Interviews 20 November 2018Charles Miller
Lambos for cryptos: that was just act one of Elizabeth White’s ambitions
Elizabeth White has a big announcement to make during her appearance at the CoinGeek Week Conference. She’s not giving much away in advance, but promises that “it’s a ground-breaking innovation that brings cryptocurrency to the real world in a way that you can use every day – across the whole range of retailers and services.”
And it’ll further the aims of her crypto retailer The White Company, which she founded only last year. “We provide a service …how to convert your crypto holdings into something that you actually like – like a Lamborghini.”
Speaking from her office in New York, Elizabeth said that those mythical Lamborghinis, so beloved of crypto traders, are very real in her world. She’s already sold an amazing 41 of them in exchange for crypto, along with a collection of other luxury items worth $150 million in old money.
You might imagine those sales will often involve some complex cross-border transactions, but Elizabeth says most of her customers want to buy things that are sourced in their own countries. “I really don’t see it as people just wanting to buy a Rolls Royce in the States so they don’t have to buy it in their own state and claim tax wherever – because you still have to title everything, you still have to let the government know what’s going on.”
One of the main attractions of The White Company for crypto millionaires was because it used to be slow to get crypto converted to fiat through an exchange: if you wanted to get $300,000 out in a day, “you’d be sitting there for months …paying fees every time and having to report every little detail about where the transactions were coming from.”
The White Company provided a solution: “it was a lot easier for people to say ‘I have $300,000 worth of crypto, can you exchange this into a car?’. The answer is ‘yes we can do it that day’.”
And by setting an immediate price, the buyer isn’t subject to changes because of the volatility of crypto, “so we were able to create real time trades, real time amounts, not keep going back and forth with them.”
Elizabeth isn’t worried about the falling value of cryptocurrencies since the start of the year. “There were a lot of uneducated purchases made in the market that were just based on gut. The ‘free money’ thing doesn’t last forever.” She’s similarly level-headed about the flurry of new coins, launched with ICOs: “you can’t just trust that because it’s a coin it’s going to go somewhere just because other coins have gone somewhere. A lot of things don’t need blockchain – they just don’t.” The bottom line is “I think it should teach people that they should actually research …before investing, just like they do with anything else.”
While she is a realist – “I don’t think cryptocurrency was made just to make people wealthy from nothing” – Elizabeth is also a long-term optimist: “I think there is a true use case for it. And the case might not even be seen for the next five years.”
But we don’t have to wait five years for important developments in crypto. Back to her big announcement at the conference, Elizabeth told me “if you want to entice people to come along, you can tell them we’re giving everyone a free ******.”
Sorry folks – you’ll just have to be there to find out what that is.
Elizabeth White will be speaking on Building a Two Sided Network on November 29 at the CoinGeek Week Conference in London.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.
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