Remedy Café is the first retailer to sell CoinTap – the gift card you can redeem for Bitcoin.
“Woohoo! I’m up 12 bucks and it only took me two weeks.”
That was Ashley Fulks first – and most sarcastic – reaction after mining his first Bitcoin in November 2012 in Edmonton. Keeping the computer running continuously for that time wasn’t really the plan.
“My power bill went up by $20,” he said. It didn’t seem like a great value, let alone a business.
Ashley sat on his personally mined Bitcoins through December and New Year’s Eve. By the time the harsh Edmonton winter was finally thawing, that $12 Bitcoin was worth $266. It certainly paid the power bill.
“This thing is too hot to pass up.”
Ashley Fulks of BitCoin Ventures Inc.
That summer, Ashley co-founded Bitcoin Ventures Inc. Of course, he did some math first.
“I looked into the historical growth rate of Bitcoin and found that it was growing on an average of 1500% per year and that just blew my mind.”
Ashley then looking for help to get Bitcoin Ventures off the ground.
“This thing is too hot to pass up,” Ashley told his colleagues in computer science at the University of Alberta.
Ashley recruited a few more friends and colleagues with backgrounds in marketing, computer science and finance to get his new company off the ground. Now, Ashley and his group of mid-30s guys in Edmonton are working on getting the rest of the world addicted to Bitcoin.
“The biggest problem is it’s so difficult to get Bitcoins,” Ashley said. “So we wanted to streamline the whole process and make it easy for people to buy something and redeem Bitcoins with it.”
Taking something as intangible as Bitcoin and getting it to the masses required a bit of innovative thinking. Not everyone wants to leave their computer running for two weeks. The result is CoinTap – a gift card selling for $55, redeemable for $50 in Bitcoin at market rates.
“We want to go worldwide with this.”
It’s an easy way for an average Joe to get into the Bitcoin game. That $50, however, buys a lot less Bitcoin than Ashley projected it would when he did the math in spring 2013.
“I didn’t take into account what would happen when other countries start buying it, and the competition between countries like the United States and China,” he said. As the world has learned, the demand for Bitcoin has skyrocketed the value of the currency, reaching as high as $1,124 in December.
“The next country to come online that’s going to be doing that is India and they’re going to become another superpower with Bitcoin,” Ashley predicts.
Now, Ashley is dedicating more and more of his time to Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. He says that he trades in 50 of them. He builds computers for the single purpose of mining, collecting and trading virtual currencies.
“Then I have a bot, that’s an autotrading bot, that uses artificial intelligence to trade that [virtual currency] based on the highs and the lows,” he explained.
On January 14, Ashley sent out a press release to announce the launch of CoinTap and it’s single retail partner in Edmonton, Remedy Café. Of course, they’re looking to expand.
“We want to go worldwide with this,” he said.
He’s got the support of the Edmonton Bitcoin community. The first person to buy a CoinTap card was the founder of the Edmonton Bitcoin Meet-up group, Peter Dushenski, who helped to arrange the sale of CoinTap at the café.
Though many people remain skeptical of the long-term value of Bitcoin, it’s difficult to ignore the value of virtual currencies.
At the time of writing, that $12 Bitcoin is worth $948 CAD.