection of people, business, and technology.
Jay: This is Jay Addison from CryptoBiz Magazine, we are live in Las Vegas at the Inside Bitcoins convention. We’re here with Paul Puey, the CEO and co-founder of AirBitz. Tell us a little bit about AirBitz.
Jay: This is Jay Addison from CryptoBiz Magazine, we are live in Las Vegas at the Inside Bitcoins convention. We’re here with Paul Puey, the CEO and co-founder of AirBitz. Tell us a little bit about AirBitz.

Paul: So AirBitz is a company building, and we’ve just launched today a mobile app for Bitcoin. It is an integrated business directory and wallet. And our target is definitely the average consumer and the Bitcoin evangelist. We want to build a great app, product that the Bitcoin evangelist can refer new users to Bitcoin and feel comfortable that these people have a safe, secure, and easy to use wallet. And it’s also very familiar. It is implemented in such a way that – creation of a wallet, utilizes simply just a login and password, which is what people are used to in financial and mobile banking.

Jay: So, please expand on your business directory. I know you guys also operate a directory which is tied in with that wallet, is it not?

Paul: It is and actually we launched the directory even before we launched the wallet. It was launching in March and April of this year. It’s on the web, it’s on IOS, it’s on Android. Where we set ourselves apart is in the quality of the curation of the listings, and the ability to search though these listings. We have a pretty robust search engine. It allows you to search by city, state, country, by current locations – GPS located on your device. And it also lets you search by category. And with almost 200 different categories go by the name of the business. And, one thing we do, unlike a lot of other directories, is that we launch region by region. We know that it’s tough to build a good quality, highly curated directory everywhere in the world. So instead of saying, “Hey, we’ve watched, and we have 7000 listings around the world. But there’s no one area that we have high confidence in.” Instead, we launch and say, “We had initially 300 listings, but we’re only in three states in the country.” That’s the way it was in March and April. Today, we’ve launched in – fully launched in 14 different countries – a lot of the major countries that have bought the Bitcoin. And we have over 3200 listings. And we tell people, “If we’re not launched in your country, don’t even bother. If we are launched in your country, we have very high confidence that we’ve got just about every brick and mortar merchant, and a good chance of a lot of the online and web merchants as well. So you can actually search for online merchants and businesses in the Bitcoin space using our directory.

Jay: So if somebody is in any type of business, a coffee shop, a restaurant, whatever it is, and they want to start – they want to – let’s say they want to get on your directory. Do you guys also offer a discount or do they, would they offer a discount to the people that are using the AirBitz wallet, is that the idea?

Paul: Actually, we encourage merchants to offer discount for – not necessarily using the AirBitz wallet, but just for accepting bit coin. So, when people search for say a coffee shop in an area, we have it right on the front of the search results if the business gives a discount for taking Bitcoin.

Jay: Okay.

Paul: It’s a valuable thing. I think that’s what’s really gonna help Bitcoin adoption – people see the value proposition of using the Bitcoin versus the credit card. And so we want to give back to those merchants, like actually drive traffic to their business. So, we hand curate all these listings, but we do allow people to let us know which listing did not take Bitcoin. There, right on our front page, you can submit a new business. And all we ask for is the name of the business, a URL to the webpage, an email address, and whether or not the business offers a Bitcoin discount. And based on that, we have curators that will actually build a great create and do the listing. Scrape their website for a description – website for some photos, we’ll social media links to the listing. Hours of operation. A lot of detail that you just won’t find in other business directories. We go and put that effort to add to ours.

Jay: So if somebody wants to sign up their business, it’s really easy as you just mentioned. Go right to your website, which is airbitz.com?

Paul: airbitz.co.

Jay: Ok. So they go there and on the front page, there’s a part where they can actually just sign up their business, they don’t even have to get a hold of you guys. Is that?

Paul: Absolutely, just click “submit a business on our homepage,” and it will get a super tight little form. What’s in this form? Little pieces of information and give us a couple of days and we’ll go and add the business. If the business is in a region that we have not let launched, then it won’t get added until that region gets launched. But, feel free to send us an email, info@airbitz.co, and – or give us a nudge if there’s a country that you’re in and you feel like really should be on the directory and help us ensure that we’re up to date. And we’ve actually bumped up the priority of several countries, because we had evangelists in that area that wanted coverage and loved our directory.

Jay: That sounds great.

Paul: And we’re happy to do that, we really, really work with the community on providing a resource for these evangelists to promote Bitcoin.

Jay: Do you have any vision of adding any other coins at some point to this?

Paul: We definitely do have that vision, we have an interesting data model in our wallet where you create an account, which is a login password and four digit pin. And inside of that account you can create an arbitrary number of wallets. And right now you can differentiate in a wallet by saying, “Ok, this wallet is tied to a specific fiat (4:41?).” For instance, meaning that any transaction that goes into that wallet, we will save the fiat currency value of that wallet at the time of the transaction. But we have, the data model that extracts these types of wallets so we can actually create wallets that, in addition to being different fiat value wallets (4:58?) there are also different coin wallets. But that infrastructure does require a bit of work, and that would have to be built into the Bitcoin project that we use called Lib Bitcoin, which is library that re-implements the Bitcoin protocol and clients for the model. And right now that currently only supports Bitcoin. The head developer of that project is Amir Taaki who is the head developer of Dark Wallet. And we worked really closely with him on this Bitcoin re-implementation, and he does have a strong interest in incorporating some other altcoins to the lite coin anddoge coin a and what not. He’s expressed that interest to us, so if that gets incorporated and we actually, this is an open call to developers that have offer that they’d like to promote. If they go and put that functionality into Lib Bitcoin, then that would go a long ways in getting it into wallets that support and utilize Lib Bitcoin.

Jay: That makes sense. So what is it? I mean you guys sound like you’ve got a really fantastic business model. I mean, it’s – we’re all about supporting the community, and that’s what you guys have really done with this directory, right? Is to try and also promote people accepting Bitcoins and through the directory, through the wallet, trying to make it easy for the regular people, right? Your average consumer, instead of a techie.

Paul: Absolutely, I mean I am a technical person, I’ve worked in technology in Silicon Valley for nearly a decade. But at the same time, I’ve been first and foremost a part of the community, and I’ve worked in small business in addition to being a technologist. And I see where the consumers and the merchants merge, and where a lot friction comes about when that merge of consumer and business and technology come into place. So, we’re trying to solve that with AirBitz, and being first and foremost a Bitcoin evangelist, like I am one of the organizers of the San Diego Bitcoin meet up. I’m part of the San Diego Bitcoin Association. And we saw as individuals, as co-founders in our company, some of the friction, the pain points involved with introducing people, businesses, into Bitcoin. And we said, “No, this is a solvable problem. It’s going to require some good insight, good engineering, good design, but it’s a solvable problem – there’s no reason why Bitcoin can’t feel much more familiar and be easy to introduce to the masses.

Jay: That sounds great. What’s the key philosophy behind the company, and what you see for AirBitz’s future?

Paul: So, our philosophy is the true core value of Bitcoin. Which is – financial autonomy, and financial privacy. Financial autonomy meaning that you should own your keys, own your money, be in control of it – and obviously financial privacy. Similar to the values of our quote Dark Walletand Lib Bitcoin which the project that we leverage. We believe in similar values. And so, that is what we built into our products and into our company, and a lot people at our company feel the exact same way. We think that it’s important for people to control their own money, not only from an ideological point of view, but actually from a technical point of view. I’m going to be giving a talk at Inside Bitcoin’s conference today about the importance of wallets that give you financial autonomy from a technical ease of use point of view. People don’t really see that, but it is a difficult challenge for most of the wallets. Do you provide a user experience where they can guarantee that funds are sent? Well, we want to send them, right? If I want to send money to somebody, I want to know that it’s getting sent when I request it’s sent. And when a hosted wallet pulls funds, they generally have to only quote a small amount of those funds available for spending at any point of time. And so, I’m at the mercy of other people that have accounts with the same provider. Spending money, thereby not allowing me to spend my money.

Jay: Got it.

Paul: It’s kind of like a shared internet connection, right? When my neighbors are using a whole lot of bandwidth, I don’t get it.

Jay: Yes.

Paul: That’s when you can kind of liken it, the wallet to. But that’s a trade off and they can put more money available online, but if they do that, then they risk hacking attempts and security is definitely decreased. So, we think financial autonomy is not just for owners of the money, but it’s also to provide a usable user experience as a spending wallet.

Jay: Fantastic. Paul Puey, CEO and co-founder of AirBitz, thanks kindly for joining us today.

Paul: No, pleasure being on the show.

Jay: One more question.

Paul: Sure.

Jay: January 1st, 2015, what do you think the price of Bitcoin’s gonna be?

Paul: Alright, let’s double it. Got to be able to double to double it. I think that’s pretty reasonable, it’s below a thousand but above, whatever it is three hundred something.

Jay: Something like that today yeah.

Paul: Let’s call it at six hundred, that’s a good round number.

Jay: Six hundred’s a great one.

Paul: Yeah, six hundred sounds pretty good.

Jay: Fantastic, thanks Paul.

Paul: Alright, cool.

This is Jay Addison from CryptoBiz Magazine, live from Meckler Media’s Inside Bitcoins Conference in Las Vegas. Remember to subscribe to CryptoBiz Magazine at CryptoBizMag.com. Follow us on Twitter @cryptobizmag. Thanks for joining us, and learn more at CryptoBizMagazine.com.

Produced by Trent E. Nellis Chief Operations Advisor CryptoBiz Magazine.
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