If things go according to Jesse Heaslip’s plans, Bitcoin exchanges around the world will soon be using his company’s product.
Heaslip is the cofounder and CEO of Bex.io, a Vancouver-based tech startup. His team started working on a cloud-hosted platform for localized digital currency exchanges a year ago, and has raised almost $1 million in funding. Bex.io has signed three partners, including one in Canada, and is preparing to launch.
Bex.io plans to make money by splitting transaction fees with its partners, which also have to make a down payment. Heaslip’s goal is to provide the platform for one or more exchanges in every country on the planet.
The Georgia Straight interviewed Heaslip over the phone.
What is Bex.io working on?
Bex is a white-label digital currency exchange platform. So, we’re basically tackling the problem of operating a digital currency exchange all over the world. There’s certain parts of that business that are repeatable, so that’s the technology stack underneath. There’s certain parts of it that aren’t repeatable, and that’s the money-service licence in each country and the banking relationship in each country and those local marketing channels.
Our business handles all the repeatable parts, all the technical aspects of running an exchange. We partner with groups around the globe that manage all the local relationships.
What are the security implications of cloud-hosted exchanges?
Security is basically a never-ending process, where you’re constantly trying to improve the security levels of your platform. Hosting is certainly one aspect of it. There’s no perfect solution to this, and we’re just doing everything we can to make sure our platform is secure as possible.
Could what allegedly happened at Mt. Gox happen to a Bex.io exchange?
It could, and you’ll see the same thing with a lot of the other exchanges. What happened with Gox was some really, really poor internal accounting. So, they had a leak. They didn’t have the processes in place to identify that leak. I imagine you’ll see every exchange, including ourselves, revisiting their processes and ensuring that sort of situation cannot happen to us. We’ve already taken corrective action—not that it was actually needed, but we put extra guards in place to make sure that sort of thing does not happen with our platform.
How do you think Bitcoin should be regulated in Canada?
Well, I think the current environment—there’s no definition to it. There’s benefits and drawbacks to that. Certainly, from an entrepreneur’s standpoint, it allows us to focus on innovating our product versus fighting the regulatory battles. But really for Bitcoin to grow as a regulatory protocol and to be accepted into the mainstream financial industry—that industry is used to having rules defined for them. And I think that’s going to happen here in Bitcoin—there’s no question—as it moves forward.
It’s actually been a benefit to Canadian entrepreneurs in the short term. We see some really cool projects coming out of Canada, including ourselves, Coinkite, and Ethereum out of Toronto. There’s some really innovative stuff that’s happening as a result of having low levels of regulation. But, ultimately, going forward I think the more the rules are defined, the better off it is for everyone.
What got you into cryptocurrencies in the first place?
Both my partner and I, for the last year, we’ve been living, breathing this world. But before that, we were tangentially involved. I had a lot of friends that were speculating on and mining Bitcoin. We kept abreast of the opportunity. Then, about a year ago, we started looking at is there something we can do in this space. It fits philosophically really well with both [Bex.io cofounder] Yurii [Rashkovskii] and I, in terms of how the financial system has been evolved over time.
It’s obvious that something like Bitcoin is going to become predominant in this ecosystem. We were able to put together a landing page and get customers that felt the same way we did and parlayed that into a group of investors that felt the same way we did about how this thing may potentially evolve. From there, it’s just grown.