This time we had the pleasure of speaking with Solomon Brown, head of the PR department at Freewallet. The company’s most popular product is its Freewallet: Crypto Wallet, which supports over a hundred assets that can be purchased via credit card. In addition Freewallet offers 22 single-currency applications on Android and 11 apps on iOS that support a total of 22 coins and tokens.
Solomon is well versed in promoting blockchain startups which allowed him to start his tenure with Freewallet in 2018 and move to his current position. Besides PR, he specializes in the legal frameworks around crypto that are present in different countries around the world.
Hi Solomon, nice to have you with us. We know Freewallet Family as a one-stop platform for everything you need in crypto. However, the recent features released by the company have shown that there is always room to grow. Please tell us more about them.
Okay, before we get to that, I’d like to thank Coindoo for interviewing me, so that I have the chance to share my expertise and tell your audience about our latest happenings.
At the beginning of 2020 we rolled out an updated version of 16 of our mono wallets to provide our users with better usability. Thanks to an up-to-date stack and shifting our main focus to backend development, we were able to rescript Android and iOS apps for a total of 11 coins and tokens and make them more convenient to use.
Now the majority of features and perks are available right inside the apps. Besides, as we prioritize security alongside stability, the new wallets are well protected and certain design changes have been made to facilitate the workload and speed up all operations within the system. What I personally find the most appealing is the current support for push-notifications on every device, informing you about both pay-ins and pay-outs. I’m an Apple Watch guy, and I’ve always got it on, so I always feel confident my data is safe, because the app reacts even when I’m offline or the back-end drops.
I’d also like to draw attention to our strengthened partnership with Changelly, which aims to move transactions for more than 50 digital assets outside of the blockchain. We’ve been planning to deploy this feature for a long time, but the Covid-19 global turmoil has accelerated our joint efforts. Thus, users got an opportunity to save on fee-free transactions that are possible within the Freewallet ecosystem, and to take advantage of better exchange rates that are equal to those at Changelly. Faster exchange execution (only 1-2 minutes) and enhanced anonymity are other key advantages, especially in times of extreme market vulnerability as your transfers won’t be bogged down with long confirmation times and are not broadcast publicly.
Freewallet provides custodial services to its users. Speaking in more detail about safety issues, can you comment on dramatic threads on Twitter, Reddit, and other social media channels expressing lack of trust in hosted wallets? And what benefits do custodial crypto wallets offer?
The truth is that the debate over custodial vs. non-custodial wallets makes as much sense as the violent conflict between Big-endians and Little-endians from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Yes, customers’ private keys are kept by Freewallet, but with custodial services, if a user loses access to his data, it doesn’t mean he loses his funds. His account can be easily retrieved via email.
If we talk about transaction errors, I feel strongly that most of them are avoidable and unrelated to the wallet provider at all. Moreover, these mistakes are usually fixed by customer service, which is another merit of custodial wallets. That’s why this type of crypto wallet seems particularly suitable for beginners. With the support team available 24/7 and addressing all kinds of issues, we do our best to back you up. It’s not a big deal if you accidentally make your payment to a composite address without any references to the wallet ID, for instance. We are constantly redeeming similar mistaken transactions and making refunds. Of course, we can’t make anything happen with a snap of the fingers. There are less common situations that take time, effort, and resources but we are always ready to give a hand to our users.
Anyway, over 3 million users from more than 100 countries have already chosen Freewallet. Where does your main audience come from? What markets do you believe are the most conducive to seeing your company expand its international clientbase in 2020?
As you’ve said, we have a vast number of users across the world. The list of our top 10 countries, measured by the number of visits, includes the USA, the UK and Germany, which makes us proud. Moving further to the East, with everything that’s going on within Asia’s rapidly growing crypto sector because of coronavirus, we anticipate more Chinese users joining our Freewallet Family as the Middle Kingdom’s market looks the most promising at the moment.
Regarding the pandemic, how did consumer behavior change at Freewallet?
Well, a week after the notorious crypto market collapse that occurred on March 13, Bitcoin purchases surged by 30%, as did the number of total purchase requests. What’s far more interesting is that we saw exactly the same growth in the number of users who managed to buy crypto, which turned out to be the highest ever as both new and old customers have intensified their activity at once. As a result, we’ve also registered a good 45% increase in transaction volume.
Have you had to reorganize your business during the quarantine? Have you faced any challenges and how have you gone through them?
Thanks to the specifics of our industry, structurally, Freewallet’s team is decentralized, uniting about a hundred employees from all around the world with a common aim. So, luckily, the enforcement of self-isolation measures has had no impact on our working processes and our customer service is still available round the clock.
But the harsh emotional environment is an entirely different matter. Standing on the shore of uncertainty is depressing, as no one is capable of clarifying how the ongoing health and economic crisis will unfold. And in these tough times your work can become your sanctuary. I do really love travelling and it was very frustrating to have to accept a reality in which I have to stay home and can only dream of an opportunity to go abroad once again. But I’ve already got a solution and my Crypto Geography series, which allows me to travel wherever I want — in-house — helped me alleviate my boredom. But this kind of travel is also easier on your budget.
Yes, I’ve read your Crypto Geography articles covering cryptocurrency usage and regulations in countries around the world. From your point of view, which country can be called the capital of the whole crypto industry?
That’s a good question, but I can only speculate on that. With its positive attitude towards crypto and relevant supportive framework, the Maltese government, for example, is likely to turn their tiny country into a flourishing blockchain hub. They do say, little pigeons can carry great messages, and this seems to be the case with Malta. Exchanges based on this blockchain island alone boast a sizable share of trading volume while some industry leaders are planning on moving their headquarters there. Should the same tendency remain over time, we have every reason to believe that more crypto entrepreneurs will contribute to Malta’s prosperity.
At the same time, the recently created regulatory sandbox in Germany is opening new horizons for crypto mass adoption across the European Union by accepting cryptocurrencies as a digital representation of value and legalizing crypto-related services and operations. This year U.S. regulators are also catching up with the clarification processes for all virtual assets, which can be regarded as an important milestone in American crypto legislation. If we consider the precedent of the Crypto Valley organising big industry events all over the globe and those exciting crypto projects working in the USA, it seems like the latest attempts from local lawmakers will lead to meaningful progress in crypto development and mainstream adoption.
I would just like to refer to one more Crypto Geography series about China. As the digital yuan is gaining momentum, do you agree with Former Bank of China President, Li Lihui, that the Chinese national cryptocurrency has a chance to replace cash?
Combining the best of crypto and fiat can provide a very strong support for digital yuan on a national scale, as the state will give it solid liquidity guarantees. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t jump to any big conclusions, considering the centralized nature of the state-backed cryptocurrency that runs counter to the philosophy of the industry. The potential user base is extremely large but it will most likely translate to the mass adoption of supervised Central Bank Digital Currencies but not digital assets in general, and it remains a question whether this approach will serve to advance the crypto market.
In China, using unbacked cryptocurrencies is so far strictly prohibited, meaning that local authorities don’t feel confident about the functionality of crypto. So, even if we take into account all the benefits of the spreading digital yuan, it can hardly be called a game-changer yet, because the overwhelming majority of the Chinese population is still opting for cash as their default payment method.
There is a totally different trend in the crypto market gathering strength – the 2020 decentralized finance renaissance. So, what’s your take on DeFi projects filling up the crypto space?
DeFi’s impressive progress is apparently a critical evolutionary juncture and one of the most significant boosts for the crypto sphere. Decentralized finance represents a system envisioned by many cypherpunks, early blockchain adopters and Satoshi Nakamoto himself. Bitcoin was just a starting point to show people a better world that is free from any financial oppression, and the DeFi sector is following the path by offering even more exciting opportunities for building a brand-new finance industry.
A good example of that is the recent uptick in the usage of DeFi stablecoins. Both already existing and forthcoming projects are slowly but steadily moving the digital economy toward decentralization by democratising and disintermediating financial operations. They are also increasing the credibility of crypto in the eyes of the mass audience, which has been flocking to stable assets in order to shield their funds from possible market upheavals. Of course, it’s too early to say whether the rise of DeFi projects will add to cryptocurrency’s wider adoption, but using stablecoins like Dai, for example, is quite a safe way for people to get into the system and explore how the things work here.
And concluding on the topic of 2020’s notable crypto events, we can’t ignore the third Bitcoin halving that took place on May 11. Debates related to further BTC price moves keep simmering within the community. What do you personally expect from Bitcoin’s post-halving behaviour?
With the recent stablecoin market proliferation in mind, I’d say that future Bitcoin gains are a distinct possibility. There’s already a handful of strong bullish signs, including the positive correlation between Tether’s fast-growing market capitalization and Bitcoin’s price making this relationship lucrative for the short and medium-term.
Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the latest halving attracted record attention from the crypto media outlets curious as to how the next reward reduction will affect the fate of the dominant cryptocurrency. I guess this was among the main triggers that led to the visible surge in total turnover and number of Bitcoin purchases in the halving aftermath as people found another big market event hiding behind numerous headlines. At Freewallet, both these values increased by 22% and 27% relatively, while the number of users buying Bitcoin rose by 25%. And certainly, we shouldn’t forget about the expanding institutional interest and what that means for a potential Bitcoin price rally.