In this interview, the founders of Bitwala share their experiences and insights about their new start. The interview covers the past, present, and future of Bitwala and showcases how the company has grown stronger by overcoming the challenges of the past.
When was the company founded?
We have been the founders and managing directors of the new Bitwala GmbH since December 2023. The business model and the Bitwala brand have been around since 2014. After many ups and downs, the company filed for insolvency in 2022 and was liquidated. With the help of an investor, we took over the intellectual property, i.e. the trademark rights and the software. So we are not starting from scratch and of course, there are some innovations.
What kind of service do you offer?
Bitwala offers a mobile app for Android and iOS that makes it possible to make a living from crypto. Our customers can use self-managed and trustee-managed crypto wallets to securely and easily store, send and receive Bitcoin and Ethereum worldwide. For a fee of just 1%, you can buy and sell your Bitcoin and Ethereum in real-time, around the clock. You can deposit and withdraw Euros from your bank account with a virtual IBAN. Buying cryptocurrencies takes seconds with just a few clicks as we support instant bank transfers for deposits. We already offer a virtual and soon a physical VISA debit card. You can pay with Bitcoin and Ethereum as well as Euros online and offline worldwide and withdraw cash from ATMs. Customers can change the currency they want to pay within the app at any time.
How did you come up with the idea for your service?
We are building on an existing business model, the service has been around since 2014. I was one of the co-founders of the old Bitwala, and Dennis was the Head of Trading. The bankruptcy was caused by poor management and unfavourable circumstances over many years. We lost focus. We burned too many resources and too much money. But the product was mature. By 2022, it was being actively used by more than 50,000 customers a month. We spoke to hundreds of these customers on the phone during the liquidation and received clear feedback that they regretted the bankruptcy and that they had little alternative. We realized that we would only regret it if we didn't try again. We have learnt from our mistakes and are focusing on sustainable financing.
How did you become aware of Tokenize?
Tokenize.it had been on our radar for a while as we were looking for crowdfunding platforms, but the implementation of the concepts always failed due to legal issues. We looked at about a dozen platforms, all of which had complex and expensive structures, and some of which would have required several months of set-up time and expensive legal advice.
Can you explain the motivation behind choosing this method of capital acquisition?
The Tokenize.it model was the first (and only) one that our legal department came back to with a quick "Yes, it works" after a day of reviewing the documents. This made the decision easy for us. We like the opportunity to give smaller investors who are interested in our company the chance to participate. That especially includes our users. Many people are put off by the effort required to understand the legal structures involved and, most importantly, by the fact that investing is only possible above a certain amount. We believe that with the GmbH Token we have found a way to offer every interested small investor a "small piece of investment" in a decentralized form. It is very convenient to make a token investment - the buyer only needs a wallet, some ETH and USDC, as usual in Web3, and can invest with two or three clicks.
Could you elaborate on the response from your investors regarding the introduction of the GmbH Token?
Existing investors have welcomed this additional method of fundraising. We immediately received a few inquiries via LinkedIn and closed a few tickets starting at around 4,000€. Some of the investors from the crypto industry are exclusively investing in tokens and many of them are already asking quite naturally if we have a token as well.
February 12, 2024