Gatecoin, a licensed and regulated bitcoin exchange in Hong Kong, allows its users to trade bitcoins globally in US Dollar, Euro, and Hong Kong Dollar using its low latency matching engine and also offers Ether and REP (Augur) trading. Gatecoin won the 2014 Best Start-up Prize for Central and East Asia at Talent Unleashed.
Gatecoin CEO Aurélien Menant is one of the founding members of the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong and has recently won "Outstanding Young International Entrepreneurs" award from the Hong Kong International Entrepreneurs Festival (HKIEF).
In an email response to EconoTimes, Menant spoke about future of bitcoin, Ethereum project, Gatecoin’s plans and targets for this year and much more.
1. Congratulations on winning "Outstanding Young International Entrepreneurs" award from HKIEF. Earlier Gatecoin won the 2014 Best Start-up Prize for Central and East Asia at Talent Unleashed. Did you expect that such appreciation to come your way when you started off? How does it feel?
We knew we were working on a "hot topic" and that it should attract interest from the public, but we did not expect such recognition. Being awarded by such respected figures like Richard Branson and Steve Wozniak is an honor and really motivates us.
2. Gatecoin is one of the few exchanges to open Ethereum for trading. How did you get involved in the Ethereum project?
We have been following closely the digital currency space for the past 4 or 5 years, and we are obviously readers of Bitcoin Magazine. Therefore we knew very well about Vitalik and his project since the early days. We met him several times as well as other members of the Ethereum team. Since we are strong believers of digital currencies and blockchain applications in general, we could only support Ethereum, that is still to date the most ambitious and most advanced project in those fields.
3. An interesting post on Gatecoin blog read, “You may say that it is not possible to separate Bitcoin from blockchain, and consortiums such as R3 are going to find that out the hard way… If banks succeed in implementing a distributed ledger using their own tokens, some say Bitcoin may never go fully mainstream to become the first globally accepted transnational currency”. What future do you see for bitcoin?
It is very hard to say. Bitcoin was design as an experiment, to illustrate to potential of the blockchain. This experience became more successful than anyone could have predicted, and it is impossible to say until where it is going to go. That being said, bitcoin is not perfect. Some might point out the absence of KYC on the wallets to argue that governments and central banks will never allow it to grow beyond a certain threshold. The apparent lack of scalability or the exponential size of the bitcoin blockchain are other concerns that are addressable.
What people need to remember is that Bitcoin and blockchain are a extremely new technologies. It took 30 years for emails to become mainstream. Another important fact is that bitcoin is an evolving technology. Core developers and actually the entire bitcoin community are working on maintaining and thus improving the protocol.
4. In the context of the above question, what about ether?
Ethereum is solving some of the issues of bitcoin, while bringing new features and applications. At last, other projects such as Blockstream, are also adding features and fixing issues by adding sidechains while keeping the bitcoin blockchain as a central clearing system.
All those projects can evolve, Ethereum was set to be linked to the bitcoin blockchain originally, or we could even imagine that bitcoin core will evolve in an Ethereum or blockstream direction. It is today impossible to say who will be the winner, and actually there is room for all those projects. There are so many different applications, with so many different requirements, that it makes sense to have several blockchains.
5. What are your plans and targets for this year?
We are currently integrating with an international bank to enable them to provide bitcoin brokerage and blockchain remittance in targeted African countries. This will be a World premiere. This solution will be deployed around March or April.
We just started raising USD5m and we have already USD500k committed, therefore we are confident to close the round by the end of Q1. With that funding we intend to offer new speculative products on bitcoin, revamp the platform and issue a mobile app while expanding our presence across Asia. We are part of the Supercharger acceleration program sponsored by Standard Chartered, Baidu and Tuspark, that should help us reaching those goals. Once our exchange solution deployed across Asia, we have plans to implement our Blockchain-infrastructure-as-a-service solution with strategic remittance and payment partners.