In this post I share the transcript of a recent confidential Skype call between the principals of Bartercard and IRTA. I then discuss with them the formation of IRTAcard, slated to be the largest alternative currency trading platform on the globe, a major marketing coup that gives incredible and unprecedented industry-wide support to Bartercard. My analysis is that the brand is a very clever idea, merging the power of the world’s self-proclaimed ‘leader’ in barter with an industry association that could easily take the market by storm.
Over the last month I have blogged extensively about the corruption, nepotism and deception at IRTA, specifically with the Universal Currency that I’ve claimed to be over-valued and operated in a fraudulent manner – hidden accounts account for almost a quarter of a million dollars, and that’s just what the UC Members can see for themselves, let alone analysing the other ‘house accounts’ that are mentioned but not shown.
In the first posts of this Barter series, I blogged about my concerns relating to the BPS Technology Prospectus, a document that I called ‘dodgy’ and the overly-‘cosy’ relationship that Bartercard has with IRTA’s Executive. Hard on the heels of BPS Technology’s announcement that they had succeeded in their IPO I received the following transcript via my Tipline:
RW: Hi Tevor
TD: Hey Ron
RW: I see we’re all in the money?
TD: Yup, I told you not to worry! We had it all sewn up in January. You know how these things go. The public thing was just a formality.
AR: Well done Trev. You guys are a shining light in the industry. We’re all totally delighted to get behind you! As you know Ron’s been looking for income streams for IRTA for quite a long time. It’s so exciting to see real potential now, it’s almost like IRTA has a new breath of life to it, a proper commercial footing with a new direction . . . now with your money I can do all the things I’ve always wanted to do . . . I mean our members of course . . . and . . . well it’s really exciting!
RW: Thanks Annette. And Paul too . . . he was a champion!
PB: Thanks Trevor
TD: Paul? Is that you? How did you come into this call?
PB: I’ve told you I’m everywhere!
TD: Well now that you’re all here we may as work out who cashes up when and how . . . [1:13]
[share sale strategy discussion supressed]
RW: So now we’ve all got our money, what are we going to do with IRTAcard then Trevor?
TD: Well my thoughts are to slip it out under the radar so as not to alert the other Members. Just put it out to the market slowly and then push it a little more once we see if the others wake up to it. If it gets out and there’s any pressure on you all, you can handle it like you did with the first and second deal. Do a media release or one little IRTA UPDATE and they’ll all go back to sleep! Just ignore any dissenters.
AR: That’s what I love about you Trev, you’re soooo confident!
RW: And if it comes up at the conference?
TD: Annette can handle that!
AR: Ron, you can do that!
RW: Sure. But what about the questions? What if they ask if this is a Joint Venture or a buyout or a sellout or a commercial thing.
AR: I’ve told you Ron not to worry about that. We can do MORE with the money so it’s in our interest . . . I mean in the members best interest to go commercial and Bartercard are the only ones who . . . I mean the best ones to work with.
TD: Yes and don’t forget that it’s all about the money for all of us at the end of the day isn’t it?
RW: But what if the members rebel like they did at NATE and flicked their Executive Director? I don’t want to be another Tom McDowell!
AR: Ron, don’t worry . . . we have Paul on our side. He’ll help us. I keep telling you that once we get our own software we’ll be able to print money! Don’t forget we can always tweak the ByLaws to protect you as a ‘partner member’ and then we’ll be able to put things through without them even knowing. Think about it . . . we’ve never had to have an audit for as long as I’ve been around!
TD: The other thing Ron is that we can fast-track the development and get you a solution real quick so all you’ve got to do is just get it past the conference and then we’re home and hosed. Spin it along for a few weeks . . . keep the IRTAcard under wraps and then we’ll be in the clear.
AR: OK But what about the court cases and our UC imbalance and well you know, the deals that we did to hide some of your things? Dennis is pushing and if he keeps at it the members might wake up. We can’t ignore them for ever, or maybe we can?
PB: Don’t worry Annette, I know Dennis, I’ll have a word with him.
AR: Thanks Paul. You’re an angel!
PB: That’s OK Annette. Trust me.
RW: So what do you think the timeline is for TESS Trevor? When do we get to see the first go at it and when can we start really pushing it?
TD: Well I don’t really know. The guys have been working on it furiously since we got the ‘nod’ from Ron way back when, and they originally thought it might tak a year or two to get something stable but we could probably have something up for you in a month or two.
PB: That soon Trev? Really?
TD: Well I don’t actually know to be honest, but don’t worry, we’ll sort something out. We’ve got the money now eh?
RW: Well don’t put out something slow, whatever you do. I didn’t know that your system was called ‘Web Turtle” when I gave you my endorsement!
PB: We try not to let that one out actually Ron. Best to change the subject when that one comes up.
AR: Oh I’m sure there’s much more important stuff to deal with than software . . . just get it off GETS and worry about it all later.
RW: Yeah that’s my take too. Do you guys want a fresh start with the new system or do we bring over all the balances into IRTAcard?
PB: I’ve told you Ron . . . don’t worry about the deficits . . . we have creative ways to deal with them.
AR: Yes Ron, just trust Paul. Don’t worry!
TD: All right you guys is there anything else? We’re all agreed. They IPO is done and dusted – money in the bank – buyout complete . . .
PB: He actually meant Joint Venture, Ron. We’ve just got a Preferred Vendor status with IRTA, if you know what I mean. A sort of ‘special member’ relationship.
RW: Oh OK. Annette . . . this is all OK by you?
AR: Yes Ron. Just trust Paul.
When this transcript came in I thought it was a joke. I mean how the heck can someone actually pick up a Skype call and THEN transcribe it and THEN know who the people were (I worked that out that they have their names from the login anyway- duh!) and THEN get it into my Tipline all within a day or so . . . I knew that the NSA did it for Mossad regularly but, come on? For the IRTAcard story and for me personally? Nah!
I smelled a rat and though it might have been a setup.
Ron Whitney & Annette Riggs
Curious, and always one to get the facts, I got on the blower to Ron and Annette. Despite the nonsense being fed out there by some that “it’s all personal” I am very happy to talk to anyone, anytime about any thing, just so long as it is a professional respectful communication. The following is a record of our call, some of the actual wording my have been a little different as I’m doing it from quickly notes as we spoke but the gist of it is pretty accurate:
DS: Thanks for talking guys, especially as it may seem like I’m out to get you . . . but I just want to run past something very important before I go to press with it . . . IRTAcard!
RW: How the . . .
AR: Ron! Stop it! What are you talking about Dennis?
DS: IRTAcard. I just want your confirmation that this is coming out shortly before I publish my next post. I understand that it is a Joint Venture between IRTA and Bartercard and will be slated as a global trading platform and currency to replace UC?
AR: I don’t know what you’re talking about!
RW: Where did you . . .
AR: Stop it Ron! You’ve really got it in for us haven’t you Dennis! You’ve got it all wrong, time after time. There are people in this industry actually DOing something positive you know and all your attacks on IRTA are just not helping the industry.
DS: Maybe so, but returning to the IRTAcard thing . . . when is it coming out?
RW: We haven’t decided yet.
AR: Ron! Zip it!
DS: So it does exist then . . . you do know about it?
AR: Well yes, there were discussions about it but it hasn’t been decided.
DS: So who were those discussions with and what were they about?
RW: We’re in discussions with many people Dennis about many things.
AR: Look, Ron; he knows about it now, so we have to now go to second phase.
DS: Second phase? So you planned things so that if news got out then you’d know how to respond?
RW: Yes, because we weren’t really ready for the first deal to come out the way it did.
AR: Ron! Leave this to me now.
DS: So what is this second phase we’re in now, with the cat out of the bag?
AR: Well if news got out, we’d share some of the benefits of a global currency and the Joint Venture with Bartercard, but obviously a lot of the details have yet to be worked out. . .
DS: Like finishing the software?
RW: Yes, it’s going to be the best the world has to offer!
DS: Webturtle? But it isn’t even finished . . .
RW: We don’t use that word Dennis. It’s not approved.
AR: Ron! It will be totally ready in only a few months and we’ll be marketing it far and wide. The thing you need to realise Dennis is that this is all for the good for the industry. UC has been going from strength to strength and bringing UC onto the best software in the world will make a real difference. We will be right in the centre of it all and that’s good for our members.
DS: So you will be competing with other IRTA Members who have their own software?
AR: No ours will be better. No competition!
DS: Isn’t that competition then? They are centres of influence for you bringing in new exchanges as members. If other IRTA Members get p*ssed off with you and leave then IRTA will go down, not up.
AR: No Dennis you just don’t understand. There is a big opportunity here and we’re going to be the biggest and the best with this . . .
DS: So you are going to market and promote it then?
AR: Yes, but we haven’t decided that so I don’t want you to blog about that please.
DS: Well I’ve had people very concerned about and I’ve blogged about those concerns whereby an industry association is now forced to recommend one supplier’s offering over another member’s offering. That smacks of favouritism. How can IRTA possibly claim to represent the industry then if they are contractually obliged to (and profits from) promoting one piece of ‘kit’.
RW: Well you have to understand that it’s difficult out there, Dennis. IRTA needs to have cash income streams and we’ve worked on this thing for a long time.
AR: Ron! Leave this to me! Look, it’s good for the industry Dennis.
DS: And the members you’re competing with now? For their good? And with the bad-boy of the industry? You went with them out of all the options out there? Do you know what baggage that name brings with it?
RW: Yes, but it was a condition of our deal that they renamed to IRTAcard.
AR: Ron! Sush! Dennis the future for IRTA is with Bartercard. They bring the resources of a global player to the table. Sure not everybody will be happy and there may be a little collateral damage but IRTAcard will bring the future in reach for IRTA members.
DS: OK so lets go down this track a little way further . . . if IRTAcard takes off then you will own the marketplace and then IRTA members will take off, unless they get with the programme. You’re forcing this onto the members.
RW: No, the Global Board of . . .
AR: Ron! Don’t go there! We decided at our strategy meeting in . . . well we decided anyway, that this was the best way forward for IRTA and the industry. That’s it.
To me it’s quite clear that Bartercard has bought IRTA out lock stock and barrel. I’d like to know how many shares the IRTA people have bought and how they got them. I’d like to know who orchestrated the takeover and when and how the buyout was affected. Somebody somewhere has to have been offered or paid something for this, surely!
You can’t see it on the PDF but the Skype Transcript but it revealed the Skype login for Trevor Dietz. Not one to miss an opportunity, I knocked up a throwaway Skype account and pinged him seeking his comments on the whole thing. I was a little bit naughty and got in before IRTA had a chance to speak with him and played a little game at the outset of our chat.
I got my foot in the door pretending to be a US-based trade exchange but with a deficit spending problem. I told him that I wanted to speak to Paul Bolte about a way to work together with IRTAcard and of course his responses confirmed it. He’s smart this guy – smart and worked out real quick that that he was being pumped. So I owned up. He wasn’t happy and I don’ tthink that he’ll be speaking to anyone he doesn’t already know on Skype again in a long while!
Whatever, at least I had the confirmation I needed to break the IRTAcard story.
[9:52:18 a.m.] Joe Wilkins: Hi Trevor have you got Paul Boltes skype details pls. Ive got a small barter exchange Im wanting to sell out of
[9:52:42 a.m.] Trevor Dietz: Hi Yes it’s [nemewithheld]. What’s your exchange and your turnover?
[9:54:18 a.m.] Joe Wilkins: Im in New Jersey and we’re doing a little under $2m a month but weve been around for quite a while and our members are pretty loyal
[9:54:32 a.m.] Trevor Dietz: That’s interesting I’m sure you’ll find Paul helpful.
[9:54:58 a.m.] Joe Wilkins: I’ve got a wee bit of a house account problem tho but the cashflow is pretty ok
[9:55:13 a.m.] Trevor Dietz: Don’t worry about that mate – Paul’s a good man and he’ll get onto it! We’ve got lots of exciting things in the wind.
[9:56:05 a.m.] Joe Wilkins: Yeah I know – it was the Irtacard thing that really got me interested
[9:56:18 a.m.] Joe Wilkins: I thought that was really smart
[9:56:59 a.m.] Trevor Dietz: OK
[9:57:05 a.m.] Trevor Dietz: How’d you hear about that?
[9:57:17 a.m.] Joe Wilkins: Ron
[9:57:25 a.m.] Trevor Dietz: OK
[9:57:35 a.m.] Trevor Dietz: What did he say?
[9:58:21 a.m.] Joe Wilkins: He just said that it was all under wraps at the moment and not to talk about it. I was thinking about joining IRTA so I could find others wanting to buy other exchanges and Ron was telling me what was happening with you guys
[9:58:52 a.m.] Trevor Dietz: Yeah, it’s going to happen but we don’t want it to go out too soon. What’s the name of your trade exchange Joe?
[9:59:23 a.m.] Joe Wilkins: Actually Trevor, this is Dennis. I just wanted to know whether or not the IRTAcard thing was for real or not.
[9:59:37 a.m.] Joe Wilkins: It sounded too farfetched to me, but hey, good on you. Well done for the acquisition.
[9:59:51 a.m.] Trevor Dietz: Do NOT contact me again please.
And that was it! My cover was blown but I have confirmation from all the horses’ mouths including the treaured Bartercard one!
The Tipline is generally pretty good. It alerted me to the Bartercard IPO on the day that it came out. It helped me heaps while digging through the ‘dodgy’ Prospectus. It was an early indicator that there was a pre-subscription to their offer. It confirmed the missing accounts in Universal Currency plus kept me well-informed of the deception. It tipped me off on the IRTAcard plans.
Having now confirmed IRTAcard, I’m prepared to give my take on the whole thing, for what it’s worth.
Overall it’s a good idea, something whose time has come. Whether or not IRTAcard can pull it off or not I have my doubts. I think dumping the Barter part of the Bartercard name is wise as the name has a lot of baggage, but I question whether the IRTA brand is actually any better. When the hidden accounts and fraud within their flagship currency UC come to the light of day (and believe me they surely will) then there could be some pretty serious issues. They’ve also got a truckload of baggage in the industry too! If Bartercard use the same techniques that they do when they cosy up to other trade exchanges and then asset strip them and dump the debtors, then they will have the IRTA name without the liabilities. While totally unethical and predatory (as I’ve already blogged about) it’s certainly been very effective for them in the past.
A Global Trading Platform/Domination
Global domination of an industry, especially in finance has been the goal of greedy big-thinkers for millenia. In the Alternative Currency space, many dreamers and BS artists have given it a go over the years, the most recent of course was the conman Daniel Evans and his Ormita fraud but sometimes people can present an empty package to the world that has legs, market it well and – who knows? – it might work for them.
Demise of an Association
If it does go well for them they will have knocked the IRTA ship right off it’s original mandate/course, but the commercial side of things seem to matter more nowadays. No exchange that valued its independence would touch these guys with a bargepole, but they’ve got another option in NATE if they’re into the feel-good thing for the industry. Some of them will no doubt swing across to the opposition in due course. Regardless of NATE’s issues – it will still have some form of perceived representation of the industry. I’ll try to discuss this alternative in a future post but IRTA’s leadership will hate the collateral damage when NATE picks up the smart ones who leave the new IRTAcard brand.
In regards to the ones who stay with the new IRTA, and IRTAcard, I can see them all hanging out for a quick sale. If I was wanting to retire and flick my baby on, the only option I can see now is IRTAcard. It’s pretty much a poisoned chalice if you look at Bartercard’s track record. They go in there promising a big cash payout but them squeeze their victims into drip-feed trade-only offers just in order to get the client list and then rape them. If the same practices carry on into the IRTAcard brand then there will be a lot of upset IRTA members! Flag any Ethics Complaint for Bartercard’s rep will be the President pretty shortly and with the President and ED working closely together, they will rule the show even more than Annette and Ron do. You won’t get anything past the Ethics Committee now, with the buyout a done deal!
Thumbs-Up! A Good ROI
All in all, I’d give the IRTAcard brand a healthy 9/10 for initiative and likelihood of success. It’ll do better than the Bartercard only brand for sure, and while it crushes all that IRTA has stood for by way of ethics, integrity and independence for the last three decades or so, it’s probably the best hope the current lot in power have for a return on their investment in political manoeuvrings.
Sad in some ways but if the members voted them in and the entire Board gives it the green light then you just gotta go with the flow eh?
This post may appear as satirical fiction to some but I stand behind every word that I’ve written in this post. It is all based on facts received via the Tipline, and verified personally. As always everything I write is my own original thought. In my next post I will explain the relationship between Daniel Evans and the IRTAcard brand, revealing a web of conspiracy that rivals that of the Cold War spies and double-agents. After that I will then resume normal transpissions.
The Barter Series
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