Justin Hartzman is the CEO of CoinSmart an exchange that is making cryptocurrency accessible to Canadians, with all levels of crypto experience. By breaking down the barriers of complex and confusing crypto transactions, CoinSmart offers a simple trading interface, learning tools, and 24/7 client support.
How did you initially discover Bitcoin and cryptocurrency?
My first foray into the world of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency stemmed from my desire to find a new hobby. Way back in 2010, while running a web development business, someone actually tried to pay our team in Bitcoin in exchange for a website we were building for them. Flash forward to early 2017, the price of Bitcoin was starting to see an uptick and it was starting to become more recognized by more people every day so I decided to get back into this new world of digital currency. Not only could it be a hobby, it could be a sided hustle while working at a startup taking very little salary. Looking back – Great decision for a hobby.
Could you discuss the genesis story behind CoinSmart?
The story goes a little like this. Very into my newfound hobby and the market just going parabolic, I was at my family home in Florida and was trading around the pool. I made a great trade and started jumping around. After trying to explain what crypto was, I decided a lunch and learn was in order. 1 hour turned into 4 hours, into 4 days. I knew then and there I had a mission – 3 words. Making Cryptocurrency Accessible. The mission was on.
Could you elaborate on the mantra of ‘making cryptocurrency accessible’. How important is it to keep things simplified, with no technical jargon for the average consumer?
Our mission at CoinSmart is to break down the barriers and complexities of cryptocurrency transactions in order to better educate and inform the crypto-curious. We’ve essentially created a platform that allows anyone, no matter their experience or trading knowledge to utilize our platform to buy or trade cryptocurrency. We provide our customers with simple solutions, learning tools for all levels, and 24/7 omni channel client support. That said we have all the tools for advanced traders, OTC and Premium clients.
CoinSmart is one of the first Canadian exchanges to be compliant with FINTRAC, (Financial Transactions and Report Analysis Centre of Canada). Could you discuss the challenge behind being compliant and why it is so important?
Trust is one of the biggest pillars for our thesis of making cryptocurrency accessible. Therefore, it is important for us to work alongside governing bodies and operate within or towards the regulatory framework for every jurisdiction we become involved with.
Canadians often face a challenge of not knowing how to report cryptocurrency purchase and sell orders during income tax filing season. Do you offer any advice on your website, or any special reporting to make this process more transparent?
CoinSmart makes it easy for users to report their crypto transactions when tax season rolls around. CoinSmart customers can upload a CSV of their transactions on CoinTracker, a crypto tax software platform, to make tracking your balances, transactions and crypto taxes easy.
You’re currently focused on the Canadian market but you've previously alluded to plans for international expansion. Could you discuss these plans?
We currently have 80,000 registered users here in Canada and we’ve recently opened our doors for a soft launch in Europe where we are seeing incredible numbers of daily sign ups as well as deposit volumes. We are working hard to let in people from a 300,000+ person waiting list. We’re also looking to expand to Australia and Latin America in the near future.
Since crypto is a global phenomenon and a 24/7 market, we think it's important to have international representation. We’re excited about the ways in which crypto can help streamline payments within Europe’s financial system and subsequently better serve and protect our customers.
What are your views on the future of digital assets in 5 or 10 years?
I think we are in the first half of the first inning of the crypto landscape. I see it as we are only starting to see lift off when you think about it in the context of the S curve of adoption and this is what makes it so exciting. We have new coins, projects, technologies that are breaking ground daily and we are truly in a new wave of digital finance, centralized and decentralized. 5 years from now I can see many more institutional players involved in every aspect of the ecosystem, I believe that we will have a coin that makes sense to spend daily, and we will live in a much less inflationary environment. 10 years – I don't think it is worth even speculating, things are changing, try and keep up.
Is there anything else that you would like to share about CoinSmart?
Against the backdrop of the first North American Bitcoin ETF earlier this year, CoinSmart has announced several rounds of funding and recently submitted its application for registration as a dealer with the OSC and the securities regulatory authorities in all other provinces and territories of Canada. CoinSmart is also actively engaged in membership discussions with the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).
CoinSmart also recently appointed Joe Tosti to the role of Chief Compliance Officer. Joe comes with over 20 years of experience in compliance, trading, operations and wealth planning, having worked with some of the largest public institutions in Canada. As Chief Compliance Officer, Joe will provide regulatory oversight and guidance, playing a critical role in customer protection and ensuring customer financial safety.
Watch out for some exciting news coming across the chain for CoinSmart and its future plans.
Thank you for the great interview, I look forward to following the progress of this great exchange. Readers who wish to learn more should visit CoinSmart.