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EXCLUSIVE: CoinFlip CEO Ben Weiss Seeks To Make Buying Crypto Easier
By Phil Hall,
It often seems that everyone is talking about cryptocurrency, but many people are still uncertain on how to become part of the digital action. And that’s where Chicago-based CoinFlip seeks to be of service.
Chicago-based CoinFlip operates the world's largest network of cryptocurrency ATMs by volume and an over-the-counter trading service. Ben Weiss, the company’s co-founder and CEO, recently spoke with Benzinga about his company’s work in bringing more people into the cryptocurrency sphere.
Q: For the benefit of people who are not familiar with your company, when did CoinFlip begin and why did it begin?
Weiss: CoinFlip began in 2015 when me and my co-founders were 20 years old. We believed in a decentralized economy, a decentralized financial system, and Bitcoin (CRYPTO: BTC) and cryptocurrency. But we saw how difficult it was for those of us who are pretty good with technology to buy it.
And we thought, ‘If this is ever going to hit mass adoption, the average person has to be able to buy it. And not just the average person, but the person who's never sent an email should also have the ability to buy it as well.’ So, we wanted to make cryptocurrency as inclusive as possible for everyone.
Q: How does CoinFlip work?
Weiss: CoinFlip is a crypto-powered financial company and we can assist you in whatever way you want to buy Bitcoin. We take wire transfers, ACH and credit card, and we have physical kiosk locations in 49 states that we operate where anyone can go in with just a wallet and physical cash, scan their wallet and put in dollars and get their coin.
And there's 24/7 customer support on all aspects. So, any way you want to buy Bitcoin, you can buy it. And whether it's 20 bucks or 1,000 bucks or 2,000 bucks, we make it as easy as possible for people to get into cryptocurrency.
The whole concept of CoinFlip is that it should be as easy as possible to buy it. And time and time again, I think tech people sometimes make their products for other tech people – but always had the idea of being customer facing. So, we have over 30 full-time employees who are customer support and are all in-house – there's no call center and the average wait time on the phone is 12 seconds before we pick up. Last year, we answered over 86,000 customer support calls and this year it will probably be double.
Q: What was the market like in 2015 when you started the company – were there still a lot of people who never heard of Bitcoin?
Weiss: It was definitely niche. You've had the techies, the libertarians, and a lot of people who first bought it just thought it was cool and wasn't necessarily even a great investment. Even in 2016 and 2017, we saw people who you wouldn't necessarily think would buy Bitcoin, wanted to buy it, but they just didn't know how.
Q: We keep mentioning Bitcoin – does CoinFlip also encompass Dogecoin (CRYPTO: DOGE) and Ethereum (CRYPTO: ETH) and the thousands of other cryptocurrencies that are out there?
Weiss: We sell Dogecoin, Litecoin (CRYPTO:LITE) and some other coins as well. We don't sell thousands of coins because we need to make sure there's a vetting process for coins, but we have the capability to sell anything in the future including NFTs. Most of the business is still Bitcoin – that is the most popular coin.
Q: Every now and then, people online get excited about the Dogecoin going to the moon. Have you seen any evidence of a lunar take off from the Dogecoin inquiries that you get with your company?
Weiss: Dogecoin has been a very popular coin and people have seen how it's performed. What Dogecoin has shown is that retail investors have power, and people taking collective action on the Internet can have power and make a difference. Dogecoin has been a great addition to CoinFlip and it fits in with our strategy.
Q: You made news several months back with theannouncementof your marketing partnership with actor Neil Patrick Harris. Where is that today?
Weiss: Our commercials are still airing all over the U.S. in major metropolitan areas and that's going to continue to happen. Neil Patrick Harris was an early investor in cryptocurrency and I think having brand ambassadors and celebrities especially those who believe in what they're advocating, does make a difference in getting the message out.
Q: Where do you see cryptocurrency as a whole heading in the next 12 months? Do you think that the federal government is going to do some sort of a regulatory clamp down on the sector?
Weiss: I think smart regulation will be good for the price of Bitcoin, and legislation would actually be a positive for this space. I think Q4 fundamentals look very strong for Bitcoin and Ethereum, and I think 2022 in general is going to be a huge year for crypto.
Q: And what do you see for your company in the next 12 months?
Weiss: Besides plastering the whole United States with ATMs and having our trade desk, we are going to be expanding internationally with ATMs by Q1 2022. Also, we've increased our digital product offerings – we’re mostly well-known for ATMs, but our digital side of the business has really taken off, and we are now doing ACH same day for smaller amounts.
And we’re going to continue to add more products for customers to make whatever choice they want. It's their choice, but we want to be there for them.
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