Yan Pritzker spent more than five years as the chief technology officer at Reverb, where he helped grow the Chicago startup into the premier destination to buy and sell music gear. Now, his sights are set on the crypto space with a new startup that wants to make it easier to buy and save bitcoin.
Last year Pritzker founded Swan Bitcoin, a platform for buying bitcoin that essentially serves as a savings account. Swan will allow users to purchase bitcoin for as little as $5, and set up automatic bitcoin purchases every week, month, or after each paycheck.
Swan links to your bank account and automatically purchases and stores bitcoin for you, allowing you to invest small amounts in bitcoin over time. The idea isn’t to make a quick buck or turn around and use bitcoin to purchase goods or services, but rather using cryptocurrency as a savings tool, Pritzker explained.
“It’s a savings plan,” he said. “We’re looking at bitcoin as something that you’re putting away for a rainy day. You’re saving a little bit every month.”
Bitcoin prices have been notoriously volatile. One bitcoin today costs around $7,600, which is far from its peak of around $20,000 in late 2017. In fact, on Monday bitcoin lost around 17% of its value since Sunday, when it hit $9,200.
But Pritzker said Swan is designed for bitcoin investors who are in it for the long haul. If bitcoin’s price does indeed rise, as Pritzker and many bitcoin believers think it will in the future, saving a little now could prove valuable even as the price swings drastically in the short term, he explained. Swan is also planning to host educational content on its site to explain to inexperienced bitcoin buyers what they are purchasing and what to expect.
“Yes it is volatile,” Pritzker said. “And yes it does create a lot of hype. But that’s where our mission has gone, to reduce that hype and really make it clear to people that what they should be doing is saving a little bit at a time, regardless of the price.”
Swan is expected to launch at the end of March, Pritzker said, and the startup has so far raised funding from a handful of angel investors. Pritzker said Swan will likely raise additional funding in the coming quarters. The startup currently has a team of seven full and part-time employees.
Pritzker sees Swan as an on-ramp for beginning bitcoin investors and people who’d prefer to use it as a savings tool rather than a trading platform—which is the direction companies like Coinbase have gone, he said. The startup will make revenue by charging users transaction fees, which will be around 1.5%, Pritzker said.
“I want [people] to understand bitcoin as a savings technology,” he said. “We want to have people take baby steps.”