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I’m Adrian Forbes, Founder of TGBEX Limited. AMA!

Wed Nov 25, 2015 7:05 pm

I'm Adrian Forbes, Founder of TGBEX Limited and also a co-founder of CrypArt Limited.

TGBEX Limited make physical bitcoins, which are offline bitcoin wallets. We engrave public and private keys (generated offline) onto the reverse of specially designed coins (featuring a picture of the world, covered in tiny bitcoin symbols to illustrate the global nature/ potential of bitcoin as a global currency/ asset) and cover the private keys with security holographic stickers. Each coin comes with a booklet explaining bitcoin and physical bitcoins (including instructions on how to check/ redeem the bitcoins online), a certificate of authenticity (signed by two people to confirm all other records of private key have been destroyed, with a QR code corresponding to the wallet public address on the reverse) and come in a protective casing and gift box.

We believe bitcoin has enormous potential both as a global currency and asset. Physical bitcoins are designed as a way of introducing people to bitcoin and we believe they can help bring bitcoin to the mass-market. Most people do not want to spend months learning about bitcoin complexities and then months more learning about security and trust issues.

We set up the company in the Isle of Man after hearing about US regulators shutting down Casascius- we do not sell to the US because of what we consider to be draconian and excessive regulations, but hope to continue to widen bitcoin ownership and awareness throughout the EU (currently) and hopefully beyond soon.

More information can be found at http://www.tgbex.com

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CrypArt Limited makes bespoke art prints based on QR codes (normally as bitcoin public keys, so you can have a limited edition picture to match your bitcoin wallet). We take graphic designs from a number of artists and add a bespoke QR code into the picture (some are 'hidden' whilst others form the centrepiece of pictures). The company is currently being dissolved to save unnecessary costs, but will continue under a partnership structure.

More information can be found at http://www.crypart.com

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My background is in financial services, as a qualified accountant and investment advisor, I have worked for Deloittes, Linklaters, Fortis, JPMorgan and most recently Citibank.

At Citi I set up and managed a 'Private Equity Services' business (covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa as the Head of Operations) and worked with numerous Country, Product and Global heads of various businesses in all parts of the bank. I left a profitable business with numerous VC, private equity, infrastructure and debt funds as clients.

I walked out after becoming frustrated with the bureacracy and behaviour of a number of the senior management. The entire structure of these banks and the way they operate is flawed and I believe bitcoin is a far more transparent, open and fairer opportunity that the world needs to embrace!

Feel free to Ask me Anything!

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Re: I’m Adrian Forbes, Founder of TGBEX Limited. AMA!

Wed Nov 25, 2015 8:04 pm

Hello Adrian

I was re-reading Antifragile by iconoclast thinker Nassim Taleb recently. He writes
"Never ask anyone for their opinion [...] Just ask them what they have -or don't have- in their portfolio"
I have come to think it's a very relevant question and you can better weight people's opinions having an idea of how many Bitcoins they hold (or do not hold.) So Instead of asking their opinion on bitcoin, I'm now asking every participants the same question:

- Do you mind to tell us which percentage of your net worth and/or liquid assets you hold in Bitcoins ?

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Re: I’m Adrian Forbes, Founder of TGBEX Limited. AMA!

Wed Nov 25, 2015 8:49 pm

Hello Adrian

I was re-reading Antifragile by iconoclast thinker Nassim Taleb recently. He writes
"Never ask anyone for their opinion [...] Just ask them what they have -or don't have- in their portfolio"
I have come to think it's a very relevant question and you can better weight people's opinions having an idea of how many Bitcoins they hold (or do not hold.) So Instead of asking their opinion on bitcoin, I'm now asking every participants the same question:

- Do you mind to tell us which percentage of your net worth and/or liquid assets you hold in Bitcoins ?

I would guess somewhere between 30 and 40% (including bitcoins held in TGBEX which normally has an allocation of 65% bitcoins, 35% cash in liquid reserves) though would not recommend anyone else holds this allocation..

TGBEX has been funded by me and have invested 70-80% of my personal liquid assets in the company to date, so arguably have a 70-80% allocation to a bitcoin business, which I certainly wouldn't recommend (price does matter to someone with this much invested!), with most of the bitcoins stored on our pre-loaded coins.

I am a big believer in the potential of bitcoin, so would not ask anyone to invest in it if I was not prepared to invest in it myself (invested in stocks for 15 years, but think the stockmarket has become more and more skewed towards professionals/ insiders (eg any decent companies are bought out before they can mature/ hedge funds have all kinds of tax and instrumental advantages over the ordinary investor and lets not even start on HFT!), so have sold almost all of them over last 12 months).

Studied portfolio allocation many years ago and often tell people to 'only invest what you can afford to lose' in bitcoin. See it as a very high risk (but also potentially a very high reward) investment - I think people should arguably put 0.5%-1% of their pension into bitcoin, with the knowledge that is likely to either be worth a lot, or nothing in 10-20 years time.

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Re: I’m Adrian Forbes, Founder of TGBEX Limited. AMA!

Thu Nov 26, 2015 1:46 am

Thank you for coming here!

How much demand have you seen with your coins so far?

What kind of marketing and outreach have you done or are planning on doing?

What kind of people prefer a physical coin compared to saving their bitcoin in a hardware wallet or a paper wallet?

Have you talked to the owner of Casascius coins about your business to exchange ideas or get advice?
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Re: I’m Adrian Forbes, Founder of TGBEX Limited. AMA!

Thu Nov 26, 2015 1:47 am

Another question: do you ship to China?
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Re: I’m Adrian Forbes, Founder of TGBEX Limited. AMA!

Thu Nov 26, 2015 10:36 am

Thank you for coming here!

How much demand have you seen with your coins so far?

What kind of marketing and outreach have you done or are planning on doing?

What kind of people prefer a physical coin compared to saving their bitcoin in a hardware wallet or a paper wallet?

Have you talked to the owner of Casascius coins about your business to exchange ideas or get advice?
We have been disappointed with demand- we have sold approx 50 coins to date, but have had to turn away a lot of business from outside EU (particularly the US) and we hope/expect to see more demand if the price keeps recovering (the price halved from when we launched 15 months ago, which has not helped if you consider we are really selling bitcoin as a long term investment and the margins we charge can decrease as prices rise).

Marketing- we have been testing various strategies- have realised sponsoring events is unfortunately not economically feasible and neither are cost-per-click models at the moment. We have an affiliate system that is currently being developed and working on a few CPA opportunities. We tried flyering/ giving away chocolate coins in central London this time last year, which did not work. Posting updates on forums has had some impact (bitcointalk especially has driven some sales) , but we are determined to find ways to get 'noobies' into bitcoin, so will keep searching/ trying!

Outreach- we spent a great deal of time explaining bitcoin to local government officials and other professionals on the Isle of Man and have given away 30-40 0.01btc physical bitcoins (and have done the usual setting up wallets and giving a few £ in bitcoin to friends). Took part in a local initiative to give away $5 in bitcoin/ setup a wallet/ get people to buy coffee with it (courtesy of sponsorship from ice3x) and help explain bitcoin, but even this didnt seem to get many people interested/ involved. TGBEX joined the Manx Digital Currency Association, but people involved lobbied for extra regulations, so we refuse to have anything to do with it now.

Amazingly hard to profile a typical TGBEX customer- have sold to an 18 year-old IT enthusiast (who knows much more about bitcoin than me), a 50 year-old who lectures on bitcoin for a prominent society, a few executives of big companies and just last week sold a few to a 80-year old lady, who came to the Isle of Man from the UK especially to buy some! (involving a plane flight and hotel stay overnight) - would say that approximately a third of our clients have been female, which I would guess is a far higher % than your average exchange.
Coin enthusiasts, bitcoin gurus, busy professionals and technophobes - seems pretty random... (would also say about half of our customers have never owned bitcoin before which is the real purpose of the company).

We did try and reach out to Mike at Casascius before we launched and partner has also tried to contact him a few times more recently (David Bailey who still sells Casascius coins via his company HardBTC.org), but seems an elusive person to get hold of - would love to speak to or meet him hopefully one day.

China is unfortunately one of the places we would love to sell to, but hard to figure out regulations/ taxes etc so not at the moment (we have started initial discussions with a few possible resellers in Asia, South Africa and Canada, but 'outsourcing' is a danger to our reputation and logistics are tricky, so will not rush into anything).

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Re: I’m Adrian Forbes, Founder of TGBEX Limited. AMA!

Sat Nov 28, 2015 2:25 pm

I think your demand could be higher with better marketing and better prices. +100GBP premium and the coin is just silver finished not pure is a bad value proposition in my opinion.

Nonetheless, quite risky business, the market of precious metals are down for more than 3 years. good luck.

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Re: I’m Adrian Forbes, Founder of TGBEX Limited. AMA!

Sun Nov 29, 2015 8:48 pm

I think your demand could be higher with better marketing and better prices. +100GBP premium and the coin is just silver finished not pure is a bad value proposition in my opinion.

Nonetheless, quite risky business, the market of precious metals are down for more than 3 years. good luck.

The higher value coins (10 & 20btc) are solid silver (and hallmarked which is necessary to legally sell silver in UK), but this comes at an added price and would have to charge more than a £100 premium to make it feasible for the 0.5btc/ 1btc coins, though you have a good point and we have been asked to make silver/ gold coins with lower denominations and is something we are considering for future editions.

Mission of TGBEX is to spread awareness and adoption/ ownership of bitcoin as in investment, so we are trying to keep any premium over bitcoin value to a minimum.

The £100 premium is necessitated primarily due to the option of bank transfer as a means of payment (we have UK banking due to a 'retail' model, ie we take all the risk of owning bitcoin in advance and do not store bitcoin on behalf of customers) - this comes at a price and we are charged £30 for any payment (paypal is a bit better, but still expensive).

We offer a discount to anyone who pays in cash or bitcoins if they contact us through info@tgbex.com first (and offering a free 0.01btc coin for anyone that pays in bitcoin and always throw in an extra few 'goodies').

Coins are all made with unique dies and have been made using special machinery to achieve a level of detail to make them hard to copy, with roped edges and rims which again make them harder to copy, plus have protected with trademarks (there are fake coins of other manufacturers out there, so done a lot to mitigate this risk) - all this has required significant investment, so prices also reflect the extra cost of production/ protection, but still think we are competitive compared to other simpler designs out there (normally also have to pay a premium to purchase bitcoins over the market value as you would on most exchanges and we carry price -fluctuation risks).

We do plan to eventually be able to scale things and bring margins down, but earlier numbered coins perhaps have extra investment potential, so hopefully justified for the time-being.

Hope this makes pricing seem more reasonable/ helps explain the 'premium'?

Risk is not really in the metal prices, but in safety of private keys, which we take very seriously with strict procedures in manufacturing process- we do not want to be holding keys, or parts of keys for anyone - like most bitcoin businesses we are regularly targeted by hackers, who might be able to damage our website, but there is no 'link' to coins/ manufacturing and customer records are kept offline as well, so no risk to safety of the product

If a coin is lost, we cannot retrieve the bitcoins, but on the other hand if the Isle of Man gets nuked (for supporting bitcoin?!) then customers are not reliant on us and their bitcoins are safe (pretty easy to generate a QR code from private key and import into any mobile wallet in a few minutes for anyone who didn't trust us/ or who wants to add extra security at a later date).

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Re: I’m Adrian Forbes, Founder of TGBEX Limited. AMA!

Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:39 am

Thank you for coming here!

How much demand have you seen with your coins so far?

What kind of marketing and outreach have you done or are planning on doing?

What kind of people prefer a physical coin compared to saving their bitcoin in a hardware wallet or a paper wallet?

Have you talked to the owner of Casascius coins about your business to exchange ideas or get advice?

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