Interview: Tom Meredith, BitMinutes – better crypto for a better world
BitMinutes CEO Tom Meredith is a serial entrepreneur who has been crafting solutions in online security, peer-to-peer (P2P) lending and other ventures for over a decade. He founded P2P Cash in the mid-2010s to focus on the fintech space, which led to the creation of Smart Token Chain, a breakthrough combination of blockchain advances, cryptocurrency innovation and cybersecurity mandates.
He founded BitMinutes to apply these new tools to the social mission of profitably removing the structural constraints on the expansion of financial service delivery globally.
What is a BitMinute?
The BitMinute is a cryptocurrency tied to a real-world asset called a prepaid airtime minute. Let me anticipate your next question. Why is this important or innovative? On the surface, the prepaid minute is just prepaid airtime on a mobile phone. However, it is fast becoming an informal currency in thousands of less developed communities where formal banking services are scarce. This opens up an enticing opportunity to apply fintech advances to build a new financial services delivery system. For more information, please view our YouTube video here.
How do prepaid minutes open up such an opportunity?
People create their own solutions when formal services are lacking. Phone owners buy prepaid minutes and send them to friends or family on the same mobile network to settle debts, top up a family member’s phone minutes and the like. They have found a way to break out of relying solely on cash. We are not re-inventing the wheel, we are building on an existing trend. We are leveraging our smart-token blockchain-based technology to convert the prepaid minute into a cashable asset, exchangeable across mobile phone networks worldwide.
Why are easily transferable minutes valuable?
Banking technology, with all its legacy-system burdens, struggles to push financial inclusion all the way out to the edges of the world economy. Expanding financial services profitably to two billion unbanked people demands creative new fintech solutions that dramatically drive down the cost of service delivery. We have been building our cloud-based software solutions for close to four years, and have tested the technology in real-world situations, unlike many fintech solutions that are still in the “promising” phase.
Are you past the “promising phase”?
Yes, we have used BitMinutes to move money from US residents to Kenyan residents with Equity Bank accounts for over four years. We added M-Pesa and other East African financial service providers about two years ago, and have tested the system into five other countries as well. We have partnerships in place, or agreements in development, in 70 countries in total.
Why are BitMinutes more valuable than other money transfer start-ups? What more do you offer?
BitMinutes has a technical advantage enabling us to move money or minutes to four billion mobile phones for free. Our mission moves beyond that to banking and lending. Our technology is designed to create a smartphone-based financial services delivery system that allows a corner retailer in a local village to become a “corner banker”.
We have embedded all the necessary know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) processes into our encrypted cloud-based system, so that this corner banker, whom we call a “trusted agent”, can transact with local residents just as a traditional bank employee could, without having to establish all the dedicated hardware and brick-and-mortar infrastructure you need to support that traditional bank employee. A customer will be able to establish a phone-based BitMinutes wallet that lets him or her send and receive cash, hold deposits, pay bills. Critically, our solution will support obtaining and managing a micro or nano-loan working through the trusted agent. All this activity is tracked by our system, which creates a credit management profile for each customer.
Is this where your BitMinutes Credit Scoring system comes in?
Yes. Once the consumer has a BitMinute account, all transactions are tracked. This builds a real credit history with us, which in turn gives us the ability to work with financial partners to lend micro loans and nano-loans with confidence, something that very much cannot happen today. This increased confidence lowers the interest the lenders have to charge, which leaves more money in the borrower’s account to invest. Raising the circulation of money locally has a known positive economic impact, which turns around and builds confidence that the loans will be repaid.
Where are you headquartered?
We have been headquartered in Atlanta since 2014, and just opened our first subsidiary office in Vaduz, Lichtenstein.
Tell us about your team
Management team comprised of Harvard Business School and Stanford graduates working together for over 4 years, along with a team of financial services professionals and technologists with decades of industry experience.
What are your plans for the future?
Guaranteed Micro Loans in Colombia with a major retail partner. Mexico and the Philippines right on its heels.
What happens next?
Our ICO launches on 30 April 2018. We have 3.4 billion BitMinutes, or BMTs, for sale over the next few weeks, which we have priced at $0.02 per BMT. This will launch our new countries, and expand our footprint in the markets where we already have networks and relationships established.
How do people get in touch with you?
Start with me! Tom Meredith, CEO of BitMinutes:
Thomas Meredith is the founder and CEO of BitMinutes, which uses a patent-pending “Smart Token” technology to monetize unused cell phone minutes. Meredith started his computer career with Digital Equipment Corporation. His first start-up was at Franklin Computers, an Apple clone manufacturer, then at Federal Systems Director for Lisp Machine, an artificial intelligence (AI) company.
After a three-year stint on Wall St., Meredith founded VoxLink, an innovator of voice mail and e-mail integration. He pioneered the first online payment processing and consulted both the mortgage automation and credit/debit card processing industries regarding adopting Internet based technology.
Meredith is a graduate of the Harvard Business School specialising in Entrepreneurial studies. He was awarded a Mechanical Engineering Degree in three years from Stanford University.