Tom Novak is what you could call an expert in world of of cryptocurrency. He’s leading a charge at Visions Federal Credit Union, to bring the idea of virtual money to those who may be new to it.
The Southern-Tier based credit union is now one of the first in the nation to offer bitcoin accounts to its members.
“It’s really groundbreaking because when we talk about financial institutions, and your credit Union in particular, it’s really about trust. And now we’re forging into this new area of financial services, cryptocurrency, bitcoin specifically, and we’re bringing that trust along with us,” said Novak, Visions Federal Credit Union vice president and chief digital officer.
Bitcoin has seen its ups and downs in recent months, but the interest in this program has been skyrocketing. In just a few short weeks, Visions had thousands of members sign up for a virtual wallet. Novak compared its effect on credit unions with the way the internet changed banking decades ago.
“That’s something we want to do here with cryptocurrency and get ahead of so in 10 or 20 years, our members are not seeing this for the first time, or they’re not having anyone to advocate on their behalf to let them know here’s how you zig and here’s how you zag in this new world of financial services. Here’s who you can trust and the types of things you want to educate yourself around,” said Novak.
When it comes to actually using the account, you access it just as you would with your savings or checking. You can purchase bitcoin by simply transferring money from one of your accounts, and track it by the minute.
“They don’t have to do it alone. They don’t have to go into a seemingly scary new territory where there’s a lot of things in the news or a lot of things online. We can help them demystify digital assets and bring them along in a way that makes sense for them,” said Novak.
As an incentive to members, Visions is offering $5 of free bitcoin when opening an account.