In this post I reveal the detailed results of a two week telemarketing research into Tradeqoin’s claimed “200 Members” from which I derived the 6% Membership figure for the graph in my previous post. I then analyse the response from Tradeqoin’s director Rob van Hilten to questions from a crowdfunding investor who has pulled out [Krispijn] comparing this with my research, and I discuss the possibility of a complaint to the IRTA’s Ethics committee concluding that not only is a complaint very likely, but that a guilty verdict is inevitable.
Tradeqoin, their parent Qoin and Rob van Hilten have serious problems with the light of truth being turned upon them recently.
Tradeqoin is the flagship commercial barter exchange of Dutch Complementary Currency ‘experts’ Qoin.
In a previous post I have shown that their business model is fatally flawed, and that their claims are deceptive.
Director Rob van Hilten is an IRTA Board Member who has supported president Annette Riggs claims that I am a liar and have an agenda, claiming that my figures are incorrect. I have initiated defamation proceedings naming him. His appointment to the Board of IRTA occurred contrary to the IRTA ByLaws which require Board Members to have an operating Trade Exchange for quite some time, thus his Board Member status has been obtained by [how shall I best say it?] . . . stretching the rules!
With this background any matter of integrity has deep significance. If it is found that Tradeqoin is indeed a “fake-it-until-you-make-it” scam, IRTA’s credibility will take another serious hit with claims that they are an ‘old boys network’ out to look after themselves validated yet again.
My research findings have been that Tradeqoin misrepresents the number of members, thus their likely income by way of fees (since there are only a few paying members). Also they obfuscate their previous ‘exits’, a codename for failures.
TradeQoin Membership Research
My research involved two weeks of direct telemarketing working with a team of Dutch nationals including a native speaking Dutch telemarketer. All Tradeqoin members are listed on their website. They claim in multiple locations that they have 200 Members. This is factually incorrect.
There are a total of 177 in the list. When searching the database, go to www.tradeqoin.com, go to Marktplein and then click Bedrijven.
According to the totals on their site they have 279 members which you can see at TQ community, made up of 116 (Nederland), 41 (Achterhoek) and 122 (Noordelijke Randstad).
We actually only found 90 (Nederland), 21 (Achterhoek), 66 (Noordelijke Randstad) members with names.
Of that 177 there were 20 accounts/listings that we do not account for as serious members, such as a UC account, Edgar Kampers’ account, a football club, a museum, Kamertheater (which is Rob van Hilten’s wife’s company), and some websites that place links or free business websites.
There were 28 listings that we could not find any contact details for other than a contact form on the site. No phone numbers.
We contacted 79 businesses of the remaining 129 names on the list.
Of this list of 129 there were 21 business in the Achterhoek, while according to the Tradeqoin website they have 41 members in the Achterhoek
Of these 21 listings:
- 25% will stay a member
- 20% have already quit their membership but are still listed, and
- 55% will quit in the near future
None of them are paying members.
Reinier Grobben, the person responsible for this area (who is on the Tradeqoin board and who is also a member) said that this area will definitely not have any fees in the next few years. They want to keep it social and therefore do not want to charge membership fees and probably no transaction fees either. Reinier is a Tradeqoin board member and his wife is secretary of the Achthoeker. They are also listed as a member: Restaurant Op de Brusse.
They have been working on their currency since February 2013 when they launched it (prior to the Tradeqoin ‘takeover’).
The rest of the list including the Achthoeker listings:
Total call attempts were to 129 Members of which we could not connect to 50. We called these 50 Members three times at different times of the day. They either didn’t answer, had voicemail or the owner was not available.
There were 14 paying members that paid between 50 to 250 Euros per year.
All these paying members had been members for almost three years (thus were members of Barter Your Business) acquired from Greg Prizmic. Like with the Achterhoek ‘acquisition’, Tradeqoin has used the membership base of Barter Your Business as a start of their business.
- 1 person paid 50 per year
- 2 paid 150 per year
- 4 paid 120 per year
- 1 paid 200 per year
- 2 paid 250 per year
- 3 persons did not know what they paid.
Of these 14 paying members
- 5 say they will stay also if they have to pay 25 euro per month
- 3 have quit their membership already
- 5 are going to quit when they have to renew
- 1 does not know what he will do.
The rest of the people called are all free members (none paying) of which:
- 1 company no longer exists
- 1 was very angry and hung up the phone, saying he did not want to have to do anything to do with it anymore
- 2 did not know anything about Tradeqoin at all
- 5 had already quit their membership but still show on the list
- 18 will quit anyway
- 4 do not know if they will stay
- 3 will probably stay
The rest will very likely quit when they need to start paying for membership.
Some people had more then one listing:
- 2 of them had two business on the list and
- 1 of them had three businesses
We also found a company (Mireilles Import) who is listed twice.
We also asked people if they did any transactions and if so for what amount
- 50% of them had no transactions at all (36)
The Barter Your Business members had done some transactions when it was BYB, none with Tradeqoin
- 2 people only a small amount
- 1 bought some champagne and wants to quit now but needs to pay the deficit in cash
- 2 have some Tradeqoin credits but cannot spend
- 4 have had 1 small order
- 1 and this is the only person that sells goods in the whole database. He has sold for 5000 Tradeqoin office furniture Desko is the company. Some of it on 100% some on 50% and is not accepting Tradeqoin anymore. (That is probably why a member is asking for office furniture since Desko does not accept any trade anymore)
- 1 who had 2 orders smaller then 1000 euro
- 1 had a few small amounts
- 1 had an order for TQ themselves delivering a website
- 5 people had spent some trade but no orders [of which 3 want to quit but have to pay cash when they do!]
Almost all of these transactions were part cash part trade.
- People who were members for a few years when it was BYB say that back then it was more active but now since it is TQ it is dead.
- There are several free members that say that they are just on the list because it is free but do nothing and are not likely to do anything with it and are just there to get their name out.
We also asked if they think Tradeqoin is doing a good job, i.e. is it a good company?
- 30 said no
- 10 said poor
- One said that Greg is okay but the company is not
- One said that they are nice people but nothing is happening
- 7 said yes of which two are friends with the founders
The rest do not know or said it is an inactive network.
My opinion is that:
- The Achterhoek is not to be taken seriously at all, they do not know which way they are going. They are a bit out on their own especially as the guy we contacted said that they were not planning on charging membership fees or transaction fees. If they keep on going the way they are going now they will not have any members left soon. After one and a half years there are only 21 members there and hardly any action. I mentioned this serious rift in my original post.
- As long as people do not have to pay anything they might stay with Tradeqoin, but the moment they will have to pay something, most of them will leave.
- There is hardly any action within Tradeqoin and transactions are negligible. Rob refers of course to only the few transactions that have occurred!
- The whole Tradeqoin crowdfunding prospectus seems to be based upon BS and hot air:
- 18% are going to quit
- 6% have quit already
- 6% will stay
- 3.8% do not know what they will do
- 66.2% will quit when they need to pay a membership fee
It is very difficult to get your name off the list when you want to quit.
This extensive telemarketing is the basis upon which I generated the above graph used in my first post.
Formal Symbid Responses
On Symbid, the formal crowdfunding campaign, Rob van Hilten finally, I believe after prompting from Symbid responded to key questions from an investor (Krispijn) who had announced his intention to pull out after reading my blog and doing his own further research. Translation from Dutch is courtesy of Google Translate.
I understand that in the Dutch version there are grammatical errors that indicate a hurried and casual approach from Rob van Hilten to answering these questions. I intersperse my comments in reply:
What percentage of the freemium members are expected to maintain after the expiry of the free periods? TradeQoin
The TradeQoin is technically a freemium model.
So why didn’t you use this phrase in your marketing materials and Prospectus Rob. Why didn’t you advise your investors of this up front and instead wait until a blogger revealed this for your investors to see and understand?
We assume, however, that TradeQoin will not develop as a freemium model where there is a hype created and large amounts of people / companies just subscribe. We expect to actively build a relationship with participants and must have guide.
That’s right Rob – it’s a VERY labour intense business this one! Thank you for acknowledging this important point that again you needed a blogger in Samoa to bring to the surface. If you have had practical experience in this industry Rob you will know that establishing a trade exchange is hard work and costly in time AND money. Giving free membership is one thing . . . giving free membership AND handholding is quite another. Despite your ‘expert’ status, even a child can see that your numbers don’t stack up; there is no free lunch and any business that requires an investment of labour upfront on the wild hope that after three trades and no way to spend their credits they will miraculously pay money to you every month will NEVER succeed, let alone return coin to investors. I repeat my advice again – don’t invest with the current Tradeqoin business model.
Through the first transactions them active In barterwereld / IRTA credo applies: you have only one customer and who has done three transactions. So that’s exactly what we do: all barriers to close the first three transactions. After that, they have a balance and experience. The average transaction volume per transaction is currently over € 270 per transaction, so in three transactions they will average € 900 are traded.
I do not believe that this average trade figure is sustainable, and suspect from my own research (above) that this is based on VERY VERY small trading figures if they are correct. All it would take is one larger ticket item in very small trading volumes and this would skew the figures which is what I suspect has happened. Rob, I challenge you to validate these figures. Then compare them with industry standards.
Let’s agree for a minute and take your figures for argument’s sake. You commence advertising, you undertake a sales process, you get one member, you hold their hand and find something that they want and someone who wants what they have (basic trade brokering) and at the end of say 3 months you have a few % of that € 900 in trade – what? Little wonder people scratch their heads in amazement that you think that you can make a business out of this! The rest of us in this industry know that Tradeqoin’s business model is ‘nuts’ and little more than a scam. You’ll be broke inside months doing business this way!
The membership fee of € 25 per month / € 300 per year road over there with that. The cost of an average business club or DM campaign are many times higher. So a very good chance that they will then pick up and be a paying member.
That’s not what your existing members reported to us Rob! You’re in a dream world! Freemium conversions to paying members are LOW for good reason – people want freemium because – you guessed it – it’s free!
Moreover, we select which entrepreneurs we consider promising (to close transactions in the network), and we will focus on them. We thus expect a 70 ± 80% will convert to a paid subscription. Guided by our participants What percentage this is of the total number of self detectors’ we’ll have to wait and see.
No we don’t have to wait and see Rob. We can just phone every Tradeqoin member and ask them their intentions. I’ve already done the work so I’ve saved you the wait. The world knows the result . . . 6%! And you know what? I reckon it will be even less than that unless you do what your members are screaming out for you to do . . . basic business brokering. Get in there and speak to them Rob. Ask them how they’re doing as a Tradeqoin member, and what they want to buy and what they want to sell. This is the basics of a trade exchange Rob. Building relationships and building trade. Forget a €1,000,000 investment into Tradeqoin thus far – it’s gone into a big black hole. If you’re serious about your business, get the basics right for goodness sake!
Now this casual “We’ll have to wait and see” approach is a disgusting display of unprofessionalism unbecoming of a self-proclaimed “industry expert” and an IRTA Board Member at that! Tradeqoin is seeking € 150,000 from small-time investors who trust YOU to do the work! They trust you to have done the market research so that their potential investment has some . . . well . . . potential. I, a mere blogger with [as you say it] credibility issues who has made NOT ONE CENT out of my work BTW, have done the market research from your own customers and provided an in-depth analysis of your Prospectus and your own business from the middle of the South Pacific!
No Rob, we don’t have to wait and see and neither does ANY successful business in the world . . . we do market research, we set up prototypes then analyse the results. We speak to professionals in the industry; people who have been there and done that before us and this all tells us whether or not an idea has potential. Freemium take-up is LOW. Your own members tell us that. You’ll be VERY lucky to get even the 6% that our research indicates.
There is, moreover, no time limits in which three transactions must be closed if we do send up to 3 months.
On your current performance Rob that means that there is more time for your members to sit there waiting for you and your team to deliver. Every month that goes by reinforces the clear understanding that you don’t care about them.
What is the current trade on the platform? And how big the supply of goods?
As expected with the size of the TradeQoin network, the economic traffic in the network still small. There is currently about 15 transactions a week, with an average value of € 278.16
This was no doubt your best week? There IS NO WAY that this is an average and there is NO WAY that this has been sustained on the results of my research!
The number of goods is still limited, which is to be expected at this size.
No it’s not Rob. Two hundred members would normally be a great little Trade Exchange . . . with a great range of business goods and services available. There is another possibility however, that your claim of 200 Members is all smoke and mirrors, puffed up for marketing purposes to support the impression of a successful business. Investors will have to decide whether there is more credibility between a blogger who has done the research [above] or a man with a mission to sell shares in his fledgling business that is desperate to find its own identity in what is a very difficult business sector. Facts vs a mirage!
However, there are regularly traded goods, including office furniture (new) wine is sold electric scooter recently.
You forgot to mention that the office furniture company has pulled out (as we found out weeks ago when we did the research). Is this an error of omission where you actually don’t know what’s going on under your watch, or is it deliberate deception Rob? Wine is a problem, sold at WAY above the normal price and only on 50/50 trade/cash. One electric scooter is it? OMG your responses to serious questions raise more questions than answers!
Because goods are scarce, they are not all on the website.
Scarce goods Rob are not a good sign for a trade exchange. You should be saying that plenty of things are available on full trade at great prices, so that people can see that there is high perceived value of the Tradecoin currency! Please don’t let this be known to the world Rob, for your own sake! Oops!
They are sold exclusively at the time that specific demand for it and we can guarantee. Spending TradeQoin by supplier
So the website listing system doesn’t work then? And you are a hands-on trade boker business model? But you’ve just spent €1,000,000 on the software and website haven’t you? Why do I get two different stories from you depending on the context of the question? You confuse me!
Rob, some of your members are desperate to find anything of value – ANYTHING – so that they can cash up and get out of the trap that they walked into – a trap BTW that catches all novices who enter this business thinking that they can just “sign people up” and things will be rosy. Establishing a successful commercial trade exchange is hard work and you can NEVER get there by fudging it. You have to actually deliver!
I recently at the annual conference of the IRTA in Mexico spoken extensively with much larger TradeQoin-like networks over their start.
You mean the ones that you are going to miraculously overtake in a couple of short years with 1,000 members inside one year and 5230 members a year or two after that? The ones that have been in the game a lot longer than you, who know what the reality is of actually having a real business?
Where were they after 6 months in their development. We can only conclude that we are doing well.
If your current turnover, trade volume, listings, profitability and marketing are anything to go by and you consider that this is “doing well” then you and me are on different planets. Based on the ACTUAL data, not what you present to the world, at your current rate, it will take you 227 years and 4 months to reach your 5230 membership projections, and that’s looking at things very positively.
Of course trading, availability of goods etc. is not yet comparable to larger networks, but that is a matter of seizing. Our next goal is asap to 300 participants to grow and a trade volume of € 1,000 TradeQoin average per participant per month. Without additional investment we think we can achieve additional investment faster. This in one year
I think that your projections are just totally insanely crazy and that attempting to justify them in the face of serious light of truth is even more insane! It’s one thing to put out nonsense in order to obtain crowdfunding, calling yourself and “expert” and advising others on what to do; but it is a totally different thing to go out there and believe your own nonsense and then to actually try to defend it. You should be recognising what other professionals in the industry all know – you’re ‘faking it until you make it’ and you haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of getting anywhere with the approach that you’re currently taking. I recommend that you read my post on how to rebuild your Qoin brand, then withdraw your crowdfunding campaign ASAP, lick your wounds, seek professional help from people who know what they are doing and go back to what you were good at doing – getting public money for ‘special projects’.
You know what? If you did that I would endorse you and Qoin as a company that has some integrity, they made a mistake, and error of judgement, got a few things wrong and had the good decency to do the right thing. Yup, I’d do that in a moment because despite what you and others on the end of my criticism might try to portray to defend themselves, my blogging is NOT personal.
Is it true that the Achterhoek part of TradeQoin has an alternative model, which no income can be expected?
It is true that Achthoeker has a different model.
That’s right . . . one that I revealed in my blogging and not one that you revealed in your Prospectus. Naughty, naughty! I hope that the Dutch business authorities don’t get wind of this glaring omission for your sake Rob. In my book it’s called misrepresentation, in your case clearly deliberate and a meaningful component to the whole Tradeqoin business model just blown out of the water!
It’s not right to expect that there is no income from his.
There are no monthly fees [and if what the Achterhoek rep says is true] no transaction fees either – all of which after all is what the Tradeqoin Prospectus talks about eh?
We provide them the full platform and provide certain services (such as assessing applications for credit, billing, etc.) They pay us for that.
Great. An income – how much and where in the Prospectus is this mentioned?
A fee of 3% on all transactions For now allowed in TradeQoin. The local rollout (marketing, recruitment, selection, mediation, etc.) do entrepreneurs on their own.
That’s right Rob, they’ve been rolling it out before you even took them over isn’t that the case? You acquired their business as you did BYB from which most of your members came? Also a key factor missed in the Prospectus. It’s called growth by acquisition Rob, and I’ll let you into an industry secret – it doesn’t and has never worked in this industry. It’s a very hard road to hoe that one as you have and no doubt are finding out now with BYB members disillusioned and serious strategic differences amongst your team!
However, this is a difficult model, because they have chosen to enact, which actually amounts to volunteering. No fee to participate, for this work We are currently evaluating the initiators the success of this approach.
It is my opinion that Tradeqoin and the Achterhoek business models cannot ever work side-by-side. You have different intentions, values and opinions. As I said before, expect this division in the ranks to crystallise into an open division in the Tradeqoin business – yet another reason why the claim of 200 members is and has always been false.
The structure of Qoin
The question about the structure of Qoin and TradeQoin has been answered in a Q & A on this site.
Why raise money
We now raise money to cover. The initial costs of TradeQoin Qoin BV is still young and has a very limited capacity.
OK So let’s highlight this concept . . . You’ve put € 1,000,000 into it thus far, and it’s not profitable and you want € 150,000 more without any likelihood of a ROI for investors, according to your figures it will be another black hole for another 3 years and then uncertainly and more funding required for Stage 2!
As I’ve said many times before, get your act together at a small level and then you can grow the business. Making a small poorly performing business bigger just makes a bigger bad business!
Although Qoin BV is profitable, profits insufficient to cover. Complete start-up costs of TradeQoin The foundation has made a small power for. We want TradeQoin very close to ‘the crowd’ state; TradeQoin is intended to give to society the money back. And that is only possible if society is thus actively involved there. Really this is not a crowdfunding, but a crowd finding campaign.
OMG!!! Then why didn’t you say that at the outset. Symbid is a crowdFUNDING site, not a social media crowd-FINDING website. For goodness sake Rob . . . are you crazy? Go back to the people who you found for funding before, Rob – the keepers of the public purses that can hide your failures under politics. People who invest want to invest to help but they also want some degree of integrity and consistency of message. A ROI somewhere, somehow might also be nice too!
Qoin and Rabobank
Qoin and Rabobank are currently in the final stages of preparing our common action plan.
That’s news to them Rob. Which branch? Who are you dealing with? When did discussions start? From what I can tell this is all BS and you’ve been caught out telling porkies! I’ll update this if/when Rabobank can confirm this – a simple email from them will do thanks Rob. Until then though – nah! Pants down!
Until then, we like to keep just for us with which banks we do business today. Once completed, we will give full disclosure.
Rob, the only disclosure the world will be getting on this subject is that you have claimed something that’s clearly false; people have asked questions of you to validate your claims and you’ve failed to deliver. But don’t worry, I’ll help you along with your communications with Rabobank. I’ll arrange for a Rabobank representative to contact you asking you to explain why you are using their ‘good name’ to puff yourself and your Tradeqoin scam.
About Denis A. Smith
[Omitted a long spiel about me personally, some facts right, some wrong, including opinion and self justifications]
I’m not interested in what Rob van Hilten thinks about me. I deal with facts. My blogging is about Tradeqoin and how it is a scam, set up by a company and people who have (to put it politely) a dubious track record in business, with membership figures that simply don’t stack up, misrepresentations galore and insane projections based on a totally non-viable business model.
Rob van Hilten
Investor Krispijn did further analysis of the Tradeqoin Prospectus and figures coming to the same conclusions as me. Rob van Hilten’s incredible response?
Krispijn, I appreciate that you’re trying to achieve. Until the bottom of the business case For me interpret various figures wrong and work with some wrong assumptions. And so, this leads to not throbbing claims.
This platform (or rather written text) is not necessarily the best way to properly answer your questions. Risk splaakvelwalling is so very big.
I invite you for a cup of coffee at our office. I like to talk the whole business case with you through. You standing there open for? I will personally send an email over here.
Take the cup of coffee Krispijn. It’s the only thing apart from hot air, you will be getting out of Tradeqoin in the next couple of years if you continue with your crowdfunding investment.
In the meantime potential investors would be wise to research the thoughts and experiences of previous Tradeqoin crowdfunding investors. I’d be interested to know what sort of ROI they have experienced from the € 70k they put in to the Qoin coffers. I’d hazard a guess – not a lot!
Tradeqoin is a scam; a fake-it-until-you-make-it make-believe operation with insanely unrealistic projections; built on deception & half-truths. It is a failing trade exchange poorly run and totally misrepresented as having 200 members when in fact there are less than a couple of dozen hardly trading. It has pathetic customer service, and serious member dissatisfaction. Without serious management attitude change, major surgery to their business model and some ethical common-sense leadership, it is VERY unlikely that investors will see any Return On Investment in any way shape or form, ever.
An IRTA Ethics Complaint
IRTA Members (Tradeqoin’s parent company Qoin is one of them) agree to abide by the IRTA Code of Ethics including the following clause:
III. Advertising & Marketing
Members shall be truthful with regard to their spoken, printed or internet based representations regarding their barter exchange and in their marketing materials, specifically but not limited to;
a) The number of active members in their exchange. Active members are defined as those members who have made a purchase or sale within the last twelve (12) months.
b) The limited scope of products and services available.
c) The accurate trade volume of their exchange.
d) Accurately communicating any and all restrictions related to an offering to its exchange
Having conducted telemarketing that proves their dishonesty in the above clause (III[a]), it is my belief that Tradeqoin is now highly exposed and on the balance of probabilities will lose in any hearing on the matter.
This is the sequence of events that has led to this advice:
- Tradeqoin claimed to have 200 Members (no differentiation of the members vs freemium business model)
- My research has proved that they have around about a dozen, or two at the outside who meet IRTA’s criteria as a member
- I blogged my findings and mentioned the phrase freemium for the first time
- A Tradeqoin investor conducted his own investigation and asked questions on the Symbid crowdfunding platform and questions were also asked on LinkedIn forums
- Rob van Hilten defended Tradeqoin in every regard and admitted to the freemium business model (technically) but still failed to differentiate his 200 members by way of paying or non-paying or trading/non-trading members
- I published the detailed findings of my research here
IRTA’s definition of a Member is that they must have “made a purchase or sale within the last twelve (12) months”.
Tradeqoin doesn’t have that. Any person or entity on the planet may pay the $200.00 USD and lodge a complaint with IRTA, thus they will have a prima facie case.
The IRTA Ethics Committee will of course want to protect one of their own (an IRTA Board Member no less).
As I see it there are several ways that they could wrangle out of having to find Tradeqoin guilty:
- They could say that Tradeqoin is not a member of IRTA, however Clause VII[b] of the IRTA Code of Ethics deals with this requiring parent companies to be liable:
VII. Liability For Territories, Licensees & Franchisees Officesa) When IRTA members expand their core operations through the creation of franchisees, licensees or territories, IRTA members agree to comply with all Federal, State, local or jurisdictional requirements related to the creation of such business entities and agree to supply IRTA with documentation verifying compliance with such regulatory laws.b) When IRTA members establish territory’s, licensee or franchisee offices of the parent company, the licensor or franchisor shall be liable for the trade debts of the territory, licensee or franchisee office in the event of termination of the territory, licensee or franchise office. Should the territory, licensee or franchisee be a separate legal entity and declare bankruptcy, the IRTA member parent company shall be liable for the trade debts of the territory, licensee or franchisee regardless of whether the territory’s, licensee’s or franchisee’s corporate entity was legally discharged in bankruptcy court.
- They could say that Tradeqoin claimed that their 200 members were from a freemium model and that the 200 members referred to the freemium members, not actual members. Four issues here support any complainant though, first the actual claims were clear and unequivocal, secondly the intent of the claims was perfectly clear (to imply a successful business), thirdly Rob van Hilten claims to have compared his exchange to other IRTA Members memberships (thus comparing apples with apples) and fourthly no effort was made under multiple inquiries to differentiate between freemium members and ‘real members’ (it was only me who revealed the possible difference!) thus a membership of 200 spoken multiple times and never retracted nor explained openly or transparently is VERY clear misrepresentation.
- They could say that the source of this information was not credible, after all I’m just a blogger in Samoa. If this sounds a bit far fetched, it’s not for IRTA has done this already AND in writing relating to this VERY topic (my Tradeqoin expose) as I revealed previously! Referencing anything I say or do brings an instant knee-jerk reaction of “shoot the messenger” from anyone associated with the current lot in power at IRTA!
There are sure to be other ways that they can dream up to try to protect their own but these three are a start!
Tradeqoin too will want to protect their reputation and will no doubt try to defend themselves as best as they can. In this regard they could:
- Claim that they never meant “member” in the sense that IRTA’s Code of Ethics meant. This possible defence could actually be correct for it would require the directors of Qoin and Tradeqoin to know the IRTA Code of Ethics and to apply it into their own business situation. That would require a commitment to integrity and honesty that is not in keeping with the other aspects of the Tradeqoin mirage. Either way though ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse.
- Claim that while technically they breached the regulations they are very sorry but meant no harm. If used, I suspect that this one will be a major factor in the IRTA Ethics Committee deliberations. If IRTA partnered with Bartercard arguably the worst offending least ethical of all the trade exchange out there, I’m sure that the private pleas of another Board Member will weigh very heavily on their deliberations!
- Fabricate transactions/memberships to validate their claim of 200 members. This may be tempting. If 200 members miraculously have/had transactions appear then I will know that this option has been taken. Rob’s own figures and statements though on Symbid will be hard to get this past muster. If they’re creative they might try to give it a go. The Ethics Committee wouldn’t release any doctored evidence and neither would Qoin so it might be worth their risk to do that for it could all be kept under wraps quite nicely until the clouds blew away.
- Attempt to shoot the messenger or claim that the complainant associated with an investigative blogger from Samoa who is not credible. Again, not only has this happened, incredibly it has been taken to court in the Netherlands!
If it can be proven however that Tradeqoin (a trade exchange owned by Qoin who is an IRTA Member, and operated by an IRTA Board Member Rob van Hilten) has claimed to have 200 Members and they don’t then Tradeqoin should be found to be in breach of the IRTA Code of Ethics.
I can’t predict the outcome of an organisation out to scratch each others’ backs but if I was IRTA, I would be getting the wet bus-ticket ready to slap Rob van Hilten’s wrist.
Undertaking a complaint with IRTA is in some ways a waste of time unless you’re into scoring a moral victory.
Satachi achieved a guilty verdict from the IRTA Ethics complaint committee in relation to Bartercard’s predatory behaviour and some may question the significance of this.
While this sort of censure is no big deal on the surface, it does set the groundwork for future more severe actions because on a second successful complaint an IRTA Member will be suspended and cannot represent the Board for three months.
On a third successful complaint the guilty party will be evicted from IRTA for 5 years.
In regards to Bartercard I understand that they are on to their second Ethics complaint in a few short months, I believe with a USA company laying another complaint against Bartercard. Paul Bolte, Bartercard’s representative on the IRTA Board will need to prepare his spin-doctors if they get pinged a second time for this second one will have not only occurred on his watch, but in his own jurisdiction. Absenting himself from IRTA Board events for a few months might seem like a lucky break for some, except for the fact that it will be on his resume for a long time to come. Should it happen a third time and believe-you-me, there is a VERY good chance that someone will complain and be delighted to pay only $200.00 to have Bartercard evicted from IRTA for 5 years, then the significance of Satachi’s current ‘hollow victory’ can be seen for what it is – quite profound.
Likewise with Qoin, Tradeqoin and Rob van Hilten. One complaint if proven can be brushed off with a ‘whatever’ but getting suspended from IRTA’s Board is NOT what the Dutchman wants I can assure you . . . he’s all about advertising the fact that he IS on the International Board of IRTA!
As an aside, I can’t see the current lot in power at IRTA risking their IRTAcard partnership so I suspect that they will be finding ways to tweak the IRTA Code of Ethics to give Bartercard a reprieve from possible suspension for 5 years. Their risk of egg-on-face will be way too high now. They will know that Bartercard will be very likely to ‘get done’ a second time. If I were in their shoes attempting to engineer things to protect their own I’d be looking at some form of “super-member” status now that Bartercard are part of the software solution to Universal Currency and that IRTA has an exclusive agreement to promote their software. You can’t very well promote Bartercard’s ‘Webturtle’ as the best in the industry if they’ve been kicked out of IRTA for 5 years as a result of a “three strikes and you’re out!” policy, can you?
I suspect that a complaint WILL be made in relation to the Tradeqoin scam. It just makes sense for people who care about the industry to do it. $200.00 is peanuts when you compare the damage that could occur from investors pouring money into the Tradeqoin scam and all losing out to an IRTA Board Member at that! Now that Rob van Hilten is likely to be facing his first Ethics complaint I suspect that he too will be angling to reduce the potential impact of more than one strike-out. Other Board Members too on shaky ground may support a move to ‘adjust’ the penalties downwards somewhat. This is all conjecture of course but if the IRTA Code of Ethics changes in the near future, you read it here first, and will know who are doing what and why behind the scenes.
There’s a simple way for Tradeqoin to resolve a lot of these problems – just withdraw the crowdfunding attempt, and get real. An apology and thanks for helping them save themselves from more embarrassment might be in order too. It won’t stop any Ethics complaint because the deed has already been done but it will save them from further negative press and embarrassment. Google has a very long memory and Qoin is all about keeping up appearances.
Impossible I but who knows, there might be more chance of that than seeing 5230 active Tradeqoin Members all paying 300 Euros a year inside a few years on the back of a freemium business model!
Thanks for tuning in this time . . .