Google Hangout: Can Bitcoin Co-exist with Crowdfunding?

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NCFA Canada | Gabe Nasr | July 2, 2014

Bitcoin and crowdfundingThis summer, NCFA Canada will be conducting a series of Google Hangout discussions moderated by Gabe Nasr, our marketing intern from California. These discussions will be focused on different aspects relating to crowdfunding, to provide our members with valuable content and education. In our first edition of this series, we look at Bitcoin (which is a virtual, or cryptocurrency), and the potential it presents for crowdfunding. We chatted with Alastair Mitchell who runs the Resilient 21 Group, a Bitcoin professional services group, and Albert Lin, NCFA Advisor and P2P lending researcher. In the video, we get into specifics about how Bitcoin functions, and how it can be used for crowdfunding portals.

As we’ve seen frequently in the past few years, every convention is being rethought. Call it a filtering process brought on by the information age, or a natural evolution just sped up. What we end up with is new ways to make things happen, and in the case of crowdfunding and virtual currency (such as Bitcoin,) we have new ideas which not only have the potential to change the way businesses are started and people exchange money, but also redefine what the words “currency” or “investment” mean.

Mr. Mitchell from Resilient 21 made a good point when he said, “I’ve never heard a good reason from a merchant why they should not accept Bitcoins.”

In a conversation with Alastair Mitchell, President of Resilient 21, a Bitcoin professional services group, we had the pleasure to explore these two emerging ideas, and see what the future looks like for each respectively, and cooperatively. First of all, what is Bitcoin, and how does it work? Bitcoin is a virtual (or crypto) currency. It functions as a payment system and a currency. It has it’s own infrastructure in the form of a public ledger called the block chain. The block chain organizes all singular Bitcoin holders into a network similar to the way bank accounts work. Every transaction of Bitcoin is recorded through this block chain, but as an anonymous alpha-numeric address. The owner of the address can only be identified if the owner of it chooses to make his/her transaction public.

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Bitcoin is a new way to think about currency, and so there are plenty of benefits and challenges it presents in becoming more widely adopted. Let’s explore these benefits and challenges through the lens of crowdfunding, and the receiving of Bitcoins for crowdfunding campaigns.

Benefits:

  • Bitcoin usage reduces fees for funds collected through crowdfunding. Conventionally, anything contributed with a credit card or PayPal account is charged 2-3% for processing the transaction. Since there is no financial intermediary for Bitcoins to be transacted, there are no fees for processing them.
  • Bitcoins can be exchanged without the interference of currency conversion between countries. The potential upside to this is huge, for it allows crowdfunding campaigns to become more globally spread, and to make accepting foreign currencies a non-issue.
  • The block chain can make the funds gathered through crowdfunding transparent. If one is conducting a charitable crowdfunding campaign for example, it might benefit him/her to raise Bitcoins instead of cash because it makes the contributors more confident about where their money is going. In the case of regular cash, people who contribute to charitable crowdfunding campaigns must have a degree of faith about where that money ends up, whereas with Bitcoin, the block chain can show precisely where it is, and how much has been raised. This of course is only feasible if Bitcoin’s valuation stabilizes.

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Challenges:

  • Bitcoin is unstable at this time. There may be no fees to transfer Bitcoin-Bitcoin between two people or entities, but there are fees for transferring Bitcoins back into paper, or fiat, money (1% US, .75% Canada currently.) This may be negligible, but consider this: 99% of all Bitcoin transactions are transferred directly to paper money at the time of the trade. This is because Bitcoin is highly volatile, and can fluctuate by 5-10% a day! If one is accepting Bitcoins as a contributory method for their crowdfunding campaign, it would be risky to keep the contribution in Bitcoins just because of this volatility.
  • There are many regulatory issues being sorted out, and unfortunately these depend on the country writing the legislation which regulate virtual currencies. This means that even if you can accept foreign funds with ease, there are some places where Bitcoin in not regarded as a currency.

Overview:

Since both crowdfunding and Bitcoin are so nascent, it is difficult to use them in unison today. Once both become more prominent through usage, there will be great benefits to their synergy. There are some portals that accept Bitcoins for the campaigns on their sites today such as Crowdtilt, Ignitiondeck and Pozible, and as things develop more portals will have no reason not to allow their campaign to accept Bitcoins. As Bitcoin evolves, and the crowdfunding communities become more comfortable with using it, there is no reason for it not to become a standard method across the board.

Watch google hangout (approx 23mins) 'Can Bitcoin and Crowdfunding co-exist?' --> Now

 

Gabe NasrMarketing InternGabe Nasr is a current undergrad at University of California at Berkeley in the US. His studies are focused on philosophy of rhetoric and linguistics. In addition, he has worked in a service role in Silicon Valley for the past 5 years, and has a deep understanding of current tech and venture trends.  He is very interested in the crowdfunding model because of its sustainability and community building potential, running counter to the dominant investment trends of Silicon Valley. In a marketing intern role here at the NCFA, Gabe helps in educating our members and followers on what’s new and changing in Canadian crowdfunding, and guiding NCFA’s goal of increasing crowdfunding awareness.

 

The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada crowdfunding hub providing education, advocacy and networking opportunities in the rapidly evolving crowdfunding industry. NCFA Canada is a community-based, membership-driven entity that was formed at the grass roots level to fill a national need in the market place. Join our growing network of industry stakeholders, fundraisers and investors. Increase your organization’s profile and gain access to a dynamic group of industry front runners. Learn more About Us or contact us at casano@ncfacanada.org.

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