John Bejakovic (CoinWatch): Welcome to another CoinWatch interview. I’m your host John Bejakovic and today we have Joa Martins, the VP of business development and ICO ambassador for Birdchain. Birdchain is a new phone app that promises to pay users in crypto and the company’s in the middle of the ICO right now. Joao welcome to CoinWatch.
Joao Martins (Birdchain): Thank you so much John.
John Bejakovic (CoinWatch): Okay let’s dive right in. Can you tell me what’s the big problem that Birdchain is looking to solve?
Joao Martins (Birdchain): So what’s happening right now — I don’t know if you know exactly what is the A2P SMS industry because this is a very important introduction. So whenever you now register in websites, platform, huge companies like Facebook, Google, Uber, booking.com, you get this SMS for confirmation of registration, temporary PINs, confirmation of reservations, something like that right. And the A2P SMS technology is still used and booming right now, actually increasing because it’s platform-independent you don’t need to have any kind of IM app installed in your phone. It’s built-in in every single device globally.
You don’t need an internet connection, so it’s actually a pretty efficient way to send a message. So this is the the A2P SMS industry. And it’s the opposite to your phone plan because most people have free SMS on their phone when they are not using much in this case because it’s a very specific industry it has some specificities. These industries are paying an extra value for these SMS’s.
So this is where the problem starts. First is already an expensive service to send the SMS is also is the most efficient way to reach their client so that’s why they keep using it because emails get lost, other ways to send a message they are platform dependent you can send through whatsapp or through this or that but it’s always you’re always depending on something else. Mainly because of this but what happens now so imagine you have here the company like I don’t know let’s call it John incorporated right. And someone registered in your company and you need to send them an SMS confirming their registration and with the temporary password. So right now what you do, imagine you’re based in the United States, so you’re going to find an aggregator in the United States. This aggregator in the United States that is going to sell you the service it’s going to route your SMS to someone like a global aggregator that in turn is going to go for the national aggregator. Let’s imagine that your customer’s in Lithuania. They would go to a Lithuanian aggregator and that Lithuanian aggregator would route through the operator to the final destination. So you have here all these layers, all these players, and each of them is adding an extra cost and each of them is adding also a complexity to the path of the SMS right. So what we want to solve first is the cost problem saying, no we will simplify all the paths and we will be in the middle, the only middlemen, between the company and the final user. So the Birdchain app.
Then we have another problem, that is how do you guarantee, how does John incorporated guarantees that their SMS were sent. Because a lot of times you don’t get the SMS right away. So you ask for second SMS right. So you’re doubling the costs to the company when you’re asking for the second SMS because you didn’t get the first one. So how do you do that? Usually, and this is a very, very weird system, you have to ask for an external third-party audit company to check if you are getting the SMS. And what this company will do they will test the system and they will get an estimate value but not a real value right. So what we want to solve is the price and the the efficiency, the reliability of the system of the industry.
John Bejakovic (CoinWatch): So can you tell me, can you walk me through the solution that you guys are proposing to solve these two problems?
Joao Martins (Birdchain): So what we are doing now, as I was saying before, these SMS’s are very expensive but most of the people, let’s say that I am normal phone user, everyday phone user, I have my phone, I pay for my phone plan to my operator, and I have, they say that I have unlimited SMS’s. Of course we know this is not really unlimited SMS. I have a platform that I think around 4000 SMS per month but in other countries can go from two five or seven six thousand SMS’s per month right.
This is a lot of SMS. I’m not using them because I’m using some other Instant Messenger. so I’m not using 90-95 percent of my SMS. So what we are giving the opportunity to people like me that have a phone plan with this unlimited SMS is you say, look you have a resource that you’re wasting. It’s like going to your favorite fast-food and they give you like this triple complex with drink or french fries and burgers and you throwing away every time the french fries because you have nobody that will take them from you or nobody wants them because it’s free food with the french fries. So what we are proposing is, we are taking your SMS from you and delivering directly to those big clients and saying, look instead of paying like for instance I’m going to give an example of a price and Germany the price for this SMS, A2P SMS, is six Euro cents per SMS right. This a lot of money when you’re considering that they are sending thousands or hundred thousands of SMSs per day if you’re a big company like Google right. So what we are doing is saying instead of paying six you’re going to pay three but to our final user, to our app user. So app user is happy because he’s going to get three cents for each SMS that he’s sending from his phone, and the company is happy because he’s cutting the cost to half right. And apart from that we are providing a quality service so it’s going to be very easy to track the SMS to make sure the SMS reaches the final destination and thanks to blockchain technology everything is going to be on the ledger. So our client, our business clients, can actually check on the ledger when the SMS was delivered how much you paid for each SMS. They can check the DLR, delivery status, the delivery notifications, to make sure that it’s delivered. We have our own in-app audit system to make sure also that the SMS was delivered and not only that. The blockchain solution also allows us to pay our users universally with our Birdchain tokens. So this is going to be the main use of the Birdchain tokens, to pay our users, to reward our users, to employ their free SMS’s.
John Bejakovic (CoinWatch): So let me just clarify this. The actual app that’s going to be downloaded on somebody’s phone, it’s connecting companies with individuals who can trade their SMS’s?
Joao Martins (Birdchain): So basically you just need to download the app and then let the app work and she will do the magic by herself.
John Bejakovic (CoinWatch): From what i understood by taking a look at your site it seems like the app itself has other functionality, like a messaging app.
Joao Martins (Birdchain): Yeah so that’s the main thing. So as we see it right now for this SMS functionality, you really don’t need to interact with the app to engage much. Just install it and it will be working on the background. But we want to do a little bit more than that. So if we already have the system, token system, for this we already implement in-app wallets – so that you can gather your tokens and then trade them just whenever you want in the future right, and we thought okay, so we can find other ways for you to earn the same Bird tokens.
We already have htis in-house. This is very important. Vertex, our main company, we’ve been working in this A2P industry for about ten years now. We already have social network with over 1 million unique users in the Baltic States and Poland so we are already doing something in this area, in the marketing area, advertising area. So we decided to combine all this knowledge. So we are going to tell you, if you want to fill out some surveys, marketing surveys, and give consent for these marketing companies to send you material, you can earn extra tokens with that just by filling out the service.
Right now, Facebook and Google, they are doing this and they’re paying nothing to you. They are just using your data you know and focusing this marketing to you and you get zero. So what we want to do is to say, we are not going to keep these profits. We’re going to share it with you and you will happily fill out the service and give consent. After that on the follow-up of that you can get some messages with your permission, and you will get paid to get these messages from this companies, from these brands. Imagine you have you’re a dog owner. We send you a survey for dog owners and you will say, okay I have a Labrador, black lab. And there is this company that says, I have this amazing product for the black lab. So maybe you want to watch this video and buy our product. And you’ll get your app, getting paid to watch the vid, and maybe it’s going to even be useful for you and you’ll find an amazing product that you will buy and you’ll have a code and you’ll get also some discounts.
So all these actions are giving you tokens, allowing you to earn tokens, and you are gathering them on your in-app wallet because we want you to engage a little bit more with the app. We are also developing an instant messaging feature inside the app. So you can save your SMS’s and talk to your family and friends through the app. And one of our main customers actually right now is Western Union. We’ve been developing some features for them too so we are very concerned with security, so we are also applying the same standards of security of privacy that we are applying to our clients in the app, and the instant messaging app in the in-app wallet, to make sure that all the conversations and all your tokens are completely safe.
So the idea is that the the app started as this SMS engine core and it just developed from there. Because some things are necessary and we want also to allow the app to scale in utility and engagement with the user. In the future what we see here is, it’s you already have the in-app wallets you have all this waste, where you can earn the tokens, so we want to allow for third-party developers to insert contents featuring new features in the app. Where you’ll be able either to to amass, to gather more tokens, or to actually spend your tokens in content, or I don’t know, in in-app games, whatever solutions are coming in the future. In the end if you want, you can just transfer your tokens to an outside exchange and change them from for any kind of currency. Or you can keep amassing it and trade them in the app.
Okay which brings up to the next question that I want to ask. Right now with the basic functionality of just trading your SMS for Bird tokens, how much could somebody expect to actually make doing this?
So I will give a very easy count. We are right now thinking the ideal amount of SMS to be sent every day is a hundred SMS. So if you’re living in Germany, Germany and the Netherlands I would say in Europe are the ones with a higher SMS cost, and you can expect to make two, three cents per SMS. Selling 100 SMS’s per day, that means that you’re making 2 euros, 3 euros per day, and this 100 SMS per day is a very conservative number. 2 euro cents is also kind of conservative number. 3 euro cents could be the best. 150 SMSs per day would be also perfectly doable. But if you’re doing 100 SMS’s that means 2 Euro a day, so we’re talking about 60 euros per month, following a very very conservative provision. It can grow to 120. Double would be the maximum.
John Bejakovic (CoinWatch): What about some privacy concerns? So what if I’m sending a promotional Uber message to my ex-girlfriend who’s in my phone?
Joao Martins (Birdchain): So that’s actually very very interesting question, because people sometimes, they say, so are you going to read my contact list and send message to my contact list? We’re saying, yes we are going to read your contact list, but for the exact opposite of what you’re thinking. We’re reading your contact, the app will actually read your contact list, to not send any SMS to anybody in your contact list. Because this is very important you don’t want your mother to get an SMS from you with, I don’t know with the temporary PIN or with a booking confirmation for a hotel somewhere right. That would be really awkward. So what we are doing is that allowing the app to read your contact list, but to prevent actually that it will send any kind of SMS’s there.
It’s a very very important issue because right now we have GDPR, the new regulation for privacy and consent, to make sure that nobody is violating your your personal data. And the app will follow thoroughly all the regulation, all the data protection regulation, privacy regulation, this is very important. So nobody’s going to collect any data that you don’t give consent to, specific consent, and nobody is going to use your your contact list to send out messages but to prevent that the messages are sent to people.
Let me step back a little bit to something you talked about a little bit earlier. You mentioned that the company that’s actually building Birdchain has been around for a longer time. Can you give me a little bit of background on the company?
Yeah so our two founders started the company in 2006, I believe. I was not around at the time in the company. Two founders founded the company in 2005 or 2006 with design and functionality for WAP games and phones, at the time, I think games and then they started the SMS business in 200, 2009. But they are always very active, so they have always projects that are opening, closing and experimenting a lot and a few of this projects actually stuck and they are huge.
We have the social network in the Baltic States, as I was telling you. We have a rent-to-buy platform. It was the first rent-to-buy platform also in the Baltic States. We have actually integrated optics, that is a laser manufacturer that is right now manufacturing the smallest laser beams in Europe. We explored a bit with the AI, with artificial intelligence, but this wasn’t what one of the products that we still have in store, it’s not out yet. So we are always trying to develop new products, and some of them they reach day of light because they are really good, and other ones you move on and move to the next one.
But Birdchain I would say is the first of these projects that actually came naturally. This is a mix of the knowledge that we gather with all the other projects because we have also solutions, direct clients, like I was talking to you about, Western Union, TransferGo and clients like this. So direct clients that we are also developing other solutions, marketing solutions, and so so we are bringing this knowledge the SMS aggregator technology, the social network knowledge into the game, combining all of this and we believe that Birdchain is going to be our next big project. We have full full belief in this project.
John Bejakovic (CoinWatch): What’s the actual status of the project? When do you have hope to have a first release?
Joao Martins (Birdchain): So right now we already have a couple of MVP’s. So the integration the API integration into the platform is already built. We have a dummy app that actually works, but it’s very simple. So it only has the in-app wallet and the SMS functionality, and apart from that, now after we finish the ICO, we are actually developing right now the the rest of front-end part evolving the dummy app, the front-end only. And after the funding is completed we’re going to integrate with blockchain.
Because the question here is we are talking about a solution that will need a lot of transactions right. And when are we talking about blockchain right now, scalability is still not completely solved. So we’re looking into some very interesting solutions. IOTA could be an interesting solution. EOS could be an interesting solution. We all love Ethereum and if features like Casper, that would allow proof-of-stake, POS, and sharding, that that could work for us. Or Raiden. We don’t know. Off chain solutions. We are still looking into it to understand where best to integrate our decentralized application and then we will integrate everything. But we are still waiting, you know, because right now at the moment, there’s still no fully viable or fully proved solution for for this kind of scalability.
We want to have our beta version ready by the end of the summer. And in that case, probably we will work with off chain, if there is no other solution. We work with off chain solution and doing this beta version we will pick some countries where we were going to work specifically and we will market the app specifically there. And we will test it like this. Ee already have a few partners to do this and in next year in Barcelona and MWC, this is one of the world’s largest telecom fairs, events, we will launch our of commercial final solution app. And then we hopefully we’ll be already able to launch one of the features that I like the most, that is the auction. That is the fact that the users actually, they can define for which price they are selling their SMS’s. So we’re going to provide the information about, ok so you live in Germany, let’s say the regular SMS is sent at the moment for 6 cents. We recommend you to sell 3, but if you want, you can sell 2 or at 4, if if you feel that you want to risk a little bit more, you want to make sure that your SMS are sold faster. So I think that could also be very very interesting.
John Bejakovic (CoinWatch): You mentioned some current partners for your kind of parent company, and you said that you have some partners maybe lined up for the future. Do you have anybody specifically?
Joao Martins (Birdchain): We are working as for SMS’s specifically for SMS’s as an aggregator because this is the part that is going to provide the most traffic. We have OKRoute. This is a company based in Malta but they already a nice player. We actually met them in one of the events that we had and we sat down we talked a lot about the project. So we see them as a strategic partner. We have another partner lined up but still I cannot disclose the names, and then we have a few partners that are going to help us with a technical solution and/or help us with with the rewards system, BitRewards. We have ORCA Alliance they are also good partners as well. Other partners but for other areas of the app.
John Bejakovic (CoinWatch): Can you tell me a little bit about people who are advising you for the ICO?
Joao Martins (Birdchain): So actually this is that part is a very interesting part because we see a lot of, we have a lot of guys coming to us, asking if we want them to be our advisors, just to bring some buzz, you know some traction. We handpick all our advisors for our specific needs, so we started, we don’t have a lot of advisors. We have I think right now five advisors. We started with one blockchain advisor that is world guru, let’s say, of blockchain, Anatoly. And he’s Latvian and he was someone that when one of our fathers already knew so we picked him. And this is how we’ve been working so far whenever we need for marketing purposes. For PR purposes we need an advisor, we say okay we know this guy, he is really good at what he does so we’re going to pick him.
Our security adviser also, he already worked with us, with our company. He’s the one giving us all our certifications – he’s also all around the world conferences. We picked only one person, it was the first one, David, was the only one that we didn’t knew before. We searched for someone that could help us with scalability and we found him and he is in, he was involved in the IOTA foundation. He’s involved right now in Hashgraph, so he knows about scalability problems. He was helping us with that. But all our advisors are very very specific and we grab them as we need, when we need, and we know exactly, usually where are we going. So this is how we’ve been picking out advisory team.
John Bejakovic (CoinWatch): Okay let’s talk about the ICO itself. So you guys have already had a couple of pre-sales, is that right?
Joao Martins (Birdchain): Yeah we tested the pre-sale before. As you know the market has been completely stagnant since the beginning of the year. So it actually started very bearish, buried down, and then it stabilized somewhere, and it has been stagnant, and these kind of conditions are not very good for for ICO, for the crowd sales.
So what we decided to do is to test a couple of times how our community is growing and reacting. We did two 24-hour sales and we actually launched our ICO on the 1st March. And we reached our soft cap, 1500 eater, in a little bit over 24 hours, in about 36 hours, a little bit over, which is very good for us, considering the market conditions, and considering the fact that we are actually not doing very aggressive marketing. We prefer to extend a little bit more the marketing period, so we’re going to do it for a few months, and the ICO period for a few months, and we are going to wait for the right market, for the market to become a little bit more favorable. And we are ahead, we already have lined up a few campaign actions, marketing campaigns, and advertising actions, and we’re going to release them the moment that we feel that is right.
So we already have our soft cap, which is very good. Ot’s only, this is something that I want to highlight, this is community driven only. We only have small contributors. We don’t have any big contributors so far. This doesn’t mean that we don’t accept, just means it’s, we of course we accept, and we are right now actively looking out, but we wanted to give our community also the opportunity to contribute, to get some nice bonuses, and I think our community did an amazing job. And now that we have our soft cap, we have our eyes on our hard cap, want to accelerate the development of the app as much as possible. And now we are looking for other contributors and looking for the right conditions to launch a more aggressive marketing campaign.
John Bejakovic (CoinWatch): How big is the hard cap and how long are you gonna keep the ICO going?
Joao Martins (Birdchain): Our soft cap was 1500 ether. Now we are around 1700 ether. The hard cap is 10,500 ether, and we are waiting until the end of May for the ICO. So hopefully in the next three months we will have a more favorable environment for for ICOs and then yes, then we can get a little bit more buzz on Birdchain.
John Bejakovic (CoinWatch): You’ve already talked about this in a lot of detail, but just very briefly, summarize to me what’s gonna be the activity at Birchchain once the ICO concludes.
Joao Martins (Birdchain): This is not a very very strict, because we already have a few developers in-house. Our own developers, they are doing what they could, mostly in front-end solution. But we already brought in another developer that is helping us. We are designing, we need to design, we’re starting in the end of this month to design the blockchain solution, at least for the beta version. Because, this is important, so we are not going to wait until the end of the ICO to develop the app. Because anyway the app is going to be developed, we already have our soft cap. We have already have the support of the community. So this means if we don’t reach hard cap, it will just take a little bit longer to develop all the features that we want. So we will release the app, put less features but we are going to develop anyway. So thought ok, we might as well just start now, to not waste time with the development of the app.
So in the end of the summer we will have our beta version for sure. We still don’t know in how many regions is going to happen, in how many markets. We still didn’t decide specifically which markets, but we are planning on launching 7 to 12 markets, 7 to 12 countries, that are going to be picked on two main points. First the A2P SMS price. So the higher is the price, the better it is for our users, because we will be able to get some traction there too. And with the community support we need to understand, what is our market and penetration, so we are doing some marketing campaigns – and see what is the reaction we are getting.
So these are the two factors that are going to play out. The most, in our beta version launch, there is a third factor actually, but for us it’s already too obvious. Some countries, like Japan, just a few amount of countries actually, the most in Asia, there is no such thing as free SMS’s. It’s paid, it’s pay-as-you-go. So it doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to launch, at least in beta version. Then we need to understand that what is the price per SMS, what is the price for the final user, what is the price for the A2P SMS user, and understand if it’s possible to find a compromise there or not. But this is a very very small amount of countries where this happens.
John Bejakovic (CoinWatch): For anybody who’s interested in investing in Birdchain, what should they do right now?
Joao Martins (Birdchain): So if you want to contribute to our ICO, we welcome you with open arms always. You should go to www.birdchain.io. Everything is stated there. You also can ask us any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or join our Telegram channel. We are doing an amazing job with our community. In our Telegram channel, our admins are 24/7 available. We have Telegram channels for a lot of languages, different languages. Right now, I already lost track, but I know that we have four. Portuguese, because I’m taking care of that, Spanish, French, German, Arabian, and of course, the official in English.