Buying bitcoins is one of the trickier parts of dealing with the virtual currency. That's a pretty fundamental problem to solve. At the moment, many of us have been jumping through the hoops of sending international payments to the likes of Mt. Gox, before we can start trading. A new UK business seeks to change all that by providing a fast way to purchase bitcoins. That business goes by the unlikely name of Bittylicious. We spoke to the company's founder Marc Warne to find out more.
Bittylicious provides a service to anyone with a UK bank account to quickly purchase bitcoins. It does this by taking advantage of the UK's fast inter-bank transfer protocol. We've tested the service in the CoinDesk office and received our BTC within an hour of making the transfer.
We spoke to the person running the show, Marc Warne, from his London office to find out more about the service.
CoinDesk: What is your background in bitcoin?
Marc Warne: More than anything else, I find it a fascinating experiment in pure supply and demand economics. This encouraged me to accept bitcoins through a hosting company I also run and in turn spin it into its own, bitcoin dedicated site.
CD: What difficulties have you faced in buying and spending bitcoins before Bittylicious?
MW: In the UK, it's pretty difficult. The main issue is getting money onto a market such as Mt. Gox. In fact, there aren't any UK markets available at all at present, although we do hope this changes soon. It is very difficult to buy bitcoins in the UK, especially with OKPay pulling out of the bitcoin industry. For those few sites that are around, the process can be very tricky, especially for those that just want to play with a small amount of bitcoins. Bittylicious was created to improve this situation.
CD: How did you come up with the name?
MW: I wish I knew! I had been wondering what to call the site for a while and then BAM! It came to me one evening. There was no turning back.
CD: Who is behind your company and how many people do you have on the team?
MW: It's a Limited company, initially funded personally. One main person really runs it, but we have lots of contacts and close help with other bitcoin businesses in the bitcoin world.
CD: What is the process of fulfilling an order?
MW: 1. You choose how many bitcoins you want and provide a bitcoin address. 2. You make the payment using online banking. 3. You click 'Payment sent'. 4. We see the payment. 5. We transfer the bitcoins to you.
CD: Your website states: "Promise of a full refund if the payment arrives late" – what constitutes late?
MW: After two hours have passed.
CD: Is there a limit to the size of transactions you can handle?
MW: Not so much that we can handle, but that we are prepared to do. Know Your Customer rules mean we need to keep amounts low until we can validate customers.
CD: Where do you buy and convert bitcoins for Bittylicious?
MW: Mostly it's selling bitcoins generated from another business, but there are some instances where we have bought in bulk from other providers.
CD: How much of a profit do you make on transactions and do you keep profits in BTC or GBP?
MW: Hardly anything at the moment while we get started. We're not sure about how we will store the profit in the future.
CD: What measures do you take to protect customers' privacy?
MW: More than anything else, a sensible and secure infrastructure is in place and modern programming practices are used. When we come to accept verification documents, these will be strongly encrypted.
CD: Which countries do you plan to serve next?
MW: It's a tough question really and we need to take it on a country-by-country basis depending on what the government in power thinks (or doesn't think) of bitcoins at any time. Probably Western Europe in general to begin with though.
CD: What do you think needs to happen for bitcoin to have mainstream adoption?
MW: Its legal situation needs to be clarified and it needs to be accepted in more places. Banks are clearly anti-bitcoin (whether for 'high risk' concerns or anticompetitive concerns) and that makes things pretty difficult to begin with.