USA’s Bitcoin Ambassador: Ryan X. Charles

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By Alex Speirs Published: July 23, 2020
Ryan X. Charles brown jacket

In 2013, Ryan X. Charles went all-in on Bitcoin, leaving his Ph.D. to pursue a career in digital currencies, a path which now sees him heading up payments company Money Button and serving as a Bitcoin Association Ambassador to the United States.

‘I’m a lifelong engineer and a former physicist, so I’ve been very involved in technology and engineering for my whole life,’ explains Charles.

‘I was drawn to Bitcoin back in 2011 – it just seemed like a really interesting new technology that looked like it had the ability to change the world.’

At the time, Charles was a Ph.D. candidate in Physics, researching high energy astrophysics and Bayesian probability theory. But in 2013, he transitioned his passion to a profession, joining BitPay as a software engineer, before moving over to Reddit as the social media giant’s first ‘cryptocurrency engineer’ – all in the pursuit of a goal to realize the great potential he saw for Bitcoin.

‘I’m very interested in the idea that new technological innovations make new things possible. Bitcoin is a remarkable technical innovation that makes a lot of new things possible, so it struck me as being analogous to the internet,’ says Charles.

‘The Internet is a communications network that at its core, is a way that anybody, anywhere can communicate with anybody else. That completely changed the landscape of communications – which of course, we all know in the modern world – but the internet was envisioned long before it became what we know it as today – many of these protocols were created in the 1970s after all.’

‘I think that Bitcoin is actually even bigger than the Internet. It has a lot of the same features that the Internet does when it comes to communication, but it also includes money and contracts in a way that enables us to potentially base the entire economy with Bitcoin as the base layers.’

Charles worked with a who’s who of the tech world, enjoying stints with Reddit, BitGo and Hedgy before making the move to go full-time with his own ventures.

‘I started my own project in late-2015, which became Yours – a project to create a decentralized social network,’ he says.

‘The project that I’m working on right now is called Money Button and that itself emerged from Yours. I started working on that in late-2018 and it’s my current focus right now.’


With the press of a button…

‘Money Button is a simple payment system. The idea is to make it so that sending money over the internet is the easiest possible thing that you can do, both as an end-user, as well as for the business that uses Money Button,’ explains Charles.

‘What we want to do with Money Button is eliminate all of the barriers for sending payments over the Internet, solving issues like transaction fees and user experience to make the entire process as simple as it could possibly be.’

Getting started with using Money Button takes only minutes, with the full functionalities of the wallet and its associated features ready and available to use from the outset. The service is free to use, with Money Button earning revenue solely from vanity payment address, making for an experience that is not only intuitive, but fast and lacking the commercial bloating typical of online payments services.

‘What we are doing is creating a method that can eliminate every possible barrier to onboarding users to this technology. That means reducing the number of steps required to sign up to Money Button, acquire BSV and then use it in an application, as close to zero as possible – that’s always been a key focus for our business’ says Charles.

‘For a business, the functionality they gain with Money Button is extremely sophisticated, but for the end-user, it’s very simple – just swiping a button and making a payment.’

The functionalities available to businesses using Money Button reveal Charles’ vision for Bitcoin goes far beyond peer-to-peer payments, with smart contracts, data functionalities and identity protocols already available for use.

‘What we do is solve all of the technical challenges in mapping a business to the blockchain, and for the end-user, all they need to do is swipe Money Button to send that payment. Over time, Money Button will provide every feature that Bitcoin provides. Right now, we do about half, with progress being made on adding the others every day,’ says Charles.

‘Over the next year or so, we’ll be building out a host of new features to make Money Button even more useful to businesses. Money Button won’t be changing from an end-user perspective, but I see continued growth for businesses with new functionalities added to enable further value creation.’


Choosing Satoshi Vision

When Charles first began working on his project, Bitcoin SV didn’t yet exist – leading to a prolonged period of trial and error in an attempt to find a blockchain that had the features and functionalities that his business model required.

‘We’ve been involved with Bitcoin SV since the very beginning, with my company going back to before all of the splits occurred,’ explains Charles.

‘We originally used Bitcoin Core until the fees got too high, which meant that we had to switch at that time from Bitcoin Core to Litecoin. This is how we got involved in the block size debate around Bitcoin. It was very clear to us that the correct path forward was to have large blocks and use the original protocol.’

Money Button was the first business to move over to Bitcoin SV following the split from Bitcoin Cash, with Charles revealing a host of further technical reasons that underpinned his decision.

‘The key advantage of Bitcoin SV is very simple – it’s a fixed protocol and it scales – as a business, that’s really all you need to know,’ explains Charles.

‘From a more technical perspective, there is no upper bound on the block size, but also, the way that businesses build infrastructure and create or validate transactions can be done in parallel and in pipelines. Bitcoin is designed exactly like a real-world distributed computation, storage, and transmission system that is intrinsically scalable – other blockchains are not.’

By leveraging the capabilities of the Bitcoin SV blockchain with Money Button, together with his Bitcoin Association ambassadorship, Charles is playing an active role working to bring the benefits of digital currencies to businesses of all sizes – a strategy that is already paying dividends, but one he expects to see expand exponentially in the coming years.

‘Since moving to Bitcoin SV, we have had about 1.3 million button swipes – that is to say, 1.3 million times people have used Money Button to make a payment. We have had more than $10 million in payments go through Money Button, with volumes growing exponentially, so the numbers are certainly looking good,’ says Charles.

‘We have more than 150 active businesses that are using Money Button already to either allow user payments insider their apps or write data to the blockchain. That’s already a strong active group, but we see tremendous growth. The ecosystem of businesses using Bitcoin SV is growing rapidly and that can only mean good things for Money Button.’