Cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, are slowly becoming less and less obscure and have gained a significant market share over the past few years.
However, it did not always used to be like that as many Internet users wrote off these types of coinage as being a little fishy. For the first few years of bitcoin’s existence, it had a cult following on the Internet.
Dave Aiello, co-founder and CEO of Token
Dave Aiello and Matt Mitchell are two first-time entrepreneurs who were deeply involved with the early online bitcoin community. The two first met on the bitcoin message board, BitcoinTalk.org where forum members would discuss their thoughts, ideas and even philosophies about this new form of currency. “We’ve seen the ecosystem develop from something that was very primitive to something that is much more robust today,” Aiello says, talking about his and Mitchell’s experience in understanding cryptocurrency.
The two later connected online to discuss some of their own personal ideas that could potentially be implemented using bitcoin. The two wanted to share ideas on what they felt were advantages using bitcoin, and how an average consumer could start using them.
While Aiello and Mitchell’s ideas were idealistic for current users, the average consumer unfamiliar with cryptocurrency would have some concerns. After all, if someone is going to be getting involved with a new form of currency, they would like some extra security to their funds. The two first-time entrepreneurs took note of these concerns when trying to develop a mobile wallet for cryptocurrency. “We wanted to create a secure and user-friendly service that didn’t have access to our customer’s money,” Aiello says. “It’s been a difficult undertaking, because this technology and security model are so new.”
Aiello and Mitchell’s startup, Token, is looking to ease any new user’s stress or worries with cryptocurrency.
The development of the platform took close to three years of development, with Aiello and Mitchell taking on the programming/coding/designing/etc. themselves. Currently, Token is open as a beta, and the two developers have received positive feedback from both their desktop and mobile platforms.
The Token platform is a web wallet which allows users to keep track of their funds and also transfer them globally through P2P transactions. Both Aiello and Mitchell observed how P2P bitcoin transfers allowed for less friction and fees when compared to other global remittance services.
“The challenge is making the user experience intuitive enough so the average person who wants to send money around the globe can use our app without the experience being too unfamiliar,” Aiello says. “Using our service will be as intuitive as a service such as PayPal or Venmo, while utilizing peer-to-peer bitcoin transactions for the actual transfer of funds.”
Bitcoin users in full custody of their currency must be wary of hackers. In order to protect a user’s funds, Token is taking extra precautions by implementing various security tools such as multi-signature - a feature within the bitcoin protocol which allows for two-factor authentication to protect against unauthorized transactions.
Another feature of the Token platform is its open API where any third party service can create their own bitcoin wallet using token’s platform.
Token User Interface
Token was originally a part of the Rhode Island tech scene. Aiello worked out of Providence for about a year, and collaborated with Mitchell over Skype or Google Hangouts. The RI tech scene is centered around the various entrepreneurial programs from the universities in the city. Aiello describes many of the local startups as being involved in either biotech or “cleantech,” making Token a standout in their home city.
This year, Token is one of the 128 companies to be accepted into the 2017 MassChallenge cohort. “Since being involved in this space,” Aiello says, “I’ve met a ton of interesting people. People we can work with or having someone to contribute. Having that community is something you really can’t get anywhere else.”
It still may be too early to call bitcoin the new widely accepted form of currency but Token is making it more accessible, thanks to the company’s user-friendly platform and tools.
Earlier in June, Token had a chance to attend the Porcupine Freedom Festival where Aiello described the event as, “A look into the future.”
“At all the vendors were accepting bitcoin at their booths,” he says. “So, you would see people walking up and buying a hotdog with cryptocurrency - something that hopefully might one day become the norm.”
Images courtesy of Token.