Following a couple of online digs from Tradeqoin people who want the world to think that their baby is all fine, in this post I revisit the Tradeqoin business. Tradeqoin is a Dutch Trade Exchange, the flagship of vocal and longstanding Community Currency advocates Qoin, one that I’ve called a scam. Fifteen months since it’s inception, I share my take on the entire Tradeqoin operation – it’s a dead and dying business headed for bankruptcy. It’s claims of membership and trade volume are now even more fraudulent than when I first made them. Apart from summarising my previous findings, I also reveal new information showing how the people associated with it are comfortable with half-truths and outright deception. This is an ugly one!
Tradeqoin is and has always been a mess. Essentially their principals (QOIN) are idealists, excellent talkers and self-marketers but lacking strong commercial business acumen, with a string of self-promoted activities and concepts but in reality a string of bankruptcies and, depending on how you view them, semi-successes or part-failures in their Community Currency endeavours. Tradeqoin has been promoted from the outset as their flagship commercial product. It is however an outright fraud with its false claims of membership (and even claims of growth in 2015!) It is yet another major Qoin failure.
In 2014 following my exposure of Daniel Evans’ Ormita fraud, the shonky Bartercard IPO and their hidden deals with IRTA, then IRTA’s inside shonky dealings with Universal Currency, I was alerted to the wild claims of a Dutch Trade Exchange (Tradeqoin) that was the flagship of a Dutch self-professing Complementary Currency ‘experts’ Qoin. I gave the public warning about Tradeqoin on 8 October 2014 calling it a scam, much to their chagrin.
For years, Qoin’s business model has been to secure funding for Community Currency projects (primarily public monies but more recently some crowdfunding) and then spend it. This a perfectly valid business model and they do both of these things very well, certainly until recently when the barrel has run a little dry and the public purse hasn’t been quite so generous as before. In regards to this business model they are clearly a very successful business!
Tradeqoin was established following the purchase of an existing but relatively new Dutch Trade Exchange (Barter Your Business) established by Greg Prizmic* in 2011 who only stayed with the new owners of Tradeqoin for a year, leaving early March 2015. In the last year (and a bit) the trade exchange has dwindled from around three hundred [claimed] members down to what was claimed in Q3 & Q4 to be around two hundred members.
My detailed investigation and blogging however revealed that the REAL membership numbers were approximately 6% of that claimed. I suggested many key questions that Qoin needed to address and stated that Tradeqoin’s multiple crowdfunding activities (on the Dutch Symbid crowdfunding platform) were fraudulent. I also revealed the insane projections and crazy business model that their prospectus contained forcing them to review and rewrite their projections down massively; to reduce their crowdfunding ask from 150k to 50k and to just ‘casually’ drop their valuation by a million Euros – incredibly, all this done while the Symbid crowdfunding campaign was in progress BTW! To people who play with reality, a million Euros here or there doesn’t really seem to matter very much!
I spent several months investigating and blogging about Tradeqoin in Q3 & Q4 2014. Qoin’s Managing Director, Rob van Hilten (also an IRTA Board member) was initially “happy to engage” with me. When I sent him my first post in draft format though, he instantly declined to speak further with me and has not done that to this day. No Tradeqoin staff member or associate has spoken to me directly either at any time until recently when two Qoin Partners publicly challenged me – without identifying their direct relationship with Tradeqoin.
I did all my research myself or under my supervision (when Dutch speaking was required) and went directly to the original sources. For example I documented Qoin’s breach of grant usage by going to their primary funders’ website and showing that Qoin took money designated for non-commercial purposes yet established Tradeqoin as a commercial operation. This is still a shonky deal which their primary funders Stichting Doen will no doubt be very keen to keep covered up!
I employed a Dutch speaking telemarketing sub-contractor who over two weeks phoned every single member of the Tradeqoin trading network, an exercise that was to reveal exactly the nature and extent of the fraud and misrepresentation that was going on! I translated key documents and devised the strategy to out the Tradeqoin fraud and wrote every word of my online expose personally.
I have received not one cent from anyone for this either BTW, despite what some have tried to claim. It was my investigation, I took all the risk, wear the flak (e.g. IRTA claims that I “lack credibility”!) and I expect the kudos when I get things right. I also have not shared everything I know, there was a lot more in my blogging than this quick summary, but I’ve covered the gist of it.
Central to the reasons for my investigation was a crowdfunding campaign active on the Symbid website and managed by Rob van Hilten. Seeking funding from private investors via crowdfunding is a VERY different kettle of fish than going for the public purse, which supposedly has ‘professionals’ appointed to vet applicants. I moved hard and fast and blogged actively and simultaneously with this fundraising campaign highlighting the fraud as it was happening. I investigated, documented and exposed the false membership numbers on the Symbid campaign pages. I claimed correctly that Tradeqoin’s trading figures and valuation were total nonsense and that their projections were simply impossible. No company in the history of the planet had ever achieved the sorts of growth that Tradeqoin was basing their fundraising campaign on. Cynically, Qoin continued with its campaign, adjusting the figures downwards yet keeping the [delayed but eventually successful] campaign going! Some investors pulled out as a result of my questioning and blogging. None of the ones who invested will see their money again. Symbid did not intervene, nor did it respond to my warnings.
That’s all the past, so what now? Tradeqoin has been around now for over a year. It’s membership numbers, member satisfaction levels, communications to and with its members and of course trading are all down . . . down . . . down from the days when it purchased a young exchange. Tradeqoin is a non-starter in the business world of commercial trade exchanges. The management have neither passion, experience nor interest in commercial barter.
The official story from Tradeqoin and associated friendly parties is that Tradeqoin is the successful flagship operation. They have no option but to claim this AND use ad hominem attacks on the one who has done the investigation AND broken the story – me.
In reality Tradeqoin is fast heading for a sale to a ‘friendly’ buyer as a cover for its failure OR it is headed into oblivion. It was basically dead when I completed a thorough investigation and nothing meaningful has happened with it since. The website, memberships, offers, news and blogs are all as ‘dead as a dodo’. Key staff have left. Where ever it goes from here, their members, ex-members, everyone in the Achthoeker Region and anyone interested in asking basic questions all know that it’s dead, especially if they have read my blogs about it or they are trying to trade within it! There’s nothing so sick as a trade exchange when nobody trusts its currency!
A while ago on a list dedicated to Alternative Currencies an industry professional sought help in locating a document that supported the effectiveness of Community Currencies. Leander Bindewald, of NEF and co-author of a report slipped a link to us all and it was duly appreciated by the enquirer as fulfilling his requirement. I read the NEF report and noted some red flags.
- First there has always been a cosy relationship between a group of associated entities and people around Qoin. Their marketing materials all have the same flavour, theme and overly-optimistic-present-the-gloss-only approach
- Secondly Tradeqoin, the trade exchange I had proven to be all hot air was talked up and quoted!
There’s a high focus on the promotion and marketing around Qoin’s babies. They really do networking with their friends well and their media releases are well written and ubiquitous. Observers clearly get the impression from these guys that things are humming in the Qoin/Community Currency world. Of course I knew better. After the recipient had said, “Thanks, Leander, I have read it great report!” I slipped a warning to the list:
[28/05/2015 7:39:34 a.m.] Dennis A Smith: Ummmm yes, the report reads well but best to be careful in the use of the examples Stephen. If you want to to work with the truth, dig deeper into the true nature and effectiveness of the currencies mentioned. Anyone asking questions of the Makkie (researched by others and found decidedly wanting) or Tradeqoin (that I have investigated and exposed as an outright fraud – it’s now dead BTW) will be cautious.
The Makkie BTW is another dubious Qoin creation. According to Qoin it is another success story. Not quite so to people who have gone on the inside and studied things from a users’ perspective. While something positive may have eventually happened with the Makkie since then, it is still a system brought into a community by outsiders who haven’t the wherewithal to respond to local needs. I’m not up with the latest on the Makkie but I am with Tradeqoin.
Let’s continue . . .
Give it a few days and two interactions occurred with the two Tradqoin Associates defending TradeQoin. In the first Scott charges me with hidden/ulterior motives. In the second Stephen attacks my claim that Tradeqoin is a scam. Neither of these two people identified their relationship with Qoin BTW. I’ve had to reveal it for those ignorant of their vested interests here with this post. The first shot came from Scott Morris:
SCOTT MORRIS* (Facebook, Qoin Expert, Qoin Team Member, Qoin USA Advocate )
[31/05/2015 1:31:57 p.m.] Scott Morris: Also, what was this you said about TradeQoin being dead? I’m fairly sure it’s alive and well, and not sure why you’re making such statements about it and/or Qoin. Care to elaborate?
[31/05/2015 1:34:55 p.m.] Dennis A Smith: My telemarketing to every single member in Q3 2014 identified 6% of the claimed 200 members usage. I blogged about this at the time extensively. Anecdotally the trading is down. Officially it “fluctuates”. Deception remains. Simply join and attempt to trade and you will find what I and my researchers have . . . I don’t want to ping people unduly and have left it but when claims are made, that I know there is another story behind, I will speak it out to those who want to know the full story.
[31/05/2015 1:37:50 p.m.] Scott Morris: OK. So what’s your angle in it then? Why do you care?
[31/05/2015 1:39:15 p.m.] Scott Morris: What I mean is, out of the hundreds of programs going on, why pick on TradeQoin?
[31/05/2015 1:39:35 p.m.] Scott Morris: Are you hunting for your next Ormita or something?
[31/05/2015 1:43:12 p.m. | Edited 1:44:12 p.m.] Dennis A Smith: Ormita was a biggie, sure, IRTA was also too. TQ isn’t really except that with Rob’s role as an IRTA [Board] Member and false claims of membership that do not comply with IRTA’s criteria he’s a little exposed. I have been informed of many other biggies in the industry whom I could go after and I haven’t. I’m an investigative blogger with an interest in CCs of which Tradqoin is just one. I explained my interest in it all last year with thousands of words. Essentially I put two years aside to research/blog/investigate and share my findings on Barter, the nature of money/Alt Currencies etc. In regards to TQ I was approached in Q3 2014 by a company who had concerns with their claims. I investigated and wrote about it. Period. I have not said/done anything since because as I say I’m not out to GET anyone or anything.
[31/05/2015 1:46:14 p.m.] Scott Morris: Ah. I’d heard they were dealing with some hardcore opposition there in the Netherlands by a sore competitor which ended up with courts ruling in TradeQoin’s favor on a libel claim.
[31/05/2015 1:46:38 p.m.] Dennis A Smith: I read that too. I know a lot more however!
[31/05/2015 1:47:05 p.m.] Scott Morris: Than the courts?
[31/05/2015 1:48:03 p.m.] Dennis A Smith: Yes and I blogged about it too extensively giving full analysis, not the single subject cut-paste-and-twist-for-a-political-purpose reference you alude to!
[31/05/2015 1:48:34 p.m.] Scott Morris: I’m not sure what you mean. Also I don’t read your blog. Nothing personal.
[31/05/2015 1:53:49 p.m.] Scott Morris: I could probably wrap this in neater wording, but to save time I’ll be frank. I’m not fully convinced you’re just in this out of some natural curiosity and desire to be helpful. The timing of your coverage of some things is suspect, and from how you’ve been showing up here lately it seems as if now you’re some sort of “CC police” out on patrol.
[31/05/2015 1:55:21 p.m.] Scott Morris: I appreciate the spirit of keeping people honest, but I’m not seeing as much CONstructive activity as I’m seeing DEstructive. Maybe that’s just my impression, and my impression alone, but in any case that’s where I’m at.
[31/05/2015 1:58:05 p.m.] Dennis A Smith: @Scott. OK Message received loud ‘n clear!
[31/05/2015 1:58:15 p.m.] Scott Morris: Perhaps I bristle when there’s criticism coming from people who aren’t actively organizing / managing systems themselves, but that’s my bias as a practitioner. It takes huge amounts of work to mount a new iteration of this knowledge in action, and very little to screw it up. I just don’t want to see innocent people and programs coming under fire.
[31/05/2015 1:58:45 p.m. | Edited 1:58:58 p.m.] Scott Morris: Thanks, and cheers.
[31/05/2015 2:02:02 p.m. | Edited 2:02:55 p.m.] Dennis A Smith: Me neither. I particularly hate it when innocent investors invest into something on the basis of lies, deception, incompetence and stupidity. None of this you will understand in the case of TQ because you haven’t read the extensive expose. It’s bad @Scott, bad! For those that DO read my blog I think that I DO produce copious amounts of constructive advice balancing criticism with REAL advice, and examples. Let’s agree to disagree and one day if you do read any of my work, you might see why I have just said what I have said.
I slipped Scott a PM that same day as I knew that he was ‘involved’ and was part of the Qoin operations. It was a personal warning.
He totally ignored it. UPDATE: Scott claims that he didn’t receive it. I have validation of this and accept his explanation, correcting this error immediately. Note: Skype doesn’t bounce PM’s to people who have their settings to “PMs from Contacts only” nor advise of non-delivery. My error!
Today on the [group list name] you raised some issues that I wish to address privately. You are welcome to share my comments anywhere anytime with whoever you want, however the list has been quite Dennis-centric over the last week so if you wish to share anything on the list please bear this in mind.
[31/05/2015 9:11:40 p.m.] Dennis A Smith: 2. You mentioned TQ and the courts. I said that I knew a lot, and I tried to give you a hint to which you replied: “I’m not sure what you mean.” Let me be specific. TQ took Trade Xchange NL to court on some forty points and lost on almost all of them. I had and have extensive knowledge of the case PRIOR, DURING (yes I mean “during” the actual two and a half hour hearing!) as well as AFTER the case. I know the background issues to every one of their claims in court and the details and the nature of the defense offered as well as evidence not actually presented in court through lack of time, and I have the entire findings of the court. I know the context from a judicial perspective (as Dutch Judges are ‘unique’ shall we say) and I have personally retyped and translated the key components that others have taken their feeds from. I have blogged thousands of words about issues in the Netherlands’ barter industry. This is serious investigative blogging Scott and represents the integrity and quality of work that I wish to be known for. What you will find if you dare to research the matter is exactly that which I mentioned on the list; “not the single subject cut-paste-and-twist-for-a-political-purpose reference you alude to”
[31/05/2015 9:12:33 p.m.] Dennis A Smith: 3. You questioned my motives. I have stated my motives MANY times in writing over a long period. The only people who question them are my detractors known to me AND all whom have agendas of their own. I would caution you going down this track because your informants are clearly leading you. If it be found that I have no ulterior motives and have spoken truth and wisdom in the face of politically driven ad hominem attacks then any accusations towards me in public (or even support of those accusations) may come back to bite you. For example when the GETS summary report comes out, and it will eventually, you will see why extraordinary efforts were put into suppressing it and to most right-thinking people the suggestions of my writing lacking credibility will be seen for what they really are. If for example there are further revelations relating to the Tradeqoin business (and I can assure that they will for no-one has been able to trade going back to Q3 2014) then people who have informed you that all is well will be shown for who they are and their motives. I believe passionately that the truth is neither in a hurry nor does it have need for violence.
[31/05/2015 9:13:16 p.m.] Dennis A Smith: 4. I am available to speak to you at any time about any matter and I do not lie or misrepresent anything, ever – I am straight. Ask me anything you really want to know and I will answer it fully and frankly although some things of a confidential nature I retain on request. For example you will never hear the identity of the people who came to me about Tradeqoin from me. We all know who this likely is but until THEY speak it or approve it their identity remains confidential from me.
[31/05/2015 9:13:36 p.m.] Dennis A Smith: 5. Lastly I summarise my motives for you here personally as you say that you have not read my blog. I have been a highly active and effective trader in my business career utilising every barter and trade exchange available in my country for decades. I personally purchased a license for Bartercard from Kerry Gordon for Fiji when we (Bartercard NZ) only had 300 members although consequences to the Rabuka political coup caused me to pull out. I have had an interest in alternative monetary systems for a long time. In 2014 I announced and commenced a two year project to explore and blog about barter, and alternative currency systems. Virtually the week I commenced this the Bartercard IPO happened, I smelled a rat, flushed it out, explored and exposed the hidden activities of IRTA’s executive, identified and investigated the fraudulent activities occurring within UC, and investigated Tradeqoin. My stated wish is to be seen as a thought leader in the industry and only one year into this I am way further in this regard than I ever dreamed that I would be. While not obvious to you and your likely informants I currently have enormous credibility in the quarters that matter to me, although I have concerted efforts from those in some identifiable quarters to destroy my credibility. That goes with the territory. As I have said before, I do not fear the truth. People may hate me, distrust me or call me opinionated for all they like – but I think to hint at or claim that I am one with a hidden agenda or am a fool may not be wise in the long term.
[31/05/2015 9:13:43 p.m.] Dennis A Smith: Thank you for reading.
That he ignored this all is typical of the Qoin lot – two-faced. My conclusion was that here was a Qoin insider hinting at poor motives claiming that the Tradeqoin business was ‘alive and well’ when it has been dead for yonks, who was defending the indefensible because he felt that he had to and clearly knew it! If he hasn’t read any of my blogging about his own flagship operation that was supposedly the prototype for his American branch of the Qoin operation then he’s a total fool, for I warned the world in early October 2014!
He’s actually trying to take a dud Dutch barter operation into the USA where his AmeriQoin will be eaten like a dog if he tries the same thing as Tradeqoin! My guess is that he’s actually been taken for a ride by the Qoin ‘talkers’ believing the spiel; has found out that there is something ‘not very good under the hood’ and that he’ll gently let AmeriQoin slip into oblivion wishing that he’d never been caught associating with Qoin and Tradeqoin, also hoping that nobody would ask questions or take it public.
I left it. A day or so later though another hit came in on the same list from another Qoin Partner – incognito again. I publish his response in full them my reply following:
Stephen DeMeulenaere* (Qoin Team Member)
[1/06/2015 3:00:09 a.m.] Stephen DeMeulenaere: I didn’t find your expose of TQ compelling, Dennis, and I didn’t see it come anywhere near the “bad, bad”, or lies/deception/incompetence/stupidity. I’ve communicated and worked with Edgar and Rob since the very early 1990s using BBS, before there was an internet. They have worked to innovate complementary currencies the entire time. They deserve to succeed. Jacob Musschenga is a troll, he was consistently rude to others in forums until he was thrown out of them.
[1/06/2015 3:01:19 a.m.] Stephen DeMeulenaere: By all means, investigate as much as you wish, but your reporting could be more neutral unless you’re absolutely sure about it, as you were with Ormita.
This was now the second attack on my credibility on a list with top Community Currency industry professionals and it was a general attack on both my neutrality AND the nature of my findings. This was now getting serious. I’d previously engaged with Stephen and didn’t have a problem with that BUT this was now getting serious . . . two people on a professional list and now a challenge to both motives/neutrality AND the quality of my research and blogging!
I determined that this required a firm response. Here it is:
@Stephen “I didn’t find your expose of TQ compelling, Dennis”
Oh Boy . . . TradeQoin here we come! Seeing as you have raised it on the back of @Scott’s recent dig I will respond – sorry to those on the list if this is all of no interest, although to some here I know it’s popcorn time!
You have made a general statement here of nine words dismissing many of my posts over several months with thousands of words resulting from many dozens of hours of original research, direct telemarketing to EVERY TQ member, analysing the fraud AS IT WAS HAPPENING, identifying lunacy in Qoin’s projections for their flagship commercial product so much so that TQ themselves adjusted their own figures downwards as a direct result of me speaking out common sense. Not compelling? Huh? Maybe you’ve got an agenda yourself?
“I didn’t see it come anywhere near the “bad, bad”, or lies / deception / incompetence / stupidity.” It is. I know much more than I have blogged about too. You either haven’t read my posts; you’ve been misled or you don’t WANT to listen to me.
[3/06/2015 10:28:44 p.m.] Dennis A Smith: “I’ve communicated and worked with Edgar and Rob since …” The length (or depth) of your friendship with the principals has no bearing on the validity of specific false claims I make about their conduct today, sorry. Your thinking and words are a logical fallacy. I deal with facts. That you put friendships before detailed analysis of proven fraudulent claims says more about you than it does about my research, conclusions and blogging.
“They have worked to innovate complementary currencies the entire time.” I know. Qoin’s business model is to seek and obtain funding for Community Currency projects, then spend that money. They have a perfectly valid business model and do it very well. I have however shown clearly that their flagship commercial trade exchange TQ is a fraud.
“They deserve to succeed.” Nonsense! If they lie about their membership and present business plans so badly written that they have to drastically change them while in the middle of a crowdfunding activity as a result my blogging then no, they deserve to crash and burn, which is what has been happening ever since they bought the exchange they did, then blew that business to smitherines with poor service, big talk and no action. Not one of their members echoes your thoughts here @Stephen – not one! Sorry but I care about and listen to the little guys and stand up for them; not big talkers who deceive and don’t deliver.
[3/06/2015 10:28:55 p.m.] Dennis A Smith: “Jacob Musschenga is a troll, he was consistently rude to others in forums until he was thrown out of them.” What’s that got to do with fraud in our industry AND by a Board member of IRTA at that? This is another red herring logical fallacy. What’s Jacob whoever got to do with TQ’s misrepresentations and business incompetence? Some claim that Hitler was a homosexual. So what?
“By all means, investigate as much as you wish, but your reporting could be more neutral unless you’re absolutely sure about it, as you were with Ormita.”
How much more “sure” do I have to be when I blog specifically over an extended period, do ACTUAL telephone analysis of ACTUAL members and find that the ACTUAL trading membership is only 6% of that claimed! TQ themselves rewrote their own prospectus down by a massive amount as a result of my analysis – your own team could see that I was talking common sense and had no choice but to respond to my words!
Neutrality is a nonsense to truthseekers @Stephen. We dig, ask questions and then become opinionated as a result of that research. Generally, the more we learn the more opinionated we get. You on the other hand have a vested interest in presenting the business you work with in a positive light and are anything but neutral. Smell the roses! I’ve clearly shown TQ to be a “fake it until you make it” operation with insane projections, a business going DOWN in all respects – membership numbers, trade volume and member satisfaction to the point now that it has effectively ceased to function. THAT’s the point of my blogging, period.
I’m sure @Scott [An error here; I actually meant @Stephen] – VERY sure and the first person who lays a complaint with the IRTA Code of Ethics committee over TG’s false claims of memberships and who asks me for my evidence will get it all, free, including the time and date of every call, the detailed specific responses of every TQ member to the key questions in the original Dutch and in English.
In reply to your patronising, dismissing remarks, I don’t find your logic, credibility and diagnosis compelling either @Stephen. This list now knows what we think of each other. This conversation should cease here and move offline if it has to carry on at all. If you want to engage off-list feel free to do so. I am a reasonable guy and will talk to anyone anytime.
Nothing from Stephen – of course!
So here it was, two Qoin Team Members, not identifying themselves as Qoin ‘Associates’, having a go in a professional industry forum at my motives and the results of a serious investigation with my thousands of words, revealing in real-time TradeQoin’s lies, deceptions and incompetence based on deep, meaningful, accurate analysis and research.
This shows me that some people value relationships and appearances over facts and common sense. In due course it will be interesting to see how Scott Morris and Stephen DeMeulenaere extricate themselves from the Tradeqoin scam, for I am sure that neither of them will want to be around when the Tradeqoin corpse starts to rot. Greg Prizmic, founder of the original exchange that Tradeqoin was migrated from has now gone (despite his billing still as one “committed to the business”), so have other key staff. Based on the way the rats jumped off the Ormita ship, I’d expect these two and more to discontinue their roles as experts on the Qoin team especially if their names are still associated with Tradeqoin!
There are serious issues of integrity at stake here. Rob van Hilten* is a Board Member of IRTA and has grossly misrepresented his Tradeqoin membership, as I’ve detailed before, a serious breach of IRTA ethics. IRTA Members have rules for their membership number claims including that they have [guess what?] actually traded in the 12 months preceding! Tradeqoin fails this one big-time! He has secured multiple rounds of crowdfunding on ridiculous projections, business models and in the face of my blogging exposing his disastrous foray into commercial barter and unless more grant money comes in Qoin will be desperately struggling to pay the bills. In all of this the Tradeqoin business has basically ground to a halt. If there’s one thing you can be sure of, the goons who get a company into a mess can NEVER be the ones who can get it out of the hole!
Apart from incompetence and big-talk-no-action-where-it-matters, the real problem is this . . . integrity has been shown to be missing in the Qoin business over the Tradeqoin debacle. It started to unfold when they bought “Barter Your Business” from Greg Prizmic. Greg set it up and built it. It wasn’t a real success story but at least he looked after the members he had to some extent. Qoin’s take over was the beginning of the end. Their talk didn’t match their service; they dreamed of something big and had no clues as to what actually makes a successful commercial barter business. They couldn’t admit failure as they had proudly claimed Tradeqoin to be their flagship ‘shining light’ even as it was in its early demise. They attempted crowdfunding on top of crazy projections and came really unstuck when I went public with my research findings and analysis. They preferred to push through with a dud project and get the desperately needed cash to roll over to previous investors all the while knowing that things were going pear-shaped down at Tradeqoin.
To investors in Tradeqoin, your company and your investment are both toast. Those who pulled out of the Symbid campaign when I first blogged about it were the smart ones!
Qoin’s reputation, specifically that of Rob van Hilten the primary talker, has taken a serious hit since I’ve been blogging about them. The hangers on (such as the two who I’ve just quoted defending Tradeqoin) and to some extent the likes of NEF and others keen to be seen alongside of these ‘turkeys’ will probably be starting to think twice about defending things that might be a little dodgy from now on.
Qoin’s funders too should be asking probing questions. Obviously without a character-change at the top there will be more public money funneled into rather noisy self-promoters and most likely more partially successful projects but my information and opinion is out there for them to see if they want.
It’s a sad story in some ways because as always, there are always other sides to every story and these guys have made a lot of friends over the years – increasing numbers of them are starting to look a little sideways at them – but their problems of integrity are all of their own making. Tradeqoin RIP. Sorry Tradeqoin investors, prepare for the worst. Those associated and defending the thing – be VERY careful; ask questions and seek real validated answers for like many others you’ve been conned. Protect yourself, despite your longstanding relationships.
I’m pragmatic and know full well that hell would freeze over before the principals of Qoin would listen to me but this is my advice for what it is worth.
Qoin now has serious credibility issues and their foray into commercial barter with Tradeqoin has exposed them badly – financially but also in other ways as well. Rob will need to slip a communication to IRTA confessing to his past slip-ups so that when the Ethics Complaint does come into IRTA, they can rightly say that they were aware of past slipups but that it has been dealt with professionally. That will keep the IRTA/Qoin thing from blowing up. Somebody will have to do something with Tradeqoin, for they can’t keep fudging it forever.
Basically somebody needs to step up to the mark and deal with it. In a commercial crisis situation we first identify the issues (I’ve already done pretty much that from the outside) then address the cause of the biggies. Most of the time trouble like this comes from the leadership with their heads in the clouds, who make strings of bad decisions – mostly defending themselves and denying reality. Recognising and accepting a crisis is usually an event forced upon these guys.
Some of the time though it is leadership who have got themselves into a pickle through various adversity and circumstances. Seeking help early can often save the business but not always – that depends on how quickly and firmly management responds to the crisis and how bad the figures really are.
Tradeqoin is in the former camp.
Qoin’s problem is this . . . they have built their reputation on deception and falsehoods through self-aggrandisement and reality has not matched the talk. Confessing to a business failure of their flagship operation Tradeqoin would be the LAST thing they want, BUT it could also be the beginning, to a skilled operator. Calling in a switched on operator to take it all over and make it happen is one possibility. The commercial trade exchange business is not an easy one to run – you have to work with a unique subset of the business community who are not the easiest to deal with BUT if a genuine trustworthy hard-working committed operator gets the members onside it CAN work, even in the Netherlands , as Tradeqoin’s only real competitor TradeXchange.nl has shown. I’d be tackling the future with gusto and presenting things as a new start, building credibility from the ground up the hard way, one by one, the total opposite of Qoin’s approach which is to come in from the top with big talk and just expecting everybody to love you and pay you because you are . . . well . . . you!
Strategically they have three ways forward that I can see:
- Do nothing different and keep trying to fake it – it has already failed, it’s now just a matter of how long they will keep the charade up.
- Fob it off somehow and fudge reality so that they save face and some semblance of credibility – they’re good at slapping lipstick onto a pig so this might work for them. Bartercard could be interested in it for they are interested in world domination which would be a big kudos for IRTA as well if they brokered the deal. Qoin would have to pay Bartercard something to take it off their hands but that could be arranged I’m sure. Yes there is a bit of cynicism in there but I AM serious about this option.
- Putting someone who knows what they are doing in there could perhaps and make it happen. The current owners will never be able to do it in a month of Sundays but it could be done. They’d have to write off their investors for they couldn’t carry over the debts – no trade exchange could carry, let alone clear their current liabilities. Bartercard has a range of creative ways of dealing with unwanted debt, if they needed some tips!
Of course, no matter even if I’m talking perfect sense here, none of this will mean diddly-squat to Qoin!
Tradeqoin Wrapped Up
The figures in Tradeqoin’s prospectus do not and can never match any semblance of reality. The Tradeqoin business is essentially dead, and has been from the outset despite deliberately deceptive claims to the contrary. Trading is virtually non-existent, member satisfaction is ultra low; key staff have left and there is substantial debt with virtually no income (certainly no profit), including for the owner, Qoin. Short of further grant monies and/or injection of capital to prop up Qoin’s flagship commercial trade exchange Tradeqoin, it must eventually cease to operate, certainly in its current form and management.
I hope this helps somebody somewhere to wake up and smell the roses.
As always, if I’ve got something wrong or you have a different take, let me know. I’ll correct it and do this publicly.
* Image Sources: qoin.org