First felony in the cryptocurrency world

First felony in the cryptocurrency world

Previous blockchain blogpost

Some businesses and companies prefer to stick to their past, but this is not a good marketing strategy. Instead, it is essential to take a progressive approach and look out for the next big thing. That is what happens when companies begin to accept Bitcoin payment that put them in a position for greater success. Embracing the power of this new blockchain technology shows the customers and prospects of a business that it is well ahead of the curve.

Charlie Shrem comes from a predominantly Jewish and Russian neighborhood in Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. His father used to work at a jewelry store, and his mother looked after his sisters and him. Awkward and shy, Shrem blossomed when he discovered that he had a passion for computers. Charlie Shrem learned computer programming and started engaging in hacker forums. While in Brooklyn College in 2009, he co-founded a deals site known as Daily Checkout and fell in love with sales.

Earliest Cryptocurrency Company

BitInstant

BitInstant Source: Coindesk

Charlie Shrem, a promoter’s promoter, was among the pioneer public faces of cryptocurrency. Shrem saw value when Bitcoins were worth practically nothing or maybe a few dollars each. Shrem claimed he was among the ten people globally to find out about Bitcoin. By 2011, he was well known in the network of Bitcoin and co-founded a startup company called BitInstant. He became the Chief Executive Officer of Bitinstant that was one of the earliest and most significant cryptocurrency companies processing a third of all Bitcoin transactions. It helped people obtain digital money and transfer it between exchanges.

Partnering for support

Shrem partnered with Gareth Nelson, a Welsh coder, and handled the business end, managing to raise funds from Roger Ver, an angel investor, and from his mom. But one person who refused to invest warned Shrem that BitInstant had no safeguards to protect against money laundering. That was fine with Shrem as a substantial portion of the clientele were users of Silk Road. These people needed to exchange dollars for Bitcoins to buy drugs on the black market. There was a middleman, a plumber in Florida by the name of Robert Faiella who had a business obtaining Bitcoins for these users.

Abetting with crime

Shrem soon found out what Faiella was up to and helped him source money for drug transactions, rather than shutting him down. Shrem’s partner, as well as the cash-processing company of BitInstant, wanted to stop it. But Shrem encouraged Faiella to disguise his identity using a new email address and username. The flow of money went on until Shrem eventually cut him off in 2012 when Faiella pleaded guilty to running an unlicensed money-transmitting business. By the time he went to prison for four years in jail, he had laundered a million dollar through BitInstant.

Vision with swagger

By 2012, Shrem was a young Chief Executive Officer, a motor-mouthed cocky capitalist, and a proud pothead. He had swaggering ambitions as he wanted to turn BitInstant into the Apple of Bitcoin and his company soon would be processing a massive chunk of all Bitcoin transactions. When a payment processor cut all connections with Bitcoin companies under pressure from MasterCard and partner banks, leaving customer funds stranded, it was BitInstant that hacked together a solution to let users withdraw their money.

Bitinstant gaining traction

Bitinstant raised $1.5 million, most of it from Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the twin brothers, who had a venture capital firm

The company raised $1.5 million from Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss Source: CNBC

Bitinstant raised $1.5 million, most of it from Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the twin brothers, who had a venture capital firm. The company helped them buy their first Bitcoins. Since then they were hooked. After raising funds, the company’s future looked bright, and Bitinstant became an industry barometer because crypto-economy depended on rapid money transfers. In early 2013, during the Cypriot financial crisis, when bank accounts for regular citizens taxed them 6.75%, Bitcoin suddenly became a haven.

Chaotic early days

Charlie Shrem embodied the legally questionable, chaotic early days of cryptocurrency. Two of Shrem’s best friends quit Bitinstant due to a dispute with the investors. Something went out of Shrem with the departure of his two best friends who were his confidants. He seemed distracted, spent the night partying, sleeping in and showing up late to work. Meanwhile, the site was straining under the traffic surge, leading to waves of complaints. A platform upgrade became mired in legal concerns and technical problems. It became clear that Bitinstant had been operating without licenses, and the cost of acquiring them would be prohibitive. Bitinstant that made Shrem a Bitcoin millionaire eventually went bust and shut down in 2013 as it was all too much for everyone concerned to carry on.

Bitcoin foundation speaker

Shrem became an overnight sensation when he featured in a documentary about the new virtual phenomenon. He co-founded the Bitcoin foundation, which was the first nonprofit advocacy organization for the digital currency. He then flew to Argentina on a Bitcoin foundation mission because by then Shrem had become a proselytizer and a speaker at industry conferences. His business was now himself and not BitInstant as he began to charge speaking fees as all the while his life was a whirlwind of deal-making and partying. Everywhere he went he kept telling people that he is rebuilding BitInstant.

Crime caught up

At first, Shrem got away unscathed as he was enjoying his freedom. He took a vacation to Morocco with his girlfriend, Courtney Warner, where he tried opium. In 2014 it caught up with Shrem when he was arrested in Amsterdam as he was returning from a speech.

Arguments for defense

Robert Faiella

Robert Faiella Source: CBC

Shrem argued his case first by advancing the notion that individuals can spend their money the way they want it as long as it is not harmful to anyone else. And second, at the time he was helping Faiella, the government had not decided how to regulate or even classify Bitcoin. If they had not yet determined whether it acknowledged Bitcoin as money, how could that amount to laundering? Shrem did not know whether the law he had violated was just and had wanted to raise these issues but his lawyers advised against it.

Bitcoins buy drugs

In 2015, Charlie Shrem eventually went to federal prison for two years after pleading guilty. He was abetting and aiding an unlicensed money transmitter client, Robert Faiella acquire Bitcoins to trade in the underground marketplace, where it was used to buy drugs. It was a felony that is considered to be the first of its kind in the digital currency world. Although other Bitcoiners had broken the law, Shrem was the first to be imprisoned.

Coming up next:

Charlie Shrem the first Bitcoin felon went to federal prison in 2015 for 2 years. Upon his release he went about strengthening the ecosystem of blockchain. A real breakthrough came when he created a prepaid Dash debit card. He then joined Intellisys Capital and decided to raise funds in the form of initial coin offering but was mired with doubts, as he feared the intense scrutiny from the authorities and eventually backed off.

The Simple Tool That Can Maximize Your Multichannel Communications Campaign

The Simple Tool That Can Maximize Your Multichannel Communications Campaign

For any marketing professional, these are either the best of times or the worst of times for plying your trade. Communication opportunities are more plentiful than they’ve ever been, which is great news, but along with that glut of marketing channels comes the overwhelming feeling that if you’re not communicating across every possible platform, you’re doing a disservice to your company or your clients. Trigger Systems are a great tool for making sure that you’re making the most of your marketing opportunities.

Wait, what’s a Trigger System, you ask? In simplest terms, a Trigger System is a set of communications and marketing tasks created around a recurring business event, so that you’re always ready to hit the ground running, whether the event is planned or not. And Trigger Systems are supremely flexible, adapting to whatever your communication needs are, so you can set up a Trigger System for situations as different as launching a new product, running a retail campaign or attending a trade show.

It’s a pretty simple idea, but once you think through and document your communications roadmap, you can use it again and again. Just think about how helpful it would be to have a clear, replicable set of PR and marketing tasks that are “triggered” every time your company attends a trade show.

Below are examples of three very different situations where Trigger Systems can help you maximize your multichannel marketing potential. To help illustrate the usefulness and flexibility of this tool, these examples will all be based around a company that’s launching a new beverage in a new, but high-growth beverage category.

Launching a New Beverage

You’ve put in the work of researching the market for your new beverage, creating a great product and developing a brand that you’re confident will resonate with your target customer. Now, you need people to listen and act! A Trigger System for a product launch could include everything from creating press releases and pay-per-click social media and search ad campaigns to creating in-store promotional materials and researching and securing guest articles and backlinks from well-respected beverage publications and taste-making blogs and websites — and anything else that you think will get your product in front of the right eyes! And the best part? When you launch the three other beverages you have planned for next year, you can use the same set of tasks to develop those launch campaigns!

Getting More Out of Your Online Retail Campaign

Many of your potential customers are encountering your new beverage through online channels, and rather than providing a call to action that requires them to visit a physical store, you’re hoping to kickstart sales with an online retail campaign that will bring your beverage right to people’s front doors. When you create a Trigger System, you can think through all the possible avenues for communicating this message, encompassing pay-per-click and remarketing ads, drip email campaigns, a retail splash page on your website, creative product partnerships and more.

Making Noise at a Trade Show

Trade shows are a great way to make a splash with a new product, generating lots of good buzz, making important industry connections and driving big sales orders. Trigger Systems are perfectly suited to trade shows because they can help you create a template that you can use every single time you attend a show. This could include purchasing ads on the show’s website and program, sending invitations to prospects, curating a press list and inviting publications and bloggers to samples and interviews with company leaders, a trade show-specific landing page on your website, refreshed marketing collateral and — of course — a show-stopping new booth design.

Especially when you are launching a new product and building a new business, Trigger Systems can help you create the communications infrastructure that will allow you to execute creative and tactical communications campaigns effectively and seamlessly across as many different channels as possible.

Mike Schaffer is the CEO of Echo-Factory, Inc. Throughout the course of his career, Mike has provided strategic oversight and executive leadership for companies looking to position their businesses for growth, acquisition or both. Mike is an ongoing contributor to CSQ Magazine and a regular speaker at marketing conventions, and mentors start-ups with the USC incubator and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. He also organizes the largest Innovation Group in Los Angeles which meets weekly in Pasadena.

Accepting Bitcoin is good for business

Accepting Bitcoin is good for business

Previous blockchain blogpost

Blockchain technology represents a seismic shift. It is like that of email and web in the 90s and Facebook and Twitter a decade later. This innovative technology also makes Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies possible without centralized authority. But cryptocurrencies are just the tip of the iceberg, much bigger and more essential things lie below the surface. Blockchain technology has the potential to create countless opportunities everywhere. 21.co, a blockchain startup founded by Dr. Balaji Srinivasan, is a compelling case in point.

Some businesses prefer to stick to their past, but this is not a good marketing strategy. Instead, it is essential to take a progressive approach and look out for the next big thing. That is what happens when companies begin to accept Bitcoin that put them in a position for greater success. Embracing the power of this new technology is good for businesses. It shows the customers and prospects of a business that it is well ahead of the curve. Accepting Bitcoin is a marketing strategy that could positively impact the company’s bottom line. With such transactions on the rise, many companies are using Bitcoin to their advantage.

New market segment

There are customers out there that only work with those businesses that accept Bitcoin. The bigger such an audience, the higher chance of making sales, moving past the competition, and boosting profits. Accepting Bitcoin may be a gimmick, but it could give the company an edge over the competitors. Since many are not on board with this technology as yet, it is possible to beat them to it. Hence, companies that use Bitcoin are fortunate enough to generate business from a fresh audience and a new market segment.

Appeals younger generation

Just the same as the conventional form of payment, every one of all ages can use Bitcoin. But it is the younger generation who are most likely to adopt this fast-growing form of payment. Companies that work towards appealing to such a demographic needs to give them something to get excited. One of the many ways is accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment for the products or services. It is a differentiating factor that the younger generation look at when purchasing items.

Peace of mind

Data breaches that rock the world may not have impacted many companies. But there is no guarantee of that not happening in the future. In regards to data security, Bitcoin gives peace of mind since it does not store payment information. Or not at least in the way traditional financial sector does. That way, it provides the prospects and customers a higher level of trust in the companies.

Traditional affiliate networks

Bitcoin is going to affect traditional affiliate networks, which may have to reexamine their minimum network fees for the commissionable transaction. Affiliate marketing uses Bitcoin because of the cost-effective manner of rewarding virtually any purchase. It also allows paying in real-time in which case purchase transactions are not reversible.

Impacts variable rates

Bitcoin impacts the prices of those products marketed through the affiliate program. Those who offer automatic services or intangible products may be able to consume the risk of the variable value of Bitcoin. Companies selling tangible products may likely keep their prices in their currency and then convert it on the fly. Merchants may give some extra incentives to affiliates who promote Bitcoin-priced products and also to those affiliates accepting Bitcoins as commissions. Again, it will be easier for merchants to edge potential changes when the value of Bitcoin becomes stable.

Lead generation companies

Lead-gen marketing companies may receive high payouts for hot leads but a fraction of that for cold leads. The first examples are in the Bitcoin space itself whereby the firms refer active users to Bitcoin Exchanges. CoinMate.io is a British based Exchange that serves continental Europe but does not operate in North America and offers a fee for recommended users. On the other side is Coinbase, a leading exchange who pays handsomely to both the referred user and the referring user. Considering Bitcoin can reward almost any transaction, in the future it will adopt a percentage approach and would add premium percentages for referring top-tier customers. As the value of Bitcoin becomes stable, commissions will be expressed more frequently in Bitcoin.

Cheap website traffic

Faucets are a cheap way to get traffic on to a website by rewarding the people who either visit the site or complete specific actions

Faucets are a cheap way to get traffic on to a website by rewarding the people who either visit the site or complete specific actions Source: Steemit

Faucets are a cheap way to get traffic on to a website by rewarding the people who either visit the site or complete specific actions. If an overlap exists between the company’s customers and the users of the Bitcoin faucet, there may be value for the company.

Binary options trade

Satoshi option trading

Satoshi option trading

Bitcoin is very beneficial for binary options because it allows traders to transact business when other markets remain closed. Accepting Bitcoin payments from traders will have many implications on the product itself. The binary options brokers, e gaming, and daily fantasy sports operators accept Bitcoin and convert it into a currency that goes to the customer’s account. However, bearing the risk of receiving Bitcoins, and then having to pay winners a different amount of Bitcoins, requires careful planning, until their value stabilizes.

Decentralised digital currency

Bitcoin is similar to Euro or Dollars or Yen with the difference that Bitcoin is not under the jurisdiction of a bank or a country. This digital currency is not supported by economic drivers and exists only on computers. Like standard money, Bitcoin can be used to buy services and goods from companies who accept it. The details can get complex, but a simple example can explain how it works on a fundamental level.

Illustration with example

Let us assume that an online store sells a bat for $100/- and accepts Bitcoin as a form of payment. If the purchaser pays $100/- today and if the rate drops by 30%, effectively, that bat was sold yesterday for $70/-. If, on the other hand, the rate goes up by 30%, that bat was sold yesterday for $130/-. And that makes good business sense, but the exchange rate is hard to predict on a day-to-day basis. Domino’s Pizza was the first company to take Bitcoin back in 2013. Some companies already take Bitcoin; most notably among them are Dell, Newegg, and Overstock.com.

Establishing Bitcoin functionality

For those websites that already allow Bitcoin payments in the online store, such as Shopify, they have to establish and enable the functionality of a Bitcoin wallet. Otherwise, the more straightforward solution might be a Bitcoin Payment Processor or Gateway such as CoinGate, Stripe, BitPay, or any of the others. If everything else fails, consider changing the website hosts but only as a last resort.

Strategy enhances brand

Merely having a payment method that is Bitcoin-friendly will become the mark of a forward-thinking company. In other words, using blockchain to formalize digital payments between companies can work in one’s favor. From a business point-of-view, not only is this secure but from a marketing perspective, it helps add to the branding. A mass-adoption future where the world would just use Bitcoin instead of paper currencies is a little far-fetched right now, but having a strategy in place will help in the long run to be ahead of the game.

Businesses follow suit

Bitcoins is a celebrity of its own, but their chief value in marketing and digital commerce may be that they introduced blockchains. The technology that makes Bitcoin possible is the aspect that makes it most disruptive giving rise to different kinds of applications. Very soon, companies or banks will be managing blockchain technology because they see the potential in its ability to record transactions permanently and globally with one entry.

Blockchain resembles Internet

The blockchain movement feels like the Internet primarily because both offer decentralized systems, except that Bitcoin is about a rapid transfer of value, and the Internet is about the transmission of information. Consumers can purchase blockchain-generated tokens representing values or products, employing the power of falling and rising token prices in a self-regulating, decentralized blockchain environment. In the most idealized version, a community of developers will be maintaining each blockchain faithfully and owning tokens that would increase in value.

Coming up next:

Charlie Shrem was among the pioneer public faces of cryptocurrency. He co-founded a startup company in 2011 called BitInstant that was one of the earliest cryptocurrency companies processing a third of all Bitcoin transactions. In 2015, Shremwent to prison for two years for aiding an unlicensed money transmitter acquire Bitcoins to trade in the underground marketplace, where it was used to buy drugs. It was a felony that is the first of its kind in the crypto world.