Shireen Yip of Travel By Bit on Crypto Clothesline
Mother, COO and general wonder-woman, this week you’re meeting Shireen Yip of Travel By Bit (TBB). We’re talking about how you can travel with Bitcoin, paying for all the services you need from cafes, to shopping, to tours and even skydiving, with cryptocurrencies!
What Is Travel By Bit?
Travel By Bit provide a Point of Sale software that merchants (any merchants, service providers, businesses – not just those associated with travel), can implement using a smart phone, the internet and a customer who wants to pay with crypto! TBB is providing the software bridge between business and buyer, to make the use of payment with crypto, easy and accessible to all.
Shireen Yip is the CEO of Travel By Bit, and together with her partner Caleb Yeoh is leading a team of developers, marketers, and salespeople to bring blockchain technology to the mainstream.
How Did The Business Idea Come About?
“About three years ago we were on a trip and we went visiting this really remote part of the country where we spent two weeks kite surfing. We loved it so much that we decided to extend our stay and the accommodation that we were staying at couldn’t process our payment because they did not accept Visa and Mastercard and we ran out of cash…”
As travellers we’re constantly experiencing the friction of high foreign exchange rates, the insecurity of carrying too much cash and the high possibility of being subject to credit card fraud. We felt that blockchain payments really make sense for travellers, and that’s how Travel By Bit came about.
Travel By Bit was actually born from experiencing a lack in the market place and then providing the solution needed.
Bitcoin is the world’s first true global currency. Learning more about the technology, together with our travel experiences, we realised that anyone can take payments from you: regardless of borders or exchange rates. It can truly make global commerce more transparent and efficient.
How Does It Work?
You don’t need additional facilities or special machines or hardware to use Travel By Bit’s technology. It’s actually a software that the merchant uses, and you can transact by using a smart phone, an iPad, a tablet, even PC and an internet connection to run this web-based application.
With over 200 merchants now across the major cities in Australia, the majority of them concentrated in Agnes Waters 1770, Brisbane and the Brisbane airport, all in Queensland.
How Do You Deal With Market Volatility?
Travel By Bit supports multiple currencies, with five currencies on board currently. TBB finds that traditional businesses struggle to accept cryptocurrency directly due to its price volatility, and also the general lack of knowledge and understanding of this approaching technology.
Question: What if someone buys a beer and you know, a week later they balanced the books and in the mean time it’s gone down in value, that’s a massive loss for one beer…
Small Business Adoption: Smaller business owners who believe in cryptocurrency tend to keep the crypto as part of their belief in the Blockchain space: they want to hold it for the future.
Larger Businesses: Bigger businesses, like those at the airport for example, and accommodation merchants and travel providers who could potentially be effected by market volatility, need the security from an accounting point of view of an easy conversion to Australian dollars. Not only does it become easier for them, there’s less friction accepting payments in crypto.
A traveller would come up with their crypto in his/her digital wallet on their phone. Then, they scan a QR code that’s generated by our payment system. Our payment platform then converts that cryptocurrency immediately into back Australian dollars for the business. It’s a platform that’s simple, easy-to-use and results in an immediate conversion to Australian dollars!
Business Owners – How Much Education Do They Need Before They Can Embrace This New Technology?
The payment platform itself is generally not an issue because it’s quite straightforward.
“The key challenge is changing their perception on cryptocurrency.”
- You have those who have not heard about it.
- Then you have those who’ve heard about it.
- And THEN you have those that have heard about it, and think that it’s just all for illegal activities.
Most of the effort goes into educating merchants about Blockchain technology itself, rather than the actual payment system.
Question: How about the actual education around crypto because that’s quite a different subject matter to Blockchain?
It’s about understanding Blockchain payments and that cryptocurrency is used on a payment system that runs on a Blockchain without an intermediary like the banks.
You effectively decentralise your transaction using thousands of computers all over the world. Trouble is people either don’t have the resources, or they don’t understand, or they don’t care – so education is the key, learning all about the Blockchain space.
Businesses and their staff are encouraged to come to all local Meetups in their area, which are usually free. This community support and discussion helps you understand the processes.
“The vision of Travel By Bit is to bring Blockchain payments into the mainstream… To bring crypto payments to traditional business.”
…and to do that you need some sort of education It’s the people of the crypto community themselves going out there, giving out the information, and then coming back to us.
That way you’ve got the social proof. You’ve got people who are trusted within the community already sharing their know-how and spreading the word.
It’s Not Just Travel!
Merchants can sell anything. You can have a cafe, you can sell boots, you can sell whatever you want and you could use the Point of Sale provided by Travel By Bit.
TBB started off focussed on the travel industry because that’s where they believe their software could solve some problems for both the vendors and the travellers. They’ve been getting a lot of interest from other industries too: commerce, people selling bathroom equipment, roofers… you name it.
How Can Business Owners Adopt This Technology With Your Organisation?
STOP PRESS: Abheeti is working together with Sophie Amat (over 20 years’s experience in the Banking and Finance sector) to bring businesses the opportunity to join the crypto-club with Travel By Bit.
Check out: wheretoshopwithcrypto.com (also in the show notes below).
Tax & Accounting Support
One of the key features of the platform is tax and accounting support.
“There’s a perception that if you take payments in crypto then it might be a good way to avoid taxes…”
…but that’s not true. TBB doesn’t believe we should be doing that. We should be working with the regulatory bodies to make sure that we’re fully compliant.
TBB will be offering a tax and accounting summary page on their platform that clearly shows the sales summary and even calculates the GST component for merchants. It’s quite valuable for businesses because it helps create that industry understanding for cryptocurrency as a payment option.
Generally, when a big client comes on board, most traditional businesses will follow.
“Soon they realise it’s actually as simple as taking cash.”
Agnes Water 1770 & Brisbane Airports
Agnes Waters 1770 is probably the most advanced town in terms of technology to have completely embraced the Blockchain. There are about 30 businesses involved there now. Basically, if a traveller wants to explore the Great Barrier Reef, he/she can pay for the entire holiday: accommodation, food, tour packages and a trip out to the reef, in crypto!
Gordon Christian is the driving force behind the adoption of TBB in various ways: speaking to businesses, conferring with the media (BBC Video) and educating people on crypto and blockchain technology. He’s also working with regional organisations to help bring more tourism to this crypto-friendly tourist destination.
An important milestone for TBB was partnering with Brisbane airports to launch crypto at both the international and domestic terminals.
Brisbane airports have branded themselves as the world’s first digital currency airport. That made headlines everywhere!
Importance of Regulation
In general, with cryptocurrency, one of the key challenges is working with the regulators and government bodies. TBB was initially sponsored by the Advance Queensland Grant, which was great because it showed interest from local governments in regards to Blockchain and cryptocurrency.
TBB want to be absolutely transparent in what they do because in such early stages, there’s a chance to help shape regulation: it’s important that it’s done right, because crypto needs good regulation.
One of the reasons TBB chose the tourism sector to focus on is because the government needs to see measureable economic value. Cryptocurrency is able to possibly attract a new kind of international traveller – who can use, shop, and live with crypto.
“We need good regulation that would support growth and not stifle innovation in this space.”
The regulation is still not very clear. The focus seems to be to just watch the space to see how it all pans out. This is where it’s important to demonstrate our intention as a community work with regulators.
Travel By Bit is Supported By A Strong Crypto Community
TBB is very fortunate as well in being supported by a strong crypto community. There are local cryptocurrency meetups here which has become quite a social movement, so it’s about the community supporting each other and TBB wouldn’t have come this far without everyone’s help.
Who’s Using This Platform, And How Do I Use It?
People who know about and love cryptocurrency are using this platform, this number is increasing everyday!
- You can download a digital wallet on your phone. (There are hundreds of wallets out there that can support the different types of coins, but if you go on our website, www.travelbybit.com, there are four or five wallets explained there, depending on which coins you have.)
- There’s also a tutorial that shows you how to download those wallets on your phone.
- You can also watch our tutorial on how to spend your crypto on our Travelbybit system.
- Basically our payment system generates a QR code that you can then scan with your mobile phone. It then automatically makes that conversion from a $5 coffee for example to 0.0000001 bitcoin or whatever the amount is.
- You scan it with your phone and then it just happens, in a couple of easy steps.
It’s basically just a matter of whipping out your phone, which you’ve always got in your hand anyway, opening up an application and scanning a QR code!
Travel By Bit is coming to Fremantle!
The home of Power Ledger. We’ll be offering merchants and businesses the opportunity to make the easy switch to payment with crypto, so your customers can pay you easily for your products and services in cryptocurrency! It’ll give you the edge over your competitors who are still stuck in the dark ages using cash and credit cards. Although of course, you can keep accepting these payments too. When your customers pay you in crypto, you can opt convert it straight back into Aussie dollars to your usual account, or, you can keep the crypto and HODL to your heart’s content! All you have to do is go to wheretoshopwithcrypto.com and register your interest NOW.
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