By Victoria Van Eyk, Bitcoin Magazine
On March 24th, Israel’s most reputable exchange entered the booming Vietnamese market.
Bitcoin arrives in Vietnam! Photo from Bitcoin Magazine.
Israel & Bitcoin: Fertile Ground
Bit2C Ltd, one of Israel’s largest bitcoin exchanges, was born only one year ago. When Co-founder and CEO Eli Bejerano was introduced to bitcoin, he saw potential for it immediately. Initially, he wanted to create a news site for bitcoiners, but written in Hebrew, since most of the information on the innovation was in English. However, his idea quickly transformed from a bitcoin news site to a bitcoin exchange, where Israelites could buy and sell the cryptocurrency:
“We noticed that Israelis needed to take their currency and [transfer it] into dollars and send it abroad,” Eli explains. So, he teamed up with Haddar Macdasi, now Bit2C’s Chief Technological Officer, and created a real-live exchange: “We have our own market based on supply and demand here in Israel.”
By Eli’s estimate, Israel is one of today’s biggest bitcoin communities in the world. Israel hosts the world’s “biggest or second-biggest” meetup group with over 200 businesses accepting the currency. The country currently boasts over 100 start-ups centered around Bitcoin technology: “You can buy almost everything with bitcoin; restaurants, computer shops, barbers, bakeries, garages,” Eli explains.
Israel offers a fertile ground for the flourishing of bitcoin since its populace is interested and innovative in both finance and technology: “Israelis,” says Eli, “they like tech and they like finance. There’s a big and respectable community [here] around bitcoin.”
Yet the environment is not exactly ‘warm’ to the innovation. The Bank of Israel recently issued a statement warning about bitcoin; from the Israeli bitcoin community’s point of view, they figure that Israel will follow suit with the United States’ decisions on the currency. Recently, the USA issued an announcement that Bitcoin would be taxed like a capital gain: “Some see this as good news, some see it as bad,” Eli reflects. “Even if people want to do what the law offers to do, it’s going to be very hard to track everything with bitcoin.”
Even given the potential obstacles, Bit2C has been very successful in the past year, mostly due to their safe and secure bitcoin storage process: “our technology is very unique, because not a lot of exchanges around the world use cold storage. We use cold storage for 95% of [our] bitcoins, so even if it gets hacked, no one can access [them]. We can never get ‘Goxed.’”
This very attribute has garnered the company massive global attention; however, Eli and his team decided to focus on the incredible Vietnamese market for their first international launch.
The idea to expand into Vietnam was developed over a bitcoin-purchased beer in an Israeli bar. Eli’s friend, Dominik, a German bitcoiner, understood the opportunity for bitcoin in Vietnam, as his wife is Vietnamese. Both men saw the opportunity to implement Eli’s coveted technology in Vietnam and overcome the language barrier by using Dominik’s unique connection: “The main problem is the language barrier. We will supply the technology, and Bitcoin Vietnam Co. Ltd will supply the presence. [When] they have a site in place that communicates in Vietnamese and trades bitcoin [using our technology], it will be a great success.”
Bit2C’s stress-tested and proven technology comes at a dire time for Vietnam. The country is a quickly-expanding market, with over 80 million people suffering from the effects of inflation: “a big percentage of [Vietnamese people] have money, but don’t know where to put it,” Eli explains. “Real estate is [expensive] there, and the price of living is very high [due to] inflation.” Adopting bitcoin allows Vietnamese people to retain the value of their money.
Read the full article by Victoria Van Eyk from Bitcoin Magazine.