The user experience in crypto stinks. Metal Pay is building consumer apps that you actually want to use.
0:00:00 Ashe Oro: Hey what's up, Liberty Nation? Welcome back to Liberty Entrepreneurs podcast. I'm your host, Ashe Oro, and today, we've got Marshall Hayner. He is the CEO and founder of Metal, which is basically like a crypto Venmo. They're a payments company that bridges the crypto payments with the legacy financial system. This hits near and dear to my heart. As you know, I was in the banking industry for a couple years, so I expect a great conversation today. Marshall, welcome to Liberty Entrepreneurs.
0:00:31 Marshall Hayner: Thanks for having me on, Ashe.
0:00:32 Ashe Oro: Yeah, so fill in the gaps here of who you are, what your bio is, and how you got into crypto.
0:00:38 Marshall Hayner: Yeah, so my background is, I'm one of these early crypto people. I happened to be lucky enough to stumble on it, in the very beginning in 2009, and part of that was because of my interest in decentralized technology, and just being a geek, looking for things to play with on the internet. And when I was growing up, when I was in high school, when I was going off to college, I was living during the Napster time. Napster was the cool, hot new thing, and then from there, direct connect in college, and Limewire, Kazaa, [inaudible 00:01:15] those that remember it. And then BitTorrent. BitTorrent was so cool, it just blew my mind. 80% of all internet traffic is routed through this decentralized system. And what I thought was really cool was it was harder to censor, so it made journalism in different parts of the world much more possible. It allowed people to share files that they couldn't normally, or just share them more efficiently and faster. And I could see, this is where the internet is going. We're going to become this decentralized system, and the more we decentralize, the more power we give to people, and that just blew my mind. And so I became obsessed.
0:01:52 Ashe Oro: Yeah, I've gotta stop you there, because I was on the original Napster, back in 1999. And I wasn't as smart as you were. I was so focused on BitTorrent, and just seeding and leaching, and trying to download all this awesome content, that just wasn't on the internet yet. Back in the day, Scour and Kazaa and all this stuff, where there was no YouTube, so this was the source for our content.
0:02:16 Ashe Oro: I didn't put BitTorrent and Bitcoin together until about 2011 and '12, but yes. It's always fun. I could talk for hours about this. But what was finally the switch about Bitcoin that you were like, " Oh my god, this is similar to BitTorrent and file sharing, but for money"?
0:02:34 Marshall Hayner: Yeah. So, I was also big on torrents, and I thought it was really cool. I followed the story of [Bram 00:02:42] Cohen, who created it, and I thought, "Wow. This guy created this thing, with not a huge team, but by himself, in his basement, just hacking, builds this amazing protocol." And so I became a part of a lot of these different private communities, torrent tracker sites. And I became so involved, I became obsessed with this idea of decentralized Library of Alexandria. We could have all the movies, all the music. It's not about pirating. It's about just access. I would pay-
0:03:18 Ashe Oro: Yeah, it's about having it.
0:03:18 Marshall Hayner: Yeah. I would pay a fortune. When I was part of these communities, I was paying more money for movies and music than I've ever paid in my life. I'm buying Celine Dion CDs. I'm buying whatever I can, to fill the gaps.
0:03:32 Marshall Hayner: And in 2009, I'm on a site called What.CD I was an administrator on, and a thread pops up and it says, "I'm Trent Reznor. I want to release my music over What.CD. Help me figure out how to do it." And I think the first thought is, "That's not Trent Reznor. [crosstalk 00:03:49] end of this, everybody's gonna go, 'He asked me for money on PayPal. Where'd he go?'" And then, so, it's time to lock the thread now. Let's stop fake Trent Reznor from stealing everyone's money, and I said, "I heard you were Trent Reznor. Can you please prove that?" And he said, "Sure, no problem." He tweets from @TrentReznor, "Verifying my What.CD account."
0:04:09 Ashe Oro: Oh wow.
0:04:10 Marshall Hayner: At that's the moment where I say, "Oh my god. I'm a huge fan. So cool. How can I help? I think it's awesome that you're doing this." And everybody starts chiming in, coming up with different ideas about how Trent can release his music over this platform and how he can get paid in a decentralized manner. And they're all crazy, Rube Goldberg, let's strap all these payment options together and at the end we'll lump it out to him. It's not gonna work. It's clear that it's not gonna work, but I thought it was so cool that he was there.
0:04:42 Marshall Hayner: And towards the end of the thread, somebody said, "What about Bitcoin?" And I'm obsessed with BitTorrent and I think, "Bitcoin? Is that decentralized money? Oh my god. I have to" ... So I click through, I get onto the P2P Foundation website, I read this thread that's going on, I read the original whitepaper. I happen to be just there at the time. I was living in Boston, Massachusetts, at the time. And I just became obsessed. I thought, "Wow, this is so cool." I didn't understand it right away. Took me about a month, or maybe a little over a month to figure it out. Where does it connect to the bank? I don't get it. How do you turn it into money?
0:05:20 Marshall Hayner: And at the time, there were no exchanges. So people were saying, "How do you turn it into money? Well, it's whatever I'm willing to buy it from you for. So find somebody on the forum, and ask them." And pretty soon, Bitcointalk pops up by 2010, and now there's a forum, and we're all trading each other for prepaid gift cards, [inaudible 00:05:39] socks, order a pizza to my house. That was pretty popular, and Laszlo, the guy who got the triple digit million dollar pizza, he wasn't the only one. There were a lot of people getting pizzas and food orders and stuff. I was one of them. I'm ordering for other people, I'm moving thousands of Bitcoins around, on Bitcoin QT Wallet. I downloaded the original Bitcoin QT Wallet and thought, "Oh my god. This is crap." I think it's such a cool idea, but it's 2009. iPhone has been out for two years. No one's gonna send a mobile payment over their laptop-
0:06:16 Ashe Oro: [crosstalk 00:06:16] think of mobile payments, yeah. You didn't even think about sending electronic payments like this.
0:06:20 Marshall Hayner: Right, right. Well, I was thinking about it, but I was also fortunate enough to be one of the first people on PayPal, around Napster days, when they started. And then I was also one of the first people on Venmo. So to see this come out, I thought, "Well, man, this is so far behind the times. It's really cool technology, but first of all, we have to prove that this is worth money." So I'm out there trying to prove that it's worth money, and I'm just, to prove a point, buying and selling lots of Bitcoin, for gift cards and different things like that just to say, "Wow, this is so cool. We [crosstalk 00:06:56]-"
0:06:55 Ashe Oro: It works.
0:06:57 Marshall Hayner: It works. It works. Not really great, but it works.
0:07:00 Ashe Oro: But it works. Right.
0:07:02 Ashe Oro: Yeah, we're giving Bitcoins away to people just to have them ... Just try it. Just let me show you that it works. Here's half a Bitcoin. Let me just show you that it works.
0:07:11 Marshall Hayner: Yeah. I remember in 2011, I moved out to San Francisco, and I'm giving cab drivers ... Like, "Here's a Bitcoin. It's worth $10. It's gonna be worth a lot of money someday." If any of those people held onto those coins, they must be like, "That guy. He was on some other level." Right?
0:07:32 Ashe Oro: Yeah.
0:07:33 Marshall Hayner: But that was what I saw. Bitcoin QT, it took about 30 minutes to open, and this is before the blockchain was really a huge file, for Bitcoin blockchain. And I would say about 30% of the time, it would crash. And maybe 10% of the time, it would actually say, "Your bitwallet.dat file is corrupted." So you'd have to go into your hard drive ... I don't know if you remember these times, but this was really brutal times. And I remember thinking, "Wow, this is so cool." So I started investing, I started stocking up. And I thought one dollar, when we hit one dollar, "Oh my god. This is it. It's happening."
0:08:15 Marshall Hayner: But I thought, "There's no way we could ever go over $20, because that would be a half a billion dollars, and there's just no way that could happen. And if that happens, then most likely if it can go above that, then all bets are off. It could go to a million dollars. It could replace money as we know it, or change the face of money." So 2011, it hits $30. I'm on vacation, in Belize, and I told my significant other at the time, my ex, "Hey, I gotta fly back to Boston. I've got a lot of money in Bitcoin that needs to get sold right now." And I didn't end up getting back to Boston to sell the Bitcoin, and it goes back down to two bucks.
0:08:59 Ashe Oro: Two bucks, yeah.
0:09:00 Marshall Hayner: Yeah I'm like, "Oh, well when it hits $20 again, I am not gonna miss that opportunity. I'm gonna make sure." So by 2013, it hits it again, and I sell a lot. I'm thinking I'm really, wow, I'm smart. And at the same time, I'm also had decided that I wanted to make a piece of software. I wanted to contribute to this community in some way, after playing with it for a couple years, that I thought, "Well, if somebody can make a better piece of software, we could really make this ... We could accelerate this whole process. I want to put my name in the cement and say, 'I was a part of making the future of money happen.'" Because I thought I was there, and I thought it was so cool, and it just calls to me. It's calling to me.
0:09:41 Ashe Oro: I feel you. I'll never forget the energy back in 2012 and '13. That's when I got in. And just everybody was Bitcoin everything. And okay, we had Litecoin, we had Doge. They're cute, but Bitcoin was gonna be the thing. It's been an interesting evolution here the past couple years, but I feel you, man. That was an energy. It reminded me of the energy of the old ... I don't know if you were a Ron Paul guy back in the day, but that was the same energy I felt in that as well.
0:10:08 Ashe Oro: So it seems like the concept of Metal and MetalPay, and you can tell us what the difference there is. But it seems like it just came from your experience, just growing up on the internet, just seeing digital files just start being distributed, digital money start coming in, being in PayPal early, understand Vimeo. It just all came together, didn't it?
0:10:33 Marshall Hayner: Yeah, I basically saw that it could be something much bigger and so I set out to build this piece of software. Meanwhile, I'm reaching out to Bram Cohen. "Hey, Bitcoin, cryptocurrency. This could be something for BitTorrent, to really monetize this thing." And by 2013, I started building my first crypto app and I thought, "Well, if we can just make it so easy that you could press one button, and it would spin up your Bitcoin wallet, and you'd have a little bit, and you'd earn it as a game, and everybody was there. If my grandmother could use it, now we're talking. Now we're gonna start to see some adoption."
0:11:12 Marshall Hayner: So in 2014, we launched QuickCoin, which was my first app that I've ever launched, my first tech company that I had built. And it just took off. My grandmother was on there. "Hey Marshall, I sent my tennis friend some Bitcoin. And I sent your sister some Bitcoin too." And I'm like, "Wow, this is pretty cool." I fell asleep and I woke up to my whole entire Facebook thread of people QuickCoining each other, and some calls and messages from VCs. "Hey, what are you doing right now?" And I'm like, "Oh, this is cool. It's happening."
0:11:49 Marshall Hayner: And from there, the journey has just been amazing. DogeCoin started, end of 2013, beginning of 2014. Met Jackson, became friends with Bram, started to connect with a lot of people, deeper and deeper in the cryptocurrency community. I went to the 2013 San Jose Bitcoin Conference. I remember the energy there was, oh my god. This is happening now. It's not just weird alpaca sock people, like, "Take my Bitcoin." "I don't want that."
0:12:18 Ashe Oro: It's like people are paying attention. I can remember the same energy down at the 2013 Latin American Bitcoin Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was like, "Wow. Look at this. We're not just alone on our computers."
0:12:31 Marshall Hayner: That's right.
0:12:31 Ashe Oro: This is something that's really starting to happen. Now when did Metal and MetalPay, and what's the difference? But when did that really start to kick off and the vision start to become more and more focused for you?
0:12:42 Marshall Hayner: Yeah, so after QuickCoin, I left and I joined Stellar, and I got the opportunity to work with Jed McCaleb and the awesome team at Stellar. And we did something similar for the Stellar launch, where we created this thing called the Stellar Wallet. And we distributed Stellar based upon Facebook [inaudible 00:12:58] and this gamification, and it was awesome. That wallet, that application grew to over a million users in under a week. And I started thinking, "Oh my god. People really, really want this." And Stellar is a platform, and isn't so much focused on building the front end facing part. And so I left, to create Metal.
0:13:20 Marshall Hayner: There's a little bit of interim time where I worked on some other startups, advised some other projects. But my passion is really in growing this technology and seeing it evolve. And I know you're a big Libertarian, I am myself, a lot of our colleagues and friends. And what hits home with us is freedom, the ability to transact, the ability to say, "This is mine, and it's not just a credit to a bank or just an IOU, but I can own it." I can have ... It's the evolution of money. Now it's cash, but it's on the internet, and I think that that is the fundamental thing that the mass market doesn't understand yet. If you ask somebody what cryptocurrency is, they say, "Well it's something for tech elite people to make money off of," or, "I don't really understand it," or, "It's this thing that you gamble and speculate on the price."
0:14:06 Marshall Hayner: But the reality is, is that it empowers people, like we've never seen before, and breaks down barriers, and is permissionless. And these are all the things that Andreas Antonopoulos and Eric Voorhees are saying. This is very true. This is what it does. And when people really witness that and say, "Wow. I can move Metal from San Francisco to London to Africa, and back, and it can all happen in five minutes, and nobody needs any permission to receive the payment." And it's final. It has payment hardness. That is really, really amazing. That is mind-blowing. And that is what I think for the mass market, when they realize that cash isn't just paper anymore, that's gonna be ... Oh my god.
0:14:51 Marshall Hayner: And we know that as crypto people, but the mass market hasn't been able to play with it yet, or see that yet. And we're going to have this moment where, we started with, you had a wallet, and I had a phone in my pocket. And then I had a phone, with a wallet attached on the other side. And then, we're gonna cut this off ... So you cut that off, and it's just gonna be a phone. In fact it's probably gonna be just a watch.
0:15:18Ashe Oro: Right, exactly.
0:15:18 Marshall Hayner: But that's ... Yeah exactly. It's just gonna be a wearable, and you're probably gonna have some eye-
0:15:24 Ashe Oro: Contact lens of some sort.
0:15:25 Marshall Hayner: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:15:26]-
0:15:27 Ashe Oro: I want a HUD. I want a financial [crosstalk 00:15:29] know my health stats and stuff and my financial stats, and see when there's dangerous objects coming, or-
0:15:37 Marshall Hayner: Yeah. Whoever is building that please get in touch. I want to invest. I want to influence that product.
0:15:42 Marshall Hayner: But that was what was so mind-blowing for me, was to see that, and to see that evolution, clearly where we could go. And it is my mission and my dream, and our company's mission and vision, to share that with the world, to give that experience. But cryptocurrency is very technical, very hard, in its current form, even almost 10 years from the inception of Bitcoin. And now, I think we're finally getting to that inflection point where we can say, "Now we've got something that everybody can try." And when everybody sees the value, I do believe it's gonna be this explosive, just momentous growth moment for the world, where business starts happening at a higher rate, people are more empowered, parts of the world where a woman can't open a bank account, now that can happen. You can be much younger, but you could amass a fortune, at 12 years old.
0:16:37 Ashe Oro: Yeah. Blockchain is the great equalizer. It offers the equal access to anyone. Blockchain doesn't care what sex you are, or what race you are, or where you were accidentally born. This is true separation of money and state. And every Libertarian should appreciate that.
0:16:56 Ashe Oro: And all this weird infighting ... If there's one thing that Libertarians are great at, it's pointing out things from each other. But in the bigger scheme of things, I think that this, be it Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, whatever. All this infighting is gonna play such a little part in the overall monetary revolution that we're having. And it's the separation of the money and state.
0:17:21 Ashe Oro: Everybody wants separation of free speech and state, or religion and state, but what do you think it is? Why do you think ... And now we're getting a bit Libertarian, philosophical here. But why do you think that people don't yet appreciate or even think about the separation of money and state?
0:17:39 Marshall Hayner: Well, I just wanted to just rewind it for a second, what we were saying earlier. I was inspired by a lot of books, when I was younger. Cryptonomicon, and another big one was Ender's Game. Recently they turned that into a movie. I thought that was so cool, because the premise of Ender's Game is that these two young kids, in the book I think it's seven and nine years old, become a politician and a military general. And they can do it because they can do it over the internet, and it's all decentralized, and nobody knows who's who. And politics is like Reddit, where if you have great ideas, you get upvoted.
0:18:13 Marshall Hayner: And so, now to fast forward to what you're saying, I think that this technology, and where the internet is going and what a bit part of Web3 is, is building these economies of scale, over the internet. And that is what I believe is going to fundamentally change the world in a lot of ways, and is gonna be this spotlight moment for the internet. Because I do believe we're about to have radical transparency with the government, with voting, with money, and it's going to shed light on a lot of things that are really serious problems, but we can only fix them unless we start to pay attention to ... Maybe we don't have the voter transparency we thought we had. Maybe we don't have transparency into political systems, or the monetary system. One of the things that I think is so interesting is that, money is like a car. We all drive cars, but very few people know how to completely take them apart, and take the engine apart, or even change the oil. And so we drive these things around and say, "Oh yeah, yeah, it's a car. [crosstalk 00:19:18] works. How's it work? I don't know. Some sort of magic. Something that's over my head." And I think the same thing goes for money. You ask the average person, you ask somebody, "How does money work?" And he'll tell you, "Well there's the Federal Reserve, and I'm not really sure about all the details, but I know [crosstalk 00:19:40]-"
0:19:39 Ashe Oro: I just [crosstalk 00:19:40] and-
0:19:41 Marshall Hayner: But it's backed by the United States government and it works. And for the most part, it does. In other parts of the world maybe not so much. It depends on where you are in the world. But I think the interesting thing is that people have really never really questioned that so much. What is money? Where does it come from? How does it work? And that is something that I really want to get people to start thinking about, and start challenging. And that is really going to open up Web3 and the decentralized internet, is when people start to say, "Wait a second. Money could be any sort of unit that we can transact with, that we agree to have some sort of value, in a decentralized manner." And whatever is the most efficient form of that, is going to be the winner. I guess that's Bitcoin and Ethereum, and Ethereum Classic, all that infighting. But if you're-
0:20:29 Ashe Oro: Right. Everybody's jockeying for money it seems.
0:20:33 Marshall Hayner: Yeah, but at the end-
0:20:34 Ashe Oro: Understandably.
0:20:35 Marshall Hayner: That's right. But at the end of the day, we're all in this together. All the cryptocurrency people, we're in this together. We're fighting the good fight. We're trying to show people how technology can really empower you.
0:20:46 Ashe Oro: And the marketplace.
0:20:47 Marshall Hayner: And the marketplace. And I think that this is just really an amazing moment. For us as a company, for Metal, we just want to make it easy. We want to make it easy, we want to make it fun, and just the stuff outside the crypto piece for a second. Money, traditionally, is not fun. It's painful for a lot of people. We open our bank accounts and see getting down to the end of the month and say ... How many people open their bank account and look at it and go, "Yes." Very few people do that, right? And so-
0:21:18 Ashe Oro: Only on payday.
0:21:20 Marshall Hayner: Only on payday. And it doesn't have to be that way. It can be a much more pleasurable experience, and we can start to save, and to invest, even in micro amounts, even in smaller amounts. And when we start to dig in, to ... For example, I like the car analogy because, if you are becoming a car person, what's gonna happen? You're gonna start driving all kinds of cars. You're gonna start taking them apart. You're gonna start knowing everything there is ho wit works. And sooner or later, you become a mechanic or a car aficionado or an amateur racer. You're gonna be getting out there, driving the Lamborghinis and the awesome cars, even the vintage cars. That's what cryptocurrency is like for a lot of us, for people in the crypto space.
0:22:06 Marshall Hayner: So for people that are watching this, that are not yet into crypto, I want you to come and check it out. Come and play. It's the coolest ... If you're into internet ... If you're a geek like me, or even if you're not, and you just want to play, you want to experiment with new technologies, this is an opportunity. This is a really big opportunity and it's still super early, to be on the ground floor of this thing, and to be there when it's emerging. And-
0:22:31 Ashe Oro: Isn't it amazing to feel that we're still on the ground floor of blockchain tech? It's still ... For guys like us who have been doing this, it seems like every single day, for years. I can even feel myself like, "Oh my gosh, blockchain, blockchain, blockchain." But it's still so exciting. It's still progressing at such a fast rate. How do you think is a good way to get people into crypto? And let's tie this into MetalPay, because I know your team is trying to make this very user-friendly, something that people are used to, sending payments like with PayPal, but incorporating crypto. What does that mean for a new user?
0:23:08 Marshall Hayner: Yeah. So I think the thing is is that, we've all experienced this when we tell a friend, and they say, "Hey." They send you a Venmo request or something. You say, "Hey, I can send you the Venmo request. Or I could send you some Bitcoin, or Metal, or Ethereum." And people say, "Yeah, Ashe, I'm all set with that. Just regular money please." And I think, when you look at it, there's different kinds of cryptocurrency. There's volatile cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, like Metal, and then you have stable currencies like Tether and TrueUSD and Basis and Maker. And they have all these different purposes. And I think when people have a very pleasurable experience around it, it brings the natural questions. It creates an inquisitive nature. Ooh, I just earned a little bit of crypto. What's that? I want to play with it.
0:24:05 Marshall Hayner: That's what was so cool about Dogecoin, is that when Bitcoin started to heat up, and the price is rising, and if you want to send somebody $10, it's 0.1 BTC or at this point 0.0001 BTC. That's very intimidating, and it's not a great feeling, and if you lose the private keys or if you don't have a good experience, they're not gonna want to come back. But if you, for Dogecoin, I discovered this awesome community in end of 2013, 2014. You show up on Reddit and say, "What's Dogecoin? Wow. Such fun. 1000 Doge."
0:24:39 Ashe Oro: Much wow. Yeah.
0:24:39 Marshall Hayner: Yeah, and wow, there's a dog on a coin, and it's worth money apparently, and it's hilarious. And somebody just gave me a couple dollars, over the internet. This is really cool.
0:24:51 Ashe Oro: Which is a couple thousand Doge, yeah.
0:24:54Marshall Hayner: Right, right. And that [inaudible 00:24:56] was really interesting. It was a mistake in the original Dogecoin code, that it would actually ... It wasn't meant to mint forever, but that was a mistake that was allowed to persist. And it really proves that the money is what we make it. It's the belief we put behind it, and the experience we put behind it. And there's all different kinds of rules. There's the [inaudible 00:25:21] philosophy. Let's cap it. Then there's the more ... You have the Fed, or Dogecoin for example. Let's keep expanding it based upon, basically-
0:25:34 Ashe Oro: Infinity coin, yeah.
0:25:35 Marshall Hayner: Yeah, right. You could just keep expanding it. There's all different kinds of models, and that's what's so cool about this is that we're now all of the sudden testing all of the assumptions of money. We're testing all these different economic models, and we are about to go into light speed in terms of currency. What it can do, where it can go, how it functions, what are the best models. Because we haven't had, ever in human history, the ability to be able to experiment with money like this. And so that's why I just think for a user coming in, I come in, I send somebody some Metal, I make a Metal ... I send Metal to you, and that could be US dollars. I send $10 to Ashe, and you get 20 cents, and you pop it and you go, "Oh, wow."
0:26:19 Marshall Hayner: Okay, I do that 10 times, I have $2, and then I go and I tap to pay at Starbucks, or I cash it out to my bank, and I turn that $2 into a cup of coffee or a sandwich and I eat it. And I go, "Wow."
0:26:29 Ashe Oro: And it's real.
0:26:30 Marshall Hayner: Okay well, it's real now, because I just digested it, so-
0:26:34 Ashe Oro: Even just last year, people ... I used to write on Steam a lot, and I would get paid in Steam tokens, and they were like, "Yeah but these aren't worth anything." And so one day I was like, "All right. Come with me. I'm gonna show you how to convert Steam into Ethereum, and I will literally sell Ethereum here in Thailand." And you should see how bright people's eyes get when they're like, "Oh my god. This is real."
0:26:55 Ashe Oro: You talked a lot about how quickly, at lightning speed, we're able to change and experiment and evolve monetary and fiscal policy, if you will, of these coins. What does this mean for the government? Because we're gonna evolve so quick that their crony economist heads are gonna spin.
0:27:19 Marshall Hayner: I think that there are a lot of really sharp regulators out there. There are a lot of politicians out there, that do want to push these agendas and do want to see innovation happen. And realistically, that is the job of regulators. The good politicians, the people that we ... You mentioned Ron Paul. The people that you want to see in office, that want to push innovation, that want to grow the economy, that want to do really awesome things, that is their job. Their job is to protect the public, and to represent the public. And this is clearly something the public wants. And so, I think there is going to be resistance. There's no doubt.
0:28:00 Marshall Hayner: There's also the dark side of that, like the side of, "We're going to side with the parties that don't want to see this happen and don't want to see the innovation happen." So it's a fight. It's a battle. But I do believe that we are getting to a point where it's starting to hit mainstream, and I think that you are seeing a lot of really positive regulation in different states. Some where ... New York is tough, but they are trying to protect the public, with the bit license. And then other states like Wyoming, they're just jumping in, and they're saying, "Come here. Let's innovate." I think that's great. That's really awesome. I love seeing stuff like that, and I hope to see more states like Wyoming really embracing the technology, and Delaware, and saying, "Yeah, come to our state. Build this technology. We're going to make charters and exemptions for new fintech companies, and we're going to structure policy around cryptocurrency."
0:28:54 Marshall Hayner: I think where the really great regulators and really great politicians that see this, the senators and the congressmen and congresswomen that are watching this and seeing it evolve, get behind it, help it evolve, because this is going to be a big part of the new economy. And I think that really, one of the cool things about cryptocurrency is that it is ... Like the internet, it's unstoppable. It's just this unstoppable force, so like water, it will find the way to flow through. It's the honey badger. That's why we love it.
0:29:29 Ashe Oro: That's why I love it.
0:29:30 Marshall Hayner: And I think that you either help it along, or it's just gonna move ... It's gonna move with or without you.
0:29:38 Ashe Oro: It's gonna move somewhere. The value that's being created by this whole blockchain cryptocurrency evolution we're going through, it's creating value. And I love it that even politicians aren't outside of the marketplace. And what I mean by that is, either they're going to be protecting the incumbent Visas or something, and not allow this technology to come into their states, or they're going to invite this technology to come in their states, and they and their constituents are gonna benefit from the extra jobs that are created, the extra value that siphons in towards them.
0:30:17 Ashe Oro: I assume you guys have some ... You've had to have some license of some sort. Is it money transmitter license, or-
0:30:23 Marshall Hayner: Right. So in the US, regulations are really, really strict, very tough on when you start to deal with currency. And so, yeah. We are in the process of obtaining our money service business license, and then each state has a different license for money transmission. That's the money transmitter license. We're in the process of obtaining all 50 money transmission licenses. It's a really long, onerous process, about one and a half, two years. That doesn't include the cryptocurrency licenses for different states, for New York state, Washington state, and other states are coming online with cryptocurrency licenses. So it's a really long process. We've begun that process, and we're very fortunate to have really awesome partners that support us, and are helping us grow, and move through that. But yeah, it's difficult. And there's a reason why you don't see a lot of competitors to Venmo, PayPal, Square, Zelle, because it's just super hard. Not only do you need funding, but you need to have regulatory chops. You need to be able to know how to navigate through those waters, and you also have to have a high level of technical understanding and security. Fintech startup is one of the hardest startups to build, especially when you start to handle [inaudible 00:31:41] currency. And I think one of the reasons why we really haven't seen this adoption is because, what we're doing in Metal, we're doing some really serious heavy lifting that I think, for a lot of other companies, it was just like, "Well, in the short term right now what people want is just to speculate, so let's sell speculation." And for what we're doing, it really is a passion. It really is this larger vision.
0:32:05 Marshall Hayner: And of course, I think that it's a great business, and what we're building is an awesome business. And it really is going into what I call crypto 4.0. If 1.0 was [inaudible 00:32:17], and BitInstant, and Bitstamp, and some of the early exchanges were 2.0, and then Coinbase and Bitpay are 3.0. Then 4.0 is the next generation of apps and technologies that make Web3 happen. And so for us, a big part of that is really being an influencer, trying to get out to Capitol Hill and work with some of the lobbyist groups like Digital Chamber of Commerce and Coin Center, and really get ahead of it and explain. Because I think for regulators and politicians, they're also looking for answers. They're looking for thought leaders to explain the technology and show how it can really help.
0:32:57 Marshall Hayner: So that's really a big part of what we're trying to do, with not only that, but to give it to the average person and show them, this is why it's so cool. Let's break it down to a really simple, very easy, "I'm gonna send money, I'm gonna receive money, I'm gonna earn crypto. And then once I earn crypto, I can play with it, and what does it do? It allows me to send money anywhere in the world, instantaneously. It's digital cash on my phone, and I own it." That's really cool.
0:33:23 Ashe Oro: I'm glad there's people out there like you, Marshall, who are okay and see the necessity and the value in helping politicians understand this. I imagine it's like trying to teach your grandma about BitTorrent. It's like, "No, Granny, you gotta click here and then you're gonna download it, and you're just gonna download from 100 different places but then you can send it." Yes, the world we live in, there's a lot of Libertarian type people, who are ideologically so on their own little platform, that they believe that any type of cooperation with the government is ludicrous, nonsensical, you're turning your back on us.
0:34:03 Ashe Oro: We saw that just recently, about ShapeShift, and they said that they're eventually gonna require some level of AML and KYC anti-money laundering and know your client, for their exchange, because basically they're just a token exchange. What's your perspective on the willingness to integrate and educate, so that you can actually be a bridge, which I think is so necessary in the legacy and the crypto blockchain financial worlds?
0:34:35 Marshall Hayner: I think that ... And I've been following what happened with ShapeShift, and what's going on. I think that's part of the [inaudible 00:34:42] guidance around virtual currency exchanges, and know your customer. And I think, I was one of the first people on ShapeShift. I think my testimonial might still be on the site. "Eric is a legend. I think it's so cool." And it is a bummer, that regulation is stifling that piece a little bit. But, where I think this goes into, and what I think is really starting to get really cool, is that identity could be decentralized. It could be in, say, a Civic. Or you could log in with Metal. Your identity could be a node, or could be an address or a node on the blockchain, and we could have that reputation and trust there.
0:35:22 Marshall Hayner: But we just haven't really ... That technology is just happening right now. So it's gonna force that kind of thing, I believe, to happen a lot quicker. From the regulator landscape and that side, I think a lot of people are just trying to wrap their heads around it, to understand it. They want to see, how are people being helped by it, and how are people being hurt by it? And when they see people being hurt by it, like BitConnect or something like that, yeah. Regulate those guys out of here. I don't want to be associated with them whatsoever.
0:35:55 Marshall Hayner: But then, you look at Metal, you look at ShapeShift, you look at Coinbase, Circle, all these really amazing companies and platforms that are building really cool stuff. Give them the tools to build this and evolve this. Civic, with the decentralized identity. State governments, federal governments, start looking at these technologies, and start saying, "We can save a lot of money on identity theft and identity [inaudible 00:36:18]. This is gonna help people." And how are we going to integrate those technologies? And so, for us, it's really about making it real. We have this saying at Metal, "It's not real until you eat it."
0:36:29 Ashe Oro: Right, yeah. Can't eat gold.
0:36:32 Marshall Hayner: Yeah, right. That's a great point. Gold is really cool. And you mentioned Peter [inaudible 00:36:40]. I watched the Peter [inaudible 00:36:41] and Eric Voorhees debate. I thought it was awesome.
0:36:44 Ashe Oro: Yeah, for sure.
0:36:45 Marshall Hayner: [crosstalk 00:36:45] two really smart guys debating. I'm more on Eric's side obviously-
0:36:48 Ashe Oro: Obviously.
0:36:50 Marshall Hayner: -but I think that, it's real when you eat it, and when people have that experience, and they pop some Metal inside the app, and they're using the app just like Venmo. Why am I gonna use Venmo anymore when I get paid to use MetalPay, and I not only earn Me
0:37:17 Marshall Hayner: When I cash that out, and I eat it, or I send it over [inaudible 00:37:23] over the Ripple network and it goes to a bank, in South America or something like that, and it gets there instantly, to a part of the world where currency is very volatile, oh my god. Wow. I see it, Marshall. I see what's going on, and I want to be a part of it and I want to play, and I want to have fun. And then you start to get really interested.
0:37:44 Marshall Hayner: I remember the internet, circa 1995, '96. You've got mail. We have to dial up. I remember dialing up with Prodigy MSN, in the early '90s. I was really young, but there was a time when you had to use MS-DOS, and-
0:38:03 Ashe Oro: I can remember thinking that the entire internet was AOL. It's like thinking that the entire blockchain space is just Bitcoin. It's enormous out there, and yeah, there's just so many use cases that are being developed. And I saw somebody ... I can't remember who said it the other day on Twitter, but somebody said, "The only people worried about the cryptocurrency prices right now are the nonproducers and nonbuilders." When I look around and talk to my friends in the circles that I'm in, everyone is head down building right now. And it's great because the sparkle of 1000X returns or something, aren't there at the moment, so you don't get caught up in all that nonsense. You're just head down building.
0:38:45 Ashe Oro: You've mentioned the Metal token a couple times. I don't think we've defined it very well, or talked about it very well. What is the Metal token? How does that play into the overall MetalPay app? And can you just walk us through a user experience of who and why someone would use MetalPay? Just out in the real world.
0:39:05 Marshall Hayner: Yeah, so when I saw Bitcoin in 2009, it took me, like I said, took me a couple months to wrap my head around it. How does it work? And how does it have value? And the initial value proposition was hashcash, was Adam Back's hashcash and proof of work. And it's basically saying, "I'm going to take a dollar bill and I'm gonna light it on fire, and then in this hand, a Bitcoin is going to appear." And we could reverse it, but there's this alchemical process, and what is that process? I'm going to burn so many clock cycles per second, to guess at random numbers, to win the block reward, and that costs me real electricity and hardware costs and that kind of thing. So I'm taking real world value, and energy is not destroyed. It just changes form.
0:39:50 Ashe Oro: Converted to Bitcoin, right.
0:39:53 Marshall Hayner: It's converted to Bitcoin. So that was a genius idea to convert, to prove in 2009, that ... And the original whitepaper and discussions ... Well, the original discussions on P2P foundation was, "Oh yeah, anybody can just open up your laptop right now, and just" ... And I burned out my 2008 Macbook Pro. I brought it into Apple and they're like, "What are you doing on this?" [crosstalk 00:40:12]-
0:40:11 Ashe Oro: They'd never seen such stress.
0:40:14 Marshall Hayner: It was all warped. The plastic bar was all warped and cracked. They're like, "You leave this thing open and it's running at full steam?" I'm like, "Yeah."
0:40:22 Ashe Oro: I'm a gamer.
0:40:23 Marshall Hayner: Yeah, exactly. And so I thought, "Well, this is brilliant, but if it takes off, what's gonna happen?" This is gonna get industrialized. This is gonna get taken over probably by a nation, like China for example. If all these miners are being made and sold to people, I can see a future in which they're gonna stop selling those miners commercially, and then they're going to ... Those factories are going to buy the smaller factories and consolidate, and consolidate, and consolidate, and at some point the power company strikes a deal with the largest miner. And then the government steps in, and before you know it-
0:41:00 Ashe Oro: We have ... Yeah.
0:41:01 Marshall Hayner: Yeah this thing is more centralized than [inaudible 00:41:03] has ever been, ever.
0:41:05 Ashe Oro: Right. We've got every Bitcoiner's worst nightmare. Proof of work turns into centralization.
0:41:10 Marshall Hayner: Right, right. And so, I thought, I'm seeing proof of stake, I'm seeing different ... DPOS, I'm seeing all these new models pop up, 2012, 2013, 2014. There's the Ripple, the Stellar model, more of a distributed ledger. But there's all these different kinds of consensus algorithms, and I thought, "Well, I think that the consensus algorithms are going to improve to a point that I think proof of work is gonna become irrelevant."
0:41:36 Marshall Hayner: I think it was a great starting point, but I'm a firm believer that I do believe it will become irrelevant, at some point, and we're burning a tremendous amount of energy.
0:41:46 Ashe Oro: There's more efficient ways out there.
0:41:49 Marshall Hayner: We don't need, like we needed to in 2009, to prove that it's worth money anymore. That's clear. That's been proven. We're over that. Now we need to figure out a way to show the value to prove that it has value in people's everyday lives. This is the next step. And so I thought, "Well, if we could have a distribution model that everybody could participate in, like mining was in 2009, 2010, then we'd be talking." And everybody has a mobile phone, and what is the ultimate form of work these days, that everybody does outside of their day job? Social media. Social media interaction, interacting with people, and if I like something I should earn it. I thought, when Steam appeared, I thought that's really cool.
0:42:31 Marshall Hayner: human-powered proof of work, I think is the next evolution. And my concept behind Metal was that everybody could have a little piece. The original idea behind Bitcoin, the number 21 million, was that everybody in the world, seven billion at the time, could have 3% of one Bitcoin. And that was a really ... That was like, mind blown. And if Bitcoin took over all monetary instruments, then one Bitcoin would be worth ... Or actually the 3% I believe would be worth $80 billion, or something absurd.
0:43:08 Marshall Hayner: And so everybody gets full economic reset. Start over, everybody gets to have this equal playing field, and opportunity. And I thought, "Well, that's never gonna happen, because proof of work mining is gonna consolidate and consolidate, and then people may not see the value. And flash forward, almost 10 years. Here we are today. People have yet to really see the value. Proof of work has become highly centralized. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, because I think that the players that, where it did go to centralized, have demonstrated responsibility. But, that being said, it still is centralized.
0:43:46 Marshall Hayner: And these things are much more centralized than people want to believe, because when [inaudible 00:43:51] says fork, we fork. When Blockstream says, "This is what we're gonna do with the Bitcoin core git," that's what we do. And so, I think, I look at Apple as an amazing company. I had the first iPod. And Metal's philosophy is to say, "Let's give people amazing consumer front-end-facing apps, apps that you would want to use." We're looking at what's already popular and mainstream, that's peer-to-peer payments, that's microinvesting, and portfolio management for younger generation on the fly. And let's integrate crypto, and let's open this whole world of cryptocurrency to people that have never seen it before. But let's first just put it in their hands, like Dogecoin. What's this all about? Such fun, much wow.
0:44:35 Ashe Oro: Much wow.
0:44:36 Marshall Hayner: Here you go. Have it. Let's make it fun. And then we can start to build the ecosystem around it, because I think we have an infrastructure problem. And by infrastructure problem, I mean we have so much. We have so much but very few front end. We have no front end to this whole thing, but we've got infrastructure for days. We have hundreds of coins building infrastructure, but where's the front end? We need front end. We need use case.
0:44:58 Ashe Oro: It's like we've got developers everywhere, but where are all of our creatives to help this make sense? Where are our user experience people? We're building the foundational stuff that will scale, like EOS. I'm a big delegator [inaudible 00:45:12] stake supporter. We're starting to get the blockchains that can scale with speed, zero transaction cost. But nobody's really used a blockchain, outside of just a crappy wallet interface.
0:45:26 Marshall Hayner: That's right. And just sending crypto to crypto, and it's just one crypto person to another, and it's basically like every crypto conference. It's all the same people, seeing each other in different cities every couple of weeks. That's what it feels like right now. And I think what's really interesting is that, I think that the statistic is something like 30 or 40 million people using cryptocurrency. It's growing really rapidly. But still, there are games in the App Store, that have more users than all of cryptocurrency combined.
0:45:57 Ashe Oro: For sure.
0:45:59 Marshall Hayner: Like an Angry Birds, or something like that. And so that shows you how early we are, and my belief is that, if I can make this thing expand, in a really rapid fashion, and we can put a lot in people's hands, then we can start to have the belief and the experience, and that Pavlovian, that [inaudible 00:46:18], "Oh wow. I just earned some crypto, from just making a payment. Is that what crypto is? It's something that everybody can participate in? I thought only a few people could participate in this thing. I'm gonna get my grandmother on this, my mother, my father, my sister, my brother, all my friends, my whole family. Everyone is gonna try this because I want to share this experience with them."
0:46:39 Marshall Hayner: And so the idea behind Metal, the cryptocurrency, is to reach as many people as possible, in a really awesome way, starting with a really strong front end experience, and building the front end, building ... Bringing all the people there first. I saw an article from Jackson Palmer, the Dogecoin creator, friend of mine, posted recently about if they build it, if you build it, and they will come philosophy is wrong. Because if you build it, they might come. They might. But, I think that you also have to be thinking about why would people want to come to the game in the first place? What's in it for them? And so when you start to think about those questions, and you start to think, "Well yeah, if we build the infrastructure, yeah eventually they'll come. But we also have to have something really awesome.
0:47:24 Marshall Hayner: And when I looked at Apple, I think, "Wow, there's iPhone. Why would I want to build an app using Swift? Because Apple products are amazing, and everybody uses them." And once you connect into this ecosystem, you get all these cool things. You get Apple Watch. You get Siri. You get iMessage. You get all these amazing things, that Apple really laid the foundation. So we're taking a front end approach, and building from the front end. We leveraged Ethereum, which is amazing blockchain and network. And then we're going beyond that to say, "We're gonna start with the front end approach, and then we're gonna leverage the blockchain infrastructure, and start to build out our own blockchain network and our own system."
0:48:08 Marshall Hayner: But first we have to give people a real reason to why they want to come here. And we've always said as a company, "We're agnostic." We look at all the best technologies, and we want to integrate them. We want to build on Apple. We want to build on Ethereum. And if and when and where, when we start building our own in-house technologies because we see the direction that that's going, we want to give a better experience for our customers, for our developers. Yeah, let's do it that way. So taking the Apple approach, and giving people a really awesome experience before we say, "Okay let's build all this infrastructure," because it's already there.
0:48:39 Ashe Oro: Yeah, Apple didn't become so huge because they had the best hardware. It was a combination of good hardware and a great user experience.
0:48:47 Marshall Hayner: Design. Design, putting design front and foremost. And that is, when you open our apps, you're gonna see. We actually have a awesome amazing Apple designer, who has ... Sid Parihar has done a great job with our apps. And I really feel that putting design at the forefront of a user experience is what's gonna make this whole thing really take off. Because if I don't feel like I want to lick the buttons off the screen, or I have a really strong desire to open this app ... If it looks cold and ugly, I hate to say it, but a lot of the early crypto apps are really ugly. But they're highly functional. Electrum is highly functional but visually, oh god.
0:49:33 Ashe Oro: It was a racket.
0:49:34 Marshall Hayner: Yeah, yeah. But functionally it's great. And so, that is really what we're trying to do. I look at OS9 and OS10 and saying, Apple built on top of Unix. That was brilliant. That's a great open source technology. Windows sucks. I'll say it. It sucks. It's terrible. But OS10 is fantastic. And they took open source technology and they stayed agnostic, and they leveraged it in such a way that they could really allow the open source community to build a lot of that infrastructure, and then leverage that to put beautiful design and a beautiful front end face on it, to say, "That's it. That's the computer that people want. That's the phone that people want."
0:50:18 Marshall Hayner: And flash forward from 1997 when we were on Napster, and I think in '98 maybe the first iPod came out. I think it was this thick. I had the first iPod. I had the G3, the G4, the iMac, all that. And it was like, "Wow, this is really happening." Flash forward to today, and a few people had it. Now I walk into a café in San Francisco, every single laptop is a Macbook.
0:50:40 Ashe Oro: Every single person, yeah.
0:50:40 Marshall Hayner: Every single phone is an iPhone. Everybody's got an Apple Watch. They clearly hit the nail on the head by staying agnostic, using open source technology, leveraging the open frameworks, and then putting a really beautiful design on it, and really focusing on user experience and asking, "Why would people want to use my products? Why would they want to use my Apple laptop or iPhone?" Or in our case, why would they want to use Metal payment products? Why would they want to use our banking products, our investment products, our peer-to-peer mobile payment apps?