Amy Wan with Bling joins us to discuss how you can earn real Bitcoin just by playing mobile games!
Amy is Founder & CEO of Bling, a mobile gaming platform that enables game developers to monetize and acquire users through bitcoin rewards. With her securities law background, she hosts the American Bar Association’s Law and Blockchain Podcast and has authored the Bloomberg Law practice guide to ICOs and Lexis Nexus’ Private Equity practice guide. She is also a Partner at Sosnow & Associates PLLC and founder of Bootstrap Legal, a document automation service. Previously, Amy was General Counsel at a real estate crowdfunding platform, and founder of Legal Hackers LA. Accolades include being named one of ten women to watch in legal technology by the American Bar Association Journal in 2014 and one of 18 millennials changing legaltech by law.com in 2018; and was nominated as a Finalist for the Corporate Counsel of the Year Award 2015 by LA Business Journal.
Amy has also worked in international regulatory and trade policy at the U.S. Department of Commerce, and was a Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Transportation. She holds an LL.M. in Public International Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science, a JD from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, and a BA in Biological Sciences from the University of Southern California.
*Disclaimer. None of this information is financial advice.
The following transcript was created using artificial intelligence. There will be some grammatical errors below.
00:00:00:03 – 00:00:12:08
Richard Carthon: Hello everyone, welcome to another episode. Today we have a very special guest joining us here on Crypto Current, your host here Richard Carthon and we have Amy Wan with Ling, thank you so much for joining us today. How are you doing?
00:00:13:06 – 00:00:15:07
Amy Wan: I’m good. Thanks so much for having me.
00:00:15:09 – 00:00:21:13
Richard Carthon: Of course, of course. Well before we get too heavy into this conversation today, how about we start off with a little background on yourself?
00:00:22:12 – 00:00:31:12
Amy Wan: Yeah, definitely. So, I don’t think I have the traditional background of a crypto founder. I’m actually a former securities attorney.
00:00:31:24 – 00:00:32:13
Richard Carthon: Nice.
00:00:32:15 – 00:01:05:11
Amy Wan: And yeah and you know I’ve been you know partner at law firms before, I’ve been general counsel at startups. And so, I have you know my background has been in tech securities and actually spent some time in the federal government as well. But back then I was doing international trade policy, so I come at this with much more of a legal background I guess than most other founders.
00:01:05:13 – 00:01:20:02
Richard Carthon: Yeah, which it’s always unique to hear how people got into the block chain and crypto space in the first place and their backgrounds and then how it’s relevant to what they’re doing in their everyday lives now. So I was actually gonna ask you like what was your first introduction into this space?
00:01:21:04 – 00:01:50:09
Amy Wan: Oh gosh. So the first time I ever really heard about Bitcoin it was probably back in 2012, I was working in the federal government at that point and getting really tired of pushing around paper, and so to take my frustrations out on something outside of the workplace I you know I think I joined like a Coursera course to learn how to code and they were like “Oh you should build a website and ask people for Bitcoin”, and I was like “What is this Bitcoin thing”?
00:01:51:13 – 00:02:10:19
Amy Wan: That’s the first thing I really heard about it, but I really you know started making it my full time thing back in 2017. Back then, I was you know an attorney that specifically helped I would say more innovative fintech companies.
00:02:11:12 – 00:02:11:27
Richard Carthon: Mhmm.
00:02:11:29 – 00:02:29:18
Amy Wan: And 2017 obviously is when crypto is exploding and ICOs were really taking off and I had my phone was just ringing off the hook with all these people like I want to do this ICO and I was like well great, you can, you just have to do it in a legally compliant fashion and no one really wanted to do that, of course.
00:02:31:12 – 00:02:31:27
Richard Carthon: Right.
00:02:31:29 – 00:03:19:23
Amy Wan: A couple people did phenomenal, but you know I started reading the crypto news everyday back then and that’s when I started noticing these things about smart contracts and I dug deep and thought, “Hey in order for smart contract technology to really work you need a dispute resolution infrastructure,” and so that’s actually when we started the company. The company started off as sage wise it was dispute resolution infrastructure legal tech block chain company but we didn’t really have product market fit, and so about a year ago in May 2019 we pivoted into mobile gaming because we thought that would have much more traction, much more product market fit and it’s just it’s taken off since then.
00:03:19:25 – 00:03:41:12
Richard Carthon: Awesome, so okay let’s go there so you learned first about crypto Bitcoin back in 2012 then 2017 you like, “Okay how can I turn this into a business?” and then you start off with your original concept of Bling, can you just explain what it was, what were you trying to accomplish and then speed this up to today how you pivoted into gaming?
00:03:42:08 – 00:04:04:02
Amy Wan: Yeah, so when we started off it was sage wise, right? And we thought. “Hey you know smart contract technology in order for it to work you really need to provide dispute resolution infrastructure” because and I don’t want to get into the nitty gritty, but you know it’s it you know things are not always as black and white as they seem, right?
00:04:04:15 – 00:04:05:00
Ricard Carthon: Mhmm.
00:04:05:02 – 00:05:19:24
Amy Wan: But you know, we have talked to ICO projects, we even talked to enterprise and you know, we just thought that’s where contract adoption was so far behind that you know, we were going to need 10 years of funding before we saw it ever become more widely used and we thought you know, we could sit here for 10 years or we could just do something that’s more relevant today, so we opted for the latter and that’s how we came up with Bling. Bling is short for Bling Financial. Our website is BlingFi.com and basically we launched our first game in May of 2019, it was called Bitcoin Blast, it’s our version of Candy Crush. But the premise of all our games is you know, instead of paying money to play games, we will actually pay you money to play our game. So users they can, we’re currently on Android only, they can download our games and the more they play, whether they win or lose, they are rewarded in Bling points and usually after about 15 minutes of playing, you can earn enough Bling points, which convert them to Bitcoin.
00:05:20:10 – 00:06:04:06
Amy Wan: So now we’ve got three different games, it’s Bitcoin Blast, Bitcoin Blocks, which is you know, kind of like our version of Tomb Blast and then Bitcoin Solitaire, which is you know, it’s a different genre that was through our partnership with Playday Studios. All our games allow you to earn Bling points, so you know Bling is the underlying platform that powers all of this and my co-founder and I you know, we come from legal tech and fintech and so eventually we’d like to be able to offer our users financial products or something like that. You know our mission I would say is twofold.
00:06:04:08 – 00:06:54:00
Amy Wan: One is we saw that you know, it’s very complicated for a lot of users to own their first cryptocurrency, it’s like a twelve step process. You have to convert your local fee, find a way to convert your local fee into Bitcoin, then you know, depending on what country you’re in you have to you know, upload your driver’s license to an email and all this kind of stuff and then convert from that to whatever you want and you have to know how to use private keys and all this security stuff. It was so complicated, right? And you have to even want to buy in the first place and most people, like I remember when we embarked on this I asked my brother, “Do you own any Bitcoins?” “No it’s too expensive” and I was like, “You know you don’t have to buy the whole thing, right?” But a lot of people don’t know that.
00:06:54:07 – 00:06:54:22
Richard Carthon: Right.
00:06:54:24 – 00:07:21:13
Amy Wan: Yeah, so we thought, “Hey what if we onboarded new people onto cryptocurrency by letting them do something fun and earn it and out of that,” our mission has kind of become you know, I would say, like how do we educate people about finances and money and kind of reinvent that relationship that people have with money to make it a lot more fun.
00:07:21:15 – 00:08:01:09
Richard Carthon: Right. Okay, so that is a very interesting take on it cause I was going to ask you as you’re building this out and I’m sure you’re getting some adoption, people playing with the game and you know, understanding the reward system of Hey I play this game, now I can convert this into Bitcoin and what have you. What is the ultimate value prop that you are trying to do like with your business? Is it to teach the concept of hey get paid for things that you’re already doing and have fun with it and here’s how you can get your first taste of cryptocurrency or is it like, Hey this is our onboarding ramp up like, Hey y’all are used to our brand and by the way we also do these like financial services, like what’s the journey that you’re trying to bring your users on?
00:08:01:11 – 00:08:44:03
Amy Wan: I think primarily we are trying to reinvent the relationship that a lot of people have with money, it’s usually very anxiety ridden, it’s very stressful. We happen to use Bitcoin because we think that currently it’s the most sound form of money, especially you know, especially these days when the U.S. government is printing out what, like six trillion dollars? And it’s suddenly become you know, even for people in the U.S. like a very sound form of money, right? And then you know and as part of that whole journey, I feel like we want to form our relationship with our users, in which we really educate them and really try to reimagine like you know, what relationship could you have with me?
00:08:44:20 – 00:09:04:15
Amy Wan: I think there’s a lot of traditional financial and even some tech companies out there that try to make it fun, the experience for money fun, but it’s actually, it’s still not really fun right and we thought well, “How could you get more fun in? And really it’s games. People love games.
00:09:04:17 – 00:09:12:06
Richard Carthon: Yeah, and that is a great insertion point for people to, adoption of almost anything almost all.
00:09:12:08 – 00:09:13:12
Amy Wan: Oh definitely.
00:09:13:15 – 00:09:49:15
Richard Carthon: Our applications have gamified something in it, because people like the ability to either play something or to level up or to get some sort of reward, what have you. I mean you said earlier, like the idea of like Candy Crush, like to be able to level up and get all these points instead of getting further in the game, now you can, like actually turn that into money that you can use in everyday use cases, very unique. And for everyone listening, check out the game. Like where else do you know where you can literally go play a game for 15 minutes or for hours on end and get paid in Bitcoin? Like that, that sounds so cool to me.
00:09:49:21 – 00:09:52:27
Amy Wan: Awesome, glad you’re excited about it.
00:09:53:02 – 00:10:21:13
Richard Carthon: No doubt. Well you know, you’ve been a crypto and block chain space for eight years now and there’s a lot that has happened. Even like as we look at the world with you know, Covid and how it’s impacting the future of everything that’s going on from a global standpoint and even in the crypto and block chain space the first part of my question is, What are some things that you’re looking out for and has your attention? And then the second part is you know, What are things on the horizon that you think people should be paying attention to?
00:10:21:15 – 00:11:40:21
Amy Wan: Yeah, so I know this is not actually a sexy answer cause everyone wants to talk about these like crazy crypto or block chain projects, but I actually I spend a lot of time looking at you know Square Cash, Robin Hood, Coinbase, you know, Coins.P.H. because you know, I think for a lot of people they think, “Oh it’s not sexy, they’re these in the crypto industry and they’ve been around for a while and they figured it out,” but I think that’s exactly why they’re so interesting, they’ve really figured out how to onboard people onto crypto, they have very loyal user bases, you know, everyday gave their onboarding people onto in a way that I think creates an easier user experience for your average person that’s not that technologically savvy and they’re still experimenting and trying out products everyday. I mean they have huge audiences. I think we’re pretty big, given our user base in comparison with other crypto companies. We have you know, like 1.5 million registered users now, but still.
00:11:40:23 – 00:11:41:08
Richard Carthon: That’s great.
00:11:41:12 – 00:12:04:14
Amy Wan: We’re still pretty small compared to the big guys and I’m constantly wondering how do we get there and you know, how can we better achieve product market fit with something that people really want because at the end of the day I think that’s what makes one of these companies sustainable is you’re offering something that people really want.
00:12:04:23 – 00:12:36:09
Amy Wan: As for things that are out on the horizon you know, as a securities attorney, I’ve always paid a lot of attention to security tokens and all the companies in the security token space. I think it’s going to be a while before we, you know, achieve the dream. You know a lot of the crudity and all of that kind of stuff through security tokens, but it’s really interesting to see what those companies are doing on an everyday basis.
00:12:36:13 – 00:13:23:04
Richard Carthon: 100 percent. And I think as you talked about like product fit, in just thinking about offering things that your end customer like wants to use and makes it sticky and like continues to grow, yes we’re very early and as you look at adoption and finding ways for people to be able to easily pick something up and then share it and anyone can use it, finding something that’s very frictionless and just making it very simple. The companies that are able to do that very early in what is the crypto and block chain space are going to crush it because anyone that is in this space and I’m sure you know this too, is you have to believe that you know, the world of crypto and block chain is either going to really be something huge or be nothing and like we’re past the point of it’s going to be nothing, so it’s just it’s going to be something.
00:13:23:06 – 00:14:25:23
Richard Carthon: So if you can create something that is building momentum as mainstream world starts to pick up adoption, you’re just going to fly and soar and I agree that it has everything to do with just making something that is very appealing to your end user and having that focus, so I think that is amazing. The other part of like the security piece of seeing like how not just regulation, but I doubt I was gonna reframe a question for you for this was because you have this expertise in securities, there hasn’t been a whole lot of regulatory and things that have passed in the United States about where we’re headed and how we want to categorize cryptocurrency and everything else, where do you think or what do you think is a realistic potential timeline of when we’ll start seeing more and more regulation around like crypto currencies and like use cases for it and everything else because right now it is completely still the Wild West and they don’t want to touch it really?
00:14:27:06 – 00:15:10:29
Amy Wan: Yeah, I mean I think there are already regulations that are in there. Whether or not there is very clear guidance I think is another question. On the security side, you know, I think that the states and the S.E.C. are they still trying to figure it out, right? And I think the only reason why they paid a lot of attention to ISOs and general assets and security tokens 2017 onwards was just because it became so big so fast.
00:15:11:19 – 00:15:12:04
Richard Carthon: Right.
00:15:12:06 – 00:16:31:02
Amy Wan: For cryptocurrency, it’s kind of the same thing, right? There are regulations that are in place and they are clickable. That would be nice to get some more guidance. At the same time, I think that you know you, will get a lot more guidance and clarity and regulation when you see that there is a lot more adoption because that’s you know, regulators have I think a finite amount of time and they want to you know, regulate or keep an eye on things that are really big, right? And so the bigger it gets, that’s how I would expect the regulatory framework to evolve, but I will say that I think perhaps it might be sped up now just because of you know, everything that’s happening in the world. I think it’s you know for some people who thought, Hey like you know I transact U.S. dollars, it’s not a big deal, like our inflation is really slow, our deflation is very slow, that something got sped up a lot more. I hear nowadays a lot more people are thinking, “Huh, like maybe I should actually purchase more assets if you know Bitcoin or crypto.
00:16:31:04 – 00:16:31:19
Richard Carthon: Yeah.
00:16:31:21 – 00:16:35:17
Amy Wan: Just as a hedge against like you know all the money printing that’s happening here.
00:16:36:04 – 00:17:10:21
Richard Carthon: And I would cosign that. I’ve had so many friends and even family of mine who know that I’m actively like in the crypto space that have randomly hit me up and like Hey tell me a little bit more about you know this whole crypto thing and like blah blah blah blah and I was like “Oh no, It’s potentially starting to happen,” which I think is very exciting news for all of us that are in this community. But I really do appreciate your time today Amy and before you go, I always ask my guest before you leave, what is a final thought that you want to leave with all of our listeners here today?
00:17:10:23 – 00:18:37:07
Amy Wan: You know, we talked a lot about valuation and how you know, Bitcoin may or may not actually affect people during what’s currently happening and I thought I would leave you with an anecdote of you know, one of the user interviews that we had pretty recently. And you know we looked at you know, very loyal users of our game and tried to use some user interviews with them and one interview that we did was with a user who was in Chile, but was originally from Venezuela. He had immigrated to Chile in order to get a job to send money back to his family. He basically told us basically about how Bitcoin saved his family’s life. He bought Bitcoin when it was 500 dollars and told us that because of that he had essentially been able to feed his family for two years and now he spends a lot of time trying to collect Bitcoin to send it back to his family so that they could you know, sell it and it’s kind of his way of making a living. And for me that narrative was so powerful because you know in the U.S. we haven’t really had these problems to date, but when you hear about a story like that, it really affects you. So.
00:18:38:27 – 00:18:39:12
Richard Carthon: Mhmm.
00:18:39:14 – 00:18:46:16
Amy Wan: You know I think there really is a lot of potential for Bitcoin out there, cryptocurrency in the future.
00:18:46:20 – 00:19:57:19
Richard Carthon: Absolutely. I appreciate that story, and I have one similar of a friend I knew that was out in the Philippines who was taking all his money and when he would convert it, he would lose you know, 40 percent and it would take a couple of days, but then he was able to keep more of his money by using Bitcoin, it took a couple of minutes and he said that was the foundational proof I needed of like, Oh I need to pay attention to this, I need to get involved. So I really agree with what you’re saying especially with as bad as things are getting in the U.S. It’s bad internationally with money being inflated and their money going to nothing and them only being able take out 100, 200 dollars a day, or even a week sometimes and so being able to have your own money and be able to make sure that it is being a little bit less inflationary and less spiking up or down and just being a little bit more consistent could be a very valuable way for people to have access to funds that otherwise wouldn’t be there, so I really do appreciate that final point. And Amy thanks again for being on our show. What are some ways that people can either connect with you and also learn about Bling?
00:19:57:21 – 00:20:25:20
Amy Wan: Sure, so you know, our website is BlingFi.com and we’re on all the different social media channels. You know, Twitter, our Facebook is pretty active actually and if users have any issues or questions with our game, we answer every Google review and we have you know, a customer support system that people can certainly write in there and they can find us on LinkedIn, TikTok and all those other things as well.
00:20:25:22 – 00:20:41:24
Richard Carthon: Awesome. Happy to hear that you’re on all those, especially check out the TikToks, I’ve always found that people in the crypto space who are on that social network have some really unique type of content. So anyway, Amy again thank you so much for being on our show and for everyone listening. Stay Crypto Current.