Interview with Beluga Pay CEO Alejandro Avila (English)
A few days ago, I had the chance to talk to Alejandro Avila, CEO of BelugaPay. Learn about who Alex is, what BelugaPay is about and why a company that is already way past its infancy decided to launch an ICO on the Ethereum Blockchain.
CryptoCircle: Hello everyone, I am very pleased to introduce to you Alejandro Avila, the CEO of Beluga Pay, today. He describes himself as a blockchain evangelist and he has work experience consulting for Citigroup in Latin America. Welcome to CryptoCircle!
Alex: Hi to everybody in the audience. Happy to be here.
With the BelugaPay ICO going on, is there still time for your consulting job?
At the moment, consulting takes up about 6 hours of my month. So I give about two talks a month to different groups within Citigroup in Mexico.
Ok, I’m sure our viewers are happy to hear that your focus is clearly on the BelugaPay side right now. Alex, tell us a little bit about yourself and BelugaPay. What is your vision to change our daily lives? What are the strengths of the Beluga-Team?
Pretty much BelugaPay is a point-of-sale-system that enables merchants to accept all cash payments, credit and debit cards, Visa and Mastercard and cryptocurrencies. We are starting with Ether and Litecoin but we will be adding more cryptocurrencies as we go.
But before this I have been the CEO of a company called “Espiral” which is the company acquired by the new investors and partners of Beluga. So before this I was running a payment company here in Mexico where we processing debit and credit cards for merchants with a reader connected to your cell phone and online.
And then there was cryptocurrencies. The industry we were already in, the financial industry, got disrupted by this crazy good technology and we started figuring out how to let our partners, the merchants, be a part of this.
How and when did you decide to start an ICO? Were you looking at other funding options?
We previously went through a couple of angel rounds and then recently we were also accelerated by Plug’n’play Mexico which is pretty much a global player as far as investments back in Silicon Valley. So we received every form of traditional investment before and recently a group of our last investors and the new investors brought in the capital to form BelugaPay and actually develop technology.
We ere looking at a lot of ICOs and just didn’t understand how companies that didn’t have a product, didn’t have any track record but probably a good roadmap [raised a lot of capital] but I could put out a good roadmap on a week-end.
Our main focus was to be not another project promising a product. We wanted to come out with a product already working, already certified, already in market, already coming out with really big deals and once we launched the ICO we would be able to show those deals to all the people buying our token.
We started looking at a lot of models how the token holders are being rewarded for holding the token and we decided to give out of the 2,5% transaction fees (1% for crypto) we are charging 0.5% back to the token holders. That is something we haven’t seen yet in a product that is already certified and has merchants using it.
What you mentioned, the cash back and already having a working product was something I mentioned during my review of the BelugaPay ICO and a lot of viewers also responded very positively to you actually having a working product. I always tell people putting up a fancy website and roadmap takes a couple of dollars and a weekends time but having a working product is something unique in the crypto space right now
So how was the response of investors to your ICO so far? Is everything going according to plan?
I think all ICOs have really glamorous plans but I think so far it is going really good as far the financial perspective is concerned. But I believe we could do a lot better and that is why our team is trying to launch all these new apps and is working on big new deals.
We are talking to one of the ten largest companies in Mexico right now and we will do a beta test with them and we will try to go out and get more and more deals like this. Also, we are very excited to expand our business to more and more regions going forward.
You had a lot of applications on your roadmap not just the point of sale system I focused on in my review. So all these features will be integrated into one single app?
Yes, there is going to be one app which has two sides to it: if you are a merchant you can accept payments with it and also have a credit line to buy goods with but you can also send and receive Ether and Litecoin with the same app.
While we were still scheduling the interview, I asked my community if they had any questions for you and few actually came up with questions. I want to start with the question of
Tom M: In a nutshell, what exactly is the product you are selling?
We have merchants signing up pretty much everyday and if you are interested in seeing the product, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will set you up with our point of sale system as a beta tester.
And to answer the question, we are company that is doing payment processing 2.0 expanding on our basic know how of processing fiat payments in compliance with all laws and full certifications. We are going to keep doing that with crypto currencies!
The next question is from Viktor K asks: How will you handle the high transaction fees on the bitcoin network? Who will have to bear the cost?
We had a lot of debates about this and decided to currently not accept Bitcoin. I don’t see a practical use in it day to day where you go to a business and buy a pice of bread. I don’t see anyone waiting 20, 30 or 40 seconds for a payment to process. That is why we are starting with ETH and LTC first.
Me personally, I don’t think we are going to have BTC on the merchant side but maybe for the loans, that makes more sense. But the current code of Bitcoin is impractical for payments.
For our Bitcoin fans, would you reconsider looking at BTC after the Lightning Network is implemented?
Of course, my main crypto currency is the Bitcoin. I am a believer in the coin but I think it is not a solution for merchants. They don’t have enough high volume transactions to be able to cope with the BTC transactions fees. But obviously, as soon as it is ready we will be the first ones to look at implementing Bitcoin for payments.
StaaR asks: How did you come up with your token distribution? Why are the 40% of the team only locked for 6 months and not for a longer period?
Out of those tokens half is for the original partners who funded the company and paid for the certifications and brought the company to where we are now. The other tokens are locked for the current and future employees. We have to have people in every single country to operate properly and you will see a lot of new hires in the future.
And I was asked why we didn’t try to raise more money but we believe 30 million will be enough to target our three key regions and I don’t believe in raising as much money as possible just for the sake of it. We just want to raise as much money as we need to grow right now.
Right. It is crazy when you look at something like the EOS ICO which is pretty much a money printing press running for half a year now.
Yes, there is a lot of speculation about this ICO and why it is set up how it is but it is an interesting product. It is a funny thing to have completely unregulated coins and crazy stuff happening.
One last question a user who wishes to remain anonymous asks: On what exchanges will BBI be listed and when can we expect the first listings?
We are currently in talks with two of the top exchanges and will be launching on them in February and before Q2 2018 we want to be on at least two more exchanges.
I guess you will be aiming for the bigger ones? And not, say, Cryptopia?
Yes but it is insane how much the prices to be listed on an exchange increased within the last 6 months.
Last question, it is a personal question of mine. You were talking a lot about being compliant due to your past operations. Now we have seen another startup going back on a promise the made in their whitepaper. They went back on letting their token holders participate in their earnings from fees citing regulatory concerns. They said that if they hadn’t done this, their token would have been delisted at all the major exchanges within a few months.
Do you have any concerns regarding the regulatory environment at BelugaPay?
We are aware of that and we will not launch our product on exchanges or in countries (like the USA & Canada) that do not accept the current setup of our token. Because the bonus is a big part of our tokens value proposition, we’d rather not do business in those regions.
I think this is a very satisfying answer for a lot of investments that you’d rather not go into high risk markets and stick to markets where you are compliant with regulations.
I think we are going t have the biggest impact in regions of the world where there is not a lot of access to any payment methods other than cash. And markets like the US and China already have a lot of competing solutions. We are focused on Latin America, Africa and certain parts of Asia.
Thank you very much for all detailed answers. Would you like to give a shout-out? Any finals message?
Yes of course. Thank you guys for listening. Thank you Fabian for having us.
If you have any suggestions or question feel free to join our Telegram group or write me an Email at email@example.com. Take a look at our white paper and join our ICO!
Thank you Alex, it was a pleasure to have you on CryptoCircle.