First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Davy Stevens: It’s an adjustment for everyone. Life as we knew it changed all of a sudden but I’m glad everyone at BTC Direct is safe and is able to work from home. Off course, it’s in the nature of young companies to adapt and be flexible whenever circumstances change.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded or joined BTC Direct
Davy Stevens: In 2013, me and Mike Hutting (other co-founder) were looking for an easy way to buy bitcoin with euros and with our local payment methods (iDEAL). Well, that didn’t exist yet, so we started talks with software engineers to build our platform. Now we try to accommodate the entire SEPA-area with local payment methods. We feel like the only way bitcoin will be adopted by the masses, is by making buying and owning bitcoin as easy as possible.
How does BTC Direct innovate?
Davy Stevens: Our goal is to make buying bitcoin as easy as possible. One of our latest innovations is to partner up with SatoshiLabs, they created the first ever hardware wallet for bitcoins named Trezor. Now we are integrated into their ecosystem which not only makes bitcoin transactions easier, but also safer. Trezors are sold worldwide so our reach grew exponentially, even thought we only target European customers.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Davy Stevens: Several members of our team showed COVID-19 like symptoms while working from home in March. Tests weren’t widely available yet, so we can’t say for sure it was the coronavirus. The virus was already real, and we could feel the effects in society and in the economy but now it infected our friends and colleagues. Fortunately we only had minor symptoms and no lasting damage.
On the 12th of march the price of bitcoin tanked with 40%, at the same time worldwide stock markets also crashed, but bitcoin recovered in a couple of weeks. This kicked off a buying and selling rush on our platform BTC Direct. So looking at our business, the trading volume rose by quite a bit. We are fortunate that a lot of people see bitcoin as a hedge against a failing economy.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Davy Stevens: We followed the guidelines provided by the Dutch government. This basically means, try to keep touching objects to a minimum (keyboard not withstanding), maintain a 1.5m distance and wash your hands regularly. This was manageable.
The challenge came when we decided (per advice of the government) to all work from home. Working from home wasn’t common in BTC Direct, but we adjusted on the fly. Within one weekend, all computers and even office chairs were moved home.
We tried to keep the working environment as positive and familiar as possible. This meant starting the day with a video call, like you would normally drink coffee together, and ending the day with a video call. And every Friday in the afternoon, we shared some beers and discussed the week and make jokes about our weekend plans, which consist of moving from the sofa to the garden or walking from the bedroom to the kitchen.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and BTC Direct in the future?
Davy Stevens: It’s a matter of communicating calmly, stay level grounded and always maintain a sense of humor. That’s how BTC Direct and our team kept performing, even though we worked from home.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Davy Stevens: Normally I would say that all European bitcoin brokers are our competitors, but since new EU guidelines on money laundering have made some governments (like ours) react with overly strict laws, I don’t like to speak of competitors. We are all in the same boat now.
Your final thoughts
Davy Stevens: It’s an exciting time to invest in cryptocurrency, the coronavirus made sure an economic collapse will happen rather sooner than later. So many people are searching for ways to protect their wealth and savings. Normally people invest in real estate or gold, but we’re excited that more people see Bitcoin as an easier and future proof alternative to those traditional assets.
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