CoinPip CEO Anson Zeall On How They Make Paying Freelancers Super Easy
Freelancing has become serious business now more than ever. Every startup out there hires freelancer services to design or develop products, to test their products and even to deliver customer support. So far so good. However, when it comes to making payments to the freelancers, that's not a hassle-free process. Most users in developing countries either don't have access to Paypal, or they have problems registering on various websites. To reduce the pain associated with freelancer payments, CoinPip was born.
Founded by Anson Zeall, Alexander Angerer and Arseniy Kucherenko in January 2014, CoinPip recently got funded by 500 Startups, the top Silicon Valley VC firm. This startup makes use of the blockchain technology to send your money to the recipient, without him having to register on their website.
With CoinPip, individuals or businesses can send money to the bank accounts of remote workers in a variety of countries including China, Indonesia, Philippines, China, India and Singapore. All payments are received in 48 hours or less and for a flat fee of only 2%. All that the sender needs to do is enter the receiver's email, currency and amount and CoinPip will take care of the rest.
We got Anson Zeall, the Co-Founder and CEO at CoinPip to feature in an exclusive interview with us to talk about his initial years as a newbie entrepreneur, the technology they use, their team, expansion plans and a lot more. Read on!
Anson Zeal, Co-Founder & CEO - CoinPip
CE: Tell us about your growing up years.
Anson: My dad is a lawyer based in Hong Kong. Obviously growing up, "obeying the law" is key. But dad has constantly told us, "With laws, there are loopholes." ?.
I studied in Hong Kong, Sydney and New York, worked in San Francisco and Singapore. I graduated with a Bachelor of Computer Science from the University of New South Wales and completed CIBE at Columbia Business School. “Study hard, get a job” was the motto for the family. But I rebelled hard ? My mum calls me Mr. Opposite. But now that I’m showing results, she doesn’t call me that anymore!
CE: How did you land up in Singapore and why did you choose to stay?
Anson: Landing over at Singapore was actually kind of an accident. During my college years, I was building up an MLM business from Sydney which expanded over to US, Singapore and Hong Kong. Singapore then in 2005 wasn’t like what it is now. But it was very different to me.
And... my wife is Singaporean. Met her in Sydney. But I guess this explains the bulk of it. But I started my startup journey in Hong Kong. After working on a couple of startups, it was obvious to me Singapore was the place to be, and not Hong Kong.
CE: When did the entrepreneurial bug hit you? When did you decide to quit your job?
Anson: The bug hit pretty early actually.
Watching the stockmarket in Hong Kong crash in the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis really made an impact on me. I would say that was the spark towards a different mindset.
But the entrepreneurship engine in me didn’t start until 2003 (SARS in Hong Kong), when the double dip recession in Asia hit the property markets there, affect my family bad both emotionally and financially. This really got me thinking “That’s it, we need to do something about our situation”.
CE: Could you explain the end-to-end process of sending money via Coinpip? (From registering an account with Coinpip to what happens on the way till it reflects in the recipient's back account).
Anson: To give you context, CoinPip was a bitcoin payment processor for Asia, just like bitpay. Unfortunately, having started out in Singapore, we really didn’t have scale. Only until we went into 500 Startups in October 2014, that we pivoted into a money transfer service.
CoinPip initially had the vision that bitcoin will be accepted as currency. But after meeting with government officials and understanding the layman, it’s not possible to become a currency in such a short time. But as a startup, we need to create traction and we can’t wait for adoption to happen. However at the same time, the technology and the advantages of bitcoin was so obvious.
So, the question that lead to the pivot was - "Is there a way to allow the laymen to use the power of bitcoin, without them touching bitcoin?" And here we are. ?
So here are the steps:
- Sign up and verify account with CoinPip.
- Make a send money request.
- CoinPip will ask the customer to deposit the amount to a local bank account.
- Once we see the amount, we will then transfer the money to the recipient, straight into their bank account. Both sides don’t need to touch bitcoin.
CE: Could you explain the blockchain technology for your readers? How does it work?
Anson: Simply said, blockchain basically is just a public transaction record of transactions. So a bitcoin blockchain is basically a public transaction record of all bitcoin transactions. CoinPip (at the moment) uses the bitcoin blockchain because it’s the most liquid and widely supported.
CE: How does Coinpip ensure money transfer in less than 48 hours?
Anson: We just do. Whatever happens, we’ll make sure the money gets into the recipient's bank in 48 hours from the time that the funds enter into the designated bank account, not from the sender’s bank account.
CE: Most people believe Paypal is quick and easy to use. How does replacing Paypal with Coinpip help both senders and recipients?
Anson: That’s for developed countries. If you travel out to Emerging markets, Paypal is not widely used. Especially in ASEAN countries, it’s very fractured. For e.g. Indonesia consumers usually just use bank transfers. Thailand residents usually buy things and then physically go to the ATM to transfer the money (that’s what I heard).
CE: How tough is it to convince companies to use your service?
Anson: You don’t. The idea is that it’s a technology. It’s just like you shouldn’t convince the companies what the internet is about. Senders just want to know it’s cheap, it’s reliable and it’s fast.
Anson at SXSW
CE: What is the story behind the 'flat 2% rate'? How does Coinpip handle foreign exchange rates?
Anson: There’s a lot going on behind the scenes. My co-founder and I are ex-hedge fund managers and we play around a lot with asset arbitraging, including currencies. The arbitrage opportunities in Bitcoin is huge. With that, it can offset the cost, including the foreign exchange.
CE: How big is the Coinpip team at the moment? Where do you operate from?
Anson: We have a team of 3 founders, and 5 very passionate freelancers that we worked with since October 2014. Passionate freelancers is a term I’m coining because freelancing will be mainstream activity, even if you are working in a full time job. Our team spans Singapore, San Francisco and Colombia.
CE: What is the Coinpip revenue model? How many clients you've had so far?
Anson: CoinPip is running a B2B model and thus we’re at the stage of sticking to a few big clients and understanding their needs. Voyagin (www.govoyagin.com) is one of our anchor customers. We process their payments into Indonesia and Hong Kong.
CE: What the expansion plans? Where do you see Coinpip two years down the line?
Anson: We work heavily with trusted regional bitcoin exchanges. We believe this is the way to go because, emerging markets feel the pain of the unstable currencies, leading to businesses starting up bitcoin exchanges. This allows us to have a good reach into emerging markets in the long term.
CE: Whom do you consider your biggest competitors? How do you maintain an edge over them?
I don’t think there is any outright competitor these days. They are really frenemies.
I don’t want to mention names, but I do feel that being in Singapore, and understanding the emerging markets pretty well, we’ve cut a pretty good niche for ourselves.
CE: Entrepreneurship is a life changing experience for many. How would you describe your journey as a startup owner so far?
Anson: A Roller Coaster Ride - From earning 35% p.a from the hedge fund I ran, to being nearly broke running the first few startups (including CoinPip’s first product), to now having a team of 8 people. But to be honest, I’ve been an entrepreneur since 2004. I’ve started a MLM business (successful), founded a hedge fund (even more successful), ran 2 failed startups (lucky it was lean, so wasn’t costly).
CE: Why did you quite the hedge fund business and started working on startups?
Anson: In 2010, after the Federal Reserved announced Quantitative Easing Infinite, I just thought to myself “This is a screwed up market”. So, I changed directions.
CE: Any message for your readers?
Anson: Change direction all you like, but never give up on yourself. You can give up on businesses, on ideas, on people - but you will never lose if you never give up on you. ?
“You should do what you love”. You will have ups and downs in running the start-up but if you don’t give up, one day you will see sales picking up, bigger office, bigger team and more hunger to make it...Sagar NagdaSkin4Gadgets