Posted on 03-14-2020.
Recent BBC One show “Years and Years” has raised many interesting questions pertaining to nascent transhumanism culture. But many viewers were perhaps unaware that similar surgical procedures have been available for years now. In a conversation with Martijn Wismeijer, Marketing Manager of GeneralBytes, we learned not only about his company’s most recent news but also about his own experience with electronic enhancements and implants. GeneralBytes is a Prague-based industry veteran that manufactures and sells Bitcoin ATMs since 2014. ForkLog: How many companies are making Bitcoin ATMs? Martijn Wismeijer: I think there's like 50 different companies making Bitcoin ATMs. But one in three devices worldwide is created by us. So we are the largest manufacturer since I think last year. But many of the companies only exist for a short time. They don't sell enough. So for us, it was of primary importance to keep increasing the number of features, have good support, and listen to our clients. Our existing clients are more important than having new clients. All the money we’ve made we reinvest into the company. For us, it's important to grow the company, have a good developer team. We make sure that there's always support because we do the support from Prague but we also do the support from the Americas. So we have from nine o'clock morning Prague time until 11:00 or 12:00 midnight. FL: In traditional banking economy companies like MasterCard, Visa card, and American Express antagonize each other. How would you describe the relation of GeneralBytes with other companies who are working in the same field? Do you cooperate? M: We don't integrate with Visa, MasterCard. We think they're parasitic by nature. At GeneralBytes we decentralize the networks. Our clients who have ATMs operate their own servers and do their own AML/KYC. They can set their own limits, they can configure everything themselves. We manufacture, but we do not see the transactions. We don't know what coins they sell. We don't know how much they sell. It is decentralized. But MasterCard and Visa control everything. It is a closed loop. We don't cooperate with those companies because we feel they are parasitic. They are preying on the poorest people in society. And we want to change the world. FL: What do you consider to be the main risks for companies like yours? M: Scaling your business in crypto isn’t really difficult if you are a software company. It's easy to just fire up more servers or shut a few down when the market is changing. With hardware manufacturing, this is really difficult. The reason is that you have production capacity, you have factories. So you hire people and if you have a good team you wouldn't want to let go of the people, even if the price is down and there are not so many sales. I think that's the most difficult part of running a cryptocurrency business. Only hire new staff one by one and slowly grow. Don't make a big impact with investing money and put lots of people on it because that just doesn't work. Just slowly grow. And then the market picks up. FL: Can you tell us about your implant? M: Sure, it was like five years ago. I had a friend who's a biohacker and he made like magnet implants for your fingers. Then you can pick up stuff with your finger, which I thought was a little bit crazy. But he created a chip implant. So you can see the chip implants in my hand. And they’re already five years old. I don't use them as much anymore because we have better crypto wallets but I used it to make Bitcoin saving wallets under the skin and people reacted very strangely. Some people called me satanic, others said I was crazy, that I would die from all this, what about diseases. But I’m OK and the wallet, it works. I think if people are more discreet about it, it's a safe place to store crypto. FL: What about the reaction from official institutions like bioethics committees and doctors? M: I went to my doctor and I said: "you have to put the chip in." And he said: "I'm a doctor. I help people that are sick. You're not sick. So get out of my office! You're wasting my time." So together with the biohackers, we did it ourselves. And ethics? I don't know. It's my body. We look like humans, we look the same for the past thousands of years. Maybe clothes change. But the humans didn't change much. But if you look at the world around us—it changed a lot in 10 years’ time. I mean the technology is really picking up. I thought it was a normal way to make myself a little bit more compatible with modern life. You can use it as a key to your door. But you can also use it as a wallet. We modified a Bitcoin wallet to make it compatible with the implants. And then we added to the ATM a compatibility tool so that if you want to put money on your hands, you can just wave your hands and add money to it. As I said, I don't use it for that anymore. It's primarily because the whole world knows now that I had the implants, so it's not a safe place to store anything. But if you get it done and you're a little bit more discreet about it, it works great. We see a lot of refugees over the past years. They leave everything behind. They take a boat over the Mediterranean Sea and they hope for a better life. But how can you start a better life with no cash? So this would allow them to still have some cash. And be more independent and make the jump start in a new life. FL: But how did you get it installed? M: Well, my doctor didn't want to do it. I told my doctor I would go to my pet doctor, you know, the one that did the cat. My pet doctor—he didn't want to do it either. So I found a guy that was called body manipulation artist. I didn't know they existed but we went to an old toothpaste factory where we had hackers meet up. That was an old factory that was shut down. So we cleaned the table to make it hygienic. And then with 20 people, we all took the chip upgrade and we agreed to meet in one month’s time to see how this new technology changed our life or maybe not changed it at all. For most people, it was just like “Oh, the chip is there” and they didn't do anything with it. But I really wanted to make the Bitcoin wallets. FL: Before we close, I would like to ask you what are the plans for GeneralBytes and your personal plans for the future? M: We launched a new software package to track all the cryptocurrency trades. This is something many people that use cryptocurrencies find important because now you also have to pay tax on it. You know how much tax do you have to pay with thousands of transactions? That sometimes becomes difficult. So we created a software package. We will be launching new ATM models. We have seven different models now. But we will be launching within a year. As for me personally, I don't really think about the future. The future is made today. This is how we see it. Watch the full interview on our Forklog Live YouTube channel. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook and join our Telegram channel to know what’s up with crypto and why it’s important.