Berlin startup Bitwala

Jörg von Minckwitz (Co-Founder, CEO), Lola (Co-Founder, Chief Happiness Officer), Ben Jones (Co-Founder, CTO), and Jan Goslicki (Co-Founder, COO) © Nils Lucas

Bitwala

Blockchain Banking

FinTech
Founded in 2015
15 employees
Funding €2.3M

Bitwala is Germany’s leading Bitcoin to local currency transfer service. Through an array of products, including bank transfers from 60+ cryptocurrencies to 20+ local currencies and Bitcoin Debit Cards, they empower businesses and individuals to bridge the gap between traditional and blockchain economies. Funded by the Digital Currency Group and High Tech Gründerfonds, Bitwala has customers in 120 countries and has won numerous awards including Paris Fintech Forum 2017. Website

Interview with Bitwala

What inspired you to found your startup?

My academic background is in Finance and through my studies, I learned how our existing financial system is slow, old, and unfair. I started looking into Bitcoin and Blockchain, and soon realised how a decentralized digital currency could be the first, real solution that actually works to fix the old, broken system. Almost no one in Europe was doing anything with cryptocurrencies and I thought “why not change it myself?”

How do you define success for yourself and your company?

The main factors that define success for me are definitely growth, new users, and more transfers. But I also measure success based on my team. Success is when my team actually loves coming to work and making exciting results. It is also when my team become true friends. This helps a lot when times are bad, which every young company definitely faces.

Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do it again?

I get asked this question a lot. When it comes to doing things differently, I would change everything and nothing. In a way, all our mistakes made me and the team the people we are today. So if I could go back in time I wouldn’t change anything. We had a great journey with all our ups and downs and I wouldn’t trade a single moment. If you ask me what I would change if I would start a new venture, I would probably do everything slightly differently.

What problem does your product solve?

Anyone who sends money or trade currencies know that International Banking is slow, expensive and insecure. The answer to these problems? Cryptocurrency, proven to be significantly faster, more secure at a fraction of the price that high street banks are charging. However, living exclusively on cryptocurrency is not yet ideal nor easy for individuals or businesses. That’s where we step in. Bitwala aims to make cryptocurrency accessible to everyone, making it easier to use in everyday lives.

Where do you see your company in 1/5/10 years?

We strive everyday to be the best one stop shop blockchain banking solution. We continue to build products and offer services that empowers people to take full control of their funds and make the most out of their crypto assets. Our next steps are large-scale, global expansion – to be able to offer anyone around the world regardless of who they are, where they come from and how much they make an equal opportunity to make the most of the crypto assets.

How are you different?

We’re a startup in the crypto economy, build by long-time crypto users with a team of crypto enthusiasts. We have the advantage of knowing exactly our customer’s needs and how to fulfill them. Bitwala has 15 years worth of combined knowledge and experience on cryptocurrency from the founders in the business. We are proud of our user ratings across different platforms. I think our customers appreciate our dedication and that we are by far the cheapest and most efficient company in our space.

How often does your product/service show up in a user’s day or week?

The frequency truly varies between users. Some customers use it many times each day and there are also some that use our platform a few times per week. Our product acts similarly to a bank account, which means that companies tend to use it more often when compared to private users whose usage might be a bit less.

Impact: how are you doing good and building a better future?

Financial inclusion was always one of our main goals from day one. Since cryptocurrency is totally prepaid and does not require any credit checks, it enables people from all over the world to participate in the global trade. Two-thirds of the world’s inhabitants are unbanked. Our products and services that we offer were designed towards catering to these segments. We act as a Blockchain-based platform, enabling them access to the financial world.

How has the startup scene in Berlin changed?

The Berlin startup scene has seen dramatic changes over the last decade, from almost zero German early-stage VCs, aside from HTGF, to the large variety we see today. Berlin is liberal, unique and international so the best people move here. Berlin probably also has some of the best coders on earth. The city has always been exciting, creative, full of ideas, and now the city has proper access to VC funding. This has changed everything.

What are the pros and cons of launching your startup from Berlin?

The pros are easy: You get to live and work in the best city in the world, meet countless highly educated and interesting people, English natives all over the city, good international food and enjoy a fantastic network. Not to forget the affordable living costs.
The cons are obvious though: We have bad weather sometimes and no ocean nearby. Berliners are always longing for hot summer days that seem to flash by in the glimpse of an eye each year.

Bitwala was featured in “The Hundert Vol. 10 – Startups of Berlin“, October 2017.

The picture above was taken at:

Ipse

A cavernous open air club in Kreuzberg, [ipsə] is located on the banks of the Spree. It allows for daytime dancing throughout the year, with two indoor floors protecting visitors from sunburn and snow.

Berlin startups similar to Bitwala

Berlin startup Liqid
Berlin startup Smarterials
Berlin startup Jourvie