Will Madden: “Bitcoin Will Replace SWIFT”br>
Will Madden is the CEO of bridge21, a US to Mexico exchange service that uses bitcoin to offer better rates to individuals and businesses. Madden worked at Western Union and First Data prior to founding bridge21. He’s built payments, prepaid, and remittance products that operate today in over 150 countries. He has been fascinated with cryptocurrency since learning about it in late 2010, and now focuses on using it to eliminate friction from international payments and currency exchange.
BlockTribune: For BlockTribune readers who might not be familiar with bridge21, can you please tell us about bridge21 and what makes it unique?
Will Madden: bridge21 lets you sent money between US and Mexican bank accounts safely and far more efficiently using Bitcoin. The exchange rate we offer is based on the cost of buying Bitcoin for US Dollars, selling Bitcoin for Mexican Pesos, and any associated transaction fees at the specific point in time when you decide to send a certain amount of money. Essentially, we’ve combined Bitcoin arbitrage opportunities with the natural demand to send money from one country to another and turned that into an easy to use service with our advanced technology. We are the first company to offer this type of service to both individuals and businesses and remain the only product in market like this today.
BlockTribune: How do you see the current situation for Bitcoin in Mexico in general?
Will Madden: Mexico has been remarkably permissive and open to digital currencies. Regulatory views are still forming and things could change quickly but so far we are impressed.
BlockTribune: Tell us about some of your partnerships in the region.
Will Madden: We partner with Bitso in Mexico. They are a great company with a phenomenal team.
BlockTribune: bridge21 uses the blockchain for international remittance. How does this work in the back-end?
Will Madden: We are buying and selling bitcoin at the same time in two countries, using zero confirmation sends so we do not expose our customers to the various volatility or custodial risks associated with 3rd party custody of bitcoin.
BlockTribune: How are you different compared to your competitors?
Will Madden: Our competitors operate exchange accounts in two or more countries and trade bitcoin and fiat in larger blocks. The problem with this type of bitcoin remittance is that it relies on humans trading currency. Well, humans make mistakes and prices sometimes change violently. When this happens these remittance companies can easily become insolvent. Our instant settlement avoids this entire category of risk resulting from human error or unexpected price volatility.
bridge21’s flow of funds model wasn’t easy to build, is hard to duplicate, is even harder to operate competently, but is superior. Our competitors must keep larger balances on exchanges around the world in order to make their service work because they aren’t settling every transaction individually. This not only increases their pre-funding expenses, it exposes their customers to the risks of exchange failure. Have you heard the adage “if you don’t control your private keys you don’t own your bitcoin”? Have you ever heard of “Mt. Gox”? These are the problems our competitors expose their customers to each and every day, whether they realize it or not! In contrast, every transfer with bridge21 is an actual bitcoin transaction verifiable on the blockchain and two trades. There simply isn’t much money left sitting around on 3rd party platforms to be stolen by hackers or insiders. This makes us less risky and therefore more efficient. bridge21’s design is the future of money transfer.
BlockTribune: What do you think is the future of bitcoin and international remittances in general?
Will Madden: We believe that bitcoin and other cryptocurrency remittances will displace SWIFT and other traditional money transfer approaches. Gradually the price opportunities will diminish, but not before digital currencies replace old school international wires and ledger swaps between international banks.
BlockTribune: What do you see as the greatest challenge facing the industry?
Will Madden: Regulatory uncertainty and difficulty obtaining banking partnerships is slowing down the pace of innovation for businesses that exchange bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies for fiat. They are afraid of being shut down or losing their banking partnerships.
BlockTribune: What are some future business plans at bridge21?
Will Madden: We are planning to expand to other regions. We also have a few other things in store that we aren’t ready to announce just yet… Please stay tuned!