Interview With Uphold EVP Global Growth & Partnerships Robin O’Connell

We recently conducted an interview with the Uphold team regarding ng their platform, and how they envision the future of cryptocurrency. Moreover, Uphold EVP Global Growth and Partnerships Robin O’Connell referred to collaborative opportunities for the company. 

TheMerkle: Uphold is venturing into all kinds of businesses these days, which is a nod of confidence for the service you guys offer. How did the partnership with come to fruition?  

Uphold: At Uphold, we have a Growth & Partnerships team that is working with multiple businesses to help drive users and funds flow within the platform. The Travel Industry has proven a ripe target for Uphold as there is a natural flow of funds between online booking aggregators and the thousands of small hotels and rental homes internationally. The partnership agreement was reached within a week; more time was subsequently spent promoting Uphold to the userbase and educating about its benefits.

TheMerkle:  Right now, Uphold supports several dozen fiat currencies, several cryptocurrencies, and four precious metals. Which of these markets has been most successful throughout Q1 of 2016, and why is this the case, in your opinion?

Uphold: Uphold members can choose to hold their funds in 30 different types of value, this includes 23 fiat currencies, four precious metals (gold, silver, platinum, palladium) and three cryptocurrencies — with one more (Ethereum) coming soon!

The clear leader is still Bitcoin, with over $57M worth of bitcoin trading happening in 2016 to date. The main reason for this is that we’re the cheapest place to buy BTC with EUR or GBP, and that is the segment that has shown the most volume and growth, and also we have various partners now relying on Uphold for their operations, as well as some remittance operations relying on bitcoin for their last mile, particularly in Brazil and Venezuela. This is in line with our notion that bitcoin is not just a store of value, but in many ways a mechanism for interoperability between different money systems.

Furthermore, Uphold was born as Bitreserve, a company that was built on the rails of the Bitcoin Blockchain Network, and to fund an account, members sent bitcoin via their bitcoin address. The launch of Uphold marked the availability for members to fund their accounts via bank account, credit or debit card in addition to bitcoin, and this opened the doors for an entirely new audience to leverage the benefits of cloud money. As Uphold makes it easier for our members to fund their accounts via bank transfer in their native currencies, we are seeing a steadily increasing usage of USD. Furthermore, as connect into the banking systems in Mexico, Brazil and Hong Kong later this year, we expect to see increased holdings in MXN, BRL and HKD.

TheMerkle:  The addition of Litecoin is very positive for the cryptocurrency community, but it took some people by surprise. Was this decision made due to customer demand, or is there a different reason?

Uphold: We chose to support Litecoin because of its popularity in the developer and open source communities, as well as financial traders and enthusiasts. Because Uphold embraces the underlying principles, we look to support cryptocurrencies given their values and their potential for disruption in the financial sector. Uphold is making a seamless and inclusive financial platform where its free to hold, move, convert and transact in any form of currency or commodity, including Litecoin.

Furthermore, Uphold continues to innovate with the goal of providing our members with access to all forms of value. Our platform celebrates the development of new and innovative technologies and companies, such as Voxelus and its in game currency, the Voxel, as well as Ethereum (available late May).

TheMerkle:  Where do you see Uphold go in the next five years? Will the company play a role in the FinTech and IoT industry?

Uphold: Uphold is reimagining the world of money and finance from the ground up. We want to change and transform the splintered world of finance — from basic banking needs, payments and money transfer to the global financial ecosystem itself. At Uphold, we strive to build a world where every person on earth has access to safe, transparent, fair and free financial services.

Uphold was born from the simple, yet impactful idea that by using the cloud and cloud money, you could eliminate all expenses and fess traditional banks and financial service companies charge. And through our continued expansion in emerging markets, our partnerships, the companies that integrate our platform from our open API, in the next 5 years we aim to be the leader in cross-border payments for small & medium-sized businesses and individuals that need to move money around the world.

Our Founder and Chairman Halsey Minor stated at launch: “When I launched Bitreserve the idea was that, using the cloud and cloud money, you could eliminate all expenses related to anything monetary — the movement and conversion of money in all forms: foreign exchange, bounced checks, remittance fees. If you’re making money by moving money — credit cards, remittances, bounced check fees — all of those fees, we will take out in the next five years.”

Furthermore, The future will bring better, more equitable financial services for everyone around the world. Exactly what Uphold is spearheading now. FinTech platforms and services will provide individuals as well as businesses the benefits they demand in this digital age, facilitated by technological innovations and a business model that believes in fair, transparent solutions. These include:

  • Fair, transparent pricing: Consumers and businesses are seeking more competitive pricing and thus alternatives to traditional bank channels, which tend to be expensive and hold a myriad of hidden fees.

  • Fast and full service: Consumers and businesses expect the ability to access data and services at the touch of a button, on their devices and such as online platforms. Uphold provides the efficiency and functionality demanded today.

  • Global solutions: Heightened global trade and international procurement among businesses means the need for improved cross-border payment and foreign exchange services by leveraging innovation.

  • Transparency: Consumers are demanding greater transparency from financial institutions: Uphold is leveraging technology to provide transparency, publishing a verifiable, real-time proof-of-solvency and maintaining a full reserve of member deposits

TheMerkle:  A lot of businesses are focusing on their omnichannel strategy right now, which seems to be the new buzzword. Does Uphold have a similar strategy, and if so, can you tell us something more about it?

Uphold: Uphold aims to make moving and holding money seamless- the technology invisible and the UX intuitive across any device. Now, with our Android and iOS app, members can easily access their account and handle their business from anywhere, in any form they prefer.

Because we have an ever-growing list of partners and companies that have integrated into our platform, we work closely with them to ensure that we a continuous experience across brands, across format and across devices. Members coming in through our partners can easily sign-up and hook into Uphold, and existing members looking to use a partner’s services can easily connect and access the funds in their Uphold account in minutes.

TheMerkle:  Is there anything you would like to add?

Uphold: There are over 200 other applications and services being built on top of Uphold’s API, each targeting a specific geography, industry, or use-case. This app ecosystem feeds Uphold’s user base and reserve, bringing the benefits of IP-compatible money to consumers and businesses across the globe.

We would like to thank Uphold and Robin O’Connell for taking the time to answer our questions. The future is looking bright for Uphold, and the cryptocurrency world will benefit from these initiatives.

Header image courtesy of Uphold