THE Plug and Play Technical Center The startup incubator and accelerator recently organized its Winter EXPO, with 28 startup pitches, a roundtable on virtual currency and more than 100 investors and companies.
The virtual currency panel, dubbed “the future of fintech,” was primarily focused on bitcoin. This was especially relevant because the audience had just seen 11 Bitcoin startups present their business plans to investors.
Vinny Lingham Gift started the session by telling investors the main reasons why his gift card business started using bitcoin.
“It’s a low-risk payment method,” Lingham said.
He compared Bitcoin to credit card transactions, which can be problematic for several reasons. This is especially true with so many different countries working with different credit card companies.
“How to trust a credit card from a foreign bank?” He asked.
“We are still at the stage of building infrastructure,” he said.
Chris Larsen is CEO of the payment platform Ripple, which he called a “universal joint” for virtual currencies. He echoed the sentiment that BTC is just the start of something completely new.
“Virtual currencies are really just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
It is the concepts brought by these currencies that are so interesting for the financial technologies of the future. Larsen cited confirming financial transactions without a central clearinghouse and solving the double-spending problem as the two biggest innovations Bitcoin brought to the market.
Jean-Jacques Cabou, partner at the law firm Perkins Coie, said that over the next few years, issues related to regulatory compliance in virtual currencies will “decrease.” He made it clear that any activity related to virtual currency must be very transparent.
“If your bank doesn’t know you’re a Bitcoin company, that’s a red flag,” Cabou said.
David Johnston, who invests in virtual currency projects through BitAngels, said distributed infrastructure is what interests him most.
He cited an article that he recently wrote about the disruptive qualities that distributed systems could exhibit in the future.
He said 2014 would consist of funding “investments at the infrastructure level: Mastercoin, distributed exchange and distributed commerce.”
The full list of panels at the Plug and Play EXPO fintech session was as follows:
Vinny Linghamco-founder and CEO of Gyft,
David Chen, associate partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners,
Chris Larsenfounder and CEO of Ripple,
Jean-Jacques Caboupartner at Perkins Cole, LLP
David Johnstonexecutive director of BitAngels.
The session was moderated by Adam B. Levine from Let’s Talk Bitcoin.