itBit Hires Ex-PayPal Manager and SecondMarket Analyst

Jon Southurst
May 8, 2014 at 12:17 UTC
Updated May 18, 2015 at 13:54 UTC

Singapore-based bitcoin exchange itBit has announced two new hires it hopes will strengthen its credibility in the traditional financial industry and assure users it is being responsible with their funds.

The company’s hirings are significant: a senior manager at PayPal and an analyst fresh from a long stint at SecondMarket, the online marketplace for trading illiquid assets and parent company of the Bitcoin Investment Trust.

Together they bring expertise from the mainstream payments industry and other sections of the bitcoin economy to the young Asian exchange.

Erik Wilgenhof Plante

The first new hire is Erik Wilgenhof Plante, who takes on the newly created position of chief compliance officer.

Erik Wilgenhof Plante

Wilgenhof Plante was previously responsible for compliance at PayPal across Southeast Asia, and has 15 years’ total experience in law and banking at companies like DZ Privatbank, Clariden Leu, Commerzbank and ABN AMRO.

He is also network chairman and fellow of the International Compliance Association, a Financial Industry Certified Professional, and a founding board member of the Singapore chapter of the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists.

Writing on the company blog, Wilgenhof Plante said that building trust was key to success with both institutional and retail investors and this was itBit’s key focus:

“itBit was created with compliance, security and customer experience at its core. With this long-term vision, we believe that we will be able to build the trust needed to be successful.”

Defending bitcoin

Wilgenhof Plante noted that itBit was part of the “second wave” of bitcoin companies in a defence of bitcoin in this recent Bloomberg interview, in which the interviewer John Dawson claimed bitcoin faces “a tidal wave of concern from the public” due to past scandals, including Mt. Gox.

“With trust comes regulation, as it’s very hard to create this trust,” he said, continuing:

“Once regulators come out with proper and pragmatic regulation, we will see an upsurge no doubt. We have a professional team, all ex-bankers […] we take this seriously, we take our customers seriously. We want to protect them, we want to have a secure environment, and we want to be regulated.”

He gave Singapore as an example of one country where such desirable regulation was being investigated. Bitcoin would not replace the financial industry, he said, but needed to connect with it all the same.

Bobby Cho

Bobby-Cho-itbit

The second new hire is Bobby Cho, who will be a New York-based director focused on business development.

Cho was at SecondMarket for six years as a trader in illiquid financial products including bitcoin. In addition, he is active on the bitcoin scene and a regular on the speaker circuit.

itBit CEO and co-founder Rich Teo commented:

“Bobby is a well-known figure in the bitcoin industry and we are excited to gain his talents and insights.”

“Coming from a traditional Wall Street environment, I see the huge opportunity for a credible, regulated bitcoin exchange to make a significant impact on the growth of the bitcoin ecosystem,” added Cho.

Company image

As a bitcoin exchange, itBit’s gaze has always been directed mainly towards the financial industry, with high net worth and institutional investors its primary target customers. To attract these customers it has maintained an emphasis on regulation and security.

The exchange recently announced it would “soak up” international bank transfer fees at the Singapore end on incoming transfers over $2,500, for its customers outside Singapore (who also tend to be the larger investors). About 50% of its clientele is based in Singapore, where local bank transfers are free.

Disclaimer: CoinDesk founder Shakil Khan is an investor in SecondMarket.

Hire Image via Shutterstock