I am Shamir Karkal, co-founder of Simple Bank and Current CEO at Sila, the Payments API. Ask me anything 06/11/19 @Noon PST

Hi Shamir, who is your mentor and someone you’ve inspired you to build companies? Why?

Hi Shamir, as someone who has been studying a lot about finance, what is something that not many people know when it comes to banks? (all fees are refundables…)

Hello Shamir,

What do you think about the future ecosystem of stablecoins in terms of regulation (both domestic and international)? Will they be able to become a globally reproducable fiat on-off ramp or will only the big banks/companies be able to handle the risk of covering this crypto->fiat conversion? Thanks.

In what year do you think physical cash will become obsolete?

I am not sure it added that much credibility @David. Our experience was that a lot of people trusted Simple by default, and our messaging and transparency went a long way to foster that. People don’t really trust their traditional banks, they trust the FDIC to ensure that they don’t lose money, and the Fed and the CFPB to ensure that they don’t get scammed.

Domain name cost 100s of thousands of $. We paid much of it in stock, so putting an exact number on it is hard. This was after the Simple Series B, so we had the ability to pay some cash, and we realized that the more successful we became, the higher the price would be. So after the Series B we bit the bullet and bought it. BTW, I hate domain-name squatters.

Twitter handle we didn’t buy, and ostensibly they were not for sale. Some dude (in Brazil I think) had registered @Simple and hadn’t used it for years. We asked Twitter for it and they didn’t give it to us for a long time. Right after we started advertising on Twitter they decided to transfer it to us. No connection off course.

1 Like

Hi @hangtngo, I find Libra/GlobalCoin quite flattering. Its very similar to Sila structurally - a custodial stablecoin with a built in platform. In our case, our REST/HTTP API platform enables financial innovators to build and ship apps quickly. Facebook has WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, etc. The obvious advantage Facebook has is its massive scale and reach. It does have some serious customer trust issues, especially in developed markets. I would never store any real money with Facebook personally, and I am very leery of using them for any payments activity. I suspect many folks feel the same, and that could be a big problem for them.

1 Like

Hi @caternoon. Banks have many huge problems. Their business models are tired, their customers hate them, and their technology sucks even worse than their top management. But one huge advantage they do have is regulation - it creates a massive barrier to entry. That barrier has allowed one of the largest industries in the world to stay immune from technology-led disruption, so far at least. The promise of blockchain technology is in reducing that barrier to entry, and bringing transparency to the whole system. As that happens, I expect some banks will successfully transform themselves into modern customer-centric and tech focused organizations, but many will fall by the wayside.

Hi Gina,
Three categories of companies

  • those I’ve invested in
  • those I like for various reasons
  • those that are potential or current Sila customers.
    Some names include - Stripe, Square, Acorns(investor), Aspiration, Transferwise(investor), RealtyMogul(investor), Earnup(investor), BloomCredit (investor), Nala (investor), Wallet.ng, Esgro, inDinero (investor), Mpower (investor), RemitR, Remitly, Setu, Eko
1 Like

Hi @Brandon. I don’t really have a view on the price of Bitcoin, except that it will continue to be highly volatile. I believe that to drive mass adoption of new monetary technology, we need tokens that are stable in value. I love owning Apple stock, but I don’t want to get paid in Apple stock, or pay my mortgage in Apple stock. The great value of the $ and other major global currencies is their stability and ubiquity, and thats why we built Sila as a custodial stablecoin pegged to the $.

Hi @Hackerhodl. I don’t really know Quorum and Multi-chain well, but I prefer Stellar over Ripple. Its still very early days for all of them though, so it will be interesting to see where this goes.

what are the major regulatory/legal issues that you have to deal with? how onerous have you found the MTL/MSB particularly?

Hi @utsavjaiswal. Decentralization always comes with a technical cost. Question is what benefits does it bring, and are those worth the cost? Also, newer technology can move the tradeoff curve. So Proof-of-Stake and sharding are inherently more scalable than the Proof-of-work pioneered by Bitcoin. Ultimately, its up to the developer to pick a blockchain that works for the application they are building - if you need high- throughput on transaction processing, then a Proof-of-work based system is not a good bet.

1 Like

Hi @satoshis_santa. I don’t think complete anonymity can co-exist with usability in banking/payments systems. Ultimately somebody is going to know who you are, where you live, and that you have money - otherwise you can’ really spend that money. Nobody knows the real identity of Satoshi Nakamoto, but if he started trying to spend any of his massive bitcoin wealth, then he would be found pretty quickly. The real question is how much privacy do we want, who can get access to our personally identifiable information, and how?

1 Like

Hi @austin. Why wait? Signup for the Sila beta (https://console.silamoney.com/register/) and get hacking today :-).

Lots of super cool use-cases, but my favorite so far is real-time automated weather insurance. Imagine living on a caribbean island, watching a hurricane hit your home town, and as you are driving to a shelter, you get a notification that the wind-speed at the nearest weather station hit X, and so your insurance payment is already in your bank account.

1 Like

Hi @Mary_crypto. I think developed markets are slower in adoption tech in general, mainly because life is already good here for the majority of people. If you are a poor fisherman in South Asia, a mobile phone is a transformative technology that allows you to get weather updates, pricing information, coordinate with other fisherman, etc. It can literally mean the difference between life and death if a hurricane comes along. So most of the explosive growth of technology has been happening in the developing world - Myanmar went from <3% mobile penetration to 70%+ in less than 2 years.
Financial technologies are the same - when 80% of the population already has a bank account, most people aren’t desperate for a solution. In India, the UPI payments system has gone from scratch to 800 million transactions a month in less than 3 years.
Regulation plays a part in this, but in western democracies, regulation is a reflection of societal attitudes - if it is not changing rapidly, that means large numbers of people aren’t willing to vote to make it change.

Hi @karla. We are very early at Sila, so I can only tell you what I know. So far, we are working on producing good content, helping customers, encouraging them to refer other customers, doing developer focused events, partnering with accelerators and other early stage organizations, and direct marketing. All of them seem to be working reasonably well - ask me again in 6 months and I’ll tell you if one of them is a slam-dunk :slight_smile:.

Hi @Ian-shark. Personally I am involved in quite a few, but as a company Sila hasn’t really had the time to focus on social initiatives. I’d love to get involved in more, but we probably have to get bigger first.
Democratizing finance and increasing access are the key to helping people. Its not that folks such as @austin don’t want to make the world a better place - its just very hard to do. We want to make it much much easier to innovate in finance, and that will allow a lot more innovations that help everybody. Our first customer Friendowment (https://friendowment.us/) is a great example of that.

Hi @hannah1. More and more DeFi applications are being built to solve real problems for ordinary folks who don’t know anything about crypto and don’t want to speculate on crypto-currencies. I think that trend will continue for the next few years, and eventually make blockchains as mainstream as REST/HTTP, cloud computing, or the internet.

Hi @Lauren_Jill. Not in the next couple of years. Nothing in banking changes that fast - its a $15Trillion industry globally after all. But in 20 years, blockchains will be as integral to banking as the internet is today.

Hi @Alina_Loves_BTC. Right now we support Ethereum, and have an ERC-20 contract on the main-net as well as on the Rinkeby testnet. I haven’t really found a blockchain that I think is perfect for our needs so far, but Ethereum has a lot of adoption from the developer community, so we decided to start by supporting it. We will probably support more blockchains in the future, but I don’t know which ones yet.