In 2011 Elizabeth White bought her first Bitcoin as an experiment, she wanted to see where it would go. Fast forward 5-years and cryptocurrency had landed, it was now a bull market with self-made millionaires raring to spend their coins – without the hefty transaction fees.
In 2016 she spotted the opportunity to provide a luxury concierge service and The White Company was born. From laptops to Lamborghinis, the company provides a full service.
As the winner of the Stevie Award for the Most Innovative Woman of the Year – Technology, she hasn’t stood still. Within her business, you can find sales of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, rare art and jewelry to clients all over the world in exchange for crypto, and it transacted around $250 million over the past year alone.
With no shortage of crypto millionaires seeking her services, I wanted to find out just how White became so popular amongst the cryptocurrency community.
Elizabeth, talk to me about luxury. Why is it so popular?
Luxury, in general, is in high demand as an aspirational achievement purchase. People buy luxury items because they want the “best” of something, or as a status symbol. In cars, which is a large part of our business, certain brands like Lamborghini have appeal as both being some of the best and fastest automobiles but also as a recognizable brand that is associated with success. Art is another luxury that gives buyers a sense of status but can also be an attractive investment. We also see luxury experienced like VIP tickets or travel packages in high demand, because even if they can’t afford them on a regular basis, it provides a “taste” of the luxury life. Luxury is not just for the wealthy, and our customers from a variety of ages, incomes, occupations.
Why did you decide to get into the crypto world?
I became interested in Bitcoin in its early days, primarily because it was a “counterculture” investment that was looked down upon by many of my friends and colleagues in traditional finance. In the beginning, there was very little use of Bitcoin, but the appeal of the “send money to anyone anywhere for next to nothing” concept that it was based on was very interesting to me, as I have always had to deal with international payments in the cumbersome traditional banking system in my previous work, with multinational luxury companies based all over the world such as the LVMH group, Formula 1 and McLaren Automotive.
In 2017, cryptocurrency experienced a huge bull market, making many small investors, bitcoin miners and entrepreneurs in the space very wealthy. The majority of those new “crypto wealthy” were younger, and all had a sense that this could go away just as quickly as they got it. They wanted to spend and enjoy their wealth, rather save and invest like is common for old wealth. Most of them were not able to easily exchange the cryptocurrency into cash, due to restrictions and limitations on exchanges etc. I worked with Apis Capital Management to provide liquidity to the White Company and enable us to easily accept cryptocurrency as payments while paying vendors in fiat (traditional) currency.
What’s the best thing about your company?
High-profile people prefer to remain anonymous when purchasing luxury; from keeping some privacy for their personal life to protecting price negotiations. The White Company offers this chance, especially to crypto millionaires.
How have you diversified?
The biggest element is our own fiat-backed stablecoin business to deal with the issue of volatility. This is something we have talked about for over a year since Basis became popular but since they did not follow basic principles of economics, they were bound to fail.
Instead, the White Company has built a complete financial services platform for payments, which was necessary to seamlessly conduct business with clients initially. As a result, we now provide a wallet and exchange service (White Wallet), a cryptocurrency merchant processor (White Pay) and are launching the first cryptocurrency-fundable MasterCard debit card (White Card) that also provides spending rewards in partnership with REM Loyalty. This service, which has partnered with Uber, offers rewards for renting, ride-sharing and global travel that never expire and are transfer free.
Where do you see the market going?
The speculative bubble in cryptocurrency is over, which is a good thing, as it allows the community to focus for more serious, long term projects, such as the solutions that White Company is building. While there will probably be only a handful of cryptocurrencies that will remain relevant in a few years, there will be many revolutionary services and companies built on blockchain technology. The market will focus on transactional stablecoins (like WSD) that simplify global payments, as well as using blockchain technology to simplify administration of real-world investible assets (such as real estate, hedge funds etc).
With $250million turned over this year alone, despite the statistics, there seems to be a demand home for crypto millionaires after all.