Recently, we had an opportunity to interview Frank Schuil, the CEO and founder of Safello. Frank is a seasoned entrepreneur who has founded numerous and guess what, he is/has been a rapper too!
Safello is a leading bitcoin platform based out of Sweden. Safello offers a unique exchange and wallet service to its customers. People can buy, sell or store bitcoins on the platform.
We asked Frank a set of questions about Safello, and future of bitcoin, and this is what he had to say.
Gautham: Can you please tell us a bit about Safello?
Frank: Safello was founded in July 2013. Since then, it has set out to bring greater security and compliance to the bitcoin industry. Our user-friendly approach has since attracted ten thousands of customers throughout Europe with an easy way to get into bitcoin. Today we support 32 countries in Europe with direct payments and other payments such as SEPA, Bankgiro, Swish and International Wire.
With tens of millions of SEK, Euro and GBP in and out of bitcoin processed, Safello is leading the crypto currency revolution in Europe. This is just the beginning as far as we are concerned; our long-term goal is to build a bank that keeps you in control of your funds.
Gautham: As we see, the bitcoin space is exhibiting a rapid growth. Where do you see Safello fitting into the overall infrastructure?
Frank: We sit in between Coinbase and Blockchain.info. The latter provides a great set of APIs and a wallet service for tech-savvy early adopters. It operates outside the existing financial system where it doesn’t touch FIAT currency. Coinbase on the other hand provides a pretty wide scope of services for novice to expert users including FIAT to crypto and vice versa conversion. In doing so, it has created a walled garden where it stores client funds and keeps everything proprietary. Safello positions itself in between the two where we touch FIAT currency while we don’t hold client funds. User experience and preference is key for us and we aim to open up the platform so our users have more freedom to decide what is important to them.
Gautham: Is there anybody at the company that our readers might be interested in knowing about?
Frank: One of our latest hires is Henrik Jonsson who used to work as a reliability engineer at Google in Mountain View where he worked with AdWords and YouTube. His experience in dealing with complex systems, scalability and attacks has helped Safello improve its overall performance greatly.
Gautham: Coming to the tech part, how does your technology work?
Frank: Safello works with external liquidity providers in a brokerage model to avoid storage of coins. As soon as FIAT currency hits our account, we execute the order. We automate this as much as possible, but unfortunately not all banks provide the APIs to do so. Payment methods like Handelsbanken Direkt and iDeal are instant whereas other methods other take one bank day to clear. In terms of the technology itself, we stick with the premise that in this market it is better to say as little as possible.
Gautham: Bitcoin is gradually evolving, how has the bitcoin scenario changed from the time you started Safello to now?
Frank: When we founded Safello, it was right after the April price rise of 2013. Those were the cowboy days whereas today the market has professionalized quite a bit — better players, more players and more money. Still, the premise of our company as the “safe fellow” in a market that is plagued by hacks and scams stands as strong as ever, when it comes to people’s money.
Gautham: Where do you see bitcoin in 10 years – first in terms of value and second in terms of where it will fit into both online and off-line commerce?
Frank: It’s premature to say bitcoin will be the big winner. It certainly looks that way and we are supporting it completely, but we can’t rule out the potential rise of another crypto currency just yet. Predicting the overall adoption of the crypto currency space is a bit easier.
– We are in the early Internet days of bitcoin, infrastructure is still being built. Soon people will have their equivalent of a dial-up modem that enables mass adoption, 21 (21 Inc.) might play a role here.
– In the years that followed, after Internet reached its early majority we saw the dotcom bubble where some of the best companies survived who are still around today. This will be the case here too.
– Innovation is moving quicker as the Internet paved the way for quick distribution of this technology. We should therefor expect rapid growth of crypto currencies.
– If Bitcoin is the winner, we should expect its market cap to grow to hundreds of billions if not trillions.
Based on above assumption and in line with the growing smartphone penetration we will live in a world where crypto currencies are the default money and financial system that connects the banked and unbanked. Although governments and banks will try to introduce their own currencies, I am a strong believer that the decentralization of money is inevitable.
Gautham: As bitcoin enthusiasts, what should we be doing to should we be doing to prepare ourselves for the future you speak of?
Frank: Bitcoin enthusiasts are already on the right side of history, all they need to do is spread the word to bring us to the tipping point of adoption. Education is key here.
Gautham: Recently multiple bitcoin exchanges have been hacked, giving rise to trust issues among the bitcoin users. How do you think it will affect the bitcoin community and how can we prevent it?
Frank: These hacks are a nuisance as they cause a delay in bitcoin adoption. It is an unfortunate byproduct of building this entire new monetary infrastructure. Luckily, best practices are emerging from these hacks that will strengthen the overall industry. In the legacy financial system, loss of money is protected by the government. As more bitcoins can’t be created, we need something else to cover losses in this new financial system. The most likely outcome here is that the free market will fill this gap, i.e. insurance companies will back bitcoin companies that follow sound security procedures. On the regulatory side, this will lead to consumer protection legislation making this mandatory for new entrants to the market.
Gautham: How can our users find out more about your company/technology/service?
Frank: We invite everyone to try out our service by visiting https://safello.com and be sure to watch the little music video we just released, hope you will like it.
[ot-video type=”youtube” url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UA96SvAUvPM”]
Gautham: Is there anything you would like to add?
Frank: We released the above video to celebrate our crowdfunding campaign we launched in cooperation with FundedByMe. Within days, we got to 90% of our funding goal reaching over 400k euro. Interested parties can still register to join before we complete the round
Since this interview, Safello has achieved 102% of its fundraising target on FundedByMe, with 35 days to go. If you are interested to pledge for Safello, you can still do it here. Safello has been selected for Barclays Accelerator’s Spring 2015 cohort.