The following questions are ones that [if I was crowdfunding investor Krispijn], I would be asking Rob van Hilten from Tradeqoin. I’d ask them in writing prior to any meeting but I’d be expecting the meeting to suddenly be called off the instant that RVH received them . . . for the factual answers to these ones would reveal the scam that the Tradeqoin crowdfunding effort actually is!
Dutch company Qoin has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Symbid for their flagship commercial barter/trade exchange Tradeqoin. They are seeking € 150,000 with a close-off date of Christmas 2014. Pledges were sitting at 3% of their target until an out-of-the-blue investment of € 4k immediately following negative press that pushed it up to 6%. This is one of many planned funding rounds.
An experienced crowdfunding investor [Krispijn] pledged an investment then read my blog warning of the scam; has asked questions of his own and is likely to pull out. Qoin Director Rob van Hilten has invited Krispijn for a cup of coffee to explain their business model, and financials because, well, paraphrased . . . “it’s not the sort of thing that should be discussed in writing on a crowdfunding site’s Q&A”!
OMG! That’s what the Q&A’s are there for Rob – so that the world can engage with you and actually understand your idea!!!
Nonetheless . . . to help clarify some of the issues for potential investors and to make the offered meeting effective use of time, I’ve formulated some questions that I think could/should be asked of the self-proclaimed “Complementary Currency Experts” – and an IRTA Board Member at that.
But first . . .
Anyone asking questions, especially embarrassing ones of an IRTA friend of IRTA will IMMEDIATELY be viewed as an IRTA adversary. Based on ACTUAL events thus far from people associated with this blog this is what will happen from the ‘IRTA Thought Police”:
- You could be sued for linking to this blog. Now don’t laugh! This is a VERY REAL situation as two IRTA-associated companies have shown to us already:
i) IRTA Board Member Rob van Hilten’s company [Qoin] is suing* a Dutch barter company [TradeXchange.nl] for amongst other things . . . get this . . . posting a link on a LinkedIn Forum to this website!
ii) Bartercard [another IRTA Board Member and IRTA business partner] too has sent written notification to all IRTA Members advising them that they will be including people who have linked to this blog in their litigation proceedings against me!
Just repeating this insanity for clarity . . . that’s TWO companies closely associated with IRTA who are actually suing and threatening to sue people who even link to this blog!
- You will be considered an adversary. Even asking questions that have emanated from this blog will tar you in this manner, forever, as suspicions from the IRTA lot remain longterm. For example, IRTA members are asked to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement before they can access normal IRTA Member communications. Board Members have signed an NDA and can be muzzled at will.
- If you indicate independent thought (differing from the official IRTA spin/story/explanation) and if you blog about this you will “lack credibility”, the exact phrase used by Ron Whitney to describe IRTA’s take on my blogging about the Tradeqoin scam. Yes, even though I worked closely with IRTA producing a very well researched report into conman Daniel Evans’ Ormita fraud, and I only deal with the FACTS, you too could be classified as lacking credibility or have an agenda like I am!
This is not just scaremongering or sour grapes . . . questioning IRTA’s or IRTA Board Member’s conduct is a VERY serious matter. People should be aware of the consequences of associating with this blog and blogger, even independent questioning or follow-up generates the same suspicion from an organisation in state of high defensive alert.
- Membership figures are a crucial measurement of a successful commercial barter exchange which is why the IRTA Code of Ethics put so much weight onto integrity of figures relating to the marketing of membership claims. You have stated many times that you have 200 members with an intention to grow to 300 ASAP, then 1,000 in 2015 and 5230 shortly thereafter, yet there are conflicting stories about your current actuals and questions about your projected membership growth. Do you have 200 members like you claim, and can you validate this claim?
- If yes, how can you reconcile this with Dennis’ telemarketing results that indicate substantially less members in the order of a dozen or two according to IRTA’s own definition of a genuine Member?
- How many of these 200 members are freemium members, and how many are paying members and if they are paying members what did/do they pay and when?
- In your January 2014 media story you say that you have signed 200 Members (Er zijn nu circa tweehonderd ondernemingen ingeschreven, vooral uit Noord- en Midden-Nederland en de Achterhoek. [Approximately two hundred companies are now written, especially from North and Central Netherlands and the Achterhoek.])? Where did these 200 Members come from? How many from the Barter Your Business acquisition . . . from the Achterhoek region acquisition . . . from your own marketing efforts . . . from automated website signups?
- If you started with 200 in March 2014, how many members has your membership grown by in the 6 months since launch and at what rate did they grow?
- By my calculations you have a net LOSS of Members from the BYB and Achterhoek memberhsip acquisitions so how, specifically, will you be acquiring members in the future if you can’t or haven’t grown them in the 6 months you have been trading?
- How do these proposed acquisition techniques match current reality, which is actually zero growth and if we’re perfectly honest, a net loss, especially in light of the fact that you promised IRTA that Qoin would shortly have 1,000 members way back in 2007[!]?
- According to Dennis’ telemarketing exercise satisfaction levels are ultra low. What satisfaction levels do your current 200 members have?
- According to your Prospectus and confirmed in your response to questions online, income to Tradeqoin is also from commissions as a percentage of transaction value in trade (not cash). What trade volume has Tradeqoin achieved since its inception in March 2014?
- What income by way of commissions in trade has Tradeqoin received since its inception in March 2014?
- How has Tradeqoin used this income . . . cash conversion . . . directors benefit . . . Tradeqoin’s benefit . . . Tradeqoin shareholders’ benefit?
- How will Tradeqoin gain practical benefit from trade Euros when the business has 5230 members and receiving it’s transaction fee income in trade Euros?
- What level of trade brokering and member hand-holding does Tradeqoin intend to offer freemium members and from where will this be funded?
- According to your answers to previous questions, you are trading an average of 15 transactions per week, with an average transaction value of € 270.00. You started in business in March 2014 thus if your figures are correct trading will be 42 weeks x € 270.00 x 15 transactions weekly making a trade volume of € 170,100.00 to date, a lot more than one electric scooter, € 5,000.00 office furniture and some wine! On what figures did you derive the € 270.00 and 15 transactions per week average . . . was it just one week; and the best week? If not over what period did those figures come from?
- Your trading post newsletter lasted little more than a week of offers before it petered out to occasional promotional material. Is that because you ran out of things to sell or ran out of interest in servicing your members who are screaming out for things to buy on trade?
- In your reply to the question: “What are the short-term prospects of the company?” you state: “We make a small profit in 2013. Currently, the majority (70%) of revenues from subsidies comes. This drops the next few years to about 25%. Qoin the coming years, an ambitious development agenda. Together with our partners we will continue with investment in ICT and payment, and we continue to build on visible and ambitious currencies.” Can you please explain how the very large subsidies [to Qoin] from the charity fund organisation Stichting Doen can assist a commercial operation [you say that so far Qoin has supposedly invested €1m into Tradeqoin], when the website is clear that SD does not support commercial operations (DOEN ondersteunt geen initiatieven die een louter commerciële doelstelling nastreven. [Doen does not
support initiatives that have a purely commercial goal])*?
- Is Stichting Doen aware of and approve of Qoin’s €1m investment into the commercial business, Tradeqoin?
- Can you please explain what assets the Tradeqoin company has after an investment of €1m? I understand that the software is developed and owned by Cyclos, not Tradeqoin and that the Barter Your Business clientbase has shrunk since the acquisition. Goodwill cannot be measured in terms of hundreds of Euros let alone millions!
- In early 2014 you purchased the Barter Your Business and the Achterhoek operations to establish your Tradeqoin operations giving you your “200 members”. What is the relative purchase price of those two existing operations and how do they compare? Your purchase of Greg Prizmic’s business in return for a shareholding of the Tradeqoin operation intrigues me especially with its incredibly high valuation. What did you value those shares at . . . on the high valuation or a lower valuation? If it is the higher valuation the Greg could be one of the richest men in Europe. If it the lower valuation then how did the value of the Tradeqoin company suddenly rocket into the millions after inheriting little more than a hundred members?
- In your Prospectus you say that, “we expect to have TradeQoin profitable in 2017” and you do not specify any ROI in cash. What compelling reason is there for an investor to fork over cold cash for a loss-making company for three years and even then no cash return?
- TradeQoin is managed is such a way that no costs will be made for which no funding is available. For working capital required beyond this amount TradeQoin will take out (bank) loans.
- Your Membership of the IRTA Global Board of Directors appears to have been obtained contrary to the ByLaws that require Board Members to have had a successful trade exchange for two years prior to appointment. How did you secure your highly coveted rols as an IRTA Board Member when Tradeqoin only commenced in March 2014 and thus has not yet run for 2 years?
- Your promotion of Tradeqoin having 200 Members appears to run contrary to the IRTA Code of Ethics that defines a Member as an entity that has traded at least once in the last twelve calendar months. Were you ignorant of the IRTA Code of Ethics; ignorant of your own actual membership performance; was this a deliberate attempt to deceive or is there some other explanation for this anomaly?
Dennis A. Smith
- In answer to a question from Netherlands Barter company TradeXchange, Ron Whitney stated that, “Regarding the internet blogs that you referenced, IRTA and UC do not consider the accusations, information and conclusions in Dennis Smith’s blogs to be credible, including the most recent ones involving Mr. van Hilten”. You too have referred to blogger Dennis A. Smith contemptuously stating that he is not credible. Which are the specific errors of fact in relation to Tradeqoin that he has blogged?
- Dennis A. Smith claims that he gave you an advance copy of his first blog revealing his concerns at the Tradeqoin business model and claims and that you connected to him, offered to engage, yet you refused to discuss any of the matters he has raised. Is this because he is correct? If not, why do you not counter his specific claims, for in the absence of any meaningful reply from you, they appear to have validity.
For the record, I believe that Tradeqoin is a mirage and the crowdfunding campaign a rort replete with misinformation, wild pipe-dreams and an arrogance that comes from people believing in their own self-importance. It is an amateurish attempt at stitching together the appearance of successful trade exchange, no doubt for the purposes of securing yet more funding from family, friends and fools.
* The hearing is scheduled for 3 November 2014.
** To validate this fact, click through to the website and answer the questions: 1. Begint je project/initiatief minimaal over 4 maanden? [Does your project start in a minimum of 4 months?] – Ja [Yes] 2. Wordt jouw organisatie ondersteund door een van de drie Goede Doelen Loterijen: de Nationale Postcode Loterij, de BankGiro Loterij of de VriendenLoterij? [Does your organisation get support from of of the three charity lotteries: national postcode lottery, bank lottery or the friends lottery?] – Nee [No] 3. Uitsluitend commerciële doelstelling. [Pure/only commercial goal.] – Ja [Yes] DOEN ondersteunt geen initiatieven die een louter commerciële doelstelling nastreven. [ Doen does not support initiatives that have a pure commercial goal.]