Local industry leader: Crypto needs regulation, companies to be held accountable | Business
A lot has been said about cryptocurrency in the past few years, but the recent collapse of FTX, the possibility of more bankruptcies and the loss of billions of investors’ money has raised questions about the future and viability of digital currency.
But Ben Weiss, the Chicago-based CEO and co-founder of CoinFlip, remains bullish about the industry, believing regulation will take place and that strong companies will survive.
CoinFlip is a fintech company powered by cryptocurrency which just expanded into Tampa with an 8,000-square-foot innovation center and office near downtown. It has about 4,000 bitcoin ATMS in the U.S. and Canada where people can buy, sell and access crypto. The Tampa office is its second in the country.
One of its main objectives with the office is to demystify crypto and, as Weiss said at its September grand opening “take crypto out of the cloud and make it physical. And tangible.”
While a noble goal, the uncertainty wrought by the recent news of industry bankruptcies and collapses has led many investors and commentators to wonder if the promised future is just a mirage.
This mostly began with news in early November that FTX, an industry leader and one of the faces of cryptocurrency, had collapsed and would file for bankruptcy, potentially costing investors billions. The well-publicized fall of FTX has cast a long shadow over the industry leading to drops in the value of cryptocurrencies and concerns that more bankruptcies are on the way.
The Business Observer spoke to Weiss via email about CoinFlip’s relationship with FTX — there isn’t one — and about how the company sees what’s happening in the industry, the potential effect of the turmoil and how the company is dealing with concerns.
Does CoinFlip have any sort of relationship with FTX?
CoinFlip does not rely on FTX for its business operations.
How has FTX’s collapse affected how you do business, are you seeing a run on funds, drops in volume of business, hits to CoinFlip’s valuation? Are you having to make any adjustments to your business model, growth plans or employee count?
The collapse hasn’t impacted CoinFlip’s business because we handle operations differently from some of our competitors. Unlike crypto exchanges like FTX, we don’t hold customer assets. We advise our customers to use non-custodial wallets to hold their funds, meaning they belong to them and not on the blockchain or held by a company. As a registered money services business, we take our regulatory obligations very seriously — with customer safety as our top priority. While the news cycle has made the crypto landscape seem grim, CoinFlip is still experiencing tremendous growth. We were recognized as the fastest growing company in Chicago by Crain’s and were just named the No. 1 tech company in Chicago on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 list. In addition to growing our presence in Chicago, we recently opened a second corporate office and new engineering hub in Tampa where we are hiring for multiple positions.
How do incidents like what happened at FTX affect what CoinFlip is trying to do to make crypto more accessible and safer? How do you get that message across when a company like FTX’s problems are so highly publicized?
I’ve always said downturns can define an industry and give the opportunity for legitimate businesses to prevail. Despite market conditions, crypto is still the top performing asset of the last 10 years, and while times may feel uncertain, regulation will take shape and strong businesses that can support consumers will persevere and continue to grow. CoinFlip’s 24/7 award-winning customer service team makes themselves available for our investors around the clock so they can feel comfortable and confident using CoinFlip for crypto services. CoinFlip is in favor of education, as evidenced by its Crypto Experience Center in Sparkman Wharf which serves as a space to inform the community about cryptocurrency and provide guidance around purchasing digital currencies.
What is CoinFlip doing to protect itself from future issues in the cryptocurrency industry? What lessons are you learning from what others are going through?
Our business model is different from some of our competitors in that we are less exposed to market volatility. That said, we are extremely proud of our risk mitigation strategies and will continue to evaluate ways to ensure consumer protection. We are incredibly intentional with our business and treat our responsibilities seriously. At CoinFlip, protecting and educating our customers is at the forefront of everything we do. We will continue to educate consumers on the importance of self-custodial wallets and doing your own research to keep your investments safe. Lastly, we support additional regulatory clarity that holds companies accountable while not hindering opportunities for innovation.
Read More: Local industry leader: Crypto needs regulation, companies to be held accountable | Business
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