Bitcoins and Gravy #63: Airbitz - The Wallet Of The Future (Transcript)
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[0:00] John Barrett (Announcer and Host): Welcome to Bitcoins and Gravy, Episode #63. At the time of this recording, Bitcoins are trading at $232.00 dollars each, and everybody’s favorite, LTBCoin, is trading at $0.000133 U.S. dollars each. Mmm...Mmm...Mmm... Now THAT’S gravy!
John: Welcome to "Bitcoins and Gravy", and thanks for joining me today as I podcast from East Nashville, Tennessee, with my trusty Siberian Husky, Maxwell, right by my side. Say hello Maxwell.
John: We’re two Bitcoin enthusiasts who love talking about Bitcoins, and sharing what we learn with you, the listener. Long time listeners, thank you so much for listening. Thank you for your generous tips, and new listeners, we hope you enjoy the show.
[end of intro music]
John: On today’s show I travel to beautiful San Diego, California, for a conversation with my good friend, Paul Puey (https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulpuey ), the founder and CEO of Airbitz.co.
[1:02] The Airbitz (https://airbitz.co/ ) wallet is a leap forward for Bitcoin wallets, where data is strongly encrypted on each user’s device, using each individual user’s login and password. The Airbitz wallet does not host user funds on their servers, so your chance of being "Goxed" is nil, zero, nunca, nada. With meta data options, the Airbitz wallet is one of the most user-friendly and intuitive wallets in existence.
We also hear from "Reverend Johnny" who preaches up a storm on this beautiful Blue Sky Springtime day here in East Nashville, with a message that will entertain you and fortify you as we move into yet another week of life here on Planet Earth. Hang in there with me friends.
John: All right, ladies and gentlemen. Please put your hands together and welcome Paul Puey, the CEO and cofounder of AirBitz.co. Paul, welcome to Bitcoins and Gravy.
[2:01] Paul: Hey, happy to be on the show. Thanks a lot, John.
John: The last time I saw you was, I think, at the bookstore there in Austin. What is the name of that bookstore?
Paul: It is "Brave New Books" (https://twitter.com/bravenewbooks ), which is an epicenter for Bitcoin, and for freedom-minded people in Austin. It’s been around for quite some time. I think it was actually the very first brick-and-mortar business to accept Bitcoin in all of Texas, from what I’ve heard.
John: Oh wow. That’s pretty cool. That was a great place, man. They had some great political art on the walls. I interviewed the owner, [and] he was a great guy. Just a fun evening of pizza and beer. And remember [how] the pizza delivery guy showed up, and somebody set him up with a wallet, right?
Paul: Yeah, he got set up with a wallet, and he probably pocketed $40 to $50 worth of tips, just that night alone, from one drop-off of a handful of pizzas. So he made pretty good bank.
John: Yeah. That was so cool, and obviously he’s Bitcoiner for life, I would assume after this. I know I tipped $2, and everybody just kept tipping the guy. They wouldn’t let me leave. They kept tipping him. That was so much fun.
[3:01] Paul: That was great. I tipped him about $2 or $3 as well. It just kept adding up. And there were like at least 30 people in there, combined throughout the course of the night. That was great.
John: Yeah, that was great. So, it’s hard to come back to work. Now you’re in San Diego, right?
Paul: That’s right. We are in San Diego. Our team isn’t entirely here. We have one person in San Francisco. But, for the most part, this is where our company was born and raised.
John: Okay. Now, you guys were in San Francisco, though, you told me. Right?
Paul: So yeah. We actually entered a startup accelerator, Plug and Play Tech Center. We got into the program through a pitch even in San Diego, and then our entire team was there from about January through March. So 10 weeks, and it’s a program that basically tries to accelerate startups, mentor them, make key introductions for startups, give them great exposure. And all of that we definitely got through the program.
John: Nice. So how was that, being in San Francisco. I’m sure you’re been there before - Oh, actually yeah, we have that history. You used to live there right?
Paul: Yeah, exactly. I lived there for most of my life, since I was about five years old, and up until about five years ago, before I moved to San Diego.
[4:05] Most of my life knows the Bay Area. I worked in Silicon Valley. I went to school in Berkeley. I went to high school in San Francisco . I lived in the peninsula, so that is my FIRST home. Now San Diego has definitely grown to be my current home, now.
John: You know, living in the Bay Area, I used to work in Berkeley, too. I don’t know if I told you that. I used to work at a company called "Urban Ore" (http://urbanore.com/ ) there. That was the brainchild of a guy named "Dan Knapp" who was a retired sociologist, who started this with his wife, Mary Lou, and they started salvaging from the land fill there. Or rather from the - well yeah! At the time it WAS the landfill, and Berekely was right down there by the water which has since been removed.
But yeah, they salvaged there, and that’s what I did part day. I salvaged at the transfer station, where people would dump things off, and then I would do recycling of metals for the rest of the day. That was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. I also found some of the coolest stuff I’ve ever found in my entire life.
Paul: Oh, that’s awesome. A lot of people might now think that that is a terribly glamorous activity. But I love being able to take things that someone would deem as just garbage, throwaway, no use in this world, and reclaiming its value, and bringing it back to society.
[5:13] I’ve done things like composting worms. There’s some satisfaction in that that I can’t quite explain. It’s the weirdest thing. It’s like you’re dealing with a little, minute creature’s crap. But it’s turning garbage into soil, and there’s some incredibly powerful satisfaction in knowing that you’re able to accomplish that.
John: Absolutely. The name that he had chosen, Urban Ore, was the whole idea that people were throwing away things that, for other people, is gold [or] ore. It’s something that we can mine, and we can reuse. And that applies to gardening, and all sorts of junking. I’ve been junking for years, and if I made a full list of the things that I have found, people would say that I was lying, starting with $1000 in cash, [which] would be first on the list. "You found $1000 cash at the transfer station in Berkeley?"
John: Long been spent, man. [laughter]
[6:00] John: Okay. So anyway, Airbitz is moving forward with great guns, and I always wonder, what is the appeal of a Bitcoin, or alt-coin, wallet? If we’re not even sure that with the regulations, and with what other countries are doing, and all of the negative stuff. Half of the world isn’t even sure if Bitcoin is going to be around in five years, or ten years, anyway. So why are people putting all of this infrastructure into something that may not even be here in five years? That’s, kind of, me playing devil’s advocate.
Paul: The thing is [that] you have to believe in it, and believe that there’s a chance. It’s the same thing that anyone has to ask themselves when they launch of startup. It’s that it might not be around. [But] that doesn’t mean you don’t do it. If you’re going to do something because you KNOW it’s going to be around, you’re already too late to the party. You really need to - in the wise words of, I think it was, Paul Graham, from Y-Combinator - "You live in the future, and then build what’s missing."
Paul: So, everyone [who’s] living Bitcoin is really living in the future, because it’s not here today yet. But we’re building the infrastructure to be prepared for when it happens, and we’re also building the infrastructure to MAKE it happen.
[7:06] Because it won’t happen without us building an infrastructure. A billion people aren’t going to start using Bitcoin from where it was on Day 1, when Satoshi released the first iteration of his source code to the wild. You actually DO have to build it. So it’s a bit of a Catch-22. Someone’s got to build it for it to arrive. But then it has also got to arrive for all of that effort to be worth something. We’re taking the stance that we can contribute heavily to bringing it here sooner, and bringing it to more people - non-technical people. That’s what we’ve aimed to do with our infrastructure, and our wallet, and our user experience.
John: I like it. So let’s go back in time for a minute. How was AirBitz initially born? Who started AirBitz, and why?
Paul: Mostly it started from the pain points I had experienced as a Bitcoin user. I bought my first Bitcoin in 2013, and then immediately tried to use it. Whether or not it was at a gain or a loss, I tried to use it from a currency point of view; from a "send money to someone else" point of view.
[8:02] And I quickly saw like, "Oh my god! This thing has a tremendous potential, but at the same time it is so much more difficult than it needs to be, and so much more unfamiliar than it needs to be. I started going to a lot of the meet-ups, the conferences, and the events, and started networking with people. [I] found some people who shared similar goals, and shared concerns, and also shared passion for making Bitcoin successful.
At its heart, that’s the passion we have as a team. We want to make Bitcoin successful. So, pretty quickly actually - within a month or two - I couldn’t focus at my current job. I [was] working in small business. I said, "Okay. It’s time to get back into technology. It’s been almost 10 years, and I think we can do this." I quit my job in around September [or] October of 2013, and started writing a whitepaper, the architecture design the AirBitz wallet.
Our team came together decently quick, and by January we had our team together, and actually full-crank, full steam ahead, developing.
[9:03] So it was an idea that I had early on. But [I’ve been] bouncing that idea off of a few other people, and it’s morphed, over time, for sure. Especially the intricate details, the techno details, have definitely morphed over time. I think I was the catalyst, but after that quite a lot of great minds came together to actually make it happen.
John: Okay. So how many people is AirBitz now?
Paul: Now we are four full-time cofounders. We’ve got our part-time CFO, and also one of our investors. We have also three employees: one developer, and two people that do quality assurance and curation of the merchant directory, and just general user support. So we’re a team of about eight or nine folks, and we just brought on a chief operating officer, who is our one person based out of San Francisco. He comes to us with a lot of experience in the financial FINTEC startup space, and Bitcoin as well.
[10:00] Paul: So, we’re super happy to have him on board. He’s going full steam ahead with our fundraising round, and making some of those key introductions, and also a lot of the strategy that we’re looking at doing long term - both six months down the line, but also two years down the line.
John: I see. When these small startups are trying to get going, how difficult is it to get the funding? Obviously, it’s very important. A lot of these projects and platforms couldn’t exist WITHOUT the funding, right? But how difficult is it to get that funding?
Paul: I think timing is really, really critical. The space that we’re in with Bitcoin does have a lot of passionate people [who] care about it, and want to invest money in it. Especially the early rounds of funding in Bitcoin, where people invest in companies because they wanted Bitcoin to succeed, and they were really investing in their OTHER stash of Bitcoin.
Now we’re seeing a lot of institutional investment coming into the space, where they’re looking very closely and detailed about your financials, your projects, your team, and everything. We’re okay with that. We think we have an incredibly solid team.
[11:00] But one of the challenges of that [is that] with Bitcoin it’s a financial technology, and there’s a lot of overlap between different companies. So, even though a lot of people liken Bitcoin to the internet, and it’s going to grow, and we have all of these different applications, there’s still a significant amount of overlap. So one of the challenges that I think we’ve faced - and I’m sure a lot of other companies that are doing similar things to AirBitz, face - is that a lot of investment has already been made in similar plays.
So we hit the challenge of saying, "Our solution, although expandable in the future, is at its heart, right now, a wallet." And a lot of major investors have already invested in the wallet space with a lot of companies. [And] even though it might be different, they still tag as, "Okay. I’ve already made a wallet investment."
Paul: So therefore, they may not be looking at the full landscape of companies, such as us, or other players in the market. So that’s one of the challenges. But the nice thing is [that] there’s still new investors coming into the space, and they’re looking to make their mark, and looking to support the ecosystem, and they’re very excited about Bitcoin and blockchain technology.
[12:00] So, we’re pretty confident that we can still find that type of capital of people that are looking to, not necessarily just jump on the bandwagon, but really support the ecosystem in different angles. Because we are very different from, I think, every other solution out there.
John: The AirBitz wallet obviously does not host user’s funds on the servers, like in the classic Mount Gox style, right? And obviously all of your data is encrypted, using the user’s login and password. So how would you distinguish the AirBitz wallet from another one? How would you brag about the AirBitz wallet, saying, "We’ve got this, but these guys don’t have that." Not that that’s the name of the game - to put yourself against another company - but what do you guys have to offer that is going to get people excited? Maybe it is someone thinking about joining your team. Maybe it’s somebody thinking about using the wallet, a user. Or somebody thinking about investing.
Paul: From the viewpoint of our product, I think our product and the platform is pretty unique, in that it provides what we call the most familiar user experience to 99% of the population that’s accustomed to mobile banking.
[13:04] So if you can handle mobile banking, [in] which, for the most part, you create an account - so a username and a password. Maybe a PIN. And you can access that account from multiple devices. If you lose your phone, you use that same username and password on another device, and there’s your account.
So giving that same username and password to another person, or just using it on two different devices, allows you to access, concurrently, that same account on multiple machines. And even though it feels like mobile banking, underneath the covers it’s true Bitcoin. It’s true blockchain. And what we’ve done is we’ve abstracted all of the complexities of local, client-side, encrypted private keys, and meta-data, and then peer-to-peer encrypted synchronization through distributed servers, and all of the weird techno-babble. All of that happens in the background, but what it feels like to the end user is simply, "Oh, I’m logging in." In reality, you’re not logging into a server. You are authenticated with a server, and then downloading your encrypted data, and then encrypting it, and then synchronizing it with multiple devices.
[14:09] People can try this today. If you have a tablet and a phone, download AirBitz on both of them, long in to both of them, and do a transaction on one, [and] it shows up on the other. Edit the meta-data on one device - this is another thing where we really set ourselves apart - is that users can tag their transactions with a very rich meta-data, such as: "Who’s the person I paid?", "What’s the category?". You [can] add some notes.
So you can put that meta-data on one device, and within about half a minute - 30 to 60 seconds - you’ll see that show up on your other device. It just synchronizes in the background. You don’t even know that it’s happening. It just happens invisibly from the user. Just that usage case already gives them an account where they 100% control their funds - so AirBitz has no capability of sending their funds out. They have 100% control of their funds, and they’re automatically encrypted - to protect against a stolen device. And they’re automatically backed-up, in case they lose their device.
[15:06] So [those], to us, are the key fundamental pieces of familiarity. People don’t expect to back up their money. They don’t expect to have to add encryption. They just expect it to work. [You] create an account, you use it,[and] you use it on another device. [It’s] that simple. That’s what we deliver to the Bitcoin ecosystem that simply no other platform gives. The closest things to that are the Bitcoin bank account, where they host your money, [and] your funds. You’re not the one who has control over them. You just have a promise. They’re familiar because they ARE banks, and people are used to banks. So we’re delivering the feel of mobile banking, but, once again, you really, really own your Bitcoin.
John: Yeah. I think that people really need to start drawing a distinction - and some people are, Andreas Antonopoulos has talked about it extensively - between something that LOOKS like a bank, and something that actually IS a bank. He’s saying [that] the ones that actually ARE banks, when it comes to your Bitcoins, don’t keep your Bitcoins there, period. [They] just don’t keep them there.
[16:06] Paul: Right, they don’t.
John: Yeah. It may LOOK like a bank, but like what you’re saying, is you’re trying to offer a user experience that’s something they’re familiar with, but you’re not a bank.
Paul: Exactly. We’re not a bank at all, and so we’re trying to bridge that gap, and I think that’s a really important thing. You can’t introduce completely brand new paradigms and expect mass adoption in a short period of time. So, we’re trying to introduce a familiar paradigm, and help adoption in that sense. Because, clearly, if you look at the Bitcoin solutions that are getting most adopted, it’s the ones that are not introducing a new paradigm. It’s the ones that ARE banks. And so, we think that’s really unfortunate, because we lose so much of the core benefits of Bitcoin when you’re using a Bitcoin bank - a custodial account.
So many benefits that we rave about are effectively lost, especially if you look at it from a long term point of view. Those get lost when you have a custodial account. We want to retain the core benefits, but with the familiarity that people are used to. So far the feedback has been tremendously positive. The people that are setting up other people with Bitcoin wallets appreciate that level of familiarity.
[17:09] John: You’ve seen the billboard where they’re advertising a new bank, and they always have some happy looking people there, usually a family, and they say, "A new kind of bank." Or whatever. I’m thinking of an AirBitz billboard that basically just says, "AirBitz. We’re not a bank." And people are just running to it, in thankfulness.
Paul: Yeah, exactly.
John: "We’ve found something that’s not a bank. We can trust it."
Paul: We’ve been pitching our company in a cool, unique way, and comparing it to a lot of the innovation that’s happening in the technology space. A really cool analogy is how companies like Uber (https://www.uber.com/ ) - you know, Uber is now, actually, the world’s largest taxi company, right. But they don’t own any cars.
John: Right. [laughter]
Paul: And Facebook is now the world’s largest media company, but they don’t create any content.
John: Booo! Facebook. [laughter]
Paul: Right? Booo! Facebook, but they are the largest media company. And AirB&B (https://www.airbnb.com/ ) being the world’s largest provider of accomodations, but they own no property. We think the world is moving in this direction, where technology connects people to the value.
[18:08] So we would like to be the world’s largest financial company that holds no money.
Paul: And we think that’s going to happen. Whether it is us or another company, Bitcoin is going to deliver that vision. We’re pretty confident [that] we’re at the forefront of that, because we bring the familiarity and the user experience that people need to be able to own their own money. There’s so much more value and power in connecting people to the value, than there is in trying to BE that single source of value.
Paul: Than BEING the taxicab company, or being that owner of a whole bunch of hotel properties. It’s much more valuable to connect people to what they’re looking for.
John: Absolutely. People are feeling that these days. The only thing is [that] BECAUSE advertising is so strong, because there is so much money that goes into advertising, people don’t really know the difference right now. For instance, if you say a "custodial account", what does that mean?
[19:02] The only thing that your average American associates with a custodian is from their high school. The guy that cleaned up in the hallways was the custodian, and there was a custodial closet. So we’re really a country of ignoramuses, sadly. I think we’re getting smarter in certain ways, [but] I think we’re getting dumber in OTHER ways.
Paul: Oh, for sure.
John: I think that if you’re listening to this, and you still watch television, I think you need to STOP. [laughter]
Paul: Yeah, exactly. Or listen to podcasts.
John: Or keep watching television, but don’t let your kids. Do you keep a smoky house? Do you keep sharp objects around? No real difference, right? This is something dangerous for young minds. Okay. I’ve had my say.
Paul: It’s so true. We are somewhat of an ignorant kind, because media is powerful, and politics are powerful. But you brought up a good point, [which is] that most people don’t care, or don’t really know, what the difference is, between a custodial account and a non-custodial account, where you own your keys. But I’ll tell you this, and a lot of people don’t realize this, [but] they’re going to know, not because of preachers like myself. They’re going to know because they are actually going to run into the issues. We mentioned how Bitcoin has its advantages. Its advantages stem from it being decentralized.
[20:04] Well, if you start using a custodial account, especially over the long-term, you will hit some of those disadvantages. I, as a Bitcoin user, early on, hit those disadvantages. One of those is simply [that] you cannot reliably send out your funds. You have no guarantee that your funds will get sent out when you need them to get sent out, because of the pooling of multiple users’ funds, and most of that pool being offline in cold storage.
Paul: That’s number one. Number two, people are already hitting the issue that you can’t get your funds sent to WHERE you want [them] sent, because of blacklisting of certain addresses and locations. And that was one of Bitcoin’s biggest advantages, that there is no bias in Bitcoin. Every address is another address. It’s fully fungible. It doesn’t matter where the address is. But now, once you have a custodial account, they now have to abide by the rules that define custodial accounts. So they DO have to blacklist addresses if they’re asked to do so.
Paul: Whether or not there is a good reason, or not. It could be just a hunch. It could be just a complete hunch like, "You know, we think that something illicit is happening at this address." Okay, you can’t send money to it. And this is one of the biggest issues of the financial system. It’s what creates a ton of costs in the financial system, all of this regulatory burden, the anti-fraud burden. Even if it is all just all a bunch of false negatives, or false positives.
John: I agree. I mean, look at Coinbase (https://www.coinbase.com/ ). Coinbase has not been around that long, but - what are they, two or three years old only? But if somebody else wanted to start their own Coinbase right now, it would be a lot more difficult to get in, a lot more expensive than when Coinbase started. So that’s basically punitive, but it’s also, really in a sense, maybe not by design, but it LOOKS like it’s designed to keep new players out.
Paul: The regulatory burden definitely has an aspect of [being] designed to keep the monopolies in place. So banks - and also large corporations - are the ones that establish law. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that lawmakers establish law, because it’s the people who have the money to fund the lawmakers are the ones who are establishing the law.
[22:09] John: I agree.
Paul: So luckily there are a few holes in the law that allow Bitcoin companies to, kind of, squeak in and say, "Hey, you know something? Per the law, this is how this should get regulated, or NOT regulated." And so that allows companies to innovate in ways that banks can’t. So one example of that is how we are actually trying to provide a similar service to the "buy-sell" companies -such as the Coinbases or the Circles of the world -with the core advantage of decentralized by our side.
What I mean by that is as opposed to us trying to hold the value, trying to BE the exchange, and deal with the regulatory landscape in every jurisdiction that we’d like to offer - buy-sell service - we’re launching buy-sell through third party partners. The companies that actually ARE local in the different jurisdictions, whether it be Canada, US, Mexico, [or] Philippines.
[23:00] They’ve gone and done the work to figure out what’s needed with banking relationships and the regulatory environment, and we simply connect people to them, through the application. [In] the same way that AirB&B connects people to these accomodations, we connect people to the exchange services, and that allows us to scale and offer buy-sell capabilities in more countries over a short period of time. Versus us ourselves - you know, we’re from San Diego, [and so] we don’t know what that banking relationship looks like in Kenya, if there even is one, or in Europe. So we’d rather let the locals benefit from the work that they do, but also benefit from us connecting them to the rest of the global, digital economy.
So that’s our vision. Yes, we can enter the space, and actually offer buy-sell , and offer the same user experience as a lot of the incumbents, but do it in such a way that people still hold their own Bitcoin, they hold their own value, and they’re not going to get "Goxed".
[24:00] John: Nice.
Paul: That’s what we think is a very important value proposition, and something that will trump a lot of the centralized options.
John: Absolutely. We just really need - these days, moving forward - more talk about decentralized in every facet, in every way. Because again, there are still a lot of people who just don’t know. When you say something is decentralized, or you say something is centralized, or you talk in terms of hierarchies in business and in banking and politics. People just don’t know these words, it seems, these days. I think they’re learning these words. I think the people in the tech world are leading the charge, and now we have the financial world joining in. It’s hard to tell where it’s going to go. It’s a weird world now.
Paul: It’s hard to tell where it’s going to go, but you can see some light at the end of the tunnel, and you can see how decentralized is potentially going to affect the day-to-day things that have been centralized in the past. One of the ways that you can easily tell, or educate someone on it, is when they start to experience some of the pain points of centralized infrastructure.
[25:02] Like, "I tried to get access to my bank, but they’re closed." That’s because they’re centralized. "I tried to send Bitcoin from this wallet, [but] it sits there pending for a long, long time." Well, that’s because they’re centralized. Or, "This failed. And this is unreliable." Well, that’s because they’re centralized. Or, "I’m not allowed to do something. My provider [of whatever that providing service is] just says, "Sorry. We’re not permitting you to do this."" Well, permission tends to be a very centralized thing that happens.
Paul: So people will start to FEEL it. Before they just accepted it. They just said, "Oh, well that’s the way the world works." But now, options start to come into play, where it’s like, "Oh, you know something. You don’t HAVE to use this. You can use THAT." And those pain points start to get alleviated. I think that’s where people will start to care.
Right now they don’t care, because they don’t know that there’s another option, or that option is not all that widespread. But as we start to present these alternatives, it’s the same sense that - even though it’s not FULLY decentralized - there’s the same sense that Lyft and Uber are a more decentralized version of a taxicab company, and people FEEL the difference.
[26:02] John: Yes.
Paul: Right? The user experience is just simply better. And if you provide a better user experience from a distributed, decentralized architecture, people will feel it, and want it. That’s our goal.
John: Walk our listeners through the process of using an AirBitz wallet if you would.
Paul: Yeah, sure. So you download the app. It’s available for iPhone and for Android. As soon as you download and launch it there’s a big red "create account" button. You tap on that button, [and] choose a username. Hopefully it’s one that someone else hasn’t chosen. You don’t have to enter your email, or your phone number, or your actual real name. Choose a username, and then pick a password. It does have to be a pretty good password, [with] ten digits, upper [and] lowercase and a number. That’s it. Most people can handle that. Repeat the password a second time, and put in a four digit pin. That is it.
It takes a few seconds to create your account, because it is applying pretty good, strong encryption, and it’s backing it up onto multiple servers. After that you have a fully functional wallet that can send and receive, and [that’s] fully backed up, and fully encrypted. You can then take that same username and password and go to another device, log in, and have access to your funds.
[27:07] John: What about the fear that people have of key loggers?
Paul: The nice thing on mobile devices [is that] malware, such as key loggers, are far less rampant. There are things we can do, going forward, to even eliminate THAT. We don’t have those in place, such as putting in a fake keyboard. So when you tap you’re not actually tapping on the system keyboard. You’re tapping, instead, on just a bunch of icons. So there ARE measure we can take. We haven’t put those in yet, But for the most part, key loggers are far more rampant on desktop devices, because the "sandboxing", which is the separation of one app from accessing another app, is far better on a mobile device. I haven’t heard of a key logger having a successful lifespan on a mobile device in quite some time.
John: Okay. Good.
Paul: So that, to me, isn’t too big of a concern. Especially if you don’t [root?] your phone, and you don’t jailbreak it. Me personally, I don’t install third party keyboards. I use the keyboard that comes natively with the phone.
[28:10] John: Yeah.
Paul: As soon as you install a third party keyboard, then you have to trust that third party, as opposed to trusting your primary phone vendor. So you have to trust your primary phone vendor not to put malware on there. Obviously it’s not perfect, but you want to limit how many people you’re having to trust. Once you put on a keyboard, then you’re having to trust your primary phone vendor AND the guy that made your keyboard program.
So I keep it to stock keyboard on my phone, and that I feel fairly confident in preventing key loggers and screen capturers, and things like that.
John: Okay. So AirBitz it’s a great mobile wallet. Is it also used by people just using their desktop?
Paul: It’s not available on desktop. The code CAN be ported over to the desktop. The way we’ve written our technology [is] such that 80-90% of the effort is put into a core of our wallet. It implements all of the encryption, the backup , the synchronization, the Bitcoin transaction signing, all of the really nitty-gritty, gory details.
[29:09] All of that is cross-platform. It can run on mobile. It can run on desktop. It can run on the server. All you have to do is write the GUI, the user interface on top of it. It can be ported. It just hasn’t yet, and we have a fairly small team. Our take is that the highest, highest priority is mobile, because the world is moving towards mobile. I know people who don’t even fire up their desktop anymore. They do all their email, and web browsing, and everything, on their mobile device.
Paul: And so, we’ll take care of that first, [and] make that the best user experience we possibly can do on a mobile device. Then we’ll see what we’re missing. What’s now left that people are looking for? What functionality are they looking for on their desktop? And then fill in the blanks there.
Maybe there ISN’T anything left. Maybe we just need a simple little plugin that’s not the full wallet. Maybe it’s just an export, so they can export their financial transactions to Quicken, right? And that’s it. They don’t actually need to do send and receive, hopefully.
John: You know, I’m old fashioned, and so I know that the world is moving towards mobile, and mobile devices, and every app that comes out is coming out for a mobile device. Obviously, that’s where the money is, [and] that’s where the movement is, right?
[30:13] But I am still so old fashioned, I tell people, "The last thing in the world I want to do is be out in the world, checking my email on a screen the size of half of a grilled cheese sandwich." [laughter] If I’m going to surf the internet, I want to be looking at this pretty substantial sized screen, and I certainly don’t want to have my neck crane down. I have a neck issue, anyway -- partially I think from staring down at a computer for so long. I finally had to get a larger screen that sits up higher, and basically connect that to my laptop just so that it helped my neck problem.
Paul: Oh, I hear you. Content creation, and to some degree some aspect of content consumption, is still much more preferable on a laptop. I’m still on my laptop quite a bit. But we’re finding [that] as user interfaces improve, people are able to figure out how to deliver that functionality on a small screen, without compromising a lot.
Especially the touch interface. I’m actually finding that I can do some things so much better on the phone than I can on the computer, just because there are better touch interfaces that are smoother, and more fluid, than tapping and clicking and dragging things on the desktop. So there’s a fine balance.
[31:16] But the nice thing about the space that we’re in -- which is a financial application, a wallet sending and receiving value -- if you look at the word "wallet", there’s never been a point in history where a wallet didn’t fit in your back pocket. We expect it to fit there, and so that’s what we’re trying to do, is build that wallet with a TREMENDOUS amount of functionality beyond what your leather wallet can handle, and still have it fit in your back pocket. Then [we want to] analyze what you actually need to do on the desktop. [We] do that research after we have built our first iteration, which is: a good solid, highly functional, mobile wallet. We’ll see after that. So I invite you to also give us that kind of feedback, as if you use AirBitz in a mobile device. Ask yourself, "When do I feel the urge to actually use it on the desktop?"
[32:05] What is it that you’re trying to do? What’s the functionality that you’re in need of? And that will give us an idea of what we need to implement. Whether it’s the full wallet on the desktop, or if it’s maybe just a way to transfer an address to the desktop, or to pay an address on the desktop. That’s what we’d love to hear, that kind of feedback from users such as yourself, or anyone else out there listening to this show.
John: So using thie AirBitz mobile wallet, what are the top three things that people are saying they like?
Paul: The funny thing is that we have so much privacy, that we don’t know what they’re doing inside of our wallet. We don’t even really know the transaction tagging, and what-not. What people tell us they like about it is [that] people say they like the ease of account creation. Like it’s a familiar process of create an account. They love being able to tag their transactions. To be able to say, "Oh, this transaction came from here. Here’s where it went to, and here’s the category and the notes." Being able to do that, and also the familiarity and fluidity of the interface. Just that it generally doesn’t look intimidating.
[33:07] I clearly have one tap to go to "send". It’s not "tap, [then] send, and then this and that, and then scan a QR code." These are very subtle things that you don’t really put bullet points on your box to say that you support this. We’re really trying to get users from A to B in the fewest amount of steps. If you want to send money, you shouldn’t have to tap three times before you scan a QR code.
Paul: Get the user logged in, tap, and the BOOM, you’re already scanning the QR code. If you want to transfer money between your wallets, get that process very fast and fluid. So, a lot of people are raving about that aspect of the wallets, like, "Oh my god! All I have to do is do this." They have that functionality. Or things like being able to request money from people over SMS and email. That’s somewhat available in other wallets, but people have raved about the ability to do that, but once the money comes in, it automatically gets tagged with that person that they requested the money from.
[34:05] I don’t have to guess and say, "Where did that money come from?" The wallet just knows, "Hey, you sent this email over to John Barrett. He paid that a month later - even though you wanted him to pay the next day - he paid it a month later." You might forget that that was him, [but] the wallet remembers that that was him that you sent that request to.
John: Well, I think that is huge. A smart wallet is what everybody wants. It drives me crazy when you have to really remember something that you SHOULDN’T have to remember, or there’s mystery there. Or, like you said, there’s multiple steps that just are not necessary. That kind of user experience [is] the future, where things are truly intuitive, unlike certain sites where NOTHING is intuitive.
I would have to say the biggest perpetrator of this horrendous crime against humanity is Yahoo. I still have my Yahoo mail for certain reasons. I have massive amounts of information there in folders, after 12 years of having the exact same yahoo email account.
[35:05] But man, the stuff that they’ve changed. I’m convinced that they sit down in a room [as] a group of people, and they say, "How can we make life difficult for people? How can we hurt people?". And the other perpetrators of crimes against humanity are the auto manufacturers who make bucket seats, and the people who make the seats for restaurants.. They figured out [that], "We’ve got to make it really slant back. We can’t have a flat surface that you can sit on. It’s got to really slant back so that people that have bad backs, they’re backs are going to get worse, and they’re going to suffer. "
When I find these people - if you’re listening - when I find you people, it’s not going to be pretty. Let me just put it that way. [laughter]
Paul: Hopefully they’ll find those people too soon. If we don’t find that, kind of, aspect in AirBitz, I know we at least strive to improve lives. Although, it’s actually a really tough thing when it comes to user interface design, because there [are] two diametrically opposed goals. One is intuitive, and the other is what I call "fluid."
[36:03] And the two actually are almost on two axes, in the sense that if you make something obvious - like you put it right in front of the user, [and] make it very obvious - it tends to take more steps to do something.
As an example, if I make one big button on the screen that says, "Login", and another button that says, "Create Account", and there are two gigantic buttons on the screen, and nothing else. That’s pretty intuitive, right?
Now, that means that I have to click "Log in", and then I get another screen that says, "Enter your username". Okay, [I] enter my username, and then I hit "Next". "Now enter your password", and you hit "Next". How many times have you tapped the button just to enter your username and password to log in?
Paul: You’ve had probably two or three unnecessary taps. But it’s intuitive. It’s very obvious. Now, if you pollute the first screen a little bit more, and you say, "Okay, well I’m going to create an account. Here’s a text field to log in, and then there’s the button to actually log in."
[37:05] It’s more fluid, because I can enter what I need to enter, and then click "go", and then I’m logged in. But it’s not as intuitive, right? So they are fairly diametrically opposed, and it’s a really tough balance to find. And we definitely struggle amongst ourselves on a weekly basis. Like, "How intuitive do we want to make something?" versus, "How fluid do we want to make it, once you have a person who knows what to do."
Paul: Who do you alienate? The person who KNOWS what to do, versus the person who’s trying to figure out what to do? And they’re very different goals.
John: Well, in the future the machine will be able to tell, "This is the person’s first time using this, or their second or third, or one thousandth time" And it will adjust accordingly. It will morph - but that’s a fascinating discussion about the difference there, [and] the fine line.
Paul: Exactly. I think that might be what you’re experiencing in things like Yahoo, where you’re a person who knows where thing were. Like, "Hey, this is where it was. I’m used to that." And now they’re trying to think of, "Well, we want to get more new users, and these people who have used OTHER platforms that are NOT Yahoo. How do we bring THEM into the fold?"
[38:09] Well, they potentially have to alienate some of their old users, in order to bring something that’s familiar and intuitive to new users. You’ve got to upset SOMEBODY, and it’s really hard to find that balance.
John: But then they have people working for them who are just insane. So [when] you’re trying an email you’re getting ready to send, why in the name of Yaweh, would you have to scroll down to hit the "send" button? The send button should be at the TOP, not at the bottom.
Yahoo developers, if any of you are listening, I’m coming after you. I’m coming after you people.
Paul: Oh, man. You’re being harsh on them. Well, I haven’t used Yahoo in a while, so I guess I can’t really complain at this point [?].
John: Nobody’s using Yahoo. Every once in a while I’ll get an email from somebody that says "[somebody, somebody] @hotmail" Like, "Wow! I thought I was REALLY behind" It’s like, that’s cool, but it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks, as they say.
[39:02] But yeah, I don’t know how to get away from Yahoo, again because I have all of these folders, and this massive amount of information. It’s gotten to the point with them - and I really hope they’re not listening, because they’ll catch onto this - if they were to say, "From now on, in order to use your Yahoo, and access all of this information, it’s going to cost you $50 a month." I’d have to pay that extortion money, because I’d have to access all of this information that I have stored there.
So it troubles me every once in a while, but I do know from the past, having lost hard drives. I still have these hard drives, [but] just haven’t retrieved [the info]. The feeling is that the world is over, that you cannot function without everything that you had on that hard drive. Then as you make it through the next week [or] two you realize, "I didn’t need that shit." [laughter]
Paul: [laughter] And if you hadn’t looked it up in three years, you’re like, "Well, what are the odds [that] I’m going to read it now?"
John: Exactly. It’s hilarious. Well, AirBitz sounds fantastic. I’m going to load it onto my Galaxy S5 here, when we finish, and check it out. I’m really looking forward to it.
So Paul, tell our listeners, if you would, where [we] can go to download the AirBitz wallet app.
[40:05] Paul: Yeah. So if you want to download the wallet just go to AirBitz.co. That’s our web page: AirBittz.co . Then there’s links to the Play Store, and links to the App Store. Or you can just search for it in either one of those app stores.
This is not on our web site yet, but for people who do not have access to the Google Play Store - such as in certain countries, or if you’re running an open source version of Google Android - you can actually go to http://www.airbitz.co/download , and that will get you the direct APK.
Paul: For those few people who are doing that. But otherwise, you can just go to any of the app stores and get our app. And definitely, please, after you’ve given it a try, send us some feedback. You can send it directly to me: email@example.com . Or feel free to Tweet us, or look for us on Facebook. We’re pretty easy to find. I think we’re all over social media, [and] our web site gives you pretty good avenues to contact us. We’d love to hear what people think about the product, and tips for improvements, suggestions, comments, [and] concerns.
[41:00] John: Yeah, I love that. I hadn’t heard many examples of where you don’t have to go to the Playstore to download the apps. So I love that they can do that directly. That’s great!
Paul: They CAN do that directly. We do put a good handful of security to make sure that that app is being downloaded, and it’s actually coming from us, and not someone else. Because that is a very sensitive piece of security. Once you host a wallet on a web site, you want to make sure you’re actually getting the right content. But it is there for those people who don’t have access to the app stores, and we’re looking forward to hearing from people.
Definitely, try it out, [and] John, I want to hear your feedback as well. Let us know what you like, or dislike, about it. We’re always looking to improve, and we iterate the app on a very frequent basis, with people’s feedback, where every release is a significant improvement over the previous.
John: Okay, great. Listeners, you’ve been listening to Paul Puey, the CEO and cofounder of AirBitz.com. Paul, thank you so much for being on Bitcoins and Gravy.
[42:00] Paul: Hey, John . Thanks a whole bunch. [I] look forward to seeing you at another one of those Bitcoin events.
John: I hear you. Hey, thanks a million, Paul.
Paul: No problem. Thanks so much, John.
John: Take care.
[music and lyrics to "Ode to Satoshi" song]
John Barrett: Now climb aboard y’all! This train is bound for glory... and there’s plenty of room for all...
"Well Satoshi Nakamoto, that's a name I love to say,
And we don't know much about him, but he came to save the day.
When he wrote about the way things are,
And the way things ought to be,
He gave us all a protocol this world had never seen.
Oh Bitcoin! As you're going into the old blockchain,
Oh Bitcoin! I know you're going to reign, gonna’ reign,
Till everybody knows, everybody knows,
Till everybody knows your name.
Down the road it will be told about the Death of Old Mount Gox,
About traders trading alter coins, and miners mining blocks.
But them good old boys back in Illinois,
And on down through Tennessee,
See they don't care to be a millionaire,
They're just wanting to be free.
[43:08] Oh Bitcoin! As you're going into the old blockchain,
Oh Bitcoin! I know you're going to reign, gonna' reign,
Till everybody knows, everybody knows,
Till everybody knows your name.
From the ghettos of Calcutta, to the halls of Parliament,
While the bankers count our money out for every government.
Oh, Bitcoin flies on through the skies of virtuality,
A promise to deliver us from age-old tyranny.
Oh Bitcoin! As you're going into the old blockchain,
Oh Bitcoin! I know you're going to reign, gonna’ reign,
[44:06] Till everybody knows, everybody knows,
Till everybody knows your name.
Till everybody knows, everybody knows,
Till everybody knows your -- "Give me some Exposure" --
Everybody knows your name.
Oh Lord, pass me some more,
Oh Lord, before I have to go.
Oh Lord, pass me some more,
Oh Lord . . . before I have to . . .
Go . . .
[instrumental finale] [applause]
John: Oh-ho! Thank you East Nashville! Y’all be good to each other out there, ya’ hear?
[45:15] John: I’d like to thank my guest on today’s show, Mr. Paul Puey, the [cofounder] and CEO of AirBitz.co, the company that offers you one of safest, and most user-friendly Bitcoin wallets on the planet. Check out AirBitz.co . Download the app, and enjoy what the future has to offer. Friends, the future is NOW.
Oh, and make sure to tune in next week for another great episode of Bitcoins and Gravy. This past week I had the privilege of sitting on my front porch and chatting with three great fellows from the Bitshares community, who are on a road trip, traveling around the region [and] telling people about Bitshares. I learned more about Bitshares from these guys, in one hour, than I have in reading about Bitshares over the past year. This is a "No Miss" episode, friends.
[46:01] And a few quick announcements. I am STILL looking for a brain wallet expert to interview on the show. That’s right, folks, writer Max Hernandez has come up, once again, with some amazing new short fiction. The subject this time is brain wallets. In conjunction with reading Max’s recent works on the show, I would like to interview a brain wallet expert.
Now you don’t have to be certified or anything. You just have to know about brain wallets, and be able to tell our listeners how to create a brain wallet. I’m looking for someone who can tell us all about brain wallets; when and why to use them, the benefits of using them, and the potential dangers.
If you are a brain wallet expert, or THINK you are, email me now at firstname.lastname@example.org .
And great news, listeners. Our transcription page is now live on the web site, thanks to the continuing hard work of one of our loyal listeners, who is also a consultant to the show. These professional transcriptions are provided each week by one of our fans, who can be found at: http://www.diaryofafreelancetranscriptionist.com
And, of course, you can find a link to this web site in the weekly show notes.
[47:10] And if you’ve enjoyed the show, please take a minute to scan my QR code, or copy my public key, and send me $0.50in Bitcoin. If you’ll do this every once in a while it will help me out more than you know. Folks, it’s not easy being a podcast host, trust me. Putting in 10 hours each week to produce the show sometimes takes its toll. Remember that giving someone a small tip in Bitcoin is what makes Bitcoin folks stand out in this world.
I know, personally, that whenever I give a tip to someone on Reddit, or Let’s Talk Bitcoin, or one of the forums, I feel better about myself knowing that I’ve given back just a little to help that person continue creating great content.
And signing off now from East Nashville, Tennessee. I’m John Barrett, withmy dog Maxwell. Say goodbye, Maxwell.
[48:00] John: Join us again next week for another episode of Bitcoins and Gravy, and until then y’all be good to each other out there. And remember, the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing. Do something y’all.
[Church pipe organ music]
Reverend Johnny: Brothers and sisters, I stand before you today, a humble servant of the mighty God almighty.
[female churchgoer] That’s right.
Reverend Johnny: For in her infinite wisdom, she has spoken to me. Filling my heart, and my mind, and my mouth, with words of comfort, that you may find peace and harmony in these troubled times.
Reverend Johnny: We are living in a time of uncertainty and turmoil, in a nation that verily has fallen prey to hawks, and wolves, and sharks and whales.
[female churchgoer] Mmm...Hmm.
Reverend Johnny: Get Thee behind me Satan, and stay put fool. Stay put fool.... Get over there.
[49:03] Reverend Johnny: There is, at this very moment, before us, a great battle raging, that will test the fortitude and integrity of every man, woman and child in this great nation of ours, and indeed, throughout the world.
In simple terms, it is a battle of right over might. We the people know intuitively what is right when it comes to our freedoms, and the peace that we must have for our children and our families.
Reverend Johnny: On the other side... Oh, on the other side, is darkness, lining up in formation with the true forces of evil, of those men and women who would seek to destroy us through intimidation and fear mongering, through subjugation and disrespect for human life.
[churchgoers] That’s right!
Reverend Johnny: Through inequality and racism. Through bigotry, through chaos, through war, and now through the engineering of ignorance and poverty.
Reverend Johnny: Wolves in sheep’s clothing, hawks in mid-air. Brothers and sisters beware!
[male churchgoer] Tell it like it is, Johnny. Tell it like it is!
[50:08] Reverend Johnny: But do not despair. Do not despair!
[female churchgoer] Bring it on!
Reverend Johnny: For in these, the darkest of times, verily we have a light!
[female churchgoer] Hallelujah.
Reverend Johnny: A beacon. A truth so powerful...
[female churchgoer] Preach it now. Preach it now.
Reverend Johnny: No darkness, no force of evil can overtake it, or overcome it. For as the war profiteers in their bunkers of sin, [and] as the Feds kick the can down the read, once again...
[female churchgoer] That’s right!
Reverend Johnny: As the Wall Street gamblers place wages to win, with our pensions and savings, again and again! Our beautiful Bitcoin flies on through the skies of virtuality...
Reverend Johnny: A promise to deliver us from age old tyranny. Somebody give me an Amen.
[churchgoers] Amen, brother! Amen!
Reverend Johnny: And what are we called, then, to do? This is the message I bring to you. Put your love of each other above your love of money.
[churchgoers] Johnny Love!
[51:06] Reverend Johnny: That’s all. It’s simple. I wish you light worries today, and heavy joys tomorrow. Brothers and sisters, Namaste. I bow to the divine light in each of you.
[churchgoers] That’s right. [churchgoers] Hallelujah!
[Pipe organ music instrumental and conclusion]
[52:14] I know that it may sound absurd, but I have for you a magic word. And today the magic word is "wallet" - W - A - L - L - E - T . As in the sentence, "The AirBitz wallet is now my favorite Bitcoin wallet, and my Galaxy S5 thanks me."