Today Ben Weiss joins us to discuss why CoinFlip is the world’s leading Bitcoin ATM operator.
Ben, a driven first-generation American, is CoinFlip’s Co-Founder/Chief Operating Officer. Ben guides CoinFlip’s long-term business strategy, provides financial oversight, and maintains strong relationships with banks and regulatory bodies. Under Ben’s savvy leadership, CoinFlip’s growth and profitability have flourished, reaching nearly $1B in total transaction volume.
*Disclaimer. None of this information is financial advice.
The following transcript was created using artificial intelligence. There will be some grammatical errors below.
00:00:03:22 – 00:00:20:01
Richard Carthon: Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of Crypto Current, your host here, Richard Carthon, and today I got a very special guest working on a really cool project and working on something that we all definitely can use in the ATM space. We have Ben Weiss with CoinFlip. How are you doing today?
00:00:20:21 – 00:00:22:18
Ben Weiss: Hey, Richard, how are you? Thanks for having me on.
00:00:23:08 – 00:00:28:05
Richard Carthon: Of course. So, before we dive in everything, how about you tell us a little bit about yourself?
00:00:29:03 – 00:00:50:29
Ben Weiss: Okay, so I’m the chief operating officer of CoinFlip. We’ve been around since early 2015 and we have over 1,100 Bitcoin ATMs in 43 states plus D.C. So I’ve been in the Bitcoin space for a while and we think that ATMS are the best way to get as much Bitcoin to as many people as possible.
00:00:51:18 – 00:01:09:19
Richard Carthon: Awesome. Thank you for that background and pretty impressive that I mean, that you’re in 43 states, been around for the last five years, so I’m sure you have all kinds of great stories to share with the ups and downs of building a business during these times, but what was your first introduction into the Cryptocurrency and Blockchain space?
00:01:10:05 – 00:01:48:06
Ben Weiss: I originally got into Bitcoin in school and I didn’t really have a tech background, but the one thing that really got me into Bitcoin at first was the asymmetric payoffs of it where I was like, Who cares if I lose a little money investing into it? If this project works, the upside is so big that it’s more risky not to have Bitcoin. So I started getting into Bitcoin and it was only about a couple of years later that I really did a deep dive into the tech and I was like, Holy crap, this is going to change the world, this is going to change finance, this is going to change banking. First I just thought it was a good bet to make.
00:01:49:19 – 00:02:20:28
Richard Carthon: Right, agreed. And it’s really cool that you were able to get in as early as you were and you just saw the upside. Just like you said, worse comes to worse, maybe I lose what I put in, but if I don’t, then it could be life changing, it could be game changing. And on that matter, what made you decide to specifically get into the Bitcoin ATM space? So, I know that you’ve been around since 2015, I know there are probably some other competitors in the space back when you we’re starting, but what made you want to start CoinFlip?
00:02:22:05 – 00:03:05:23
Ben Weiss: So one of my business partners, Daniel Pilarski, I was into Bitcoin, I was buying all this Bitcoin and he was a Bitcoin trader. If you remember local Bitcoins.com, there was a site where you could do cash for Bitcoin back in the day in person and he was doing that and he was getting so much demand for trades. He was like, I can’t be in 20 different places at once, so he bought a couple of Bitcoin ATMs and he basically just started putting them around in Lincoln Park in Chicago, Lakeview and they were actually really bad ATMs back then. Like I remember it would take 30 minutes to put all the cash in because it was so slow with the validator and everything.
00:03:05:25 – 00:03:06:10
Richard Carthon: Wow.
00:03:06:12 – 00:03:07:14
Ben Weiss: But the concept was really good.
00:03:07:24 – 00:03:08:09
Richard Carthon: Yeah.
00:03:08:11 – 00:03:15:11
Ben Weiss: And that kind of teamed up. And we have two other business partners, Chris and Allen, and we’ve been in it ever since.
00:03:16:06 – 00:03:31:29
Richard Carthon: Of course, there’s been an evolution in the amount of technology for Bitcoin ATMs. Just like you said when you first started, it took like 30 minutes to make a transaction. How was the user experience with your particular machines improved over time?
00:03:33:04 – 00:04:21:19
Ben Weiss: Bitcoin was always very hard to get, so I thought it was an improvement in 2015, but looking back, pretty like, stunned how bad the machines were at first. I mean it was slow for all the cash to come in, so we upgraded all the validators, we upgraded the user interface so customers can register in a minute, two minutes, get their Bitcoin right away. We upgraded a lot of the graphics, we made the screens bigger. So it was kind of trial and error. We would go to the ATMs every week and we would just do transactions ourselves, so we could be like, Okay, this is easy, this is hard, this is what needs to get improved because I think a lot of people put down the ATMs and they never actually went to their own locations to see how they would do it.
00:04:22:07 – 00:05:05:03
Richard Carthon: Which is really cool and just to see, like, how it has progressed as far as it has and to know that this is very needed in that for some people, they’re going to be more comfortable with going to a physical machine to be able to get Bitcoin. I guess, can you kind of speak to that? Of course, there’s a little bit more access than when you first started online and being able to like go to an exchange, potentially get Bitcoin. Whereas now, obviously you kind of have options of whether you want to go an exchange or you want to go to a physical ATM. Walk us through who are the typical people that are using this? And like, what are some of the best use cases of why I would want to come and use one of CoinFlip’s machines?
00:05:06:02 – 00:06:10:00
Ben Weiss: Well, I think the whole industry, exchanges, ATMs has just gone so far since 2015. I think the more options there are to buy Bitcoin, the better for everyone. I’m very excited about how much progress has been made industry wide since 2015, but the ATMs still play a key role because I think 15 to 25 percent of Americans are unbanked or underbanked or only have cash and they can’t use Coinbase or bank transfers to get Bitcoin. Our customers are anything from you know, first time Crypto users to people who are more comfortable with going to a location, putting in cash, then you know, signing up online, linking their bank account and really try to provide Bitcoin to the underbanked communities and unbanked communities. And our average transactions are a couple of hundred dollars. For a lot of people, it could be hard to do a wire transfer ACA to link their bank account for you know, 200, $300 transactions.
00:06:10:17 – 00:06:46:14
Richard Carthon: And that’s really cool man. The fact that you are, again, helping the unbanked and give opportunities to some people. Previously you’ve spoken to another owner of a Bitcoin machine and one of the use cases he said of when he figured out like this was useful is that you have a lot of people who have cards. They would get these gift cards and they would want to like to trade them in for Crypto. Tell me a little bit about like, what are the various ways that users could come to your Bitcoin ATM and use it? Like what are some of the various use cases?
00:06:47:23 – 00:07:26:12
Ben Weiss: So the ATMs are cash only. We do sell gift cards for Crypto online as well. We also take credit and debit online, but the main use case for the Bitcoin is for the underbanked for remittances. I know people will buy Bitcoin and then send it to their relatives in their home countries such as Mexico, Panama, and that’s easier and quicker than Western Union. So remittances are a big use case, first time investors are big use case. People who have gift cards or want to go in and out of Bitcoin from a different sort of thing, the ATM is the quickest way to do it for sure.
00:07:26:23 – 00:07:27:08
Richard Carthon: Yeah.
00:07:27:10 – 00:07:50:09
Ben Weiss: And for mass adoption, Coinbase is great. We love Coinbase, that’s one of the reasons why we started CoinFlip. In terms of customer facing mass adoption, I think it’s really cool that when you walk in a gas station or a mall or convenience store for people to actually see these Bitcoin ATMs, I think it’s advertising and marketing for the whole entire industry, not just for CoinFlip.
00:07:51:12 – 00:08:24:10
Richard Carthon: For sure. And you’re right, it’s just another way, just a constant reminder when you look at it, it’s like, Wow, I can go get Cryptocurrency right now using this machine, very powerful. Another thing that someone asked me one time when they were looking at one of these ATMs at a gas station was how intuitive would you say your machine is? Do you think you have to be pretty technologically aware or anyone that has used any kind of ATM ever could come and reasonably figure this out pretty quickly?
00:08:24:19 – 00:08:53:12
Ben Weiss: Anyone can use it, it’s super easy. We have 24/7 customer support, which no other companies have in case you are having issues, but it’s pretty self intuitive. You can do the transaction, two minutes be done and it’s way better than it was in 2015. We’ve had five years to really perfect the customer experience. We have thousands of transactions every day. We get feedback from customers and we adjust our process and our user interface to meet that feedback and I’m super proud of the product we have.
00:08:54:05 – 00:09:38:10
Richard Carthon: Amazing. Well, definitely appreciate that. Thank you for letting us know about CoinFlip. And with you being in the space for the last five years just with this company, but obviously being in much longer, we have seen a ton of new opportunities/like things that have just come in this space, right? And I would say that in 2020, we’ve seen new things such as like, DeFi and a lot of other movers and shakers that are like, kind of shaping the future trajectory of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain. What is something in the near future, let’s call it the next six months to two years, that you’re looking out for that you think others should be aware of as well?
00:09:39:14 – 00:10:06:04
Ben Weiss: Well, I think you hit the nail on the head. And one of the interesting things is I think after 2017, the price went up to 20,000, then it went down. You kind of saw a lot of lost interest in Bitcoin and Crypto, but all the cool projects were still going on. There was still so much innovation behind the scenes that people didn’t really pay attention to because the price use wasn’t there to keep it in people’s minds.
00:10:07:06 – 00:11:12:13
Ben Weiss: In anything in life, the results always lag. They always lag behind the effort in the works. So all these cool projects have been being worked on for years and years and I think you’re just starting to see the DeFi and the asset backed lending, a lot of other cool projects really starting to have practical use cases and people are like, Oh, this kind of happened overnight, but people have been working on this for years, and what I’m really interested in the next six months is DeFi and asset backed lending. You have Bitcoin, you don’t want to get out of your position, so you put up your Bitcoin as collateral, you get cash, you can use it to buy a house, pay your bills, whatever and you don’t have to sell your Bitcoin like you would have had to in the past. What is a financial system? You know, it has deposits, it has lending, it has lines of credit. And I think you’re starting to see that traditional finance system that we see with the U.S. dollar starting to pop up and be used with Bitcoin and I think that is awesome, really cool stuff.
00:11:13:06 – 00:11:31:00
Richard Carthon: You’re starting to get the entire financial institution that creates wealth and that just allows for cash flow to happen. So, when Cryptocurrency originally came out in a lot of ways when Bitcoin was created, storage of value, it was a digital currency.
00:11:31:02 – 00:11:36:17
Ben Weiss: People just hold it, but there wasn’t a whole financial system and economy around it like there is now.
00:11:36:27 – 00:12:08:13
Richard Carthon: Exactly. There wasn’t a need to be constantly trying to buy and sell and put out there and have an entire ecosystem. Whereas now, we are finally getting to a point where you have not just Bitcoin doing it, but an entire ecosystem of all these other Cryptocurrencies just trying to create their own little decentralized, fine institutions in ways which I think are extremely powerful. One, with helping bank the unbanked, but then two, creating financial opportunity for any and all to start creating some financial wealth for themselves who usually wouldn’t have access.
00:12:08:15 – 00:12:27:15
Ben Weiss: Think about how many people the legacy financial institutions have left out and the government’s tried to make rules to make it more inclusive and stuff like that, but I think Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrency projects, this is really the first time where there’s an actual shot of the financial system being fully inclusive for everyone.
00:12:28:03 – 00:12:50:16
Richard Carthon: Right, which I think is exciting and I think you do as well. I guess just another add on question to that is, even though you have things like DeFi that’s on the horizon and other things as well, like what do you think are going to be very important things within this like next decade for the Cryptocurrency and Blockchain community to continue to grow to get closer to mass adoption?
00:12:50:29 – 00:13:53:09
Ben Weiss: I think there needs to be some more regulatory clarity. For instance, I think it’s pretty obvious the next Apple, the next Amazon, the next huge company is going to be something Blockchain based and at this point, I think that next company is more likely to be in Asia than the U.S. because I think the U.S. hasn’t provided the regulatory clarity that’s necessary, but we’re taking some good steps there. And I think making sure everyone knows what the rules are and that there’s clear rules will help foster innovation in the industry. And I think there’s definitely steps in the right direction, I know the government is working on allowing banks and other institutions to custody Bitcoin because that was one of the big issues that was holding up a lot of innovation with all these very crazy rules around custody that wouldn’t necessarily fit with Bitcoin and that was keeping a lot of institutions out of the space, but as you see now, in the last couple of weeks, a ton of huge corporations have been adding Bitcoin to their balance sheet.
00:13:53:11 – 00:13:53:26
Richard Carthon: Yeah.
00:13:53:28 – 00:13:56:09
Ben Weiss: Because they realized it’s more risky not to have it than to have.
00:13:57:07 – 00:14:06:24
Richard Carthon: No doubt, man, and especially when you’re just looking at the amount of inflation in the United States, we’re about to be for the first time since the Great Depression, having more debt than actual money and like value.
00:14:06:27 – 00:14:13:11
Ben Weiss: Yeah, I think I think they said the deficit tripled since the coronaviruses started.
00:14:13:18 – 00:14:29:00
Richard Carthon: Insane, yeah. Within almost, what, eight months or what have you, just like just an outrageous amount of debt that just entered. And, of course, as much as we want us to think that we’re not a global economy, the U.S. dollar kind of feeds the global economy.
00:14:29:02 – 00:14:31:29
Ben Weiss: It means it’s their currency, at least for now.
00:14:32:11 – 00:14:58:13
Richard Carthon: Exactly. And then you know, what is a good potential hedge against all of that? Cryptocurrency/Bitcoin is looking very appetizing. And so for everyone listening, again, great time to be in the space. Be figuring this out and putting your head down and just grinding through, because the way that I originally looked at Cryptocurrency and tell me if you view this differently, it’s either going to be where it’s going to crash and burn and be nothing or it is going to be big. I don’t think there is middle ground.
00:14:58:20 – 00:14:59:05
Ben Weiss: There’s no middle ground. There’s no middle.
00:14:59:07 – 00:15:40:23
Richard Carthon: And like that’s what is exciting to me and exciting to listen to various projects that are out there and people who went and found ways to capitalize and be in this space and make it their own, to then also still go out and help people, because like almost everyone I’ve brought on this show, like ultimately you are servicing other people and help educating and bringing opportunities to them that regularly weren’t there. You are providing ATMs where people can literally go spin or send money to loved ones overseas without having to do all the the cost and the time and like everything else, or just having access to getting Cryptocurrency, even if you don’t have a phone, like just having a way to do it, which I think, again, is very, very cool.
00:15:42:06 – 00:15:52:00
Ben Weiss: Yeah, I mean, there’s so many things going on in the space that are just amazing, I don’t think we’re going to fully see the effects for another three to five years, but all the work’s being put in now, 100%.
00:15:52:24 – 00:16:05:00
Richard Carthon: Awesome man. Well, really appreciate you joining me today and just sharing all this, like just breadth of knowledge and just your experiences throughout all of it, but you know, what is a final thought that you want to leave with all of our listeners here today?
00:16:06:00 – 00:17:03:12
Ben Weiss: Well, Bitcoin is here to stay. It’s more risky not to have Bitcoin than to have Bitcoin. And for anyone who is worried about what’s going on in the world and the economy and you want to safeguard your wealth, you want to safeguard your family, I think you have to own some Bitcoin. And maybe I’m biased because I’ve been in it for five years, but I think the value of Bitcoin, of Cryptocurrency, of a parallel economy that the people control and have access to it’s amazing and I think everyone should be involved, whether it’s just holding a couple of hundred dollars of Bitcoin or working on some Cryptocurrency project. I think there’s an opportunity for everyone, whether it’s small or big, there’s something that everyone can do to be part of this really financial revolution.
00:17:04:12 – 00:17:33:03
Richard Carthon: Agreed. I think that’s a great final thought. For everyone listening, get involved if you aren’t already. If this is one of the first times you’re hearing about us and are trying to learn more about the space, we have a ton of great educational content for you on the website, also through our podcast. And also, if you’re listening, make sure you go on our YouTube channel, you can watch this amazing interview and you can see Ben’s face and see how all of the cool things that he’s got going on, but, Ben, thank you for that final thought. What are some ways that people can learn more about CoinFlip and also learn more about you?
00:17:34:01 – 00:17:58:01
Ben Weiss: CoinFlip.tech, that’s our website. Hopefully there’s an ATM close to you. There should be, our goal is to have ATMs within ten minutes driving distance of everyone. Our Twitter, Instagram handle is CoinFlip ATM. My Twitter’s Ben CoinFlip. And I really appreciate you having me on, Richard. And I think there’s still so many more cool things that we’re going to see in the next couple of years.
00:17:58:23 – 00:18:04:07
Richard Carthon: Agreed. Again, I appreciate you joining me today. And for everyone listening, Stay Crypto Current.
Crypto Current will be guiding all of you who are new to the cryptocurrency world to becoming a cryptocurrency and blockchain expert. Crypto Current was founded to give access to information to everyone on current events occurring in cryptocurrency and blockchain in a digestible way. Since its creation, we have created content that impacted thousands of people through its podcast, blog, and social media.