Interview with Obi Nwosu, CEO and co-founder of Coinfloor
We were lucky enough to have an interview with Obi Nwosu, CEO of Coinfloor. We discussed the current state of crypto market, current trends for crypto exchanges, and other topics.
Cryptogeek: Hello. Something interesting is going on with Bitcoin price throughout this year. What is your opinion on the recent Bitcoin falling?
Obi Nwosu: Bitcoin’s recent fall in value must be seen in context, both in terms of its historic price and its volatility. First, remember that Bitcoin is currently trading around 20% higher than it was at the beginning of the year, and how many assets can claim that? For a more meaningful view, just look at its sustained increase in value in the less than 13 years since its invention.
Much of Bitcoin’s recent volatility has been down to public statements by “gurus” who are nothing of the sort, but still have the power to move the market. As an investor, it’s important to know what’s actually important - such as the momentous news that El Salvador is adopting Bitcoin as legal tender. Focusing on the day-to-day or even month-to-month price is a distraction from the technical, economic and political developments that are driving Bitcoin adoption and its long-term upwards trend.
Cryptogeek: Has your user base changed since last year? Have you gotten many new customers during this last Bitcoin rally?
Obi Nwosu: Absolutely. Bitcoin’s sustained rally has brought in a flow of our usual corporate customers, and we’ve also seen a significant increase in ordinary consumers looking for a simple way to start investing in Bitcoin. We expect this growth to continue, driven by new product developments.
Cryptogeek: Do you have to adapt technically for such price fluctuations? Many platforms find themselves unable to work properly in these conditions. Did you have to implement any new features to keep on working stably?
Obi Nwosu: We have always been fortunate to have very robust trading and technology systems so when other platforms have historically had issues, we've generally been able to continue uninterrupted. Many of our professional trader clients use us specifically because they know our uptime record during periods of high volatility.
Cryptogeek: We’d be really interested to learn more about your management practices. What kind of company structure is needed to work successfully in the cryptocurrency field for so long? You have been on the market since 2013 when Bitcoin was worth about $100 and almost nobody knew about it. Everything has changed since.
Obi Nwosu: In such a fast-moving field, agility and responsiveness are key. But it’s been just as important to maintain our core philosophy of trust, reliability, security, and service. Also, the more Bitcoin changes, the greater the need to stay focused on what I call the “four Ps”: philosophy, people, process and product. Staying true to our philosophy enables us to locate, attract, nurture and retain people who share our values, and who in turn build industry-leading processes and products.
Cryptogeek: Have you implemented any significant structural changes within your company since 2013?
Obi Nwosu: Coinfloor started off with four co-founders, and this quickly fell to three and then two. This contraction in the leadership group coincided with a much tighter focus on Bitcoin, leading to us becoming a Bitcoin-only exchange about 18 months ago. Today, Coinfloor is led by me and my co-Director, Teggy Altankhuyag. We work hand-in-hand to deliver our shared vision of helping ordinary people gain access to Bitcoin in a no-nonsense, secure, way.
Cryptogeek: Is it hard to find software developers in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry? Any HR secrets you could share with us? What are the qualities which make a person especially fit for a job in the cryptocurrency and blockchain field?
Obi Nwosu: It’s hard to find talent, technical or otherwise, in any industry, but especially so in the Bitcoin and exchange space. We’ve established a recruitment process that works well for us. We try to hire people early in their crypto careers; we look for potential and passion, and mentor them so that over time, they grow into the employee we want to see. This takes time, but it’s crucial we nurture the next generation. The alternative would be to poach from other businesses that have invested in their development, although that’s difficult unless you can show them they’ll be joining a company that will help them learn, grow, and give them the responsibility they need to thrive.
Cryptogeek: What is it like doing a business like yours in the UK? Are you satisfied with the current legislation? Have you encountered any difficulties in terms of legislation?
Obi Nwosu: It’s not always easy, and sometimes a lot more difficult than it needs to be. That’s why many other exchanges have decided to leave the market. But the UK’s not alone in struggling to fit Bitcoin into existing legal and regulatory frameworks, and our approach is to engage with regulators to build robust processes and systems that will work for everybody.
Cryptogeek: Tell us about the situation with Coinfloor in the USA. USA residents cannot use your service, right? What is the reason for that and is it going to change any time soon?
Obi Nwosu: Obviously we’d love to bring the same benefits to the USA, and that definitely remains an ambition. At the moment, our primary focus is continuing to provide a great service in the UK. We’ll then look further afield, most likely Europe, before setting our sights on US expansion.
Cryptogeek: The main feature of your platform is auto-buy. Tell us more about that.
Obi Nwosu: Our goal is to make investing in Bitcoin as simple and hassle-free as any other financial transaction, and Autobuy is a critical part of this. Autobuy enables anyone to buy small, regular amounts of bitcoin without having to login to your account. It takes a couple of minutes to set up a standing order with the amount and frequency you’re comfortable with, and we do the rest.
Of course you can still also make one-off automatic purchases directly through your banking app with our Single buying service, but the beauty of Autobuy is that buying regular small amounts evens out the peaks and troughs in the market, so the value of your investment will track long term trends in the market.
Cryptogeek: What are the current trends in the crypto field you consider important in 2021?
Obi Nwosu: There’s never a dull moment in Bitcoin, but 2021 will likely be judged one of the most momentous years in its early history, for a variety of political/legal, technical and economic reasons. On the technical side, we are seeing important new functionality and Layer-2 technologies such as Taproot, Lightning Network and Schnoor Signatures, which are adding speed and functionality to the blockchain - and so contributing to Bitcoin’s long-term value.
In terms of politics, the importance of El Salvador cannot be overestimated, even more so than the corporate and institutional adoption by the likes of Square and Microstrategy last year. And over everything, we have the spectre of inflation and declining trust in fiat currency which will continue to drive new users to explore and embrace the benefits of Bitcoin.
Cryptogeek: What is your view on NFT?
Obi Nwosu: NFTs are not new. They existed in Bitcoin well before their recent popularity. In fact, you could argue that in-game items, such as the ones we used to create when I was at WeeWorld over a decade ago, are a form of NFT, albeit without the ability to easily transfer on a decentralised network (not least because Bitcoin didn't yet exist!). So while many current use cases seem spurious, I'm interested to observe how the nascent sector develops, as I can see potential long-term utility and a good technical fit, especially on Bitcoin's layer 2 and above.
Cryptogeek: What is your view on DeFI?
Obi Nwosu: DeFi in theory can be very useful but without strong technical and economic foundations, it'll eventually collapse. The current crop of DeFi projects generally fall into the "weak foundations" bucket.
However, DeFi layered on top of Bitcoin holds promise. With this, you unify the ecosystem, benefit from the best security of any cryptocurrency and you don't sacrifice any functionalities or features.
Cryptogeek: What are your predictions for the crypto field for 2022-2025?
Obi Nwosu: First, the world will realise that Bitcoin with "Layer 2" technologies like Lightning, Liquid, Rootstock, and RGB (to name a few) provide the best, no-compromise approach to deliver the "Internet of Value" that we are all waiting for.
Secondly, more countries will make Bitcoin legal tender, especially those in the Global South which will gain instantly from slashing the cost of making international remittances.
Thirdly, self custody or distributed custody of Bitcoin will become simpler and more prevalent as people become better educated about how to keep their coins secure and the apps available become easier to use.
Finally, trust in Bitcoin as a store of value will only get stronger as multiple technological, political, social, and physical attacks against it and its supporters are attempted and fail.
Cryptogeek: What are your business plans for the next couple of years?
Obi Nwosu: We want to make our mobile app the hands-down easiest way to buy, and withdraw Bitcoin on a recurring (Autobuy) and one-off (Single buy) basis.
We also plan to expand our international presence and to make Autobuy a core component of the bitcoin ecosystem.
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