The Bittr Blog
The Bittr Story
Ruben Waterman
May 5, 2024

Hey, fellow Bitcoiners, Ruben here. I want to share the rollercoaster ride that has been my journey with Bittr - a platform I built for easy Bitcoin purchases in Europe.

How it started

Bittr started as a university project in 2017. The funny thing is that my studies were more about “Blockchain,” a buzzword used for other cryptocurrencies and fishy projects. However, I have always seen the only actual use case of blockchain technology in Bitcoin, a decentralized form of money.

My vision with Bittr was to make it easy for everybody in Europe to save in Bitcoin: you would send money via bank transfer and receive Bitcoin directly in your wallet.

My professors liked the idea, so I started the groundwork. Only six months later, in March 2018, we were up and running as a Netherlands-based company.

Bittr was now more than just an idea. It was a living, breathing platform 🎉. From day one, I had three non-negotiable principles:

  1. I don’t want to have any access to user funds. They should have complete control over their money. I wanted Bittr to reflect Bitcoin’s fundamental promise of financial sovereignty.
  2. Make buying Bitcoin as easy as possible with no complicated identity verification processes - known as Know Your Customer (KYC) processes - that would intimidate first-time Bitcoin buyers.
  3. I focus solely on Bitcoin because that’s where my belief lies, even if it means turning down potential profits.

Hitting a Wall with EU Regulation

As Bittr picked up steam, the European Union rolled out the AMLD5 regulations (5th Money Laundering Directive). My dream faced its biggest threat overnight: AMLD5 included strict requirements for digital currency operators to perform Know Your Customer (KYC) checks.

Besides going against my core values, it demanded a dedicated compliance officer and registration at the Dutch Central Bank, which was an expensive and time-consuming process.

To keep Bittr alive while facing AMDL5, I began integrating a minimal KYC component. This decision sat uneasily with me. It felt like a compromise against my ethos, but, at the time, it seemed like the only way forward.

As more information emerged, the tightening of these regulations and specific interpretations by Dutch authorities made my reality harsher than expected. Not only did it require the KYC process, but it could also force me to hand over user data without their consent. If the authorities demanded information, I would not even be allowed to notify my customers.

This new rule was the last straw! I realized I couldn’t run Bittr in the European Union without compromising my core values and the idea of Bitcoin.

In March 2020, faced with the choice of betraying my principles or shutting down, I chose the latter. I closed Bittr. The dream of enabling everyone in Europe to save in Bitcoin was over. 😢

Restarting in Switzerland 🇨🇭

While not expecting to run Bittr again, one year later, I found a new home for it in Switzerland, where the regulations better respected my values. In April 2021, Bittr was reborn and is more aligned with its principles than ever:

The Swiss Bittr Piggybank

In 2024, we’ve started the year with a fresh new look and revamped website, and we can’t wait to show you what else is coming this year! While bittr has technically been ready for super fast Bitcoin payouts with the Lightning Network for a long time, this would only work if our customers run a Lightning node, which is a lot to ask for. That’s why we’re building a Bitcoin app (iOS for now, Android will follow soon) with a built-in Lightning Node so we don’t have to rely on a third-party lightning service.

Another goal for 2024 is to launch our Bittr Boosters affiliate program, rewarding our users who recommend Bittr to their friends and family. I know many of you have already shared bittr without being rewarded. Still, I think it’s only fair to give back and align our incentives even better!

Lastly, Bittr is perfect for those who know what Bitcoin is all about and why it is the best savings technology humanity has ever seen. However, I’d also like bittr to be a great starting place for people who have only heard about Bitcoin in the news and need more information before jumping to save in Bitcoin. We’ll be adding a lot more educational content to our website in 2024.

Getting Bittr to this point has not been easy, but it’s certainly been worth it because of what I stand for. I hope to connect with you all and continue growing a community that values Bitcoin’s fundamental ethos, not just financial benefits.

Thanks for being part of this!

PS: I built Bittr with a lot of passion and dedication, and I rely on the support of our community. If you enjoy our services, please share your experience with others - it makes a difference! ❤️

Ruben Waterman
Ruben, the founder of Bittr, has been a passionate bitcoin advocate since 2013. After obtaining his MSc in Digital Currency from the University of Nicosia, he not only created the easiest way to save bitcoin but also became a proficient software developer, now maintaining the bittr project. With his expertise and dedication to the bitcoin industry, Ruben continues to drive Bittr's mission and vision forward.
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