Dennis Daiber, CEO of German crypto outfit Bitwala, says he has "zero" confidence that investor confidence is back behind crypto but believes the relaunched app is set for a return to its glory days.
Bitwala, founded in 2015, was once a European crypto darling, which over the years went on to diversify its offering.
But it fell on hard times and, after changing its name to Nuri in 2021, filed for bankruptcy last year amid a crypto bear market.
Its problems were compounded by its relationship with Celsius, the bankrupt crypto lender.
However, it has now relaunched under its original name and returned to its pureplay crypto roots.
Its newish CEO, Daiber, who took over in January this year, believes the move to keep its name is a smart one.
“the name Bitwala transports exactly what we are doing”.
He points out that the name is a composite of Bitcoin and hawala, the alternative method of transfer of funds that dates back to the eighth century.
Daiber says the name is still “an asset in terms of brand recognition”.
He says that during research amongst “Bitcoin maximalists”, that “people even kept whipping out their old Bitwala card”.
The relaunched app offers users access to Bitcoin and Ethereum and is now available across 29 countries, but not yet in its native Germany as German financial regular BaFin is “doing their little special sauce”.
Ready for the next bull run
Bitwala's USP is its self-custodial wallet, with a focus on security and usarbility, meaning users have control of their assets and are not using crypto exchanges.
Daiber talks about “Bitcoin maximalists” who “exchange every cent of their fiat into bitcoin and then just cashes out whenever they need to but who still want full self-custody”.
He says if Bitwala, which has a nine-strong team, can build a product for them, it will be ready for the next bull run.
It is also launching a crypto-backed Visa debit card and integration with the Lightning Network, the fast payment service, which are being powered by Estonian tech firm Striga Technology which provides banking infrastructure and digital asset services.
“If I want to treat my wife to a fancy dinner, and I don’t have the cash on me with the Bitwala app I just press two buttons and hand over the card and that’s it.”
Almost 10,000 customers are now on the Bitwala app, he says, half new, half migrated from the Nuri app.
Bitwala backer Claret Capital, a venture debt provider that has a 10 percent stake in Bitwala, has also been pivotal to the relaunch.
Bitwala executives are now busy trying to fundraise.
"Fundraising is rather difficult right now in the crypto space, so basically we are going quarter to quarter.
"So that is basically my main pastime for the last months is just try to get angels and early stage people on board.
"The narrative here is we are a pre-seed startup with the tech of a series B. And that is neither fish nor meat, as we say in Germany.”
On how confident he is that investor confidence is back behind crypto, Daiber says he has “zero” confidence.
He says: “It is unfortunate because obviously the new hype is AI. Crypto is with SBF and Celsius and Terra and all that stuff has got a little bit of a bad rep.
“But I think now with prices going up again, we have seen a little bit more feedback in our investor relations.”
On the impact on the crypto industry of the guilty verdict handed down to the crypto king Sam Bankman-Fried, says it will not have a direct impact.
“Finally, we can close this chapter,” he adds.
Lead image: Photo by Michael Förtsch