After restructuring the bitcoin wallet product to fit Europe’s anti-money laundering directive (AMLD5), the British startup is offering an exchange wallet with social features on Reddit, Twitter and Discord. Bottlepay co-founder Pete Cheyne said there are over 1,000 people on the waitlist for the closed beta relaunch in August.
“Because we’re moving to an app-native product there’s a lot more we can do,” Cheyne said. “We’re also adding in the ability to have scheduled payments to buy more bitcoin.”
Square’s Cash App and others already offer this feature in the United States, but in Europe, where Bottlepay is focused, there’s even an added feature that forwards the bitcoin to another wallet address if desired. This means users may choose custodial or non-custodial services.
“Lightning works in the background, without users having to manage channels,” Cheyne added. “There will be a small fee for exchanging between fiat and bitcoin, and vice versa. … There will also be tiers because people are interested in our app for different use cases.”
Bottlepay CEO Mark Webster said his team of 11 employees has “constant funding” from their angel investors, who previously traded equity for $2 million in 2019. Webster added the company won’t support tokens in the near future, although it might someday. This year it is all about bitcoin.
“I think Lightning is at the core of the strategy,” Webster said, referring to the bitcoin scaling solution. “As consumer demand increases we can open more channels.”
As part of this shift, Webster said he is hiring, not tightening his belt for the recession, hoping to grow the team to roughly 35 people by 2021. Cheyne said several of the hires so far have been for the marketing and legal teams, which did a vast restructuring of the product. The added hassle of know-your-customer requirements also created an opportunity for wallet features.
“You can store a fiat balance,” Cheyne said. “Scan a Lightning code and pay that from your pound or euro balance.”
For now, Bottlepay will only open the beta program to users in Europe. But Webster said the company hopes to open the beta to Americans and reactivate Telegram options by 2021. When it does, it may be one of the few fiat-friendly wallets that leverages Lightning without any hassle for the user. In some ways, this is comparable to the American Lightning-powered consumer app Strike.
“This time away has been valuable for the company to refine our strategy,” Webster said. “We’re still extremely focused on Lightning.”