Entrepreneurs see problems and strive to fix them in order to make the world a better place to live. This month we sat down with Mickey Costa to learn more about Atlas and how digital currencies and the blockchain can help developing countries.
What drove you to want to be an entrepreneur?
After law school I realized that for me to be happy in life I had to carve my own path. I wanted to do something that would make me want to get up in the morning, something that would make a difference in the world. Tackling a macro problem and helping people throughout the world is what keeps me going. I am a big believer that free market solutions have the greatest power to have disruptive impact, and feel lucky to have found such an altruistic sweet spot.
Tell us about Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is a universal peer-to-peer payment system. It’s a digital currency, created and held electronically with no controlling entity. It is all based on mathematics and it’s beautiful! The main problem with bitcoin is the lack of adoption of the currency—there aren’t enough compelling use cases for new users. We developed Atlas to help the unbanked get access to financial services, and using bitcoin and the blockchain is THE way to do this globally and cheaply. Atlas is a mobile money platform that helps people to send money to each other across the world.
How does Atlas help people in developing countries?
There are areas of the world where basic financial services are limited. I first saw this in Guatemala where people don’t have access to banks. I heard their stories of theft and countless other problems related to accessing their own money. I began to see the amazing benefits that bitcoin could have internationally. In a country where the economy has collapsed and there is hyperinflation, using bitcoin is pretty attractive. Bitcoin is a leapfrog technology that gets everyone involved in the global economy. Everyone should have a foundational layer of economic freedom. Mobile banking through a digital currency provides just that.
Do you have any regrets about the path you chose?
Wearing a t-shirt to work and getting into an office that serves beer is great, but most days I am working longer hours than my friends at law offices. It is a different kind of pressure. I know that the risk of failure is scary, but for me it was scarier not to take the risk.