Saifu is looking to bridge the gap between fiat and digital currencies and bring access to financial services to the more than 2 million unbanked and underbanked people around the world. Bitcoinist recently sat down with Zach Murray, marketing director of the Czech-based startup, to discuss the merits of the platform, their upcoming ICO, and their participation in the recently completed Asian Tour 2018 roadshow.
Bitcoinist: For our readers who may not be familiar with Saifu, can you give us a quick overview of what the platform is?
ZM: Saifu is a simple, secure, and regulated platform that integrates fiat and cryptocurrencies into one account. On the Saifu app or web portal, users can buy or sell cryptocurrencies, exchange between fiat currencies (Euros to USD, for example), or send any of these to outside accounts and wallets. Saifu users can also receive a Mastercard that they can use anywhere Mastercard is accepted, and their purchases can be seamlessly funded from their Saifu accounts. We also offer exchange and payment processing services for businesses who want to accept or make payments with cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoinist: One of the biggest barriers to mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies has been lack of accessibility for the average consumer. How does Saifu help lower that barrier?
ZM: Our primary goal is to remove that barrier to mainstream crypto adoption in a safe and regulated way. Saifu will make buying, selling, and using cryptocurrencies just as easy as using a traditional online bank account, with the same level of security and regulation. With Saifu it’s as easy topping up your bank account, and just as secure.
Bitcoinist: Cryptocurrency detractors love to point out that cryptocurrencies aren’t easily integrated into day-to-day transactions. What are your thoughts on that and how does Saifu fit into that equation?
ZM: There’s some truth to that statement. Some major online retailers accept Bitcoin and a few other cryptos, and there are a few services that provide prepaid cards funded with cryptocurrency. But overall, it’s still quite difficult to spend cryptocurrency like fiat.
We’re going to change that by making cryptocurrency transactions as easy and safe as using your credit or debit card. Want to buy some Bitcoin? Open up the Saifu app and enter the amount you’d like to buy – we’ll get you the best rate from the major exchanges and you can pay with your credit card or bank account. Want to sell some Ether? It’s just as easy, and the funds can go into your Saifu account or you can send them to your bank. Want to pay for groceries? Just use your Saifu Mastercard – we’ll convert your cryptocurrency to fiat seamlessly – and at the best rates available. And if you’re a business owner that wants to be part of the crypto revolution, our business accounts allow you to accept and exchange cryptocurrencies with ease.
Bitcoinist: There are other platforms that claim to “bridge the gap” between fiat and digital currencies. What makes Saifu different?
ZM: We have some sizable advantages over our competitors. First and foremost, we’re the most secure and are actually regulated under our own license. All our customers’ keys are created and stored in hardware security modules developed with our partner, Thales, the global leader in banking cybersecurity. Cryptocurrency transactions pass through our operational and Saifu Crypto Vault that require two physical keycards to access. And our cybersecurity is overseen by the former head of DDoS protection at Kaspersky.
We’ve also chosen to be regulated. We’re licensed by the Czech National Bank, so we’re subject to regular audits, and all aspects of our business must be approved by the regulator. And we’ve just partnered with accountancy behemoth Deloitte to audit our business and day-to-day operations. We’re also in the process of applying for some other licenses in other jurisdictions.
In addition to those key advantages, we also offer more features than our competitors. For example, some services allow you to buy and sell cryptocurrency in your account, but it can’t be transferred out or spent directly – they don’t make cryptocurrency usable like Saifu does. Other competitors offer prepaid cards that you can fund with fiat currency, but they have to be preloaded, and a lot of those firms were using cards issued by WaveCrest, whose cards were all canceled by Visa. Finally, some competitors claim they will offer a full range of services but are foggy on dates and details. Their plans change with every Q&A session, and they’ve been about to release features “soon” for the six months. Saifu already has a functional platform in closed beta, with our open beta scheduled to be available in the first quarter of 2018.
Bitcoinist: What are the key features of the platform that users will find to be the most useful?
ZM: For our individual users, the Saifu app, which lets you easily manage your crypto and fiat currencies in one account, and the linked Saifu prepaid Mastercard, which you can use anywhere Mastercard is accepted. For our business users, the ability to accept and make payments in cryptocurrencies, buy or sell them as needed, and the ability to pay your employees in cryptocurrency (this last feature is still early in development).
Bitcoinist: I read that an estimated 2 billion adults worldwide are unbanked or underbanked – that is, they don’t have access to even basic financial services. How can Saifu help them?
ZM: Our goal is to bring Saifu to every corner of the globe. If you have access to a smartphone and can complete the simple KYC process by uploading a government-issued ID and utility bill, you can open a Saifu account. Because Saifu accounts have IBAN numbers, you can wire in funds via SEPA/SWIFT to get started. Saifu also allows you to send crypto or fiat to other Saifu users; this could drastically reduce the cost of sending remittances home, compared to using services like Western Union or MoneyGram.
Bitcoinist: Saifu has partnered with Thales Group. What value do they add to the Saifu platform?
ZM: Thales is a security giant, and they bring decades of experience protecting everything from airports, to critical infrastructure, to international banks. What we’ve done, is take that security and adapt it to cryptocurrencies. This was a complicated process and took us over a year to develop. We use Thales nShield Hardware Security Modules for this solution. The keys are created in the modules and can only be accessed by two trusted techs on-site with access cards. Because the keys can never leave the module and have this dual security system, even if we’re hacked, our customers’ keys are still safe.
Bitcoinist: Is Saifu regulated? How does it affect/benefit your users?
ZM: Very much so. We’re licensed by the Czech National Bank as a payment institution. The CNB requires us to comply with rigorous rules and regulations. Even our organizational structure must be approved. We’re also required to be regularly audited, and we’ve just announced a partnership with Deloitte for that purpose. This gives our users something invaluable – peace of mind.
Bitcoinist: The Saifu ICO ends on April 30. What is the current exchange rate per SAIFU token? Are there bonuses being offered? Which crypto and fiat currencies do you accept?
ZM: The Saifu token (SFU) is currently for sale at a price of 0.0001 BTC. ICO participants can pay with Bitcoin, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ether, Dogecoin, or wire transfers (with some restrictions). Right now all SFU buyers receive a referral link, and if someone signs up with their referral link and buys SFU, they’ll receive SFU equal to 5% of their purchase. We also have bonus structures for larger contributions that we’re happy to discuss with everyone interested.
Bitcoinist: I understand that Saifu recently took part in the Asian Tour 2018 roadshow. Where did you visit and what was the purpose of the roadshow?
ZM: Yes, we went to Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei, Beijing, and Shanghai. The main purpose of the trip was to share news about Saifu, look for local partners, and explore business opportunities in those regions.
Bitcoinist: What was your impression of the roadshow experience? Would you recommend it to other startups looking to raise awareness?
ZM: It was really fun getting out and talking to people in the blockchain community from other countries. Giving presentations with running interpretations was quite a new experience. It’s actually easier than normal presentations…but you have to remember what’s on all of your slides.
Bitcoinist: What was your biggest takeaway from the roadshow?
ZM: Taipei is a big new center for blockchain. They’re working on self-regulation and have a sandbox in place for future development. We’re seriously considering setting up an office there to take part.
Bitcoinist: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about Saifu?
ZM: We’re really excited about our project, and the market for our services is growing every day. What we’re offering now is essentially a presale of our services, with excellent loyalty benefits for those who hold and use our tokens. Customers get a combination of tokens back and discounts for using and holding tokens in significant volumes. Getting in on our token at this level helps customers to get top-notch security and use features for crypto and fiat services.
For the first 100 people that use the promo code BITCOINIST, we offer a 10% discount on tokens.
How will Saifu’s licensed crypto-fiat platform lower the barrier of entry into cryptocurrency? How will the world’s unbanked population benefit? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Images courtesy of Saifu, Pexels