Interviews

An interview with Bernhard Koch about Bitcoin, blockchain and consulting for SMEs

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A Call from Zug

Cryptix AG has the goal to make blockchain technology accessible to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
We talked to Mr. Koch and had an interesting conversation. Can you trust bankers? And how could the baker next door benefit from the Cryptix solutions?


Personal Views on Bitcoin and Blockchain

Bitcoin polarizes incredibly in many ways. For some, a worldview with an almost religious character: What does Bitcoin mean to you?

First, we’re not particularly religious in the context of Bitcoin. We’re not Bitcoin evangelists; not everything has to be decentralized. We want to find a reasonable compromise in the legal space. Bitcoin and its technology certainly offer incredibly important food for thought for humanity to reinvent itself. 

As a result, there has been more movement and opportunity in stagnant areas. Bitcoin has opened a door in the economy, whether it’s financing companies, administration, and, in general, how people interact with each other. 

“Trust” is the big topic here. I don’t have to know anyone anymore to do business with them. These new opportunities open up markets much faster and make the distances between the protagonists much shorter. Bitcoin brings people together; the borders between them fall. In principle, Bitcoin’s blockchain has provided us with the basis for this.

So, strict decentralization is the best part?

Bitcoin and blockchain bring some transparency, but there’s no one to make sure that the laws are followed. At the moment, we can only wait and see how the regulators decide in this area. 

With our own products, we want to strike a balance and take advantage of the decentralization in accordance with the law. Above all, we want to ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises and consumers have the safest access possible to these new technologies and their benefits. 

Mr. Bernhard Koch, Founder of Cryptix AG

Regulatory Afairs and the Market

Interesting, how do you see the regulatory initiatives so far? What effects do you expect in the future on the entire market and also on your own company?

In general, I’m in favor of regulation; on the one hand, it’s essential that I, as an entrepreneur, know what I’m allowed to do and what I’m not allowed to do. When it comes to the hard-earned money of small and medium-sized businesses, you have a big responsibility. On the other hand, customers, in particular, should be able to trust financial services.

I believe that as an entrepreneur, you have to accept responsibility. This did not happen at the beginning of many blockchain projects, which is why payment systems were often misused for illegal activities. In this context, I support, for example, some of the regulatory approaches currently discussed, especially in the area of money laundering. 

However, this also gives rise to a new problem, namely potential over-regulation, which may restrict flexibility and the further development of the issue. The opportunities offered by Bitcoin and blockchain – but also by other technologies such as Hashgraphs and Tangle – must be seized accordingly. We have to recognize the topic as a real opportunity and see where the limits lie.

Some boundaries are also deliberately crossed in order to change something. To what extent is this compatible with the regulatory advances?

You have to look very closely at this and then question what the framework should look like and where the social boundaries lie. Without fearing that something is being taken away from certain interest groups, that old structures are being broken up, or, even, that someone is being deprived of power. 

Some approaches taken by certain regimes clearly show that it’s about existing power structures. In many other initiatives – such as in Germany, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein – I see that people want to take advantage of the opportunities offered and deal with them responsibly. 

Cryptix office in Zug.

Cryptix Vision and Mision

Your company wants to give small and medium-sized enterprises access to blockchain technology. That sounds like a big challenge. Where do small companies benefit from your solutions?

If we focus on small businesses, they’ll benefit from my experience in this area. At the age of 19, I was already a small-scale entrepreneur in Styria, Austria, and my trading company was mainly active regionally. Without the necessary cash, it was challenging to build a base beyond the borders. 

Today, with cryptocurrencies, I see a lot of potential in the transaction speed and the lower fees – not to mention the faster availability of funds. 

Blockchain-technology eliminates the “trust problem.” In purchasing, I can collaborate better with wholesale trade, even across national borders. If you do it right, then you get your money faster, have more security, and can advance your business faster. 

I see here the biggest advantages for all those who want to grow and become stronger. But when you refer to the bakery next door, the key is to offer basic services, like digital payments. This is precisely what we’re working on right now. 

If you had the opportunity to send a message to the past, what advice would you give yourself before founding Cryptix AG?

(laughs) I haven’t given many interviews, but I’ve been asked this question quite often.

I’m good at dealing with IT, with digital marketing, developing products, bringing them to market, and selling them – especially with digital products – I’m a professional. But I didn’t know how exactly the financial world worked, invested a lot in various consultants, and realized: Don’t rely on consultants from a world you’re about to reinvent. These people will not speak against their business, especially if entire business lines could be put at risk. So, sometimes, it was difficult to get objective advice. I lost a lot of time.

What holds the future?

Let’s move away from the past and look into the future together. Where do you think blockchain technology will settle? Is it really something that is here to stay? After all, you could rely on other solutions in many areas because blockchain technology is not mandatory. 

It’s not mandatory, and if you do research on it, you’ll see that you quickly reach your limits. The basic idea and the approach are definitely very important; define and achieve true decentralization and solve any trust problems.

But whether the technology will be called blockchain or have a new name in the future – I would be rather cautious about what will prevail in the end. At the moment, I believe very strongly in blockchain technology but not as it exists today.

Many global problems are closely linked to the growing world population, and most of what you can solve of these problems is organizational. It’s about managing global efficiency in different areas. Trust problems, administration, and organization between people can be facilitated. I believe that we can see a very large role for decentralized solutions in this area in ten years – for example, in the area of payments or the tracking of goods with certificates of authenticity. 

Think of developing countries and the possibility of managing and proving ownership. There are regions in the world where nothing works without bribes. There’s a lot one could do. These countries are also agents of change in certain areas. But, at the moment, they should not be seen as markets, but we should bring technologies there so that the countries are not exploited. And, thus, provide the opportunity to create a more efficient and positive living space. 

We have drifted off. Let’s return to the present, back to Europe, to Zug. Cryptix AG recently acquired Blocktrade. How does this fit together? What do you have planned?

Our vision is to bring together various financial services in one marketplace – the first marketplace for financial products, so to speak. Usually, you need different apps, go through many onboarding processes, and sometimes even wait a long time before you are fully verified to do anything. 

We want to connect all services in one digital platform and make it accessible for everyone. The platform will unite all types of financial products, most of which we can provide ourselves, but they will also come from partners. Ultimately, the consumer should have the opportunity to find everything in one place when it comes to money.

If you think and develop this concept into the future, then you can make this possible simply because of the new technologies and, above all, because you do it in a regulated way. There are many marketplaces for consumer goods, but there’s no comparable platform for financial products. For such a platform, you need different pillars. On the one hand, of course, the crypto pillar, but also the trading, investment, and crowdfunding pillars. These exist alongside other areas such as payments, banking, charity, and insurance.  Blocktrade will play a decisive role here because we want to build a fully regulated digital exchange that will be interesting for different target groups and offer new solutions for individuals and small and medium-sized businesses.


About Robert Steinadler

Robert is the editor-in-chief of the German online magazine Bitcoin Kurier. He started his own journey with Bitcoin as a miner and is especially interested into privacy coins. The Bitcoin Kurier delivers news, articles, interviews and educational content to readers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

“Our goal is to spread not only knowledge about cryptocurrencies, but also awareness about privacy and security issues that demand the attention of the public eye.”

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Robert Steinadler
Robert is the editor-in-chief of the German online magazine Bitcoin Kurier. They deliver news, articles, interviews and educational content to readers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

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