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marcusswanepoel
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We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:41 pm

Hi everyone

We are Marcus Swanepoel and Timothy Stranex, co-founders of BitX.

We originally started as a company called Switchless which built the first fully-integrated Bitcoin system for a major multinational bank, way back in 2013. But we very quickly realised the banks were (and still are) too slow to bring this technology to the world, so we thought if you can’t join ‘em, beat ‘em!

We’ve spent the past two years building Bitcoin infrastructure across emerging markets - predominantly Southeast Asia and Africa. We run Bitcoin wallets, mobile apps, exchanges, as well as open API’s for developers and other business integrations.

We recently closed our Series A funding round from the Naspers Group (USD60bn+ market cap company, main investor in the likes of TenCent, Flipkart, mail.ru etc). We’ve got some big plans leveraging our partner and investor networks to help build the overall Bitcoin industry, more updates soon.

We look forward to answering your questions.

JaimeLee
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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Tue Dec 01, 2015 12:50 pm

Hi Marcus & Timothy

Thanks for hosting a forum!

Coming from a banking background, what do you think will be the turning point for banks and formal institutions to not only recognize Bitcoin as a currency, but to also accept and embrace it?

marcusswanepoel
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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Tue Dec 01, 2015 1:13 pm

Jaime! You should just ask us in person... :)

It's a good question, and in our view a 'when' rather than an 'if'. We'd like to say that the turning point will be when banks realise most of the so-called 'blockchain' initiatives are a waste of time. But more realistically, it is likely to happen when they have some more regulatory certainty around Bitcoin. This means governments either legislating or clarifying their views around Bitcoin - and in this regard things are definitely moving in the right direction. Mind you (and whether people like it or not) they also have the power to help accelerate the regulatory 'acceptance' process.

A lot of people ask us why banks would push for something that could be an existential threat to them, but people typically consider the larger, more established banks when they ask this. We've dealt with a myriad of very aggressive and ambitious smaller banks that see Bitcoin as a way to gain a competitive advantage against their larger counterparts, so in our view those would be the ones to watch.

Another question that stems from the above is whether banks embracing Bitcoin create an existential threat to today's Bitcoin companies. It is a massive risk to the industry yes, but 'new' Bitcoin companies (who in many respects are like banks themselves) have a number of fundamental advantages, least of which is their speed of execution, true innovation culture and ability to run their infrastructure at a fraction of the costs of a typical bank. These are just some of the reasons we believe top tier and well-funded Bitcoin companies will not only survive, but thrive.

Hope that helps!
Last edited by marcusswanepoel on Tue Dec 01, 2015 1:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Tue Dec 01, 2015 1:27 pm

Hi guys, thanks for coming and doing the AMA.

When I first learned about BitX the focus at the time I think was in South Africa. Can you tell me more about how that part of the world is (or isn't) embracing Bitcoin? Is it hard to get banking relationships, how is the local market, etc? Also, where is the focus now for BitX?

Thanks!

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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Tue Dec 01, 2015 1:46 pm

Hi there.

I'd like to know what is being done to push adoption of Bitcoin into Africa? I'll only speak within the realm of bitcoin that I primarily use: remittance. I use BitX(slick update this year :)) for remittance between Europe and South Africa, yet I find that it can sometimes be more hassle to use bitcoin for remittance than a traditional bank. Sure, the costs of transactions are cheaper, but the cost to time, effort to acquire BTC and the added volatility do create some unintended costs and worries to the remittance process--something which affects adoption no doubt

How can BitX alleviate or create some services to make remittance between other continents and Africa a much smoother and intuitive process?

Also, regarding the exchange, are there some plans to decrease or make regular users pay a declining fee structure based on amount of trade volume per month? I get that trading fees are where money is made for the exchange, but I think having a 1% taker and 0% maker fee slows down trading?

Also, what is your definition of a money transmitter? I use BitX for personal family remittance, so does that classify me as a money transmitter?

Also, proud to say that buying BTC in South Africa seems a lot easier than elsewhere (regulatory wise I mean) so thanks for navigating the waters here.

marcusswanepoel
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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Tue Dec 01, 2015 1:54 pm

Hi guys, thanks for coming and doing the AMA.

When I first learned about BitX the focus at the time I think was in South Africa. Can you tell me more about how that part of the world is (or isn't) embracing Bitcoin? Is it hard to get banking relationships, how is the local market, etc? Also, where is the focus now for BitX?

Thanks!
Our pleasure, and thanks for your questions.

Yes there was initially a focus on South Africa, which really had to do with our initial founding as Switchless and our first bank client being a large South African bank. Many of our first employees were also South African - some exceptional talent there, especially in the fintech space. That said, the ultimate goal was always to make money frictionless and universally acceptable, so that is by definition global. So we've expanded into many other markets where we believe that adoption is likely to happen faster, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Kenya, with more coming soon.

We're seeing Bitcoin activity across all these and other markets - it generally just differs by use case (more speculative activity in markets with more disposable income, more transactional where Bitcoin solves unique pains like cross-border payments) and level of adoption (Southeast Asian countries tend to be a bit ahead of Africa, not just for Bitcoin but also many other technology trends). The marginal cost of launching new countries is quite low for us so an easy way to gauge activity is to see where we are active - if we're not, it's more than likely because there's very little or no adoption.

In general it is pretty tough to get local banking relationships for most Bitcoin companies - we're quite fortunate in that we have a fantastic network and relationships with banks through our team, various partners and our earlier work with Switchless. We've also prioritised building out a leading compliance team (with former PayPal / ABN Amro exec Erik Wilgenhof Plante recently joining us as Chief Compliance Officer) and taking a lot of time engaging with regulators in all the jurisdictions we operate in. All of this helps us a lot on the bank relationship side of things.

As for our current focus - definitely to continue to build the best products and services to our customers in the markets we're currently active in, and announcing some new ones soon, both emerging and developed markets.

marcusswanepoel
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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Tue Dec 01, 2015 2:24 pm

Hi there.

I'd like to know what is being done to push adoption of Bitcoin into Africa? I'll only speak within the realm of bitcoin that I primarily use: remittance. I use BitX(slick update this year :)) for remittance between Europe and South Africa, yet I find that it can sometimes be more hassle to use bitcoin for remittance than a traditional bank. Sure, the costs of transactions are cheaper, but the cost to time, effort to acquire BTC and the added volatility do create some unintended costs and worries to the remittance process--something which affects adoption no doubt

How can BitX alleviate or create some services to make remittance between other continents and Africa a much smoother and intuitive process?

Also, regarding the exchange, are there some plans to decrease or make regular users pay a declining fee structure based on amount of trade volume per month? I get that trading fees are where money is made for the exchange, but I think having a 1% taker and 0% maker fee slows down trading?

Also, what is your definition of a money transmitter? I use BitX for personal family remittance, so does that classify me as a money transmitter?

Also, proud to say that buying BTC in South Africa seems a lot easier than elsewhere (regulatory wise I mean) so thanks for navigating the waters here.

Thanks, good questions!

As for pushing adoption in general, we typically do this by helping to enable local ecosystems - for example activating over 10 000 online merchants in South Africa to accept Bitcoin.

For remittances specifically, in contrast to many others in the industry, we’ve actually not been pushing the ‘emerging market remittance’ use case at all. For those that understand the underlying dynamics well, you’ll know it’s distribution and high customer acquisition costs that’s the real issue here, and Bitcoin doesn’t solve for that (yet). There are some advantages on the B2B side (pooled liquidity, interoperability) and we offer our API’s to existing remittance companies to take advantage of that. So it doesn’t mean you can’t use our products to remit, we just don’t always push it.

That all said, we are putting a lot of effort into improving the efficiency of our products in general e.g. faster fiat and Bitcoin deposits and withdrawals. These improvements will help to make remittances more reliable and faster. We are also launching in other countries soon which will make it easier to send your Bitcoin from BitX to BitX, which will also help smoothen things. Lastly, we’re introducing new features, for example the ability to create virtual credit cards, so when you send money you don’t need to disburse back into your bank account - you can just shop anywhere straight out of your BitX wallet. All of these should be helpful to people who use our products to remit.

Eventually we think Bitcoin will become less volatile and it will be possible to remit money without the recipient needing to convert it back to fiat currency, but we’re quite a few years away from that.

Trading fees: We introduced the 0% market maker fee earlier this year and from what we can see it’s been a huge success, across all the markets we operate in. The bid/ask spreads are now much lower than they used to be - which makes market trades effectively cheaper even though the fee we charge is still 1%. We are considering other fee structure options for the future.

As for our definition of a money transmitter: There isn’t an official definition in South Africa at the moment and “money transmitter” is more of a US term. Generally any type of business that can be abused for money laundering requires compliance with the FIC act. It depends on how much volume you’re doing, if you’re operating as a business and who your customers are.

Thanks for the compliment on the new app - we also like it! :) We’d love to talk to you in more detail to hear how we can make it even nicer and easy for you to use - send us an email to support@bitx.co and we’ll give you a call.

PeterHollard(weskus)
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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Tue Dec 01, 2015 2:48 pm

Hey Guys

I have been testing a number of debit cards issued by various exchanges but all are denominated in either USD, EUR or UK pounds and there is usually a 3% exchange fee when I use them locally in SA. When can we expect you to release a debit card linked to BitX and with a Rand currency option?

I was one of the beta testers for the ShiftCard before it was released first for Dwolla and then for Coinbase. Unfortunately it is not available for use here through a Coinbase account as a US social security number is required as part of the verification routine. The ShiftCard is way ahead of the other offerings available and there is a very effective Android app implementation which works in near real-time. Would you consider partnering with Shiftcard to make their debit card application available through BitX?

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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Tue Dec 01, 2015 2:53 pm

Hey guys,

I remember the pictures of the bank with bitcoin options that came out, it seemed that soon after snapscan took off in a big way locally.

Is snapscan using bitcoin / blockchain technology and if so, can you elaborate how that works?
How is bitx connected to snapscan?

marcusswanepoel
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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:06 pm

Hey Guys

I have been testing a number of debit cards issued by various exchanges but all are denominated in either USD, EUR or UK pounds and there is usually a 3% exchange fee when I use them locally in SA. When can we expect you to release a debit card linked to BitX and with a Rand currency option?

I was one of the beta testers for the ShiftCard before it was released first for Dwolla and then for Coinbase. Unfortunately it is not available for use here through a Coinbase account as a US social security number is required as part of the verification routine. The ShiftCard is way ahead of the other offerings available and there is a very effective Android app implementation which works in near real-time. Would you consider partnering with Shiftcard to make their debit card application available through BitX?
Thanks for the questions - we're currently testing an integrated virtual credit card system that we plan to roll out to our customers soon, you can read more here: https://bitx.co/blog/virtual-credit-cards/. Given your experience we'd love to hear your views on the implementation as soon as we release it for outside beta testing - please email support@bitx.co so that we can add you to the beta group if you'd like.

Generally speaking we find Bitcoin more effective for online transactions so we tend to focus on online only applications. That said, we've had a lot of requests for physical cards so we're exploring some options with various suppliers. Something to bear in mind with physical cards is that the fee structures are often prohibitive to wider adoption, but we're looking into what we can do to make things work. We'll keep all of you posted on how things progress.

marcusswanepoel
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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Tue Dec 01, 2015 3:10 pm

Hey guys,

I remember the pictures of the bank with bitcoin options that came out, it seemed that soon after snapscan took off in a big way locally.

Is snapscan using bitcoin / blockchain technology and if so, can you elaborate how that works?
How is bitx connected to snapscan?
Hi there

As far as we know Snapscan isn't using any Bitcoin or blockchain technology for their product.

We are entirely different companies but we are connected in that we have a common seed investor.

Hope that clarifies things for you.

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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Tue Dec 01, 2015 4:37 pm

Hello Marcus, Hello Timothy

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 personal net worth and/or liquid assets you hold in Bitcoins ?

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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Tue Dec 01, 2015 5:08 pm

Hi Guys,

Why is BitX not paying the proper exchange price when convertion to or from Rand. When I transfered funds into Bitcoin recently I got less bitcoin for the Rand than the rate that was paid by BitPay. On investigation I found that the BitX price is inflated. Your agents just said they don't comment on rates, which is really silly, since that is the essence of the whole issue.

I think Bitcoin is great and since I do international transactions, it has particular promise for us, but not if the rate is a bigger rip-off than the Banks are doing with the own loaded exchange rate.

Example:

BitX: 1 BTC = R 5480.00
BitPay: 1 BTC= R 5255.96
Google: 1 BTC = 5266.89

You surely don't think that people wouldn't notice this, did you?

marcusswanepoel
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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Tue Dec 01, 2015 5:19 pm

Hello Marcus, Hello Timothy

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 personal net worth and/or liquid assets you hold in Bitcoins ?
Thanks - really like this question!

For asset allocation questions it's very important to really understand the person or fund's unique circumstances (sorry, one of us did CFA!). So asking this same question to the manager of a large hedge fund (especially if it's not their money) is not the same as asking an individual. The hedge fund person might have gold in there if they really believe in it (or not, once again depends on how much skin they have in the game), the student or poor person on the street might believe in gold, but he/she doesn't have any disposable income to invest in it. Point being, context is important to consider for these types of questions, but unfortunately context is not easy to provide over a forum like this.

So yes, we both own Bitcoin - neither of us know the exact % to be honest - but if you include our BitX equity it probably becomes quite significant. That said our individual exposures are quite different based on our unique circumstances, nothing to do with our belief in the 'currency'.

Hope that helps a bit, sorry we can't be more specific.

marcusswanepoel
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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Tue Dec 01, 2015 5:47 pm

Hi Guys,

Why is BitX not paying the proper exchange price when convertion to or from Rand. When I transfered funds into Bitcoin recently I got less bitcoin for the Rand than the rate that was paid by BitPay. On investigation I found that the BitX price is inflated. Your agents just said they don't comment on rates, which is really silly, since that is the essence of the whole issue.

I think Bitcoin is great and since I do international transactions, it has particular promise for us, but not if the rate is a bigger rip-off than the Banks are doing with the own loaded exchange rate.

Example:

BitX: 1 BTC = R 5480.00
BitPay: 1 BTC= R 5255.96
Google: 1 BTC = 5266.89

You surely don't think that people wouldn't notice this, did you?
Hi there

"Why is BitX not paying the proper exchange price when convertion to or from Rand." - there is no 'proper' exchange price (on any types of exchanges, whether you are trading Bitcoin or currencies on other platforms). The exchange price is what buyers and sellers for a specific market are willing to trade at. If you trade on the BitX Exchange, you are not buying or selling Bitcoin from BitX i.e. we don't set prices or spreads. It is a function of the market participants- we just charge a fee for providing the platform for market participants to meet one another and transact.

You can see these these market rates here: https://bitx.co/in/za/en/market#/XBTZAR

Our fee structure is very clear and transparent: https://bitx.co/in/za/en/countries

The examples you give (BitPay, Google) are not actual BTC/ZAR markets. They are representative quotes calculated from USD using other exchange rates. So what it means is you cannot actually transact at those rates in ZAR because they don't represent actual ZAR markets. If you look at other exchanges in South Africa, you'll notice a rate very similar if not the same as ours. International traders tend to arbitrage these differences out but in markets with capital controls (such as South Africa) you often find the local currencies trading at a sight premium for obvious reasons. Also note that where you might have felt you were paying 'more' for buying, conversely you would also receive 'more' for selling (i.e. both the "bid" and "ask" rates are 'higher' for BTC/ZAR).

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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Fri Dec 04, 2015 10:54 am

Will BitX add any other crypto currencies to the exchange?

marcusswanepoel
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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Fri Dec 04, 2015 11:09 am

Will BitX add any other crypto currencies to the exchange?
If there is enough demand (i.e. at the Bitcoin level) for it, we will consider it.

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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Tue Jun 21, 2016 7:28 pm

I have a question, are you guys considering adding leverage/margin trading to the platform? I currently use Bitfinex for most of my trading because of this.
Bitcoin News & Information Resource South Africa - http://www.bitcoinhub.co.za

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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Fri Oct 21, 2016 4:16 pm

Hello Marcus and Timothy its good to meet you guys here. i am a new user of BitX from Nigeria. I have some few questions and suggestion

1. I made a transfer of NGN 50,000 into my account but fail to input the reference number; i hope it doesn't cost a thing?

2. How long will it take for my account to be credited?

3. I think its very important at this age to have an online payment option where one can initiate a transfer with his/her credit card direct from your website.

Thanks

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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Fri Oct 21, 2016 9:59 pm

This might be an inappropriate place to ask, but does the bit-x team in South Africa allow for job shadowing? I'd love to sit in and see what goes into developing and contributing to the bitcoin infrastructure being put in place. :)
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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Sat Nov 19, 2016 6:44 pm

Hey Marcus and Tim

Have you ever thought of lowering your age restriction on BitX accounts which prevents underage people who are knowledgeable and forward thinking from exploring the possibility of investing in Bitcoin as it in fact the currency of the future. I would really appreciate it if you looked into allowing people under the 18 to open minor accounts or something of that nature.

Regards
Sizwe

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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Mon Nov 28, 2016 2:03 pm

Hi Marcus & Timothy

thanks i can use bitx now its very fast and trusted echange and trading
but as i need real time transaction why litle bit difficult find customer support phone number on indonesian bitx
2 times i have deposit problem in bitx
i want ask for it if u can and please give the web on bitx costumer online service for live
i kind people like contact by phone number so the problem can fix more faster

thanks,

regards

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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Thu Jan 05, 2017 7:41 pm

Hello
I wanted to know the implication of my actions. I just deposited money directly to fund account over the counter and not through bank transfer from my account. Will my account still be funded

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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Mon Jan 09, 2017 10:09 pm

Please i want to know what bitcoin is all about.

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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Wed Mar 15, 2017 2:58 pm

how does bitx work and whats the benefit

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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Sun Apr 02, 2017 4:36 am

my name is Umang arora,i m a builder,investor,and had my own exchange for bitcoin in India,required ur support for open a margin trading exchange in india like(okcoin,Kraken,bitstamp),required name who can develop for this type of sight..can u suggest me ?

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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:05 pm

What are your advantages over your competition?
We don't need no centralisation. ImageImageImage

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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Wed Aug 23, 2017 11:59 am

Thank you Guys!

But for me i have a problem. I am looking forwward for your help. I am kind of new in bitcoin, it's just weeks ago i just learn about bitcoin and cryptocurrency, i have watched videos on youtube and read some articles on internet but i feel like iam still stucked. So my preoccupation is what first thing i have to do to make client or customers if they must be or Start making money. I am litle bit lost. But i have this impression like bitcoin it's domething huge.

Than you so much, i looking forward for your reply.

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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:32 am

Well I have a question, is it a SCAM?

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Re: We are Marcus & Timothy, co-founders of BitX. Ask us anything.

Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:02 pm

Hello, I created an account and bought bitcoin early 2009-2010. I was young and just getting into using eBay, PayPal, and digital currency. I came across bitcoin and purchased between $70-$100 worth of bitcoin to use, only to find out that I couldn't use it to buy stuff on eBay. Since I couldn't sell it back at that time I said "well, I guess that was a waste... (lol) and moved on."

Very Recently, I was in China and met a guy who works with the Crypt stuff and he mentioned bitcoin. I remembered seeing that a long time ago and buying bitcoin but that was it.

So my question is: how do I access my bitcoin from 2009-2010 on the current system, since back then the technology wasn't what it is today? I'll leave my email below for contact.

Thank you.

Gabriel Heater
singformeleo@gmail.com

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