In my previous post I exposed the deceptions, impossible business model and ludicrous projections of Qoin’s flagship barter exchange TradeQoin. I give advice to Qoin’s directors and discuss the ramifications of my recent expose for the barter industry. I believe that they are huge and that the industry has a small window of opportunity to grapple with the new realities. Depending on your take it’s either that the sun is finally starting to shine on corruption in the barter industry or there is a ‘new self-appointed Sheriff’ in town. Every trade exchange owner or barter company on the planet would be well advised to read this post and take careful note – it’s a different world out there now!
I’ll address the issues the company Qoin have first, to get the three principles across, then I’ll extrapolate this to the industry once I’ve given Rob and Co my pearls of wisdom!
Dutch company Qoin set up Tradeqoin in Q1, 2014. Tradeqion is history, and not just because of me . . . I may have just hastened its likely demise though. We’ll see.
Like the Tradeqoin business itself, their crowdfunding campaign would never have succeeded [in spite of my expose] because the offering simply doesn’t make sense – lose money for several years and then “exit” somehow in 2018 after a sudden turn in profitability? Nah! My post exposing Tradeqoin for what it really is – Alice and Wonderland stuff – will help ensure that it rests where it should always have rested – just an idea.
Qoin, the mother company though has a serious problem, one that many in the barter/trade exchange industry are facing too – with smarter customers, less customers, less income, less turnover, a changing marketplace, more options, new technology and a general unease at the future direction that the industry will take . . . HOW THE HELL CAN THEY DO BUSINESS? This is even more important in the face of a devastating blow to their credibility like that which I delivered yesterday.
There are three pieces of advice that I give here to Qoin’s directors, something that applies to ANY business in trouble, particularly ones with potentially bad PR:
- Address the past
- Get real
- Create value
1. Address the Past
Assuming that you [Qoin] have gotten over the shock of some horrible blogger in Paradise raining on your parade, then assuming that you’re ready to actually listen to me, I’ll tell you that you have some baggage. It has to be dealt with constructively before you can move on cleanly. Most people don’t deal with difficult situations until they have to and this creates negativity, bad attitudes and ill will.
Specifically, Rob van Hilten is named in a defamation lawsuit I brought against IRTA. Word on the street is that this was a publicity stunt. That’s foolishness. Just because I can mix and match with people who defame me on the Internet doesn’t mean that I am not suing. I didn’t fork out to a lawyer just for show, FFS! Bringing the name of Rob van Hilten and Qoin into the public arena in a lengthy drawn-out public litigation case, ESPECIALLY if it is associated in any way with the toxic brand of IRTA will be one of the nails in the Qoin coffin. It needs to be dealt with really quickly, professionally and ethically.
Rob van Hilten’s fellow countrymen competitors Jacob and Therecia from TradeXchange.nl have a serious beef with him from things that have happened over the years. Even though they’ve given me a quick rundown on it from their perspective, it’s actually none of my business what that is all about, but in a small country like the Netherlands, news travels fast and people have very long memories. Bad blood should be turned good if at all possible before any chance of dealing to the future!
If there are other skeletons in the closet then they too need to come out and be buried once and for all. Proactive steps are needed immediately. Get over the shock – things are now different for you . . . deal with them now!
2. Get Real
Don’t take yourselves so seriously – you believe your own marketing guff! Complementary Currency Experts . . . whatever!
Makkie was a recognised failure – confess to it and tell us about the lessons you learned from it. Marketing BS that says “Qoin is great – look we did Makkie!” gains as much credibility as an advertisement for ‘healthy’ cigarette does. On the other hand, “The six lessons we learned from the Makkie disaster” would build your credibility and boost your exposure enormously! The same with the Bristol Pound extravaganza – “Ten tips to avoid a costly local currency” would have readership AND credibility. All you have to do is speak to one person who uses the currency and you’ll get the same response as I did – “It’s too much of a pain to use”. Oops!
Mix and deal with real people, not the hob nobs. Sure, milk the cream of society as much as you can, but balance that with real people. That way you won’t end up believing the people at IRTA that there is nothing in the UC Currency to worry about, and getting yourselves caught up in libel. Distance yourself from the IRTA Association as you see the corruption coming to the light of day more and more. Actually read the GETS Summary Report and try and answer some of those probably embarrassing 60 questions GETS asked. The more that the leaders at IRTA are revealed for who and what they are, specifically what they are covering up, the more that this halo you think IRTA Board Membership is will be seen as a noose around your neck. There are people who do not want to be associated with IRTA – ask them why and get real. The brand is seriously damaged.
Keep communication channels open ESPECIALLY with those who could cause you complications. Rob’s connect on Skype then immediate disconnect is the WORST thing a company could do and sends all the wrong signals – it’s bad faith. Not even IRTA Executive or Bartercard’s USA representative were that silly to break off connections. When I commenced blogging about IRTA’s Executive, I increased personal communication with them, not disconnected from them. Far better to engage with others and know where they are than to disengage and not know where they are, unless of course you are hiding something or the other guy is an idiot!
Shoot straight and ask questions. The truth is that Rob van Hilten dropped out of school at 16. Don’t lie about this! What’s wrong with leaving school at 16? I did. Some of the best brains on the planet left the moment that they could get of the confines of a highly structured learning environment. Shoot straight. The truth is that there IS another barter company in the Netherlands. Don’t lie about it and say that there isn’t!
You might know a lot but OMG what a joke of a business plan the Tradeqoin thing is. Ask people who have been there and done that and listen to what they say.
Getting real is not an act or something that we say or do. It is who we are, not who we present ourselves to be. Do it and you might be able to turn Qoin around and tackle the future constructively. Living in a dreamworld of your own making won’t cut the mustard in the current day and age, sorry! I and people like me will roast you alive when the truth gets out there.
3. Create Value
Qoin has to find ways to actually help people. Once you know and understand what people want and what their problems are THEN you can build a business around that.
Qoin’s business model has been to obtain funding from the public purse then redistribute it, a lot to themselves, and some into technology, a bit into marketing and to produce a string of great ideas [in theory] but that never actually fired. Believe it or not – this is a perfectly valid business model. It has worked very well for them for years, actually. They’ve massaged their business relationships with the important people; got the nod from the beancounters and travelled the world on the teat of the EU grants system. Hundreds of thousands of others do exactly the same with gay abandon – politicians thrive in this space too.
BUT when the public purse tightens up, you’ve gotta get smarter and use what you have to address REAL problems with PRACTICAL solutions. Qoin has never been good in this area. It would be a big ask to suddenly deliver something that people need and want, but it is possible. They would need strategic assistance to do this because they clearly lack in that department but it could be done.
The Barter Industry Policeman
The Barter industry will never be the same again.
When I took on the conman Daniel Evans in Q4, 2013, with my private investigation, I started a chain reaction that I think in retrospect will be seen as a major turning point. The industry has had way more than its share of conmen and shady characters over the years, but what I did was to take on the highest profile fraud out there (Ormita) and brought it all to the surface. Not only did I get the facts, I pushed through and effectively forced their closure. Yes, I acknowledge that others helped me and I appreciate that but it was me who did the bulk of the work, fronted the investigation, put in the many hundreds of hours of work, who took the flak and who suffered the abuse from an insanely angry man out to “get” me for spoiling his fun.
It’s my take that the industry was in shock at the whole thing. Pleased to see the end of the rogue, for sure, but also the way that I dissected the fraud, dug into the thing, found the facts and presented it as clear as day for the world. Some listened to the BS and thought that I was Daniel’s ex-bum-boy and jilted lover but more than a thousand people that I know of found the facts and eventually the cockroaches slipped out of the light into the shadows. It was a turning point for the industry where the truth had a chance to come out, and [ I think ] the ‘good-guys’ won.
Again when I dived into the Bartercard IPO and exposed the dodgy prospectus for what it was, I had people saying “OMG! Really!” and saying “Go for it Dennis!” and thanking me for showing the world what Bartercard really is – a barter company operating as a giant Ponzi scheme, with simply incredible deficit spending, abysmal ethics and an insatiable desire to find new business just in order to keep itself going. Bartercard has now bitten off a serious challenge attacking a “mere blogger hiding in the remote South Pacific Island Paradise of Samoa”. People the world over, from disgruntled existing franchisees, disgruntled past franchisees, disgruntled employees, disgruntled ex-employees, disgruntled staff, disgruntled ex-staff, disgruntled customers and disgruntled shareholders are now all contacting me and helping me to understand how crooked that company and its leadership is. Never before has Bartercard had any serious coordinated action on a global scale. They have now for every time they sign up a new region, franchisee, attempt to rip off another trade exchange that they try to buy, I and my informants around the globe will be there, watching, waiting, observing and yes, also Mystery Shopping and baiting them to flush those cockroaches out!
Likewise with the fraud at Universal Currency and the current IRTA cover-up. IRTA’s Executive are desperate to present the Association and their conduct in a positive light, but rest assured, this is a VERY exposed Association . . . You can’t suppress a major report containing [as I understand it] 60 questions over conduct with a simple press release saying essentially, “Trust us! All is well with the UC accounts!” My exposure was done in real-time, with substantial daily blogging being watched the world over with 4100 unique visitors [yes that is four thousand one hundred unique visitors] including IRTA’s own Executive and their lawyer during that time! This was and is a VERY serious situation with VERY serious claims of impropriety all revealed by blogging the findings of my Tipline. Some people were saying in private things like, “He’s doing what should have been done years ago!” and “It’s the best thing for our industry” and more.
I received a communication today from an informant:
HI DENNIS YOU MAY BE INTERESTED IN THIS. A NEW START UP OFFERING 300,000,000 TRADE CREDITS TO ITS MEMBERS FOR FREE. NO MEMBERSHIP FEE NO TRANSACTION FEE NO MONTHLY FEE, NOW THEY JUST INTRODUCED 300 ANNUAL FEE NOTHING ELSE. THEY MUST BE VERY WEALTHY TO GIVE AWAY 300 MILLION
That’s immoral of course and probably illegal too. Some poor people will get caught with this nonsense but the word will get out, eventually
Last week in another communication one guy said to me in relation to another topic:
There are some seriously bad people and bad companies in this industry. There are exchanges out there stealing money and ripping off people every day. The worst offender that I know of is Tradebank. Now there’s a straight scam for you. The head of this company uses his role as a “Christian leader” to suck unsuspecting people into his game and then he bleeds them dry. I am talking about a true Ponzi scheme. Also a company that sells unregistered securities with NO exemption (felony after felony). I am talking about massive tax evasion in the millions. I am talking about FTC violations left and right.
I know and knew some of that about Tradebank but while I am playing the role of an industry Policeman at present, that’s not my longterm goal which is to be seen to be an industry thought leader. Of course at the moment I am helping those who come to me with tales of woe, but there’s something that happened I think yesterday, I think I turned a corner in the consciousness of some, and for this I suggest that the industry will never be the same.
I struck at the heart of supposed integrity, a self-proclaimed “Complementary Currency expert” who is on the IRTA Board, who has received MILLIONS in government and EU funding and nailed his crowdfunding efforts as a scam. I spoke to the facts, 100% and revealed it for what it was – a nonsense. I did it without reference to any personalities. I didn’t even mention that he was on the IRTA Board. I spoke only using his own companies figures and Prospectus and showed the industry that Tradeqoin, the flagship currency of the supposedly well-respected advisory company Qoin was a sham.
Here’s one little piece of feedback, and the commenter was in shock and almost unbelief about my recent blogging of the Tradeqoin scam:
Oh no dennis, not Qoin too! . . . I agree about the poor business model, and there seems to be an attitude of fake it till you make it.
I’m sure that this thought will resonate around the world, “Oh no! Not Qoin too! Where will it ever end?”
People will believe anything – we know that – but trust, credibility and quality thinking is always valuable to the people that really matter. Isn’t that why we read blogs, so that others can do the thinking for us and so we can leverage that thinking for our own personal and business benefit?
The barter industry should take careful note of all the above. If one man can take on and take down the highest profile conman in the industry when all legal and political channels failed just by blogging about it . . . if that same man can simply blog about a shonky Bartercard Prospectus and get hidden information out into the public arena . . . if that same man can then tackle corruption within the industry association . . . then show the so-called industry experts to be fools and up to no good, then . . .
when and where will it stop?
In his hit-piece slipped out to the barter industry following my blogging about his company and shonky Prospectus, Trevor Dietz, CEO of Bartercard, actually got one thing dead right. You could see his thinking when he angled at the possibility that if I worked with IRTA to bring down the conman Daniel Evans, then supposedly ‘turned’ on IRTA, and took on his baby Bartercard then I could turn on anyone too:
We urge you to disregard any past or future postings of this person or other parties who may link his postings to their sites. Remember, next time the innocent target may be you!
He’s dead right, although the fear he exudes in his writing brings a chill into our own living room and is only effective on those with something to hide! Trevor knows that a LOT of his cobbers are as crooked as he is – that’s why he wrote that little dig!
It’s not about me, personally. Yes, of course I’m the guy who has been doing the work and creating the beachhead, but it’s about the modern day and age where information, quality information can rule over deception, self-interest and marketing BS.
In returning to the advice I gave previously to the directors of Qoin, I say the same thing to the industry . . .
1. Address the past
There’s hardly an exchange on the planet that doesn’t have any skeletons in the closet. Address them now constructively, even if it means taking a hit now so that you can get on with life constructively in an environment where the light will be shining more on you and the health of your economy. Devalue and bring in an auditor, sell up, do deals or whatever but deal with those skeletons before I or someone else like me does to you what is currently happening to Bartercard, and Tradeqoin – exposure and potential disaster.
2. Get real
That you’ve read this far is a great sign for your capacity to engage. Keep it up – ask questions and deal with real people – your customers and your customers’ children, for they should be the customers you aim to work with now. Play it straight and forget that fact that you are or were the best on the block. That will mean nothing to most people tomorrow. You need to get VERY real very quickly if you’ve been in cruise-control and haven’t worked out your future with multiple currencies the norm.
3. Create value
A barter/trade exchange doesn’t create value in and of itself. Find ways to create real value for your clients. You’ll need to be creative and preferably different. You’ll need to think laterally; use the modern technology and think in the modern (Open Source) manner.
A friend in the industry told me that he advised some dude who was not contributing to a conversation recently to, “fit in or f*ck off”. Nice alliteration although perhaps a little crude for most. These are however the words that encapsulate the sentiment of the marketplace in the next decade or so best.
“I’m not going to carry your baggage, you’ve got to be real and create value for me. Fit in with that or f*ck off!”
Lucky the SHIFT+8 key works on my keyboard eh?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. It’s been great sharing positive things with you after a truckload of negativity!
Nice chatting again.
P.S. This is one of those few posts that you can safely link to on Social Media without Trevor Dietz and Bartercard threatening to sue you!