Digital Bank Operations and the Creation of Bitcoin Rewards Checking

The first-ever Bitcoin reward was earned on a Taco Bell purchase.

You read that right! I was the first person in the history of the world to have a Bitcoin Rewards Checking account, swipe my BRC Debit card, and earn Bitcoin rewards.

After 24 months, an extraordinarily long path to launch, our team (with the help of incredible leadership) created a product that had never been approached in any aspect of the banking industry. I’m a humble person, but have to recognize that’s an amazing feat. We basically wrote the playbook on Bitcoin rewards.

In my role as Senior Vice President of Digital Bank Operations, my day-to-day is absolutely off-the-wall. In essence, we are the heartbeat of the bank. Everything comes to or through Operations. We touch on retail deposits, digital payments, online and mobile banking, and online account opening.  We make sure that wires get processed, customers get assisted with their inquiries, and everything else under the sun. In short, we’re an essential part of the bank.  I also manage the customer success team and a retail branch that are both very much customer-facing.

Before Quontic leadership started tossing around the Bitcoin vision, I wasn’t so much personally passionate about cryptocurrency. The person who really got me thinking about Bitcoin was my son. I first learned a bit about it because I supported my son’s passion for it. But I never thought a person like me, who doesn’t have hundreds and thousands to invest, could accrue wealth with Bitcoin.

Those assumptions all changed when the Bitcoin Rewards idea came to my department. I learned that Bitcoin Rewards Checking makes it possible for anyone to earn Bitcoin based on normal day-to-day transactions. As you accrue bitcoin, they are custodied in an account with our partners at NYDIG, and continue to increase in value as the rate of Bitcoin increases. It will drop as Bitcoin drops, but so far it’s pretty much been on an upward trajectory. Then you have the opportunity, should you want to cash in on that bitcoin, to redeem it at the market value of the coin that you’ve earned, as a cash reward right into your checking account. It’s unique and accessible. That’s why I believe in our product.

From a creation standpoint, the process wasn’t too different with BRC. I helped with all of the banking aspects for what would be needed for BRC to work—building the program based on card transactions, building the reward program, gathering all the data on transactions that would be qualifying for the reward.

From a compliance perspective, however, it was definitely a new challenge. I’ll admit that I was not programmed to take risks, but I had to be adaptive. With Bitcoin on the table, there is a lot more data to review, more focus needed on the new accounts that are being opened and ensuring controls are in place. I was involved with the coordination of systems, testing, aligning with the vendors, disclosures, compliance review, and then communication with the internal team. I had a hand in all of it.

Today, the Digital Bank Operations team and the Customer Success team are operating within a whole new world. To get here, a lot of training had to happen to ensure compliance requirements were met on the bank’s side (like, for the accounts that are being opened) and the NYDIG side—of course, they have their own compliance requirements that have to be met.

As a leader, I do whatever needs to be done. That said, to be a strong leader, you have to have a strong team under you. Being on an Operations team means doing the work. I find I’m a more effective leader when I‘m in the weeds helping my team. Actually, my involvement in things like account monitoring has increased. I look at accounts a bit differently now, especially when it comes to mitigating fraud. We’re extremely focused on that, these days. So I’m here with my team giving feedback; it’s a technique for strong leadership.

Our goal at Quontic is to break the system for financial empowerment, right? Well, Digital Bank Operations actually build the products that allow Quontic to do that. We have a product development team, we collaborate with other departments, decide what our goal is, and just march toward it. That’s what we did with the Bitcoin Rewards Checking account, and that’s what we’ll do with the next innovative deposit product that comes along. We just get it done.

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