Welcome to our comprehensive interview series – Humans of Blockchain™ where we get the best in the business to answer a diverse set of questions.
This series will clear the air of doubt in the blockchain space today by focusing on bringing more transparency to the readers.
Not wasting much time, let’s hear it out from Raghavendra himself.
1. We would like to know more about you Raghavendra and how you entered into the Blockchain space. What keeps you here?
Basically, my exposure to Blockchain happened a few years before because me and my team were members of a platform which we were trying to build in the travel space and we kind of started trying to see how can we look at enhancing the travel ecosystem because an interesting fact about travel space today is that total online travel platforms –
about 70% of that segment is controlled by just two players Priceline and Expedia
so it’s turning into an oligopolistic kind of a scenario. We have been dealing with a lot of hotels and restaurants while doing so, we could feel the pain that they are paying so much commission to middlemen without having much of a value addition from them. So, that was one reason, and as a traveller, we are finding a lot of issues in the travel ecosystem because everytime we book a hotel or an airline ticket, you have to pay convenience fees, transaction fees and a lot of other extra charges alongside. So, when the Bitcoin and the Blockchain boom kind of talked about decentralizing the ecosystem by introducing crypto into the space, we found that travel makes a natural transition and carries a natural playfield to create and decentralized ecosystem, where travelers can promote travel services and where we can remove unwanted middlemen in the space.
If not anything, at least give benefits to consumers by avoiding unwanted cost convenience, transaction fees, so that is kind of what is going on and we spent about two years researching on Blockchain, trying to understand the technology and how do we go about it, the more we understand the power this technology carries, which is beyond cryptocurrency alone, it’s about giving back power to the users, also where you are able to control how much of your information are you willing to share and how much you are willing to consume as cryptography comes into play.
This was needed, because, as the ecosystem gets more and more centralized, for example,
we have GAFA – The Google-Apple-Amazon-Facebook controlling every part of your life,
so sometimes or somewhere we have Blockchain which is promising to give the power back into the hands of the actual creator. That was a very interesting proposition to us from a short term to long term perspective, then we said this is what we are going to do and take it forward.
2. Can you tell us more about how your company, XcelTrip, solve the problem? What is the solution towards convenience and fee structures that you guys are offering?
XcelTrip is a Blockchain based travel platform. We have directly integrated previous data and our own data which amounts to over 6,00,000 hotels on our platform, where users can come and use cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, BinanceCoin, XcelToken to book hotels around the world and because we are not having any FIAT or Credit Card payment platform. We are pure crypto and that is how we are able to avoid all the extra fees such as conversion charges, convenience fees and since in crypto, there are wallet-to-wallet transactions where the gas fees are very minimal compared to others. Plus, we get B2B rates, hence we are able to offer an equal and better rate to the consumers.
Being pure crypto, we avoid most of the transaction fees and are trying to make the space much more vibrant, at the same time because we are in our initial stages, we are also offering cashback to people with tokens which can be further used on the platform. One of the Interesting things that we have created is a program called ‘independent marketing partners’ where users and travelers can recommend hotel properties to our platform and when the property gets listed, everytime that property gets a booking from our platform, the hotel would share a little commission with the traveler, so in essence what Airbnb or Uber would do, where without having to have a large marketing force they use their users to derive content to their platforms, similarly the travelers help our platform. Hence, we are trying to create a space where we are giving the travelers loyalty rewards and benefits for using crypto. At the same time, trying to avoid regulatory bank charges and trying to reduce the cost for the consumers.
3. How do we go about purchasing the XcelToken?
XcelToken is now available on Mercatox and couple of other exchanges. You can also visit XcelToken.com where you can buy the token, its an ERC-20 token, so if you have Ethereum, you can buy the token in an easier way, we are also trying to bring on board for a couple of other exchanges very soon.
4. What is the price?
We are currently selling at around 11 cents per token. We are also having a special Series-A public sale in which for any token you buy now January-March, you would be getting a 30% bonus on every token you purchase.
5. How do you deal with Government Regulation or Jurisdictional Laws?
What we are doing is from the back-end, we are still managing the settlement from our end using compliance and payments in FIAT currencies. So, from that end, we are a registered company in Singapore and we mostly pre-negotiate, pre-purchase rooms/ nights. Hence, we are able to manage the end-to-end transaction.
There is no complete crypto transaction happening, only internally, because we have to manage the ecosystem. That being said, we are also getting our company registered in Malta. We’ll probably be there as one of the few licensed operators with the Malta License to operate our cryptocurrency. So we are making sure that whatever compliance is required, we follow that, and we would rather take the difficult path of not being 100 percent crypto and a 100 percent closed interaction, we would rather follow regulation. The space, currently, is very broad and we strive to be a compliant company.
6. What are your thoughts on the recent market crash? Has it affected your business?
Basically what happens is people today with the Bitcoin price fluctuation wildly, there is a negative sentiment in the market. So it has not really affected our travel operations, per se, because the prices are equated to the current market prices. But when it comes to raising funds by bringing new consumers into the Crypto space, it is a little bit difficult but it is just a matter of time, I think it’s an expected one, where everybody knows that the 18k or 20k price point is realistic in any nature. A classic example would be when the Internet Bubble burst, we had some really strong unicorns coming up such as Google and a multitude of other companies. Now, this happened because the Bandwidth/ the ecosystem was set up for the growth. What happens now is, the ecosystem is spreading and those who are building fake/ scam platforms will definitely die down and those with real use cases and a minimum viable product, I’m sure they will survive and grow for the growing crypto community and who are looking for a stable, scalable platform. That being said, I think there is light at the end of the tunnel.