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Fireside chat with Benoit Marzouk, CEO of BitcoinPoint.com

Who is Benoit Marzouk?

I am easy-going and a carrying person. I grew up in Paris and had a happy childhood with an entrepreneur mindset: I remember organising a lottery in the village of my grandparents. At Uni, I studied mathematics and quantitative finance and worked as a Trader in France, the US, Germany and the UK. I settled in London a decade ago, and most recently became a proud British citizen.

What’s the story behind BitcoinPoint.com?

I had an interesting discussion about Bitcoin at a festival in 2014 but it was two years later in 2016 that I started reading about it. At first I was scared of holding bitcoin and having my online wallet hacked…But I eventually bought some in early 2017 when the price was below $1,000…

There’s something esoteric about bitcoin but people should get involved even without much understanding of cryptocurrency, as it takes years for the smartest to truly understand how it works.

Once I started owning bitcoin and using it, I realised the power of this borderless and censorship resistant monetary network:

It was a revelation! I wanted to be part of and start up a company in the crypto space, and more precisely to democratise its access to the non-tech savvy. So, in November 2017, after bootstrapping for a few months, I left my corporate job to start the company.

At the time, there was the rise of bitcoin ATMs in London, so I thought of a service where retailers like Bureaux de Change could buy and sell bitcoin to customers without any bulky hardware.

Three years later, our network had reached 28,000 Points of Sale and 18,000 ATMs in the UK. We also have a user friendly app with instant in-app purchase through bank transfer.

What was the most difficult part of your experience in the early beginning?

Being an entrepreneur is not for everyone, you need resilience, passion, being able to execute your ideas and deliver things one step at a time with some kind of roadmap. B2C can be difficult if you don’t have your niche market.

From my personal experience, being a ‘bitcoiner’ for many years has been challenging with my team  as mainstream media were, and still are, promoting a negative image about bitcoin. As an example, while the adoption of bitcoin by El Salvador will save hundreds of millions of dollars in commission from money transfer companies and doesn’t prevent anyone using the dollar, most media outlets had dramatic headlines about this major event.  

My advice to new entrepreneurs is to love what they plan to start as most businesses, especially start-ups, require absolute dedication.

On the plus side too, if you have the passion in what you do, it won’t feel like you’re working.

What are you most proud of regarding your business?

I’m proud that 99% of the British population can buy bitcoin within a mile with no bank account and also cash out bitcoin if they need from one quarter of ATMs in the UK.

We are all about Financial Inclusion and we want to extend our services to emerging countries where the unbanked population is high. I’m also proud that BitcoinPoint was the first crypto exchange to implement Open Banking (in-app transfer) in the UK. Last but not least, we implemented this summer recurring purchase of bitcoin for our customers: our customers can simply set up daily, weekly or monthly transfers from their bank and then don’t need to do anything else. It’s called a DCA (Dollar Cost Averaging) strategy and it has been a very successful strategy empirically.

What is your vision for the future of BitcoinPoint.com?

Our short-term vision is to bring global on-ramp (ways to buy) and off-ramp (ways to sell) solutions for bitcoin.

The mid-term vision is to disrupt the remittance industry through stablecoins as a medium to exchange and the Bitcoin Lightning network: we just signed with an Indian partner with 500,000 agents probably one the largest network of Point Of Sales in the country.

What’s your advice for the businesses that are trying to adapt to this economic climate?

Software is everywhere so most businesses can no longer ignore technology. Digital marketing is very important too. Find a niche or specific service where you see needs and ideally do something you like or what you are good at. Try to be curious about things, I wish I had looked at bitcoin 2 or 3 years earlier.  

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

The Bitcoin network is the third act of the technological revolution that started in the 60s with microprocessors and continued in the 90s with the internet.  

Its unique momentum opened the Pandora box of decentralisation empowering people over large corporations or authoritarian states.

Cuba is an excellent example, where bitcoin brings hope as a non-violent revolution. I would recommend listening to the recent podcast in Bitcoin Magazine about it.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

I recently read The War for Gaul by Julius Caesar, it was fascinating to learn about his military genius and the Gallic tribes. As you can imagine, I’m also reading books about the bitcoin, one I would recommend is “Bitcoin Billionaires: a True Story of Genius, Betrayal and Redemption” the story of the Winklevoss Twins after the Facebook episode and how they became preeminent bitcoin evangelists!

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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