'Transcends Boundaries': Former US Justice Department Attorney Says Cryptos Will Give 'Power to the People'

  • General partner at Andreessen Horowitz thinks cryptocurrencies may allow the 2 billion unbanked population to participate in the global economy. 
  • Andreessen Horowitz's a16z crypto fund takes a "very long 7 to 10 year view" on digital assets. 

Kathryn Haun, a general partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and former federal prosecutor at the US Justice Department (DOJ), will reportedly be managing the Silicon Valley company’s recent $15 million investment (6% ownership stake) in MakerDAO - a stablecoin project developed and deployed via the Ethereum blockchain.

Giving "Power Back To The People"

With its multi-million dollar investment, Andreessen Horowitz’s cryptocurrency fund (a16z) has directly acquired a large amount of Maker Coin (MKR), which is a cryptocurrency issued by the MakerDAO project.

Owning MKR coins reportedly allows investors to play a role in the decision making process related to MakerDAO’s ongoing development. Commenting on the “powerfulness” of cryptocurrencies in her recently released profile on Fortune, Haun said:

Cryptocurrency is powerful because it puts the power back into the hands of the user … [and] transcends all boundaries.

Kathryn Haun

Having a strong legal background, the Stanford University law school graduate (JD) noted that Andreessen Horowitz “likes to encourage responsible innovation.” Going on to reflect on her previous work as the DOJ’s assistant US attorney and digital currency coordinator, Haun clarified that the the department’s crypto task force not only cracks down on crypto-related crimes, but it also aims to understand the potential benefits of cryptocurrencies.

According to Haun, digital currencies could “transform” the existing financial system as they may allow the currently over 2 billion people throughout the world, who do not have access to modern banking services, to participate in the global economy.

"Adding Value" To The Crypto Ecosystem

The former counselor to the US Attorney General also thinks blockchain technology may allow many people to access better identity verification solutions. Explaining her role in the crypto ecosystem, Haun said:

There was a real need for ‘bridge building’ between the way regulators were thinking about this technology and the way some entrepreneurs were thinking about it, Those views were very different.

Kathryn Haun

She added that her aim is to “add value” by helping to “bridge that gap” and to help out “strategically...with the roadmap” the new financial technology is planning. Haun emphasized that:

We don’t want regulation to outpace understanding … if you would have had a law about cryptocurrencies or blockchain past a year ago, it would have been completely outdated today.

Kathryn Haun

After having worked on the board of directors at crypto exchange Coinbase, while also doing some personal investing in digital assets and advising blockchain startups, Haun decided to join Andreessen Horowitz because they “take a very long term view of cryptocurrency.”

Clarifying that a16z is not a crypto hedge fund, Haun noted that the company is an aggressive venture capital firm that has “a 7 to 10 year view [as] we are really in the ‘dial-up days’ of crypto.”

Scaling, Custody, Security

Important products the crypto industry currently needs are better security and custodial solutions, Haun noted. As most crypto industry participants have said, Haun thinks there’s a strong requirement for effective scaling solutions.

Addressing the fact the users are frustrated with cryptos “being too slow and not moving fast enough”, she remarked that: 

this is true of a lot things that displaced the older models. Going back to the ‘horse and buggy days’, when the first car came out. People thought, ‘well it’s slower and why not just use the horse and buggy.

Kathryn Haun

She added:

Roads needed to be built first. Highways needed to be built first. Services for users like gas stations need to come along first. Same is true in crypto.

Kathryn Haun

Switzerland's Largest Online Retailer is Now Accepting Cryptocurrency Payments

Digitec-Galaxus, Switzerland’s largest online retail company, has reportedly decided to start accepting bitcoin (BTC) payments.

Digitec and Galaxus customers can now pay for goods and services with bitcoin and a few other major cryptocurrencies. In addition to BTC, users can make payments in XRP, ETH, Litecoin (LTC), Tron (TRX), OmiseGo (OMG), and NEO.

Digitec and Galaxus’ online retail outlets will also be taking payments in Bitcoin “Satoshi Vision” SV (BSV), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Binance Coin (BNB). Commenting on the Swiss retailer’s decision to start accepting cryptos, Oliver Herren, the co-founder and CEO of Digitec, remarked: 

Cryptocurrencies are fascinating and could become a relevant means of payment in e-commerce. We would like to support this development. We wanted to do that for a long time.

Coinify Will Help Convert Crypto Transfers To Swiss Francs

Herren added that Digitec decided to take cryptocurrencies as payment because people may have invested in them and they may want to use them. “Or because you cannot turn them into real money [since] your bank does not accept it. Or maybe just because you ...  like to try new things,” Herren said.

According to Switzerland’s e-commerce giant, it wants to encourage millennials, who may be heavily invested in the blockchain space, to start using cryptocurrencies for practical purposes such as paying for everyday goods and services. Price volatility of cryptocurrencies may not be an issue as Digitec and Galaxus will immediately convert crypto payments to Swiss francs using Coinify’s services, a third-party payment processor.

At present, crypto payments are only available for Switzerland-based users, however the company has said that it might allow customers in other areas to pay with crypto if their initial effort is successful.

Danish Food Takeaway Outlet Accepts Bitcoin Payments For Its 1500 Restaurants

In December 2018, Hungry.dk, one of the largest online food portals in Denmark, started accepting Bitcoin again. The food takeaway company handles orders from more than 1,500 restaurants in Denmark and had been accepting BTC payments since 2014. However, it had decided to stop taking crypto payments in late 2017 due to very long transaction processing times.

A representative from Hungry.dk noted (last year): 

We have accepted Bitcoins as a payment method for quite some time. We decided to remove the feature temporarily last year though because the average transaction time took too long, and the experience wasn’t the best.