Raphael Paulin-Daigle plans to accomplish two things next month — help Moncton attain the world’s highest acceptance rate of Bitcoin and graduate from high school.
The 17-year-old entrepreneurial wunderkind is organizing CoinCity 2014 on June 6, an event he hopes will educate people about the new electronic currency and encourage them to own some of the new currency.
Commonly known as digital currency, Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer payment system introduced as open-source software in 2009. It is a decentralized currency controlled by no central bank and can be transferred electronically between parties anywhere in the world.
Paulin-Daigle now perceives huge potential in, and vast misunderstanding about, the new currency. So the Grade 12 student is not only organizing an event to teach people about Bitcoin, he’s also formed his own consultancy to help companies accept Bitcoin payments. He already has two clients.
“I help companies integrate Bitcoin as a method of payment, but I also help them to understand issues like the taxation and accounting of Bitcoin,” said Paulin-Daigle, who has struck a relationship with an accounting firm to perform the accounting duties for his clients.
About 0.003 per cent of the global population now own Bitcoin. Pailin-Daigle hopes that following his conference one per cent of Monctonians will have at least a few cents worth of Bitcoin jingling around in their, um, cellphone.
CoinCity will feature speakers from outside the region to help explain the new phenomenon. The speakers will include Haseeb Awan, CEO and co-founder of BitAccess, an Ottawa startup that makes Bitcoin ATMs, and Michael Curry, co-founder of Vault of Satoshi, a Brantford, Ont.-based exchange that allows trading of traditional and digital currencies.
The fact these entrepreneurs are coming from Ontario for CoinCity is one indication that Paulin-Daigle should be taken seriously. Another is that he is working closely with Dan Martell, the founder and CEO of Clarity, one of the most influential entrepreneurs in the region. Martell also believes Bitcoin will be the next big thing, and is mentoring Paulin-Daigle on developing the business. They will travel together to New York next week to meet with potential clients.
They also both believe the technical expertise exists in Moncton to make the city a hub for Bitcoin-related businesses. “We have the opportunity to gain back our position in the world that we had when we had the world’s only all-fibre network,” said Martell.
Despite his age, Paulin-Daigle has already gained a following as an entrepreneur. He has started three businesses and last year sat in on the program of the Launch36 startup accelerator. He tried launching a business called ShopPulse, which helped merchants to sell surplus merchandise online. He closed the business last year and has now turned his attention to his Bitcoin consultancy.
“I strongly believe in Bitcoin,” he said. “It’s one of the biggest tech developments of the last 10 years and I believe there’s a chance for Moncton to really play a part.”
CoinCity will take place at the Delta Beausejour on June 6 from 3 to 5:30 p.m.