Gene Kavner and Noam talk innovation, Bitcoin and iPayYou

Noam Stiekema

Noam sat down with Mr. Gene Kavner, founder of iPayYou; a new type of Bitcoin transactional wallet targeted for everyone. At the end of the interview, in true iPayYou fashion; Noam got a little more than he bargained for.

Gene Kavner iPayYou

Mr. Gene Kavner is known by many achievements. A gentlemen and a scholar with his fingerprints on some of the most disruptive technologies out there. Recently Mr. Kavner decided to disrupt the Bitcoin scene.

An interview was setup by our friends at Wachsman PR in NYC. Mr. Kavner on Skype from Seattle, a comfort of sorts to my nerves that at least the this won’t be a face to face- I’m on day three of the life threatening man flu.

Niceties out the way, Mr. Kavner slides in the cheeky charm that had us having a good yarn as friends would over a good beer (or five) at our local.

Besides his new project iPayYou, Mr. Kavner has a bigger vision for the Bitcoin ecosystem and for me… Let’s find out.

With some impressive companies on your resume such as Microsoft, Expedia, Amazon et al, what brought you to Bitcoin?

I’m a technologist, I hold a Masters in Computer Engineering and enjoy doing new things.

My very first job, was creating the first cell phone at Motorola, then Windows 3.0 at Microsoft. I was one of first five engineers working on MSN when it was just a vision of bill gates- we were charged to make it a reality.

I thrive on creating products from a vision. How products and services can benefit consumers and make their lives better.

I first discovered Bitcoin in late 2012/13 when I read Satoshi’s “white paper.” I saw a method, an opportunity to create a decentralized place for people to transact. I started mining for about a year and half and figured out how to leverage products and systems to get the most out of the Bitcoin ecosystem.

The reality is that people don’t need Bitcoin. They need their lives improved with Bitcoin. Gene Kavner. iPayYou.

Bitcoin was new, disruptive, great tech and has all the right traits to make people’s lives better. Count me in.

Tell us a little about how iPayYou came about…

Existing entities operating in the sector seemed focused on the “Bitcoin” part- fair enough. I saw an opportunity for a slight change in outlook.

I had a vision of bringing a wider audience into the Bitcoin ecosystem. Bringing change- to disrupt. The reality is that people don’t need Bitcoin. They need their lives improved with Bitcoin.

iPayYou Bitcoin

This was the key driver and the one key thing that challenged me. How do I use this opportunity to better the lives of those around me especially those unfamiliar with Bitcoin?

I offered to give someone close to me Bitcoin. Knowing that this person in particular had no experience with Bitcoin whatsoever, I challenged him to find out how to receive Bitcoin and in turn I’ll give him some free Bitcoin.

This person did some research, downloaded applications and the lot. Once he felt ready, I emailed the cryptic email address through.

A week later I received an email asking where his Bitcoin was. He did not know where to look.

We met up and had a look at his phone (had downloaded an app to receive and store Bitcoin) and it turns out the private key was not saved. The app was unknown and there consequently was no way to recover the Bitcoin. We engineers call this “write only memory;” you can write into but cannot read it. It was gone.

This was a huge point of friction in the industry, a flaw of sorts in an almost perfect technology.

What do you do with Bitcoin? How do you get it? How do you keep it? Now what?

Even engineers have challenges with how bitcoin workflow is executed. How can I make this simpler? This is where iPayYou came about.

How is iPayYou different, what are your value proposition over your competitors?

The single value proposition of iPayYou is the simplification of Bitcoin for the everyday user that is unfamiliar with Bitcoin.

The whole service and offering of iPayYou is formed around this principle. The rest was easy.

What we have is the ability for users to send Bitcoin safely via email (personal emails) and a way to cancel the transaction if they sent it to the wrong address (if the recipient has not logged in yet).

We removed all the typical Bitcoin words and opted for more familiar terms, deposit / withdrawal / send money et al… The site was designed and the brand message suited to the beginner user.

This streamlined approach not only takes the learning curve out of Bitcoin transacting but keeps true to the purist Bitcoin principles with all the benefits that comes with Bitcoin.

We are also about to launch a feature whereby you can make payments using only a Twitter handle. You can send and receive Bitcoin using only your Twitter handle. This is revolutionary.

How is iPayYou received by the more astute / purist Bitcoin users and companies focusing on them?

Everybody in our space has a target customer- no one is right or wrong. There are capabilities provided by each service provider to enable a customer with a specific set of needs to take advantage of the service that best suits them.

Bitcoin unites purist. Bitcoin should be sitting on your pc and no one should have access to it. This should be easy. What unites two perspectives is that both of us recognize the power of bitcoin and what it can become. We all want to be a part of and contribute to building this.

Bitcoin is very democratic. Gene Kavner. iPayYou.

iPayYou has received great responses from the community including those on the purist side and those that have never interacted with bitcoin. Everyone supports this.

Bitcoin is very democratic I must add. The community may debate issues such as should the block increase or not, where should private keys be sorted? However, the one thing everyone agrees on is Bitcoin needs more peer to peer transactions.

iPayYou brings a new set of audience closer to the vision.

Additionally, our service is also of great benefit to those whom are already empowered with Bitcoin to use iPayYou with those that are not familiar knowing that they will get a good intro to Bitcoin and a more “traditional” user experience and familiar terms, such as deposit / withdraw; with our system.

We are a transactional wallet. We have to keep it easy and simple whilst at the same time secure. We are focused on this. We do everything with as few steps as possible. We want them to figure it out by themselves without having to Google, visit forums or call support for the most basic functions of Bitcoin.

Bear with me on this one: Bitcoin’s whole ethos seemed a little anti-establishment to the wider public (when it first became popular).

The whole purpose of bitcoin being untraceable and secure, and attracting a crowd that many can say are anti-banks / exchanges to a degree. iPayYou seems to be taking Bitcoin to the mainstream market in a sense that you are actively targeting those unfamiliar with Bitcoin. Is Bitcoin changing?

To me bitcoin is not one or the other. It represents instant confirmation and all the benefits of Bitcoin as a decentralised currency. I mean, Bitcoin has the capability to end poverty. I have people connecting with me from far ends of the world.

Look at Africa, they have value to add to the world. They can be empowered. They can become consumers of goods and services. They have not had the ability to sell their value to the world. Bitcoin can put them on the same stage as everyone else. Everyone has the same Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is a combination of all that is good and bad with the current status quo. Banks solved the last mile problem. They know their customers personally, you can drop by and shake someone’s hand and even lend money. This in principle was and may be good for some time to come.

Whilst Bitcoin does not do this it can embrace the bank tech. Banks also are interested in bitcoin and Blockchain… A collaboration and general embracing of bitcoin will make lives better for the everyday person. Solving problems.

Innovation does not mean that it is against the previous innovation. It is innovation. Gene Kavner. iPayYou.

For example when the internet was created- it was not anti- telephone, postal system, books or travel. It simply strived to make things better- which it has.

Innovation does not mean that it is against the previous innovation. It is innovation. It is about adapting, disrupting. It has to grow and live within the new environment that any new innovation introduces.

If we were sitting here in one year from now having this discussion, what would be the one biggest achievement you would have hoped to achieved?

We want get as many more people to see the advantages of Blockchain technologies without them even knowing what it is. Expanding the ecosystem.

There will always be those that look at Bitcoin as an investment. Price moves, there is a venue to trade; people will speculate. We want to show all users that there is an underlined reason for bitcoin. Bitcoin brings benefits. Regardless of price. To everyone.

Commerce is what I want to enable. I want iPayYou users to see the value in paying their babysitter, a bill, the landscaper, buy a gift card and the like easily, even if they don’t always accept bitcoin in theory.

We don’t expect every merchant to accept bitcoin, even though we are working on merchant solutions; but we have bridged the gap (watch this space) with the likes of gift cards and features that make it simple to use with existing merchants.

Even payment between friends and family. The more users use bitcoin the more they become familiar with it, the more exposure for the greater ecosystem.

Instead of bewilderment for most, we want bitcoin to be easy. We can change the narrative around bitcoin and get as many people on the system for the very first time.

A very special moment was shared post interview. A confession, a 10 second wait and then some bitcoin love and high fives.

After the interview, Gene and I discussed the matter further leading to a confession on my part- I’d never purchased bitcoin, never used it and don’t even hold an account with anyone or entity even slightly related to bitcoin. Within a few seconds, Gene sent me my first bitcoin via email.

The point of iPayYou was not only proven, but I owned a bitcoin. Moreover, I can keep bitcoin or alternatively, I can simply swap it out for gift card, cash (via bank wire) or pass on the bitcoin love to someone else.

Best yet, all that was used was my email address. No signups, no tedious processes and all that is left to do is accept my bitcoin.

Bitcoin for you, bitcoin for you too- bitcoin for everyone!

Read this next

Digital Assets

BlackRock digs further into crypto with metaverse ETF

BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with almost $10 trillion in AUM, is set to launch a new metaverse ETF to help investors securely monetize on the booming immersive version of the internet.

Digital Assets

Binance wins license in New Zealand as rival Huobi shutters derivatives

Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by traded volume, has obtained licenses to operate in New Zealand, even after rival Huobi shutdown derivatives trading last month due to concerns about regulations.

Retail FX

Hong Kong busts perpetrators of ‘ramp and dump’ scam

Hong Kong’s financial watchdog, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), has charged thirteen suspects of market manipulation in a joint operation with the local police.

Institutional FX

TradingView integrates market data from German Tradegate exchange

TradingView announced that it ‎has increased data coverage to allow its users to receive information from ‎and get free access to the intra-day and tick data from Tradegate Exchange.

Retail FX

Spotware Systems introduces Custom Push Notifications for cTrader mobile apps

Spotware Systems, a technology provider for the electronic trading industry, is introducing a new push notification feature to alert mobile users of price swings and market fluctuations through their cTrader app.

Market News

The Week Ahead: 30 September from David Madden, Market Analyst at Equiti Group

Sterling dominated the headlines last week, as there were concerns the UK government might struggle to service its debt.

Inside View

How does the quality of signal providers affect your business?

A must-have onboarding process for brokers with investment services like PAMM, MAM, or copy trading


DBS deploys Nasdaq Trade Surveillance

“The confidence that markets and our clients have in DBS as a safe and trusted banking group is anchored on our ability to detect and respond to anomalous activity, which in turn calls for a robust surveillance and prevention infrastructure.”

Industry News

SEC charges Justin Costello and David Ferraro for securities fraud and posing as billionaire veteran

The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Cannabis executive Justin Costello and David Ferraro, an associate of Costello’s, for promoting the stock of several microcap companies on social media without disclosing their own simultaneous stock sales as market prices rose.