Over a week ago, James Clarke and Ian Davies debuted their largest brainchild to date, the Digital World Ventures Exchange. They may not be the first to set up shop in Australia, but they claim the interesting distinction of (in their own words) “being the most remote exchange in the world”, with their closest competitor located over 2,000 miles away.
Shortly after, we managed to get in touch with Ian and James, who graciously took the time to answer some questions for CoinBuzz in great detail:
CB: I’d like to start off the interview by talking about both of you: tell me a bit about yourselves, your backgrounds, interest in crypto currencies and what led you to starting your own exchange.
“James is a Director at DWV, and is also highly regarded IT professional having consulted on Wealth Management and Trading platforms for Blue chip financial companies such as Barclays, Nationwide Bank, and Westpac. As well as leading highly technical and business professional teams within the application solutions and operations space, James holds a keen interest in crypto exchange platforms and at a strategic level what role the Blockchain technology can play for the future of finance. … while Ian Davies, as a Director of the Perth-based firm DWV, embraces modern business ethics such as crowd sourcing, peer to peer and modern entrepreneurship values. His work allows him to offer an outstanding, personable and transparent service experiences to his customers. James and I both started out with mining of various crypto currencies as we have a technical and financial background. Whilst this wasn’t a commercial endeavor we really enjoyed playing with the technology and coming up with possible ideas for it’s use.”
“Once we’d cut our teeth and learned the basics our focus shifted to trading Bitcoin and other currencies on various exchanges. We came to the conclusion after having poor experiences across multiple exchange providers that we could do significantly better. Partnering with an industry leading platform provider, AlphaPoint, ensures we have the best technology on the market, whilst allowing us to concentrate on providing exceptional customer experiences.”
CB: This isn’t your first project together, can you tell us a little bit more about what you’ve been focused on recently?
“James and I have worked together in the past at Westpac, Australia’s largest bank. This is where we met and forged a friendship and business relationship. We have explored a number of options for Digital World Ventures, some of which are going to be launched shortly, but our focus is getting the DWVx exchange up and running first. A glimpse in to this is that we really want to help build the Bitcoin industry and community within Australia, so we’ll be looking to do something in the education and framework space really soon.”
“Ian is active in the Peer to Peer lending space, providing capital for and from investors. One of the reasons we went with a Peer to Peer exchange is because of the whole ethos of Bitcoin. Why should one central authority (or a number of them) set the prices of Bitcoin? By its nature it should be worth what people believe it to be.”
CB: On the topic of regulation, I know Australia has decided not to regulate Bitcoin, but have you faced any legal difficulties while setting up your business?
“Bitcoin regulation in Australia is a hot topic in the local industry. With the Australian reserve bank’s latest comments around Bitcoin being too expensive to regulate there is an amount of hope, but also despair. With ASIC (regulatory body) declaring Bitcoin not a financial product we are not subject to any extensive regulations, the biggest drawback for any Bitcoin company in Australia is that of the double taxation which is being imposed if you buy or sell coins. This is the other reason we went with a Peer to Peer solution, as we act as a platform to buy and sell Bitcoin, not selling it ourselves.”
“We can say that our banking partner, Westpac, has been very supportive. I know many exchanges are gun-shy over releasing this information, but we’re happy to say Westpac has caused us no problems. In fact, whilst we were visiting our local business advisor in a Westpac branch, the then outgoing CEO Gail Kelly was making her farewell tour around cities thanking staff for their support. Knowing we were ex-Westpac employees we were lucky enough to be granted some time with her. On telling her we were a Bitcoin Startup and we were looking to revolutionize the financial industry in Australia she was very positive, saying that the Blockchain and Bitcoin technologies were an amazing innovation. She also noted the role it could play in developing countries.”
CB: Are you active members of the Bitcoin community in Australia and if so, what’s it like? Do you have any formidable local competitors or is the market there still open for the taking, so to speak?
“The Bitcoin community here in Perth is alive and well, regular meetups are held and people are doing anything and everything to get involved where they can. We’ve had coin dev’s, gold traders, a member of the Australian Bitcoin foundation board as well as miners and people who are just interested in it from a technology perspective. Melbourne, in Eastern Australia, has a big start up culture, so naturally many BTC start ups have grown there, probably the most well-known would be Coinjar, who moved their operations to the UK because of the tax issues here in Australia. It’s definitely a growing scene though!”
“Although there are a couple of other exchanges working in Australia, we feel the robustness of our technology coupled with our understanding of Customer experience gives us the edge. I think there is room for everyone to play, we’d like to lead from the front obviously, and as mentioned before would like to see a framework that everyone aspires to be developed. This is something we’ll be moving forward with in the coming months. … With the mining resources boom ending here, we have a number of investors looking for alternatives to the falling resource sector companies; we are hoping to make Bitcoin an attractive vehicle for them.”
CB: What about funding? Are you guys ready to handle operations for the foreseeable future and scale your operation?
“We are fully funded, and at this point in time require no further capital … We love and breathe Bitcoin, we look to use it wherever possible, we pay some of our vendors in Bitcoin! Funding has also come from James’ and my own personal funds, we have invested a lot of ourselves into the company, with time and money tied up in this project and so are sure of its success because we are very committed both financially and motivationally.”
We thank both James Clarke and Ian Davies once again for taking the time to talk to us and we’ll be sure to follow up soon with the Digital World Ventures Exchange to see how things are progressing.