Bitcoin entrepreneurs tend to be incommoded by digital wallets belonging to payment processing industry giants Visa and Mastercard due to the use of time and resources they would like to spend adapting to Bitcoin.
The companies do not intent on slowing down a disruptive technology; the fact is that they are built on ugly legacy systems yet are too big to be ignored.
According to Marcel Roelants, general manager for BitPay in Europe, who also worked for MasterCard for five years, the situation is indicative of the way big corporates fail when it comes to innovation.
“They come with solutions that are inside out technology driven. I heard from a lot of merchants integrating features of V.me and MasterPass is a nightmare,” Roelants said in an interview with IBTimes UK, mentioning Visa’s V.me digital wallet and its opposite number at MasterCard, MasterPass.
“We have spoken to some merchants about starting to use bitcoin and they said sorry, but they had to spend all their resources and the next half year integrating these V.me type systems. These are the leaders in the market; we can’t ignore them cause then we don’t get transactions,” he added.
For instance, concerning BitPay, the world’s largest processor of Bitcoin payments, out of 120,000 merchants that accept Bitcoin, some 65,000 use BitPay’s technology to store their bitcoins and connect transactions between merchants and the Bitcoin network, where they are stamped into existence. As said by Roelants, that is a perfect example of where these large corporations are missing the connection with the market.
“They don’t listen to customers, they don’t listen to merchants, and then it takes them five years to develop something. All the time this technology is moving faster and faster. We are ramping up faster with bitcoin payments than PayPal did in its early days, for example.”
According to Marcel Roelants, if Visa and MasterCard did not work for a few years they still make money because people are doing transactions, so they do not have a drive to come up with innovations.
Roelants said the card provider is being “careful”, swayed by negative press surrounding the likes of the Mt.Gox collapse. However, he said that BitPay talks to a lot of merchants doing prepaid cards from the provider, which can be topped up with bank transfers and other means of making payments such as Bitcoin.
Marcel Roelants takes a philosophical view of disruptive technologies. “When I was at MasterCard we always talked about the Kodak example, but what about MasterCard being disrupted by any of this new technology?” he said.
Looking back, Kodak did not adequately adapt to the adoption of digital photography and ended up going bankrupt in 2012.
“Are these guys looking into it? Definitely. But are they moving fast enough, or are they stuck in the mind set of – ‘we make enough money doing what we are doing’ and so stay with the core business and not going to change – this could become their worst enemy. The same could happen to Visa. They have got their eyes closed.”
Marcel Roelants is part of steady flow of experienced financial services professionals moving over to Bitcoin start-ups, and leaving behind a culture which struggles to stay abreast of innovation.