BitHope Founder: Charity May Improve General Public’s Opinion About Cryptocurrencies
Bulgaria-based platform BitHope.org for bitcoin charity was launched recently, and it has finalized its first successful project already. On March 11, the site has accumulated 0.6 BTC of user donations to buy footwear for orphans. While some may think the amount is pretty small, it’s starting to hit the fan. Bitcoin is doing good things in Bulgaria, which positively changes the cryptocurrency’s public image.
ForkLog contacted with BitHope’s founder Vladislav Dramaliev (VD) to find out more about the project and get a glimpse of Bulgarian bitcoin industry.
FL: As far as we know, currently you’re engaged in three projects: CoinFixer.com, bitcoini.com, and BitHope.org. How do they develop? What is their reach? Are there any other projects of yours worth mentioning?
VD: Actually, bitcoini.com was my first project in the Bitcoin sphere and I am no longer involved in it. I co-founded it together with a friend of mine. It was the first website offering bitcoin exchange in Bulgaria and for some time it enjoyed a monopoly position. My involvement in that project really helped me get into Bitcoin and bitcoins, understand how this amazing new technology works and get to know what kind of people Đ°rĐµ involved in it and for what reasons.
This new information led me to the conclusion that although Bitcoin is revolutionary, most people just want to use it as a tool for achieving their own personal goals, which are not always benign. This is where my partner and I started having divergent opinions and were unable to share the same vision for the project’s future. That is how I decided to found CoinFixer.com.
The website is the only one that has applied AML/KYC rules approved by the State Agency for National Security and a working SMS-verification system. It is a place where honest traders can buy/sell cryptocurrencies and where people can buy their first bitcoin, learn how to secure it and where to spend it. It is currently one of the most popular bitcoin websites in Bulgaria.
BitHope.org is, however, my most important project to date. Much like Bitcoin, it aims at international reach and, more specifically, at accumulating the empathy of bitcoin owners with the goal of supporting various charity campaigns. It is the first bitcoin crowdfunding website in Europe that is entirely in service to non-profit organizations (NPOs).
There are numerous small-size NPOs that exist in every country. Although their aims are less ambitious in scope, their support is more than essential to their beneficiaries. We want to help them acquire an additional and international source of funding and show them the numerous benefits of Bitcoin technology. Moreover, I believe that if the general public can see the tangible effects that bitcoin donations can produce, their opinion about cryptocurrencies will improve. My goal is to make BitHope.org help Bitcoin, NPOs, and donors, creating a unique situation in which all sides benefit.
I am glad to announce that on 10.03.2016 we successfully completed our first charity campaign â€“ â€śHalf Euro for Shoesâ€ť. After the disbursement of funds to our partner NPO, the generated bitcoins will be used for the purchase of brand new shoes for children, living in social institutions. Our goal is to complete at least four more campaigns by the end of the year.
FL: What can you tell about bitcoin community in Bulgaria? How developed it is? Are there any educative programs, forums, or conferences?
VD: I believe that in Bulgaria there is a large and well-informed Bitcoin community. It is primarily composed of miners, but there are also people who genuinely believe that the world we live in requires Bitcoin. We have a great forum with more than 1900 members, where anyone can go for assistance when it comes to using cryptocurrencies – http://bitcoinbg.eu/. Regarding educational events, I have personally organized such, explaining Bitcoin and bitcoins, the mining process, the benefits and current drawbacks of the technology. I intend to organize more in the near future.
Together with a few friends we just started organizing regular Bitcoin/Blockchain meetups in Sofia. Every last Thursday of the month, we welcome anyone interested in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology to meet with us and pose their questions. Our idea is for people to know that each month they can talk face-to-face with us and acquire information from Bitcoin enthusiasts. Our next meetup will be on March 31.
We have also established a Bitcoin Association which I am a co-founding. Its aim is to formally express the Bulgarian Bitcoin Community’s position on any topic that appears in the public domain. In the time since its establishment, however, there has not been much need to make an official stance on any cryptocurrency-related topic.
In 2014, a Bitcoin Conference was organized in Sofia by CoinWisdom.bg and I am happy to say that it was a great success. It was well-attended, featured some great speakers and exciting topics. I hope that I will be able to take part in the organization of another such event this year.
FL: Please tell about regulation of cryptocurrencies in Bulgaria.
VD: So far Bulgarian institutions have not really expressed official interest in Bitcoin, apart from announcing that bitcoin should be considered a financial asset and all capital gains are subject to Đ° 10% tax. Bulgarian banks are also either oblivious to the existence of bitcoin or are not against using their services for bitcoin-related deals. I have not heard of a local bank that has denied access to its services due to identified bitcoin affiliation. I know that the largest local payments processor ePay.bg has already gained significant experience in dealing with people who buy/sell bitcoins. I know that not all of it has been positive. There were a number of stolen credit/debit-card-related purchases of bitcoin from various local dealers, who were later charge-backed, creating financial liabilities for either the bitcoin seller or the payment processor. I know that people willing to deal with bitcoin on the ePay.bg platform are subject to special conditions, but these are not really too prohibitive. They are an expression of the payment’s processor willingness to shield itself from liability.
Nevertheless, I believe that anyone dealing with bitcoin should be careful about his customers. I am confident that the application of KYC/AML provisions effectively creates a sieve that separates the good actors from the bad and protects the business from undesired and, possibly costly, contacts with the authorities.
FL: The global crypto-community is deep into the issue of bitcoin block size altering these days. What is your position in this regard?
VD: I am not really worried about the block-size debate. I have never experienced an issue with my transactions and believe that the problem is being blown out of proportion. I am confident that a solution will be found in due time. Although technically more complex, side chains, lightning network, and segregated witness solutions are them ones that I am betting on for the long term. I perceive the Bitcoin network as the core of a complex system that will be built around it. I see a future with mutually compatible Bitcoin clients, serving the needs of different Bitcoin community cliques. There is no need for doom and gloom in Bitcoin. Its future is ensured by necessity and ideology.
FL: Ethereum is also widely discussed these days. In your opinion, the recent upsurge of ETH price has some natural causes, or it has been artificially pumped?
VD: I believe Ethereum has positioned itself quite nicely to profit from the current upsurge of interest in blockchain technology and the Bitcoin block-size debate They are considered technical gurus, promising to deliver on the smart contract promise. The current price upsurge reflects the fact that many believe them. However, the more people are following your every move, the more sensitive the market becomes.
I am not in any way an opponent of Ethereum. I consider them to be one of the more educated guesses when it comes to private and private consortium blockchains. I believe that there are many challenges on their way, having in mind how complex their system is and will become. I perceive all such attempts to modify the Bitcoin idea, in order to produce something better, as worthy. There is a whole crypto-protected assets ecosystem that is being created and it might be possible for many to find their place in it. The pace of Bitcoin development will benefit from this.
It is all good and well when the Suns of media attention and large financial institutions are shining on you. Let’s see what will happen when night settles in.
FL: Do you know about any Ethereum-based services or products?
VD: I know that there is a number of developers that are experimenting with Ethereum. I know that R3 CEV is using it in order to realize its vision. There are many Ethereum competitors, whose moves remain outside media highlights, although offering similar services.
Interviewed by Tanya Otter
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