We are very excited to announce officially that we have rebranded. So its farewell Cryptosigma… and hello TOAST!
Product evolution and transformation is a wonderful thing, especially when what emerges from the chrysalis is new and improved. So whats the difference between Cryptosigma & TOAST I hear you ask! Perhaps I should start instead with whats similar.
Cryptosigma was ultimately a product aimed at those who wanted to make international remittances powered by a new type of financial infrastructure that we know as ‘Bitcoin & The Blockchain’.
Like every startup (and human being for that matter) you spend a lot of time tweaking, adjusting, improving your product (or yourself). The adjustments are minor and the destination not always what you expected but ultimately with a fair wind (and occasionally stormy seas) you arrive at your universally intended destination. There is faith in knowing ‘calm sea’s do not make skillful sailors’.
So, with that in mind; the point I am trying to make is that we realised as wonderful as Bitcoin is, it is still not mass market suitable and we wanted to help make it so by deploying a product that a) solved a big problem right now (not 10 years from now) and b) a product that appealed to a large enough group of people with problem ‘a’.
Sorry Bitcoin friends, as much as we see Fiat currency failing, people still use it. The reality is, regardless of what is happening in Greece, Zimbabwe, Argentina and Ukraine; people are not going to stop using Fiat currency anytime soon.
So what was Cryptosigma, it was a Bitcoin exchange / wallet with an ‘Auto – Exchange’ function meaning you could receive Bitcoin and it would be automatically entered into a sell order and converted into your ‘Fiat Currency’ of choice whether that be US Dollar / Singapore Dollar or Philippine Peso. Based on the fact that we initially though this was enough to generate uptake from the mass market but the big problem we became aware of was that educating the mass market to use something as radically different as Bitcoin, not just in concept, but in terms of buying experience is still incredibly complicated. You have to:
- Find a Bitcoin exchange
- Set up an account with that exchange
- Scan your ID and proof of address documents
- wait for your documents to be verified and account to be approved
- Fund your account via Bank Transfer
- Wait for funds to arrive and be credited to your account
- Figure out what a bid/ask (buy/sell) currency order book is if you’ve never seen one (chances are that you haven’t).
- Click Buy and your Bitcoin will then be stored on a long alphanumeric ‘wallet address’ that looks like this 1JArS6jzE3AJ9sZ3aFij1BmTcpFGgN86hA
- You then need to figure out how and where to send those bitcoins from this wallet address to wherever you need them to go.
When I see this process I ask myself ‘Aaron, does this pass the Mum test?’ how easily could my dear Mother complete this process and the question is, not easily at all. Therefore this equals a Mum test FAIL!
I looked at Cryptosigma and what we had built, it was beautiful but it needed to be broken down and simplified. I needed to analyse what we had built and recognise what was a) good/easy about Cryptosigma and what was b) complicated/hard.
Of those two lists, i asked the team and myself what did we have the power to change and what could we not change. Due to the open protocol nature of Bitcoin and the Blockchain the beauty of the problem was… we could change whatever we want in terms of the application we were building on the Blockchain (think of it like building a website or app on the internet, same thing pretty much).
So, first thing was first. We needed a new name…. TOAST! Why? Well, because sending money should be easier than it takes to make a piece. If you want the real story about how I came up with that name, ask me on twitter @aaronsiwoku or in person, its a quirky story and I like telling it. 🙂
Ok, so what was next. We needed to find a better product market fit, the hard reality was we didn’t really have one. Who were we going to build this product for other than hardcore Bitcoin geeks like ourselves, and what was the problem we were trying to solve.
The problem is an obvious one, sending money internationally is a pain in the rear end. Sending money if you get paid in cash and have no bank account is even harder. So who gets paid in cash? Migrant workers! Bingo, Singapore is 42% migrant workers and we live there, great starting point! So we broke this group down into ‘skilled and low skilled’ skilled workers tend to have a bank account as they are at the higher end of the economic spectrum. Low skilled workers tend not to have a bank account, domestic workers, construction workers etc. We looked at how this group of individuals was currently sending money and it was complicated and impractical. On one Sunday a month in Singapore (most low skill migrant works only get 1 day off per week) there is a mass descent of Filipino workers on a place called ‘Lucky Plaza’. Lucky Plaza is the cash money transfer hot spot of Singapore and possibly the most competitive remittance centre on earth for in this place you can send up to $2999 for as little as $4 SGD ($2.97 USD).
Most migrant workers send up to half of their salary home to their country of origin once per month. The price of sending money at Lucky Plaza is great but unfortunately the process itself is not, as it requires travelling to Lucky Plaza, queueing up, and doing that on your only day off sucks, when you’d rather be at home or hanging out with your friends in the park instead of standing in a queue waiting to send money. So we decided here it was, we had found our problem to solve and with it our target market.
Cash remittance / Overseas Foreign Workers!
So, how would this involve Bitcoin & the Blockchain (whenever I say these words together i always think of ‘Hootie & the Blowfish’ for some weird reason).
Anyway, Hootie aside we still had some serious decision making to do. Should we try to educate people about Bitcoin or should we just use Bitcoin as the ‘rails’ upon which we made the cross border remittance happen. We decided on the latter, TOAST would be (for now) a ‘Bitcoin Invisible’ solution.
Our reasoning was that if you’re remitting money, you don’t care what technical process is used to deliver it (it could even be homing pigeons for all the end user cares), they just want the money to get there secure cheap & fast/efficient manner. In the same way if you send an email you don’t care about how TCP/IP works, you just want to know the message got there in the quickest and most efficient way possible. Exciting! So began our ‘Bitcoin in the background’ site redesign. It was already clean and simple, but it had to be cleaner, and simpler.
It had to be specifically about what we wanted people to do with it which was:
- Deposit Money
- Send Money
- Receive Money
- Withdraw / Spend money
This is how the new Dashboard now looks.
And here is how the Android app will look:
So for everyone who has been patiently waiting for the last year to see and use our product I have good news and not so good news.
We plan to do our official launch in November, and until then we will continue to operate in Beta mode while we tweak and get the product functioning in a slick enough manner to support a successful deployment into the market. From there we hope to rapidly grow not only to serve Filipinos who need to send an international money transfer from Singapore to the Philippines but be able to serve anyone who needs to send an international money transfer from anywhere to anywhere.
If western union is too expensive, you don’t like queuing up for hours on your only day off, or if you’re banked and don’t enjoy the sub par application experience consistently delivered to you by your bank; then the Toast team and I hope in the not too distant future you’ll be telling friends and family ‘hey don’t send me a bank transfer…just Toast me!’