We’ve experienced some amazing growth helping an entirely new class of the freelance economy get their first bitcoins.
The flood of backpagers continues unabated and the calls last till 4:00AM. A video will be coming soon as we are working around the clock to streamline this process. We have collected an immense amount of feedback from the buyers of backpage and for the first time we have seen bitcoin through a beginners eyes in a real commerce experience. Here is what we have learned.
- Backpagers are frustrated, confused and many are very concerned that they won’t be able to feed their families.
- Many of these folks barely use computers at all, making support extremely difficult.
- About 60% of them only have mobile phones.
- The biggest hurdle besides buying bitcoin is using it. The billing flow from wallet to web wallet is nearly impossible for 95% of the community to accomplish without one on one phone support.
We were not prepared for this flood.
Having launched in an open beta seven weeks ago we were content to quietly get feedback from the community to improve our product and find where we could create the most value. When the flood of calls came in we barely survived the first 3 days. Exhaustion took ahold of us and we all crashed for a few hours only to continue again for almost two more days. Backpage linked right to us on their bill page and in an email. Our intern collapsed into the fourth day and needed a break. Our CEO continued to man the phones.
“A mentor of mine, always said a good CEO knows their customers but great ones do customer support on the phone one day a week. Now I understand why. The insight we got into our product and the practical flow of bitcoin was invaluable.” – Ray Youssef
Then as fast as it went up everything died down.
Backpage got Visa back again and we were relieved. You can see the lull period in the graph above. We all got some sleep and been planning how to implement all the feedback we got to streamline the flow. We knew it was only a matter of time before they will lose Visa again but we thought we had a few weeks at least.
They lost it in two days and the battle was on again. Ray went back to the phones while Artur was updating the site with new improvements to cut down our support burden. Every question we got was put into the FAQ and we tried to men as many broken processes as possible all while handling tremendous load.
It hasn’t died down and continues to steadily rise. Thankfully the updates we made have kept our support commitment about the same. We are desperately working now to reform and reshape the process. This will be the template for bitcoin e-commerce to come.
The BackPage effect is the most valuable opportunity the bitcoin community has had yet. We must make the most of this and humble ourselves. We must see through the eyes of those we never see. We must admit that we have a really broken system on our hands and radically change our thinking.
The opportunity we have before us will define bitcoin as a real contender. If bitcoin can restore even 50% of BackPage’s revenue within six months then it will have emerged as a truly viable alternative to Visa and MasterCard. The world will change in ways we cannot imagine.