Rachael McCrary, COO of Button Wallet talks about messenger-based banking, and how cryptocurrency landscape will shift over the next five years.
Hello! What’s your background, and what are you working on?
I’m Rachael, and I’m the COO of Button Wallet. We’re building a multi-platform banking solution built on messengers. I worked in the fashion industry in New York, Hong Kong, and LA for 17 years. My last few fashion companies were fashion tech startups. Just being around tech founders, I learned about Bitcoin.
My first crypto was ETH, and I bought it on Coinbase before they really had a KYC policy. I started trading on GDAX, and you know when that thing happens when you get into something, and suddenly everyone is talking about it? It was during the ICO boom, so I read some white papers and found the space fascinating. Companies ranging from genius to garbage were popping up everywhere.
I became increasingly intellectually curious by the concept of international and/or decentralized currency. Watching the regulators go through the process of locally regulating an international currency is endlessly fascinating. I believe in people. I think people should have options for banking (and most things) and decide for themselves. The word disrupt is so overused, but crypto has indeed disrupted money. That still blows my mind every day.
I want to be a part of how blockchain tech truly finds it’s homes, and cryptocurrency becomes commonplace. It’s a fun ride, and it’s in the hands of people all over the world, which is a cool concept if you think about it.
Button Wallet is a financial software company focused on tools that include digital assets. Button’s first product is a non-custodial decentralized wallet and exchange build on Telegram messenger. Telegram messenger will release TON (Telegram Open Network) in Q3 of this year.
GRAMs will be released at that time, and Button is prepared to exchange GRAMs. Just open Telegram Messenger and type @ButtonWalletBot. It’s instantly available for all Telegram users. In the meantime, Button is in the process of developing wallets for Discord and FB Messenger as well as a web interface. The user’s login will be cross-platform for all kind of wallets. Button enables users to send funds (fiat or digital assets) peer to peer with just their respective @username. Focused on community, the people, and always safety first, Button is the leading provider in the messenger’s hot wallets.
What’s BUTTON backstory?
Alexandr and Nick came up with the idea and then made a test in MIT PlayLabs. There’s no reason why a fashion designer and Russian Hackers can’t build a safe, UI friendly bank! So we launched in October, 2018 and quickly gained 20,000 users in the first month. We first fundraised through MIT PlayLabs, ETCLabs and angel investors. We are currently raising an institutional Seed round.
The core engineering team are full-stack engineers with a heavy interest in cryptography. I have been a crypto trader for four years and gained substantial interest in DeFi banking and began to educate myself on the topic.
We enjoy the idea of international currency. It’s fascinating, and I like being a part of the blockchain ecosystem in these volatile times while we all navigate through it. I believe people should have choices with where and how they bank while staying ethically and legally sound. There are many use cases for blockchain tech, and we’ll see more of that in the future. There are 2.5B unbanked people in the world. Sometimes people aren’t given many choices, and it’s great to help build things that can be very useful for them.
What went into building the BUTTON?
While we built the product the cryptocurrency marketed has heavily vacillated. BTC has fluctuated between $4,000-$13000. Regulations have been heavily discussed worldwide. Libra was introduced, which had a domino effect on conversations about how that will affect the ecosystem. ICOs have vanished, and investors move away from tokens and more towards tech. The landscape changes quickly.
The tech team built an alpha version of the product and tested it on fellow students. People liked it and it seemed to catch on so we released a beta version last October. The Button team has won about 15 hackathons all over the world. It’s during this time that we are intensely product-focused and even if we aren’t directly working on Button at the hackathon it sparks provocative thought around how we can improve and expand Button. We often chat with our users in our Telegram channel and ask them what they would like to see next for Button.
What’s your business model?
We don’t charge for creating and maintaining a wallet. Peer to peer transactions are also free. We charge 1% for crypto to crypto exchange. We also charge various fees for fiat to crypto depending on the geographical region.
What are your goals for the future?
Our goals are to tell more people about Button Wallet, messenger-based banking, and listen to our users and continue to provide real value as needs arise. We are working on a Discord-based wallet, portfolio wallets, and eventually an index fund. We currently have over 100,000 users and have a goal of getting to one million by the end of Q1 2020.
What are your future thoughts for the DeFi market?
A lot will shift over the next five years. Removing the middle-man and censorship from banking opens up a lot of doors and quick banking options but also presents problems. There are still respective geographical laws that must be followed, and it’s up to the individual to stay within the parameters of the law, rather than the bankers to set guidelines.
Tokenized assets allow individuals to trade and invest in peer to peer assets with low costs 24 hours a day. In some regions, crypto can replace fiat for purchases. In some others, it’s just a trading instrument. People are attracted to the speed and low costs of DeFi banking, and in many cases, they are more in control of their own assets. While this will increase over time, it will be interesting to see how and where regulations fall into place as the ecosystem waxes and wanes through the winding road.