Steve Beauregard is the CEO and founder of GoCoin, a merchant-focused digital currency gateway that offers businesses the ability to accept digital currencies such as BTC, LTC and DOGE.
GoCoin raised $1.5m in funding led by Bitcoin Shop this March to further its goal of expanding the use of digital currencies around the world, and in particular, in emerging markets.
Beauregard recently spoke about his work during the “Bitcoin Merchant On-Ramp” panel at Inside Bitcoins NYC on 7th April as part of a discussion that addressed digital marketing techniques, among other topics. There, CoinDesk sat down with Beauregard for a conversation that touched on his company’s interest in altcoins, its assessment of the international digital currency market and more.
CoinDesk: There’s a number of bitcoin companies competing in the merchant space. GoCoin was a bit of a latecomer, as it was founded in July of last year. Why did you believe GoCoin could compete in the space?
Steve Beauregard: I think within a couple of years there will be five to 10 companies like ours. There’s plenty of space at this point. You’re also going to start to see payment processors vertically align with which verticals they’ll serve.
So, like political campaigns are their own angle. We’ve done some political fundraisers with bitcoin. There’s specific needs, they need to collect certain information, they need to be able to verify who the donor is, and so that’s sort of a niche that we’ve started to carve out that’s more specific.
I think that where you focus your sales efforts is where you’re going to have your most success. We’re looking at international businesses, we’ve got ourselves organized as an international company that’s serving Europe, Southeast Asia and then also the Americas.
Looking beyond digital currencies, which company or companies do you hold up as an ideal for where you want your company to be in the space?
Steve Beauregard: I definitely think of PayPal, that’s sort of the obvious one. That said, I think that we’ve taken more of a laser-focus on serving merchants, we’re not trying to be all things to all people.
I think Coinbase serves many masters if you will. They’re taking the wallet, they’re doing cold storage, they’re more in my mind a consumer play, and ‘Oh by the way, we also serve merchants.’
We take more of a ‘Hey, we’re going to be high-service for merchants, provide solutions for high-volume online operators.’
Your company has also been one of the more high-profile supports of altcoins, adding LTC and DOGE support. Can you speak to the business case for altcoins and why they make sense as part of GoCoin’s strategy?
Steve Beauregard: I think that what’s unique about the other coins is the characteristics of the people who own those coins are different than bitcoin. Bitcoin has a very tech roots, but I see dogecoin skews a bit younger.
Litecoin sort of became, the miners that are mining litecoin are the ones that missed out on the early days of bitcoin, and so, there’s a lot of people who started mining litecoin because they could make a lot more money mining litecoin than mining bitcoin.
They see their money a bit differently, and I think they’re more willing to transact with litecoin in many cases than they are with bitcoin.
Why do you believe other bitcoin businesses have been hesitant to reach out to or otherwise embrace some of the more prominent altcoin communities?
Steve Beauregard: First of all, some people believe that there’s already enough education you have to do to get people to understand bitcoin, and when you get into litecoin it becomes sort of dilutive.
I think that’s one thing, I also think that we’re probably the first company to look at coins as being just another currency and we designed our system from the ground up to be able to bolt on other currencies as we see fit.
So, I think that from our standpoint we’ve designed the system in such a way that is very flexible. I doubt that the first movers in the space designed their systems with the same considerations. I think they built their platforms for bitcoin, while they could take on others, i think it would be very disruptive to their existing base.
Do you see bitcoin as the long-term frontrunner in the space?
Steve Beauregard: I’m agnostic about it. I’m a believer in digital currencies, and i think that each has a characteristic that gives it value.
I like that litecoin is sort of more fair, you don’t need a ton of money to be able to mine litecoin. It doesn’t take as much power and as much electricity. Some of the other coins that are proof of stake have interesting characteristics.
Obviously, bitcoin is the gold standard at this point, but I remember Napster.
Speaking about international markets, there’s been a lot of discussion about how underbanked consumers can benefit from digital currencies. But, there’s also the awareness that these same individuals might not have the tech-savvy to embrace these solutions. What’s your assessment of this gap?
Steve Beauregard: I still think it’s substantial. I don’t really worry about remittances per se, but what’s more interesting to me is the onramp for shoppers.
People who live in Southeast Asia, they can’t shop on Western websites because they don’t have a credit card. I would like to see these tools get to the point where they can shop on these sites, and that there’s enough sites that they want to shop on. The tipping point is the onramp of getting coins in their hands.
I think ATMs will make a big dent, the ability to put cash in and get coins and be able to go shop. I think that’s going to do quite well in Singapore and some of the other more technical countries.
Since your business has a focus on serving Asian markets, can you speak to the situation in this region given the uncertainty with which these regulators are approaching the issue?
Steve Beauregard: I’ll speak more to Singapore. The monetary authority there has been very receptive. They’ve given the same buyer beware warnings, and the tax regulators have given pretty clear guidance there as well.
I think China is the wild card. Thailand’s interesting since they did a reversal, since they’re central bank called bitcoin illegal and they’ve since reversed on that.
Some of the other markets, I haven’t spent as much time analyzing, since they haven’t developed as quickly as I thought they might.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
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