In our first three episodes of the Bitstocks Team Talk series, we introduced you to our Bitcoin Advisory Relationship Managers, James Coughlan and Antonio Shillingford. Today we chat to Elia Yousif, a general all-round good guy, and our CFO.
Liz: Tell me about your education and professional background. Did you start off in traditional finance?
Elia: No, I did not. In fact, I studied Computer Science at university. This is also where I first came across Bitcoin. Consequently, I went to work for a development company that specialised in financial systems. In my position here, I helped to build systems for banks and investment firms. Although I was working in the traditional financial sector, I found myself doing research about Bitcoin’s financial model. My interest in the topic kept growing.
Liz: Were you convinced of Bitcoin’s value immediately, or suspicious at first?
Elia: I was convinced off the bat. My first thought was, how do I mine it? At the time, bitcoin did not have a price feed yet, it was only traded and sent on forums. I remember signing up to Bitcoin Talk Forum to read all of Satoshi’s posts. At the time, it must have been early 2010, he was still actively posting on the forum. I wanted to get ‘in’ on Bitcoin, so I had to choose between buying 35,000 bitcoin and buying the best graphics card available to try and mine bitcoin myself. I chose the latter, and the rest is history...
Liz: When you started working at Bitstocks, what was your role?
Elia: I started off in a sales position, but I have worked in just about every role since then. In the early days of the business, we were a self-funded start-up so you generally had to apply any applicable skills you had to any project. In fact, we still collaborate between departments. Once we grew our in-house skills and expertise, my ‘main’ position became trader in chief on the OTC desk. Since then we've launched our Gravity Ecosystem which automates most of the trading and will in time incorporate OTC services, I've been fulfilling the role of Bitstocks' CFO.
Liz: Your grandmother is sceptical about this ‘magic internet money’ you work with. She asks you to name some of the things you’ve bought with bitcoin. What do you tell Nan?
Elia: Well, in recent years I have become more of a HODLer, Nan, which means that I try to hold onto my coins as one might do with gold. In the early days of Bitcoin when a coin was not worth that much, I made the mistake buying a graphics card to attempt to mine bitcoin myself, instead of purchasing 35,000 coins. I still kick myself a bit, as today they would have been worth more than £250 million. My recent purchases have been limited to essentials like software products and a bitcoin hardware wallet, plus the obligatory game or two.
Liz: If you were given the opportunity to develop your own blockchain application, what would it be?
Elia: It is a difficult question. I might just build a blockchain application to protect intellectual property from piracy. You would be able to host games and movies on the blockchain, and it would only allow access to users with a private key that serves as proof of ownership. The key could expire after the number of times it was contracted for use, or it could be limited to be used by specific devices. Not only would this protect the material from being illegally copied, but it would allow users to access software and files without having to download them.
Liz: What is the silliest objection to bitcoin or cryptocurrency that you have ever come across?
Elia: The funniest objection has been that bitcoin should not have ‘coin’ in the name if it is not a (physical) coin. Another, that it does not really exist if it is only on a computer screen. I have even been told that, “if I can not touch it, it is not real” and asked to show them the physical coins...
Liz: You have been kidnapped by ninjas, and you get to phone one person to come and rescue you. Your choice of a rescuer is between a banker and a cryptocurrency trader. Who do you call and why?
Elia: I would call the banker, because he would probably not be doing anything significant with his time. The cryptocurrency trader will be too busy trading crypto. If I called the banker, at most I would be dragging him away from creating fake money.
Liz: You certainly have a valid point! Thank you for taking the time to chat to me. I will let you get back to the OTC desk now, where I am sure you have plenty of important business to attend to!