A Talk with Safir Cu of Coinvoy: Developing the Next Generation of Bitcoin Businesses

In January of 2014 there were a number of articles claiming that this was to be the year of adoption. We are now in September, and it’s starting to look like that is just one of those predictions that didn’t work out. The beginning of the year, in fact, looked pretty dismal with a slew of hacks and scandals leading up to the tremendous crash of the Gox. Since then, adoption appears to have been progressing apace, but with no real breakthroughs like we’ve seen in the past. A survey of social media reveals that a number of people are starting to think that the boom cycle of bitcoin seems to be over.

While it’s true that the really exciting swings we saw in previous years has been notably absent, and in fact on the price front we’ve been seeing a steady, kind of disheartening, decline, it’s also true that the energy being put into the development of the infrastructure of Bitcoin has been gaining speed. The massive spikes of 2013 got people who were sitting on the sidelines researching, thinking, and knocking on the door. Now, all those people are rolling up their sleeves and preparing for the big push. When all those shoulders start hitting that door, we are going to hear a boom the like of which the community has never heard before.

As part of our project to highlight businesses and projects preparing for that push, we were in contact with Safir Cu of Coinvoy, a free, fast and secure payment processor currently in beta.

The first thing I want to ask is where you guys are located and what the Bitcoin economy is like there?

We are currently in Indonesia, where I’m currently writing this from, though we have more employees and consultants located around the world, particularly in the US. After we complete our initial development phase and make our official debut (keep an eye out for the announcement), we will be relocating to Hong Kong.

In general, the Bitcoin economy is pretty robust throughout Asia. Of course different countries have varying degrees of acceptance depending on the political, financial, and social factors, but the dynamism we see, and here I speak from the experiences had by the entire Coinvoy team, is that Bitcoin is extensive, expansive and exciting. Startups are continuing to emerge, angel investors and venture capitalists are pursuing and investing the best business, and the demand for a whole range of services, particularly the kind that we are involved in, continue to increase.

**Get started with Bitcoin at Coinbase.**

It’s importat to know, though, that Asia is a big place. It covers 17.21 million square miles and contains 4.43 billion people. Context matters. A lot. So I want to be very careful about anything I say about cryptocurrencies (we also handle Litecoin and Dogecoin) in any particular venue in Asia. In general, my outlook is very positive about the growth of cryptocurrencies in Asia.

I think the one area to really pay a lot of attention to is China, just by dint of its huge population. The question is not whether China will be a huge role to play in Bitcoin, but how smoothly it will integrate Bitcoin into its economy. It will have to do this without upsetting the delicate balance between the renminbi and the opaque (at best) Chinese political process.

As on Chinese proverb says: “If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people.”

China has the people. Now, let us see how it enables her citizens to use Bitcoin.

How did each of you get involved in Bitcoin? What role do you think it’s going to play in the world in the next few years?

We are friends and colleagues who developed a shared interest in the trajectory of Bitcoin and other digital currencies. Because of the ease of instantaneous communications, we were able to bridge the distances, share our enthusiasm and get this business together.

About what’s going to happen with Bitcoin over the next few years, it seems to us that the first part of the story of Bitcoin is about acceptance. That is, moving Bitcoin from being a mathematical theory dreamt up by the anonymous Satoshi Nakamoto to being adopted by millions of people around the world. It’s quite a thing to get so many people around the world opting for a digital currency that no one controls over the fiat that people are used to using every day.

If the first part of the story is acceptance, and we believe that stage is nearing completion, then the second phase will be about service. Acceptance gets you to a point where people are using Bitcoin, service makes Bitcoin useable for everyone. Now service is important in the fiat world as well, but Bitcoin is a free and open market which will decide the winners and losers based on the quality of the product or service they bring to the market. There will be no lobbyists or legislators to distort market conditions to favor one group at the expense of another.

I would say that Bitcoin is one of the more efficiently run markets around because it is self-policed by its own members, and independent news outlets like BitcoinWarrior.net help to keep the community informed about what’s going on in real time. That’s the core of how Bitcoin operates.

To give an example, Overstock.com is no outlier here. The fact that they accept, and champion, Bitcoin, shows how crucial service is, and how it will create a virtuous cycle. Businesses like Overstock accept Bitcoin to give better service and get an edge on the competition. Their completion will need to accept Bitcoin and improve their own service in order to stay viable in the market. Because of this, we expect the number of businesses that accept Bitcoin to continue to increase.

At the center of all of this is the payment processor. These services are the vital link responsible for making these operations swift, seamless and secure. The technology now being developed is state-of-the-art and based on sound mathematics. That being said, it’s the human element, the personal touch, that will be the real deciding factor, and that’s what we at Coinvoy mean to make our signature.

The founder of Coinvoy is Alp Deniz, who has expertize in a broad range of fields, including software engineering and aerospace engineering. What motivated Alp to create a free payment platform for cryptocurrencies?

As an engineer, Alp has developed a different perspective about how mechanics and software work. He has a unique understanding about the way people use and benefit from technology. He is a dynamic personality who is always looking for ways to improve, strengthen, streamline, and transform existing systems, whether they be business portals or commercial platforms for processing digital currency transactions.

Alp identifies the things that the thinks he can make a difference with by asking a simple question: Does this industry have room for substantial growth where my talents can make a critical difference? With Bitcoin, he answered ‘yes.’

Alp was particularly intrigued by the fact that Bitcoin is a cooperative effort in much the same way that Wikipedia is built on the cooperation of millions of people independently accessing, reviewing, and correcting a huge database of data. This kind of thing really appeals to Alp’s sense of creativity and his thirst for information.

And of course, the mining, use, and acceptance of Bitcoin, Dogecoin, and Litecoin is a fast-changing environment with huge potential that is attracting the attention of huge numbers of entrepreneurs and investors. Alp thought he would regret it if he didn’t try to do something significant in this space.

Everyone at Coinvoy share’s Alp’s outlook, which explains how Coinvoy got started. The long-term goal of the company is to become the payment processing resource for merchants, consumers, financial institutions, global corporations, and individual users.

You have an example of Coinvoy running on your site right now as your donate button. From a user perspective, it seems really clean and easy to use. On the other hand, as someone who isn’t a developer, looking at the code on Github, I wondered if I would be able to implement it for my site. Right now my donate button is really just a QR code. What’s the advantage for someone like me to use Coinvoy instead of just the QR code?

First, it is our objective to make Coinvoy easy to use. Before beginning development, our research told us that this is what we needed to focus on the most. It is the essence of our brand. Further, our API will be even more interactive, elegant, and progressive as we grow. We will be launching an API contest and a hackathon to encourage the most talented developers to join Coinvoy.

The advantages of adding a donate button to your website are twofold: First, the donate button is direct and unambiguous; you’re customers will know exactly what to do with it. Second, QR codes have become a bit of a victim of their own success. You see them around a lot, but they are rarely used effectively. Take the QR code on your site. The people visiting probably won’t be scanning that code to donate – meaning that you have made it more difficult for them to donate to them. The donate button works naturally with what people want to do, while the QR code works against it on sites like yours.

For those of us who are less technical, what advice do you have for getting this set up?

Ask. Service is what we are all about and we want to make using Coinvoy as simple and pain-free as possible. We are working hard to make this system fast, secure, and convenient.

And if someone needs help, we have a commitment to get back to that person with a helpful response as quickly as possible.

To return to an earlier point, it is our conviction that mass acceptance of digital currencies will be accelerated in direct proportion to the speed and quality of service Bitcoin related businesses offer users. If they can trust those businesses and find them easy and useful to use, they will come. We want to make executing transactions simple, secure and non-technical.

Put another way, Coinvoy is the product of smart engineering . . . for non-engineers. So, if you have questions about our offerings or need help implementing something from our site, we are here to help.

Actually, I’m really interested in how the escrow function of Coinvoy works. I understand that the payment will get ‘stopped’ until it gets a fulfillment signal. If I’m a merchant, I may have funds put into escrow in order to be released on delivery. Can you tell me about the mechanism to release the funds to the merchant on fulfillment or back to the purchaser if the order wasn’t fulfilled? And, what happens if there’s a dispute about fulfillment?

Coinvoy has set up an escrow feature which allows people making a transaction to establish the terms of that transaction. The money will be held in escrow until the terms are proven to be either fulfilled or not fulfilled, and then the coins are automatically forwarded to the right party. For example, if I agree to perform a service upon a certain date, my client can put those funds into escrow. Coinvoy holds the keys and releases the funds upon being notified that the contract has or has not been fulfilled.

This system is similar to what is done by eBay and means that Coinvoy would arbitrate any disputes. For those making use of this service, we would remind them to be very careful of the wording of the contract since we will be bound by it when releasing funds.

One further exciting note is that one party can agree to pay in one Bitcoin and the other to be paid in Litecoin.

You also say that Coinvoy can operate as currency exchange. Can you tell me how that works?

Well, it’s really what we just talked about with escrow. We will be able to convert between accepted digital currencies between people making transactions to make the process as smooth as possible. The transactions are cheap, swift, and secure.

The platform works with Dogecoin and Litecoin in addition to Bitcoin. What’s your impression of the role altcoins will play in the development of cryptocurrencies? Do you think any of them stand a chance of replacing Bitcoin, do you see them as a ‘fall-back’ position, or as a testing ground for innovation that might be applied to Bitcoin?

We think of these currencies as options, not answers. There are advocates for a variety of digital currencies, and, rather than exclude an entire community of users who use Dogecoin or Litecoin, we think it is best to have a platform that will accommodate Bitcoin and its principal alternatives.

We are also not economic soothsayers; we do not have some exclusive window into the future of Bitcoin versus Dogecoin or Litecoin. It would be premature to make any kind of prediction about which currency will ultimately be the winner, or the role the other altcoins will play.

All we can say is that we thing that digital, peer-to-peer currencies as attractive, fungible alternatives to fiat, are here to stay.

For now, we are happy to enable users to complete transactions within any and all of these types of payment.

This is a free service. Is this a non-profit operation or do you hope to monetize it (beyond donations) in some way?

Apart from donations, Coinvoy generates some revenue through optimizing the transaction fees intrinsic to Bitcoin. As we add new features, and as our brand evolves, we expect to partially monetize our operations through premium services. In this way, we believe we will become one of the top payment processors for a diverse number of coins.

We want to build a brand which is built on the values of transparency, high-quality service and personal integrity. This is what will help Coinvoy flourish.

If someone wanted to help with the project, how would they go about doing that?

Readers of this interview may email us at support@coinvoy.net. We promote a culture of collaboration and mutual benefit. We always love to hear from prospective contributors.

Finally, if you were talking with a merchant who didn’t really know much about Bitcoin other than the headlines, what’s your elevator pitch to that person to get them to try accepting Bitcoin for their business?

Our “elevator pitch” is the following: Bitcoin is a global phenomenon, with acceptance among top merchants and blue chip retailers. Users want the option to make payments with this digital currency. The facts about this demand are incontrovertible. Coinvoy makes processing those transactions fast, easy and secure.

Visit Coinvoy for more information.