Bitcoin wallet security is no joke and our most recent interview is with a company that agrees. Rodolfo Novak and Peter Gray founded Coinkite to provide bank-level security standards for a Bitcoin wallet. Their team has since expanded to include Peter Todd and Lisa Cheng as advisers. Coinkite has n-of-15 multi-sig and a developer API ready to help make Bitcoin use more secure and accessible. As a true believer in the Bitcoin blockchain, Rodolfo Novak has led Coinkite to its current position as one of the established and trusted Bitcoin companies in North America. Coinkite’s services for merchants and consumers are available to Bitcoiners in the Czech Republic, Kenya, or even China, through the use of Tor. You can check out Coinkite at their website.
Bitcoin Interview with Coinkite CEO Rodolfo Novak
Coinkite is a bitcoin platform. We are one of the leading bitcoin wallets offering the only HSM in the market, multi-signature, bank-grade security, and amazing developers’ API platform. Most importantly, we offer hard-core privacy by never touching FIAT and not having to be an MSB.
Mr. Rodolfo Novak, how did you get into bitcoins? How did you get into Coinkite?
In late 2011, Peter (my Coinkite cofounder) bumped into the Bitcoin Whitepaper. From there, we build BTCLook.com, which was a visualizer of the blockchain. Then, we started thinking about tools that the Bitcoin space needed in order to grow. We came to the conclusion that it needed to be easier and more secure for merchants to accept Bitcoin. So we started building a hardware POS. Once that was ready, we looked into the space and we couldn’t find a suitable Bitcoin wallet, so we started building Coinkite. We had a few challenges along the way, like keeping private keys secure, but scalable. With Peter’s background in secure embedded devices, we knew HSMs were the only practical solution (the competition is also catching on to that now!). We investigated the HSM manufacturers and none of them are able to do the Bitcoin curve. So there we were again, taking on another large project and just building it ourselves. All these things came together as Coinkite, which is a full platform for Bitcoin.
Can tell us little about yourself?
I was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil and I have been working with Internet and product development since I was a teenager. I came to Canada just over a decade ago. I’ve worked with many start-ups in Canada and co-founded a few. I helped build a time-series search engine, worked on mobile bank apps, customizable CRMS, successful IOS apps that I’ve sold in the Apple Store. I’ve worked at digital agencies. I’ve been all over the place. I just love different challenges.
If the USA goes through with excessive regulations on bitcoin and cryptocurrency companies, do you feel innovation in this industry will move to another country, say Canada?
It would be a shame for Americans to miss out on the opportunity of being a large player in the Bitcoin space. Bitcoin is one of the largest innovations since the internet. Fortunately, I am already in Canada, which is a much friendlier jurisdiction for Bitcoin and for privacy, in general. Toronto is already one of the most active Bitcoin communities in the world and innovation will only grow from here.
What makes Coinkite so unique compared to other bitcoin startups out there? What’s your advantage against existing Canadians competition and other global exchanges?
Coinkite is in a unique position because we have hardware development experience. We’ve built the only Bitcoin HSM (Hardware Security Module). That gives us a tremendous advantage. We can scale hierarchical deterministic and multi-signature wallets in ways that our competition simply can’t. As a matter of fact, many of our competitors already use our API and are on the waiting list to buy our HSMs. It’s really the only practical way to scale Bitcoin wallets and APIs. [Note: Coinkite is not an exchange]
What is Canada’s bitcoin scene like these days? Lots of interests?
Canada is the second largest market for Bitcoin, and we only have 33 million people. Our government (Senate) now has a better idea of what Bitcoin is and is advising our government to take a wait-and-see approach on legislation. That is affording us the opportunity for huge innovation. There are many Bitcoin startups in Toronto and the rest of Canada.
What’s typical day or week for Coinkite like in terms of tasks and goals?
Coinkite is the kind of company that takes a no bullshit approach. Day to day, we’re really focused on shipping out our features. We are a technical-minded company, so R&D takes big chunk of our time.
What’s your viewpoint on the present stance and regulation of Bitcoin from Beijing?
The cat is out of the bag. As musch as regimes may want to regulate Bitcoin and go after points of centralization, like exchanges, there is nothing the State can do effectively to hold back individuals. Just look at the number of Chinese citizens taking part in the Bitcoin economy.
Do you believe that the bitcoin industry can survive going forward in Canada?
It will thrive! Although Bitcoin really is a borderless technology.
Can you guess what Coinkite’ valuation is at moment? What stage is Coinkite at in terms of investment?
We’ve been approached by many of the major VC players from the Valley with very interesting propositions. But, as much as was not easy to say no, for now we’ve decided to continue on as an independent company, since we’ve had revenue as of day one. We make a good product and our customers are happy to pay for it.
Who has been helpful or instrumental for you in terms of mentorship, guidance , investing , or as an evangelical fan promoting Coinkite?
More people than I can remember! There have been lots of people in the Bitcoin community in Canada who have been hugely instrumental in Coinkite’s success. We’re lucky that Toronto native, and Bitcoin core dev, Peter Todd is among our advisors.
Tell Bitcorati members what Coinkite hopes to accomplish as short and long term goals?
Right now our developer API platform is growing like wildfire. We want to make sure that other startups and established companies are handling Bitcoin securely, your members should check it out.
In the long-term, we are growing into a major platform and want to know what the Bitcoiners need, and we will make it happen.
Any plans for USA or overseas expansion?
Coinkite is available to people in every country in the world, including countries with firewalls via TOR. We already have terminals in over 62 countries and over 1000 developers are using our API. Coinkite is experiencing exponential growth.
Tell us about some of your fantastic products and services?
Coinkite’s platform has three legs: Web-wallet, merchant services, and developer APIs. They all take advantage of: unparalleled features, such as fast and scalable hierarchical deterministic wallets (BIP32); the most advanced multi-signature environment (N-OF-15); automated funds forwarding to any Bitcoin address; private key watching and sweep; the ability to send Bitcoin to SMS/email/vouchers; Pubnub push notification; access to multiple sub-accounts; Bitcoin debit cards; granular API security settings (IP restriction, transaction limit, sub-account limit, permission limit); hardware terminals that can work both as point-of-sale and an exchange. We can even import private keys from paper wallets bring those funds back into the economy in a safe way.
As you can see, we’re doing a lot. We want to make sure that we have the most complete Bitcoin platform to make it easier and safer for developers, consumers, and businesses to use Bitcoin.
Tell us of some of your happiness and joy with Coinkite ?
It’s not as much about Coinkite in particular, but I love the fact that now, with Bitcoin, I can sell my products to any country in the world without worrying about fraud or delay. I can pay my suppliers without having to go to the bank to do a wire-transfer.
What are some smart and innovated business choices that Coinkite has made?
Getting into the hardware business and developing the HSM. It’s really the only practical way to scale Bitcoin wallets and APIs.
Does Coinkite have a mobile app?
We can’t talk about that right now
What are Coinkite’s thoughts on New York City BitLicense and possible global govt. regulations for cryptocurrencies? Would the Canadian government institute a BitLicense type of regulation?
If this happens in New York, it will be missing out on the largest innovation since the internet. What’s more, because banks are based in New York, they’ll also miss out the chance to do competitive business in Bitcoin.
How do you feel about IBM and Samsung teaming up and creating their own blockchain?
They are missing the point. What makes blockchain technology work is the Bitcoin incentive.
What is bitcoin 2.0 technology going to look like ?
Bitcoin 2.0 technology still has a lot of ground to cover. We haven’t achieved everything there is to achieve with 1.0. Don’t get me wrong, I love smart-contracts and all the things that can be done with it, but I think the biggest thing that will happen to Bitcoin in the short term is OpenBazaar – a true free-market for a true free currency. It’s a big deal.