Our latest Tweepler Q&A session is with CEO Cyril Houri of the Bitcoin-based marketplace Brawker.com.
Tweepler: In a few sentences, what is Brawker from the buyer and seller perspective?
Cyril Houri: Brawker is the first online marketplace that enables users to buy anything online with Bitcoin and easily purchase Bitcoin from other users with a credit card or Paypal account. People with bitcoins post an order with the description of what they want to buy online, leaving the item’s worth in bitcoins in escrow. Then a person interested in buying bitcoins will purchase the item for them and receive the escrowed bitcoins in exchange.
This is exactly how the very first Bitcoin transaction happened: in 2010 someone gave 10000 bitcoins to someone else if they would order a Pizza for them. We took this concept and made it available to everyone with an online platform
Tweepler: Help explain the concept a bit. Why would someone pay a premium to get bitcoins over the normal exchanges, thus giving the seller of Bitcoins a discount on whatever they are purchasing?
Cyril Houri: People pay a premium to buy Bitcoins on Brawker because it’s fast, easy, and purchases can be made with a credit card or Paypal account. Buying bitcoins becomes as easy as ordering something on Amazon and people are willing to pay a premium for that convenience.
That being said, we now offer the ability to make a counter so if someone only wants to pay a low premium for their bitcoins (or no premium at all), they can now do so. At the end of the day, when an equilibrium has been found between buyers and spenders, the market will decide what is the premium that people are willing to pay for the convenience of this service.
Tweepler: How do you help prevent fraud with payments for the good and services people use Brawker to pay for?
Cyril Houri: There are multiple levels of protections to prevent fraud. First, we have our own automated fraud protection system that excludes people who do not meet our verification standards for buying bitcoins. Then the merchant where the order is placed also have their own fraud verification system: credit card fraud is not new and credit card gateways offer their own built-in verification.
Finally, we have a reputation system so that people who use our service can do so only with users who have a strong reputation and who have completed multiple orders successfully.
Tweepler: One of the most famous example is someone paying their parking ticket using Brawker. Can you explain the benefit of doing this over using normal credit card or check payments?
Cyril Houri: The benefit of paying a government fine or fee with Brawker is twofold – first, it allows you to take care of those types of expenses in Bitcoin, meaning you don’t have to go to the trouble of exchanging your bitcoins for dollars to pay. Second, you can get a discount by paying with Bitcoin through Brawker, and save a few bucks in the process.
One thing to also keep in mind that there is an increasing number of people who earn their salary in Bitcoin. Being able to pay for their everyday expenses is a welcomed development for these people.
Tweepler: What is the most expensive thing someone had used Brawker to buy?
Cyril Houri: So far the most expensive item purchased on Brawker has been a 14.1″ Galago UltraPro Laptop that sold for 1608.12USD.