Shakil Khan: Bitcoin can be “money over IP”, but services must get more intuitive

Danny Bradbury
Aug 1, 2013 at 13:06 UTC
Updated Aug 12, 2013 at 17:36 UTC

Bitcoin has an opportunity to make financial transactions truly frictionless, said CoinDesk founder Shakil Khan this week – but companies need solid business plans to make it happen.

There is room for people to introduce efficiencies into the finance sector, said Khan, speaking at the Inside Bitcoins conference on Tuesday. “Why is it in 2013 I can send you an email, a voicemail, or text message, but if someone says ‘you owe me $10 for my pizza last week’ and I try to send it, the bank wants to charge me $27?” he asked. “You might get it next week but it isn’t guaranteed. We have a banking system that’s slower than it’s ever been.”

Bitcoin has the potential to be “an IP address for money,” he said, but bitcoin services must become more intuitive if mainstream adoption is to occur. “Try to buy $10 in bitcoins. It’s easier to get on a plane and fly to Mt. Gox,” he joked, adding that some other bitcoin sites seemed to go out of their way to be difficult to use.

This ease of use will come, but the community needs pragmatic business models to get there, advised UK-born Khan, a tech investor who has advised companies including Spotify, Path, and Summly.

There is a lot of idealism in the bitcoin community, he added, which is vital for startups. But he added that some would-be bitcoin entrepreneurs also need a healthy dose of pragmatism. “We’re investors that want to invest in solid business models,” he said, but added that he hears from entrepreneurs who still dream of using virtual currencies to bring down the banks.

“I tell them: ‘You do realise that the people you talk about bringing down are the same people you’re expecting to fund you?’,” he said. “This divide needs some sort of education, and acceptance that this is the real world.”

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