The Big Interview

ShapeShift: ‘a fiat-less system that protects the customer’

Coin Rivet meets Erik Voorhees, who created Bitcoin company Coinapult and gambling website Satoshi Dice before founding ShapeShift in 2014.

Coin Rivet: Tell us about ShapeShift.

EV: ShapeShift was founded in 2014, after we identified a need for users to be able to quickly, and safely, exchange one digital asset for another. Exchanges have typically been slow, requiring users to deposit funds, wait for approvals and blockchain confirmations, and account opening. We built the technology, and a “fiat-less” system, that protects the customer.

We protect our customers by allowing them to make the exchange without the high amount of risk that comes with holding customer’s accounts. This sets us apart from a more traditional exchange.

Besides the exchange itself, one of our key features is our integration API. We have partnered with many cryptocurrency projects to enable their customers to convert assets easily.

Coin Rivet: What was the inspiration behind setting up the company?

EV: Our inspiration was to provide a safe and frictionless exchange experience between digital assets. We figured there was a better model than requiring customers to store funds with a third party. The crypto ethos is about being in charge of your own money, and ShapeShift gives users a means of expressing this principle.

Coin Rivet: What has the industry reaction been so far?

EV: People love it, appreciate its anonymity, and how easy it is to use. This opened the door for people not only to make an exchange, but for people to learn more about various tokens, and to be able to hold what they want.

Coin Rivet: What has been your biggest challenge?

EV: The regulatory climate, both in the US and globally, has been the most difficult obstacle to nearly all crypto companies. This technology blurs many lines, is borderless, and fundamentally changes how money and value operate. Regulatory agencies do not have the humility to recognise their own ignorance, so they often try to pigeonhole crypto into various buckets.

At best, these buckets hinder progress, and at worst, they prevent entire companies from forming or building. A great wealth of innovation never occurs because many entrepreneurs are too scared of regulators, or simply don’t have millions of dollars to spend on lawyers. Of course, all the status quo legacy financial companies love regulations, and use them as a competitive moat to prevent new market participants from disrupting their business model.

Coin Rivet: What was the best question a) an investor and b) a customer has asked of you concerning either the market or the company itself?

EV: a) You really think Bitcoin will go back to $1,000? b) Can I work for you guys?

Coin Rivet: What can we expect to see from Shapeshift over the next 12 months?

EV: We are going to continue to develop and build digital products that delight, protect, empower and inspire those around us, and continue to advocate against archaic regulations and the unethical financial foundation of centrally-controlled fiat currencies.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author should not be considered as financial advice. We do not give advice on financial products.


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