Today we are talking with Caleb Yeoh who is the founder and CEO of TravelbyBit.
- TravelbyBit is an online travel company that offers booking services for travellers using digital currency, whilst also enabling digital currency payments for merchants - notably creating the world’s first digital currency-friendly airport in Brisbane.
We’d like to kick things off by asking you a couple of questions regarding your formative years.
1) Firstly, can you tell us the things which interested you the most throughout your childhood and teenage years, and what brought you the most happiness?
I like traveling and meeting new people, experiencing new cultures and eating new types of food. I also like kitesurfing and these days, and I find real happiness when I'm out on the water on a windy day. It really gives me an amazing sense of freedom, and there’s nothing quite like it.
2) Who were your biggest influences growing up, and why did they have such a profound effect on you?
MacGyver from the tv show. He could fix anything with some sticky tape and a paperclip! Whether he was locked in a Russian jail or in a broken helicopter, he’d find a solution using just sticky tape, a paperclip and maybe a rubber band. So that's actually a good example of being resourceful and working on a MVP.
Running a startup, I go around our business with sticky tape and paperclips, and fix problems every day.
3) Teenage years are often a turbulent time for many, so on this note, can you name a time which was tough for you, and how you managed to overcome it?
I can't tell you much about my teenage years, but I can tell you a very difficult part of my life was in Malaysia when we were under a very corrupt government that stole a lot of money, and this caused inflation and destroyed everybody’s savings. That’s an unbelievable tale of corruption that involved Leonardo Dicaprio and some Victoria Secret supermodels (I’m not kidding). If you want to learn more about it you can listen to my interview on the Binance podcasts.
4) If there was some advice you could give young aspiring individuals, advice which you would really have liked to have heard yourself as a young person, what would it be?
If I could have heard myself as a young person I would say… buy more Bitcoin. My advice to young people is ignore all the blockchain bulls**t and crypto speculation and take some time to understand Bitcoin and the concept of privacy and liberty; and why these two things are so important.
We are now going to ask you some questions which will hopefully give our readers something to go on regarding you as a person.
5) Firstly, what are the particular strengths that you feel have made you successful in your field (don’t hold back)?
I don't know if these are strengths, but all I can say is I work very hard. TravelbyBit took investment from Binance and our cultures are very similar. We are very hardcore - we work very very hard, we take risks, and we stay very focused on driving crypto adoption.
6) What would you say is your most controversial opinion as regards to blockchain or the crypto space?
I think crypto is full of passionate people who want to believe in the freedom movement, but many are looking in the wrong places.
7) In the course of your day you can become under the most ridiculous pressures and stresses, what is your particular way of dealing with this?
I go downstairs to one of the shops that takes crypto and buy a BNB beer, and remind myself, we have come a long way… we can now buy anything with crypto in Australia. And we helped make this possible.
8) Outside of crypto/blockchain, what is your favorite thing to do?
We are now going to ask you some creative and humorous questions, and we are sure people will love to see you what you can come up with.
9) What is the most humorous thing you have seen or experienced during your time in the crypto/blockchain space?
A few months ago a guy called me up and said I heard your business helps businesses take payments in Bitcoin, how can I sign up. I asked what do you do? He says I sell drugs, and heard Bitcoin is really good at selling drugs and I want to boost my business. Well it turns out he ran a pharmacy...so yeah we then sign him up and you can now buy pharmaceutical drugs legally with Bitcoin.
10) If you somehow managed to meet Satoshi Nakamoto (that is he is a male person in this scenario) on his deathbed, but only had time to ask him one question, what would it be? Bear in mind you don’t have much time at all, so make it a good one.
Your creation has helped preserve individual freedoms but also inspired copycats who have scammed people of lots of money with their own currencies. Overall, are you happy with your creation?
11) Can you give three policies you'd enact if you became the president of a country tomorrow?
- Buy and store Bitcoin in treasury
- Put a higher cost on the use of plastic
- Increase competition in the economy
I’d also like to add an additional one, and that is to remove capital gains on crypto. I say this because crypto is very much speculation and gambling for the most part, so if you are trying to put a tax on it, it's almost like trying to put a tax on someone going to a casino who’s gambling on blackjack and poker. You don't want to put a capital gains tax on casino chips because you are going to end up with more losses than gains.
Communities are often an important backbone for many crypto/blockchain projects, so we’d now like to get some personal thoughts on the community side of things.
12) What do you feel makes the TravelbyBit community unique compared to others?
I think what is unique is that we don't have our own cryptocurrency. A lot of blockchain startups feel that they need to have their own coin (and a lot of them do), but I think with us, we try to keep things decentralised and we try to build on other decentralised cryptocurrencies. This really helps as we don’t have the distraction of managing our own coin (as that can be prone to speculation), so our community is more focused on adoption rather than speculating on the price of a coin. This makes a lot of difference in terms of quality, because in a lot of other communities, all they do is talk up the price of the coin, however the people who join our community are people who are genuinely passionate about crypto adoption, and this comes back down to the core beliefs of what crypto is about.
13) Project aside, what are some other crypto/blockchain communities that you admire and why (this is not an endorsement)?
I think the Binance community is really cool. They work really really hard and CZ is a very direct upfront sort of guy. So I think it's really refreshing to have someone very upfront leading this community.
14) What social-media platform do you like most and why, and are there any improvements which you feel can be made to these platforms for an even better community user-experience?
I think Telegram is a great, and I also think Twitter is great as well for the blockchain/crypto space, however I would like to see them enact more adoption rather than just talking about crypto. We put out a really cool video shared by one of the members of our community where you can actually pay in Bitcoin through Telegram over the lightning network, and I think if you could so the same with Twitter, that would be really cool as well.
So using these platforms to not only talk about crypto, but to transact in crypto as well would be really cool.
15) With the endgame being mainstream adoption, do you think crypto/blockchain communities will still have an important role to play in a post-adoption environment?
I think so, but I think this is the wrong question to ask.
I think adoption is a long, long way away, so I don’t think we should be talking about a post-adoption environment as we are not even starting adoption yet. We are very much still in the beginning stages, so I think a more important question is - how can the community play a more important role in pushing adoption today.
In our penultimate section we are going to ask you a question regarding TravelbyBit.
16) What do you feel sets TravelbyBit apart from your competitors (that is if you have any)?
TravelbyBit is the Expedia or Booking.com for the crypto community. So we take payments in crypto for flights and hotel bookings on TravelbyBit.com. So you can book your flights and travel anywhere in the world and pay with crypto.
There are others copycats travel sites now who are trying to take payments in crypto, and if you have a travel site all you do is pop in a crypto payment processors. So technically a lot of people think it is really easy to set up.
What sets up aparts is that our team is different - we are basically neck deep in crypto, and all the founders have been in crypto a long time. and we are trying to push genuine crypto adoption. So we aren't just about trying to run a travel business, we also a strong believers of crypto and hold significant amounts of it (within the company and amongst ourselves).
We also allow new people to earn crypto. So on our site you can pay using fiat and earn up to 10 percent in Bitcoin. So for example, sites like Booking.com take about a 15 percent margin when you book a hotel from them. What we do is give back some of that margin back to users in Bitcoin.
Well that just about does it, but before we end this interview we’d like to ask you for something which we believe will say a lot about your belief in the industry, and which may inspire those who are reading.
17) Can you come up with a short argument for our readers on why you feel cryptocurrency and blockchain (or just one) has a bright future?
Again, I don't think this is a great question in a sense. I don't know if it will have a bright future, but I truly believe that decentralised cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are very important for our future as a free society. We live in a world where large corporations control more of our data, and we are constantly being monitored and influenced without our knowledge. So I feel crypto is important to preserve liberty, privacy and freedom. A society that is constantly monitored is a society that breathes conformity and submission, and this is a bad thing for society and takes away our freedoms.
So I truly believe cryptocurrency is important for our future. I don't know whether it will have a bright future, but I know it's bloody important, and there are a lot of people behind this movement trying to make it part of our future.
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