Moon’s Ken Kruger: “The power of crypto is revolutionary. Just give it time”
RTIH meets Ken Kruger, Founder and CEO of Moon, a Chrome browser extension that offers an alternative payment method when shopping online
RTIH: Tell us about yourself and how you came to set up Moon.
KK: Technology and economics are two of my deepest interests. I studied computer science at Cornell University and financial engineering at Columbia. I started my career as a software engineer at Lockheed Martin, where I worked on ballistic missile systems. I originally wanted to go into finance straight out of college, but was fortunate enough to graduate right after the 2008 financial recession, which saved me from such a fate.
The skills I developed around inertial sensors for the military at Lockheed allowed me to start a gesture recognition company where we developed machine learning algorithms to detect gestures at a level never before possible solely with inertial sensors. After that I started a technology consulting company that served New York-based Seed to Series C stage venture-backed companies. It was a great experience to work with so many companies from a variety of industries and stages.
I wanted my next venture to be in something I was deeply passionate about; cryptocurrency fit the bill. I’ve been following crypto since I first read about it in 2009. It's a combination of my two key interests: technology and economics. I've been waiting for crypto to become a widely used currency, as was originally intended, but instead it's been mostly viewed more as a speculative investment.
I want to see crypto as currency and saw an opportunity to solve a key problem: crypto will not be a currency unless it becomes a widely adopted medium of exchange. I started Moon to attack and solve that problem.
RTIH: How does Moon work and how is your beta phase progressing?
KK: Moon is a browser extension that allows you to shop online with cryptocurrency. Currently, Moon is in open beta and allows users to shop on Amazon.com with any of the Bitcoin, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash and Ether that is in their Coinbase account.
After a user installs the extension, Moon recognises when they are at a checkout page and provides them with payment options to complete their purchase with crypto. When a user opts to "Pay with Moon,” crypto is sent to Moon, and through our intermediary partners, Moon pays the merchant in fiat. We're able to accomplish this all in real-time and without charging the user any fees.
The beta test is going great! The beta is not only for us to test the software for stability but also to test our assumptions about the problems facing the crypto community. We've learned a lot from our users, and we’ve had an outpouring of feedback from folks in the crypto space on Reddit and Twitter. To make a long story short, we're learning a lot.
"Many of the critics are not familiar with either the technology or the real problems crypto solves. The world is plagued with issues of privacy, censorship, lack of access to financial services, and many more that can be (and are being) solved by crypto"
RTIH: You have launched with Coinbase and Amazon.com. Can you tell us about plans to add further crypto exchanges and retailers?
KK: We're currently working on the ability to pay from any wallet, not just from Coinbase. As far as retailers, we have a few big ones we're rolling out over the coming months, but the major milestone we’re working towards is to allow crypto payments at any retailer. That's our primary focus, and we're aiming to release that functionality later this year.
KK: We will always seek to minimise the burden of KYC/AML on users, but in order to facilitate these kinds of payments, we need to follow the law, and we will follow the law. We are operating on the boundary between the centralised economy and the decentralised economy. This means we need to follow the laws of the centralised world and will likely come under fire from decentralisation purists.
RTIH: Do you believe that widespread crypto adoption is coming to the retail sector or will it remain a niche thing for the foreseeable future?
K: I do believe crypto will be adopted by retailers. There are obvious benefits to both parties: merchants who accept crypto pay lower fees and have no risks of chargebacks, while consumers benefit from more control over their funds. Bringing this future to fruition is a complex problem, and the team at Moon is aiming to make the widespread adoption of crypto a reality.
RTIH: There are many high profile critics who argue cryptocurrencies are a busted flush. How do you respond to them?
KK: Many of the critics are not familiar with either the technology or the real problems crypto solves. The world is plagued with issues of privacy, censorship, lack of access to financial services, and many more that can be (and are being) solved by crypto. Perhaps not all of these problems will be solved by crypto in its current form, but technology evolves. The power of crypto is revolutionary. Just give it time.
RTIH: And finally, where would you like Moon to be by the end of 2019?
KK: $1 billion in transactions processed.