How to Empower Canadian Bitcoiners and Regain Their Trust

By Jean Amiouny, Co-founder & CEO of Shakepay

Canadians are on the cusp of financial sovereignty. As fears of impending inflation and economic uncertainty take hold, individuals and corporations alike have turned to bitcoin. Its fixed monetary policy and deflationary nature attract those looking to opt out of the fiat monetary system. But even as bitcoin has picked up its pace, newcomers are still faced with some significant barriers to entry.

Bitcoin is difficult for people to become familiar with because it is a technology, a store of value, a medium of exchange, and a concept. A Payments Canada study found that 43% of respondents who were not interested in purchasing bitcoin were simply not comfortable enough with it, citing that it was too unfamiliar. This, in combination with lack of accessibility and distrust in security, are the primary obstacles to purchasing bitcoin.

And yet, bitcoin is the most important innovation of our lifetime. It’s a money technology with a strict monetary supply, secured by tens of thousands of individuals across the globe, and immune to centralized coercion. It is verifiably scarce and it enables wealth to be stored with an individual, giving them full control of their money. 

Canadians are yearning for more trustworthy options to access this money technology. Time and time again, we've seen platforms emerge that misappropriate customer funds and data, only to collapse and harm Canadians in the process. In the wake of scandals which bred mistrust, we need to lead with transparency and take responsibility for educating Canadians on: Bitcoin, financial literacy, and security.

Become an educational resource 

Bitcoin is different. For one, it’s digital, and it works on a system largely unfamiliar to those used to traditional banking. Transactions are irreversible, which means that storing funds in a secure setup is more important with bitcoin than with Canadian dollars. Losing bank account usernames and passwords is recoverable but with Bitcoin, private keys cannot be recovered.

There’s a minimum threshold of information that people need to absorb to truly grasp Bitcoin, and creating or curating the content that helps customers get there is important. Platforms that help customers buy their first bitcoin should also teach those customers why Bitcoin matters and how to use it. A Bitcoiner’s journey begins with buying bitcoin but must end in financial self-sovereignty where Bitcoiners own and hold exactly what they are buying.

By educating customers, we are not only regaining their trust, we’re empowering Canadians to want to learn more, explore further, and control their own wealth. 

Offer an easy to use experience

Purchasing bitcoin should be as easy as shopping online, and sending your friends bitcoin should be as fast as sending a text. The experience of buying and selling should feel familiar and intuitive. Ease of use makes the platform they’re using and, by extension, bitcoin itself, more accessible to the customer.

Whereas in other industries a confusing experience might simply be an annoyance, with bitcoin, points of friction effectively become points of distrust. The solution to this is simple: make using bitcoin such a familiar, seamless, and enjoyable experience that customers have every reason to trust it. Remove as many points of friction as possible. Combine this with an engaging bitcoin education and radical transparency, and you’ve got yourself a trust trifecta.

Be ridiculously transparent

We need markers that make it easy for customers to spot the legitimate platforms that actively lean towards transparency, and avoid those that exhibit opaque behavior.

Purchasing bitcoin comes with an inherent amount of risk, but this risk can be mitigated. From explaining best practices to providing proof of reserves—a report that verifies that a company is a trusted supplier of digital currency—it’s imperative that customers have information available at their fingertips to make more informed decisions on where and how to buy bitcoin. Platforms have a responsibility to provide customers and partners with proof of the security and safety measures they have in place to store funds and process transactions.

Bitcoin allows individuals to hold their own money. This is both one of its most important features and the key to self-sovereignty. Since platforms can be a central point of failure, and storing funds is a risk, bitcoin platforms should be crystal clear with their customers about the importance of controlling their own private keys. Embracing this level of transparency and covering the withdrawal fees will incentivize Canadians to self-custody, or hold and securely store their own funds, and help ease them into this unfamiliar process.

Familiarity breeds trust, and in order to gain the trust of Canadians in bitcoin, we must address trust concerns and then go one step further. We have to invent, invest in, and champion a new way of doing things. One that's in line with the very essence or ethos of bitcoin. Being in control of their own wealth gives customers agency over where they place their trust. When it comes to choosing which platform to give that trust to, the mantra holds: don’t trust, verify.

Jean Amiouny, Co-founder & CEO of Shakepay

Jean Amiony Co-founded Shakepay in 2015 after seeing a need for Canadians to have more control over their wealth. Before starting Shakepay, Jean worked as a Business Analyst for Booz & Company and co-founded White Payments before it was acquired by Payfort. Jean holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree, focused on Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, graduated from McGill University.

About Shakepay

Shakepay is a Montreal-based company that makes it easy for Canadians to buy bitcoin. Through web and mobile apps, customers can buy and sell bitcoin commission-free and pay their friends. With a foundational belief in helping individuals become financially self-sovereign, Shakepay makes it fast and easy for Canadians to control their own wealth. Shakepay serves more than 100,000 customers and is the fastest-growing bitcoin platform in Canada.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.