|   Digital Currency


  |   Digital Currency


Airbitz To Record Stellar Performance In 2015; Next Year To Be More Extraordinary

Airbitz Homepage Screengrab (EconoTimes)

Airbitz, a digital wallet platform, made headlines throughout the year. In March, it integrated one-touch two-factor authentication model to protect its users. In July, the company announced that it received $450,000 funding from Block26, a blockchain venture firm. It was recently in news for integrating Fold into its own app which will enable users to buy gift cards for Starbucks and Target within the app.

In an email response to EconoTimes, M.K. Lords, Marketing/Community Manager of Airbitz, spoke about bitcoin and blockchain technology, Aitbitz’s performance for 2015 and its targets for next year, with some inputs from CEO and Co-founder Paul Puey:

In 2015, lots of banks and tech companies have shown interest in the blockchain technology, with many of them joining blockchain consortiums. One such initiative backed by Linux Foundation is reportedly working on blockchain alternative. What is your take on the matter?

Blockchain technology has many uses for all types of industries but without Bitcoin it wouldn't exist. The security of the Bitcoin blockchain is unrivaled by other blockchains and is dependent on a decentralized digital currency to give it value. If alternative blockchains are to succeed, they would do well to adopt the principles of decentralization that Bitcoin is based on. While the benefits of the permissioned/private blockchains that financial institutions are looking to use don’t quite rival the benefits of Bitcoin, it is positive to see banks invest in technology which helps awareness and adoption of both the centralized and decentralized implementations.

Many financial institutions are still skeptical about bitcoin and digital currencies. Also, with the number of hacking attempts and shutting down of bitcoin companies on the rise, do you think bitcoin can ever gain mainstream acceptance and why?

It’s also important to note that the hacking attempts have all been targeted not at bitcoin but at the bank-like security of custodial accounts. The currency and technology of bitcoin has never been hacked much like our banking systems see many hacking attempts every minute of everyday, but the US dollar or Euro monetary systems haven’t been “hacked”. Bitcoin and digital assets are motivating and ushering the new wave Edge Security model that can provide digital security far exceeding anything that custodial accounts have ever offered.

Mainstream acceptance of any new technology starts in alternative cultures. I think you are already seeing Bitcoin thriving in those certain areas and as it becomes easier to use and more accessible people will realize it is a better alternative to legacy financial systems. With the proper security measures taken, Bitcoin protects merchants better than credit card companies and empowers users by giving them complete control over their finances.

It's also a very fun to use currency--I think there's a "cool factor" in being able to pay for stuff using your phone. It's great for practical uses like splitting checks and gift cards for mainstream retailers like Target and Starbucks are now easily accessible through our mobile app at a steep discount. When people have incentives to use tech they'll jump on board and we are seeing tremendous growth in areas focused on making bitcoin easier for people to use.

After the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, the use of bitcoin for terrorism financing came to the forefront. Is there any probability that the use of bitcoin for such activities can ever be stopped? What solution do you propose?

Reports of Bitcoin being used for terrorist financing were greatly exaggerated. Contrary to popular belief, bitcoin is not a commonly used currency for that kind of financing; dollars are actually used to finance terrorism more often. For terrorist groups looking to launder money, bitcoin would be a terrible choice because it is not anonymous and operates on a public ledger where all transactions are visible and can be traced if a Bitcoin address is linked to a group or individual. The solution to this issue is a common sense realization that any currency can be used to fund things we don't like and demonizing a currency used for criminal activity is not a measure of its merit.

Airbitz recently integrated with Fold to enable Bitcoin payments at Starbucks and Target. Are there any such deals in the pipeline?

As far as major retailers taking bitcoin directly, we're seeing more and more come on board daily. Right now, our focus is on gift cards as you can get them at a discount which makes bitcoin useful for average consumers. Airbitz and Fold will add similarly discounted gift cards for three huge stores to the app soon. Look for added services and integrations both inside our app, as well as in other apps utilizing Airbitz technology to secure other digital assets.

How would you rate Airbitz’s performance in 2015?

I came on board in August and already believed Airbitz was the most user friendly app for bitcoin. I didn't realize that Airbitz did so much more than just building a bitcoin app--we are also a security platform. We've increased usability of bitcoin by even more and with the Fold integration, adding the ability to buy and sell bitcoin through the app by partnering with Glidera, enabled secure public/private key authentication using BitID, and subtle ease of use upgrades I think Airbitz has gone above and beyond what other bitcoin wallets are offering. Absolutely stellar would be the way I would rate our performance in 2015.

What are your targets for next year?

Next year we are looking forward to increased limits for how much you can buy and sell through the app. We'll be adding gift card support for other major retailers which will introduce bitcoin to new markets that will greatly benefit from the discounts offered.

Expect to see other projects and companies utilizing Airbitz technology for their apps. We aim to usher in a wave of Edge Secure apps that utilize the same data security that we’ve been providing for bitcoin.

We also have a few other surprises in store that our users will love so you'll have to stay tuned. 2016 promises to be even more extraordinary for Airbitz.

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