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Despite significant progress, the revolution is still in its infancy

The CEO of the Israeli Bitcoin Association, Noa Mashiach, discusses the association's efforts to benefit the user community and the achievements that have been realized since its inception. "The era in which crypto was ignored is over," she states.

Hadass Eviatar, in collaboration with ICBW3. 03 September 2023

Since the establishment of the Israeli Bitcoin Association at the beginning of the previous decade, shortly after the first Bitcoin was "created," much has changed. In those early days, anyone visiting the union's initial headquarters at the Bitcoin Embassy on Hazut Beit Street in Tel Aviv, opposite the Stock Exchange, might have thought Bitcoin was just for "geeks." At the time, Bitcoin primarily attracted mathematicians and computer enthusiasts.

However, the situation today is markedly different: people are buying houses with Bitcoin, paying for vacations, and trading currencies on global exchanges. The digital currency industry now includes not just one or two, but several executives from the core of traditional banking. Clearly, Bitcoin has transcended being merely a fleeting phenomenon; it is here to stay and is growing more entrenched by the day.

Leading the Bitcoin Association's journey toward mainstream acceptance in recent years is CEO Naa Mashiach, who confesses that she was not familiar with Bitcoin before immersing herself in the world of crypto (digital currencies). Six years ago, she decided to seek a change and become involved in some form of social activity that adds value. With a background in business administration, the financial sector was familiar territory for her, and its intersection with the social dimensions, as demonstrated in the realm of digital currencies, captivated her. "The digital world," she says, "intrigued me profoundly. It's often considered just an economic matter, but it's truly a social issue as well. The ideology behind Bitcoin, which aims to eliminate middlemen from the financial world, resonated deeply with me. Anyone who is economically and socially conscious recognizes that banks pose challenges, and solutions are necessary, as evidenced by the rapid growth in fintech.

Noa Mashiach
Noa Mashiach | Photography: Yael Tzur

Make information accessible to the public, reduce barriers

Mashiach joined the union as an operations manager in 2017 and was immediately thrust into the "line of fire": that year, Bitcoin reached an all-time high (at that time) of approximately 70,000 shekels (today, the Bitcoin exchange rate exceeds 100,000 shekels).

"There was a hyper interest, and we needed to quickly make knowledge available," she recalls. "The Bitcoin Embassy was overflowing with people. That experience was my baptism by fire, and it helped me understand the potential of Bitcoin."

"At the same time, Meni Rosenfeld, the chairman of the union, and I after him, have always cautioned that as Bitcoin's value can rise, it can also fall, and like any sector involving money, this one too can attract fraudsters and liars.

Indeed, when there is hype, people often ignore the voice of reason, invest heavily, and if there is a crash, they are left with significant losses. However, those who have been burned often return to invest more wisely. The goal is to think long-term, to look beyond the immediate fluctuations and understand what lies ahead, to strive to develop and assist users. It's important for us to make information accessible to the public, in Hebrew, while also working on the regulatory side to reduce barriers that currently impede wider adoption of Bitcoin. Regulators today acknowledge that solutions are necessary."


Where do you see the success of Bitcoin entering the mainstream public?

"There is a maturing of the market. Today, the entry of institutional and financial bodies into the field sends a very strong signal. It's no longer seen as esoteric; major players are now engaged. There's also regulatory progress. The era when crypto was ignored is over. There are too many users and companies for any country to overlook the sector. Even the Bank of Israel is examining the issue of digital currencies. We are in a completely different place today, and this is evident in the user community as well: people increasingly understand what this means, including the ability to purchase bitcoins from reliable sources, whereas in the past, such sources were more limited."

However, Bitcoin has been very volatile over the past year.

"The users are not overly excited about this. As we've seen, there's also risk in the stock market. Fortunately, these shocks are not as large as they once were, and investors should be patient. We always recommend approaching this with an overall strategy, and from there, everyone can make their own decisions. We never used to warn about a bubble."

Users are encouraged to stand up for their rights

"What frequently arises among users is the issue of taxation," states Mashiach in response to inquiries about the main concerns within the user community. "According to the Tax Authority, profits from Bitcoin are subject to capital gains tax. However, this tax only applies upon redemption, and there often are complications with this process. For instance, if you traded bitcoins on a foreign exchange that your local bank does not recognize. In such cases, the bank might not accept a transfer of funds from abroad, leaving you with funds stranded in a foreign bank account or stuck with the bitcoins, forcing you to resort to less reputable solutions. Generally, most users are law-abiding and prefer to manage their affairs properly, but sometimes circumstances drive them to undesirable alternatives.


"Thanks to our advocacy in recent years, the situation has improved, and banks can no longer automatically refuse transfers involving funds derived from the sale of digital currencies. This often requires persistence and more effort than typical digital banking transactions, and sometimes it necessitates escalating the matter to a higher authority within the bank. We encourage users to assert their rights and we support them with information and guidance. Ultimately, when transactions are conducted through a licensed, reputable platform, it becomes challenging for banks to justify refusing these transactions.


"Additionally, people frequently face operational issues, as not everyone is technologically savvy, and some find it more challenging. We also provide assistance to those who struggle in this area."


Among the user community, has a connection been created that goes beyond the practice of Bitcoin?

"Definitely. We've established connections with people from various backgrounds—libertarian right, social left—each with their own ideologies, yet all united around Bitcoin. We share a common interest: for Bitcoin to prosper and for this revolution to become a reality. It should be noted that despite the significant progress, this revolution is still in its infancy. Just consider that in 2010, you could buy two pizzas for 10,000 bitcoins, and today, one bitcoin can buy 10,000 pizzas. It's an anecdotal example, but it illustrates just how far we've come."

In collaboration with ICBW3.


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