Coin.Space CEO Jonathan Speigner on Mainstreaming Crypto and Why Defi Matters

There is no shortage of cryptocurrency wallets promising to keep users’ digital assets safe, but in a sub-sector that moves at warp speed, Coin.Space Founder Jonathan Speigner is focused on the fundamentals: adding features, supporting new coins, and onboarding first-time users. A veteran in the industry, Speigner has witnessed many rivals come and go since launching the platform in 2015, when bitcoin’s price was in the low hundreds.

The Path to Mainstream Crypto Adoption

The value of bitcoin isn’t the only thing that’s changed since Speigner created a low-fee crypto wallet aimed at novices. The digital asset ecosystem has expanded exponentially, with numerous projects pushing the envelope as far as technological innovation is concerned. From the ICO boom to the birth of stablecoins via the Cash App and Facebook’s Libra, the landscape has changed immeasurably. While Speigner is proud to have “reached over 20 million wallets users and been used by so many first-time crypto users around the world,” he is keen to help the industry move to the elusive next level: mainstream adoption.

There is no set criteria to determine when such a level will have been reached, but recent developments augur well: in June, news broke that PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) would roll out direct sales of cryptocurrency to its 325 million users. Payments giant Mastercard (NYSE:MA), meanwhile, has been helping to power crypto-fiat payment cards; it also just launched a testing platform to simulate the “issuance, distribution and exchange of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) between banks, financial service providers and consumers.” While some believe CBDCs will negatively affect cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, others – such as Grayscale Investment (OTCMKTS:GBTC) CEO Barry Silbert – believe they will pave the way for institutional interest.

“I find it interesting and encouraging that the likes of Mastercard and Bank of America have done an about-face from just a year ago, when they were banning crypto transactions,” says Jonathan Speigner. “The last holdouts have been governments and financial institutions, so I see this as the start of some really big changes for crypto and early adopters of crypto wallets.

Jonathan Speigner

Jonathan Speigner

“While Coin.Space is a global brand, Bank of America – which has filed a patent for a crypto-inclusive digital currency wallet – will more than likely only be offered to US users. I hope Mastercard takes a more global approach.”

They will certainly need to if they seek to “bank the unbanked,” a common enough goal touted by fintech companies, especially those in the cryptosphere. Having worked on the technical side of security as well as cryptocurrency and cloud computing, Speigner understands the challenges of achieving such an ambition – but he remains undaunted.

“Anything that helps the unbanked I am in support of,” he explains, referencing the burgeoning decentralized finance (defi) movement that seeks to widen access to financial services and whose products include borrowing and lending. “From day one we’ve had the same goal, and I am most proud of achieving that in so many countries, with millions of crypto transactions. It’s very early days with defi, and there will be a lot of work to do. We are always watching to see how things like defi will play into and help with wallet adoptions. We have some exciting partnerships in the works with some defi leaders, actually.”

A Crypto Wallet That’s Pro-Privacy

Bitcoin was conceived as a digital currency that couldn’t be manipulated by authorities, a secure asset that empowers individuals to directly manage their own finances without relying on custodial service providers. However, many users have neglected to retain ownership of their private keys, meaning their funds sit on centralized cryptocurrency exchanges which are notoriously vulnerable to malicious attacks. This year alone, $1.4 billion has been stolen from crypto users – a large percentage of which was thieved from insecure exchange platforms.

As a noncustodial wallet, Coin.Space is a different proposition, utilizing AES-256 and BIP 39 passphrase encryption and a four-digit PIN for wallet access. The wallet is also enabled with Tor and VPN support, and it’s been designed to ensure that even those with low bandwidth connections can still make transactions.

“Security has been our number one priority and most of our roadmap is focused on adding more security for our users,” explains Speigner. “Hardware wallet-level security in a mobile wallet will be an industry first. Tor and VPN support were added due to customer requests, since some users desire an additional layer of security. They’ve also historically been needed by users whose governments have tried to block cryptocurrency.

“Since we do not log or track users, I couldn’t say what percentage of users use VPN or Tor, but we want to make sure if they need to for their own reasons, we support that additional level of privacy for them.”

Bullish on Bitcoin

It doesn’t matter how useful or feature-rich they are; to many people, crypto wallets will always be synonymous with bitcoin. If the currency takes a hit, the very concept of a crypto wallet also suffers. So, what are Speigner’s impressions of bitcoin after the events of 2020, with BTC having broken the resistance level of $10,000 more than once?

“I am bullish on crypto, don’t get me wrong – I spent five years building Coin.Space because I believe it’s the future. But the emotional roller coaster of the ups and down of BTC, ETH or indeed any other crypto is something I have learned to put aside. We like to keep focused on adding new features and support new coins and other trends. From what I have seen, I think BTC will be around and stay at the benchmark for the foreseeable future.”

Whatever happens, the CEO is unlikely to deviate from his mission to solidify Coin.Space’s status as a premier crypto wallet, with 20 million users in over 20 countries. With competition more intense than ever, and the likes of PayPal and Mastercard moving into the crypto business, it’ll be no mean feat.

Disclosure: None.