What? Your ERP System Can't Handle Your Crypto Recordkeeping and Compliance? Bitwave to the Rescue
In this episode of the Blockchain Journal podcast, host Blockchain Journal editor-in-chief David Berlind interviews Pat White, the CEO and co-founder of Bitwave. They discuss the challenges companies face when integrating digital assets into their traditional accounting systems and how Bitwave can help those enterprises overcome those challenges.
The bottom line is that, as more government organizations like the Internal Revenue Service intensify their interest in organizational digital asset recordkeeping, contemporaneously keeping track of all those blockchain-related flows with out-of-band tools like spreadsheets is just asking for trouble. Especially when it comes time for an audit (and there will be many more of those when it comes to 2023 financials).
The conversation between David and Pat covers topics such as the integration with backend financial systems, compliance with recently updated or shifting tax regulations and guidelines like FASB, partnerships with NetSuite, and QuickBooks, the new announcement with Deloitte, and Bitwave's acquisition of Gilded.
See the video and full text transcript of the interview, below.
- Traditional accounting systems are not designed to handle the complexities of digital assets, such as decimal points and valuations, leading to the need for specialized solutions like Bitwave.
- Bitwave bridges the gap between traditional financial systems and the blockchain and crypto world, allowing companies to seamlessly integrate digital assets into their existing financial operations.
- Compliance with tax regulations is a critical aspect of using digital assets, and Bitwave provides the necessary tools and support to ensure accurate and efficient reporting.
- Partnerships with companies like NetSuite, QuickBooks, and Deloitte enable Bitwave to offer comprehensive solutions that meet the needs of businesses of all sizes and complexities.
- Trends in crypto adoption include the use of NFTs for customer loyalty and engagement, as well as the growing popularity of staking as a way to earn passive income on digital assets.
By David BerlindPublished:December 22, 2023
Full text transcript of David Berlind's Interview with Pat White, CEO and co-founder of Bitwave
David Berlind: Today is December 20th, 2023. This is the Blockchain Journal podcast. I'm your host David Berlind. And today our guest is Pat White. He is the CEO and co-founder of Bitwave. Pat, thanks very much for joining me on the podcast today.
Pat White: It is a pleasure to be here, David. Thank you so much for having me. Always a pleasure to chat with you.
Berlind: Right, well the last time we met, you were at Consensus running a side event in Austin, Texas, and I wandered in and we got a chance to talk and I interviewed you, we'll put a link to that video here, and you taught me a little bit about this problem where a lot of companies are running this out of band contemporaneous set of books to keep track of what's going on with all of their crypto flows, tying them to invoices, all sorts of things, because the traditional accounting systems have no way of doing that. They just don't understand crypto. I think one of the problems you described to me was just the number of decimal places is...
White: Just the decimal points, yeah. Even there.
Berlind: Yeah, just completely foreign. And so... and since then, quite frankly, I've done a few other interviews with companies that do something similar to what you do. And I started to get a bigger idea of the problem that you address and why it's so critical because it's very difficult if a company's keeping two sets of books. But I'm gonna stop there and let you kind of describe exactly what Bitwave's unique value proposition is.
White: Absolutely, yeah, David. So Bitwave is the number one digital asset finance platform. What that means is that the day that you as a business decide to bring digital assets onto your books, you have a whole bunch of problems that just popped up. So first and foremost is what you just mentioned, that traditional accounting systems are not designed to handle crypto. And that could be because of decimal points.
It's also because of how you do valuations. Crypto falls under some very specific FASB rules, and this is accounting rules in the US and rules outside the US, that most accounting systems just don't have baked into it. So that's already a big challenge is the accounting rule side of it. But then beyond that, there's things like decimal points, there's things like inventory tracking. Every time you spend crypto, if I send you one ETH today, that's a taxable event, and it's a gain/loss event from an accounting perspective.
Most accounting systems are not designed to handle that sort of thing. So even like... I was at SuiteWorld this year  and we talked to the NetSuite guys and they're like, "Guys, we're going to be able to handle crypto. We're adding... we're going to be able to go up to 10 decimal points." And I'm like, "First of all, that's not even enough for most of the currencies that are out there. But second of all, it's not just about decimal points." And it's funny because part of why they were increasing decimal points was, it wasn't even just tied to crypto.
They had issues with inventory where pharmaceutical companies needed to have inventory in micrograms or nanograms of inventory for pharmaceuticals. And so they were like, look at this holistically. I'm like, well, we'll solve this once. But crypto is much, much more complicated to actually handle on your books, obviously. And that's where Bitwave comes in.
So in addition to the problems of accounting, tax, and all that, there's also problems around financial operations, FP&A, how you're paying bills. If you owe people money in crypto, if you get paid in crypto, how you pay those bills in crypto, how you get paid in crypto, all that stuff is all part of the exact same problem. And none of it is easy to do in QuickBooks or NetSuite or any of those systems. And that's what Bitwave does is we just bridge the gap between your traditional financial systems and the blockchain and crypto world.
Berlind: Okay, so yeah, I have since come to appreciate that when you look at all those different financial systems out there something like a NetSuite, they cover more than just like the ins and outs of, in and outflows of actual currencies. They cover everything like inventory, customer invoicing, this whole gamut of financials where the in and outflows of currency actually got kind of integrated into all of that. And so, when you suddenly introduce crypto, none of that really plugs into the existing financials, the whole suite, if you will, very easily. And it seemed like that you bridge that gap.
What are the different backend financial systems, because a lot of people out there already have these financial systems in place. So which are the different ones that you work with in a way that people can just go get Bitwave and plug it in?
White: Yeah, we work out of the box with QuickBooks, Xero, NetSuite, Sage Intacct, SAP, Workday, Dynamics 365. I think there might be a couple others here and there that we do exports for. We work with pretty much any of the big ERPs that are out there because it runs the gamut. You see everything from Nike all the way down to small mom-and-pop shops are all using crypto and they all have different ERP requirements. So, we tend to work with all of them.
As you get to the more sophisticated ones, you can do more sophisticated stuff. You can track inventory in NetSuite. And so we can actually flow through some of our inventory details into NetSuite to make it possible. You can add custom currencies and stuff like that. So certainly as you get to the more advanced ERPs – even with BitWave – you can do more advanced stuff. But we work perfectly well with something like QuickBooks or Xero as well.
Berlind: Now, let's say you're a company that doesn't have an existing ERP system, can I get Bitwave, and will it do all of the things that those other systems do in addition to handling all of the crypto in and outflows?
White: We have a few people using Bitwave as their full ERP. The problem is that it's just not designed to really be, that's not really the space that we're trying to play in. You look at NetSuite, NetSuite's a 30-year-old product. It has modules for every single thing you could possibly imagine, deferred revenue modules, depreciation tracking modules for tracking depreciation on heavy machinery. We don't try to be... and in fact, it's sort of our philosophy is we're not trying to replace NetSuite. Like you already...
Most of our customers have bank accounts. Most of our customers have USD payroll. We don't want to do those things. That's not our business. Like we're not here to supplant NetSuite. We're here to basically bridge the gap between digital assets and your ERP. So what we find is that people who are trying to do everything tend to do none of them particularly well. Like, it is hard enough to build a general, a ledger like we're building for digital assets is hard enough without also trying to build every single other feature that NetSuite has built over the last 30 years. So it's an interesting time in the market...
White: But we tend to want to complement those systems in and sort of like let them do what they do. Let them run balance sheets, let them run P&L (Profit & Loss) reports, all that kind of stuff, and then we do the hard, the heavy lifting around digital assets.
Berlind: Right. Now you keep bringing up NetSuite. Is that your biggest partner? The most number of customers that you have are using NetSuite or is it evenly divided across the others?
White: QuickBooks and NetSuite are the two biggest partners that we work with. Yeah, absolutely. And it just scales. You know, smaller companies are using QuickBooks, larger companies are using NetSuite, and then we're seeing, you know, as the crypto industry is maturing, you see more and more folks moving over from QuickBooks to NetSuite. So, and this is something that we... it's another funny part about this is that we've kind of built our product so that we are... we can fully support someone having two ERPs connected and then like slowly moving from QuickBooks to NetSuite and all of that. I mean, it's a really interesting.
It's an interesting industry and how fast it's grown up and the expectations of the industry are very immature in their maturity rating of being enterprise software consumers, I guess is a good way to put it. So they're still getting their feet under what NetSuite versus QuickBooks and why you pay for one or the other.
Berlind: Now you talked about rules and regulations, FASB. You talked about the idea that the minute you take a delivery of a Bitcoin or an ETH, it's a taxable event.
I assume there you're referring to the fact that you've got a lot of volatility in that currency compared to regular fiat currencies, such as the US Dollar or the Euro. And so, when you have that volatility, the minute you take delivery of any form of crypto, it's going to... the value of that's going to... relative to the US Dollar or to other fiat currencies is gonna change almost instantaneously. And then, that's where you start to end up with a serious taxable event that needs to be kept track of.
Berlind: Okay, go ahead. Yeah.
White: Well, yeah, certainly that's an aspect of it. So certainly an aspect of it is this idea that there's high volatility. But the bigger issue is just... it's what crypto is. Crypto is not a currency. So if I give you one Euro right now, and then you give someone else that one euro, you technically picked up a accounting gain/loss because the price of that might have changed over time. But you would not generally have picked up a... and this is not tax advice... you would not generally have picked up a taxable event. Certainly not on a lot level basis.
Like, you don't have to say... you don't have to track... Pat gave me one Euro, I gave one Euro to Bob. You know, when Pat gave it to me, Euros were 85 cents. When I gave to Bob, it was 86 cents, so I made one penny on that transaction. You don't have to do that with Forex. That's not, and that's, you know, what NetSuite, QuickBooks, all those, when they have Forex, that's what they're designed to do. With crypto, it's treated as an intangible long-lived asset, but even with the fair value, from a... it is treated as a lot-level inventoried item. So it is something like, when I give you that one ETH, you have to track that one ETH as a lot. And when you give that one ETH to Bob, whatever I gave it to you, and then whatever you gave it to him, the delta between there is, it's an accounting gain/loss that hits your books...
White: And is a taxable gain loss that you report to the IRS.
So it's just... is that much more complicated then, because you have to do lot level tracking of each of the assets you're getting. It's that much more complicated from an accounting and tax perspective.
Berlind: Okay, well, so essentially one of the big reasons that you'd want to go with a solution like Bitwave is just purely for compliance. Like – it's probably relatively impossible to comply with some of those rules and regulations unless you have something like a Bitwave-type solution to help you keep track of it all and eventually respond to an audit or something like that if you end up in one of those. And of course, I don't know if you know this, I know you guys just did a partnership with Deloitte but I just did an interview with Rob Massey who runs the tax practice as a part of the larger blockchain operation at Deloitte and he's pointing out that in 2024, the IRS is going to take a much more increased interest in all enterprise usage of cryptocurrency.
White: Yep, it's absolutely true. So yeah, if you're not using Bitwave, you are in for a world of hurt. I mean, we've gone through audits with all the big four, audits from all the all the various tax agencies in the world. You know, compliance is a huge component of why you need to use Bitwave. And that's... it's big. It's built into our DNA basically from day one. I mean, we've been... Our first year we were out, we did a we did a PwC audit with one of our biggest customers. I mean, It's been what we do every day. So that's... whether you're public, whether you want to go public, whether you're just getting audited for your investors, it's a really important part of using Bitwave as an absolute critical part if you're using digital assets.
Berlind: Okay, well let's go back to what I just talked about, this partnership with Deloitte.
Berlind: Since the last time we spoke, I saw some news come out. I didn't get a chance to study it very closely, so what did you guys partner on?
White: Yeah, so our partnership Deloitte is incredibly exciting. So as part of it, we have kind of like three or four different thrusts of it. You know, first and foremost... we keep going back to NetSuite here. It's kind of a funny thing to talk about. So, Deloitte does have a very large NetSuite implementation practice. So one of the great parts about this is that anytime Deloitte is doing NetSuite implementation, if their customer they're implementing has digital assets, they are in a position to implement Bitwave and help that customer use Bitwave. So that's really fun is actually, Deloitte as an implementer.
We're partnering with them on webinars and marketing content. So we've been able to do a lot of webinars. Just last week we did a webinar all about indirect tax. So this is sort of like, one of the things that's gonna be really, really big in 2024 is all the NFT companies that you know and love – OpenSea, Magic Eden – like you name it, they are all gonna be in this position where tax agencies are gonna start getting serious about indirect tax. So you have...
There's two types of tax in the world. There's direct tax, which is, you know, I make money and then I pay my tax on it. Indirect tax is sales tax, VAT, those types of things. So that's a transaction [that] happens on my platform or a transaction happens in my store, and based on that transaction, I need to now send tax up to the IRS. So what's happening is there's a renewed focus on whether or not someone like OpenSea is gonna need to pay an indirect tax on their... on the sales that are happening on their platform.
And so, we work with Deloitte on that where we provide technology, they provide guidance and consulting, and advice on whether you should be paying your taxes on that or not. We provide really robust support.
We have a great... with Rob [Massey], we have a great partnership where Bitwave has incredibly deep support for very complex different types of tax treatments. So there's a lot of ambiguity right now on your tax treatments for crypto.
Whether you can do specific identification, which people know and love. That's like, you know, I want to take a loss today or I want to take a gain today to offset some other loss I took. So this is the idea of that.
You know, with Bitwave, you can actually create really complex tax strategies. One of our customers is saving hundreds of millions of dollars a year by using kind of our tax...
White: And this is like... with a partnership with Deloitte is saving a lot of money, basically based on a combination of guidance and technology. So it's really exciting. I mean, we love working with them. We're able to do marketing webinars. We're able to co-develop features. We get to pick their brain. You know, when we have an interesting problem come up, we give them a call and we pick their brain on it. It's a fun time right now.
Berlind: Well, I think what you're getting at too is the shifting regulatory landscape. Things keep changing, the different parties that are involved, government organizations, the IRS, regulators, the SEC, et cetera. It seems like not a week goes by where they don't decide to get more involved in the world of cryptocurrency.
White: Yep. Ha ha ha, yeah.
Berlind: And that probably causes a bunch of headaches for the people who run these businesses because they can't... it's not nailed down and they have to pay close attention to that. So it kind of probably helps when you've got companies like BitWave or Deloitte.
White: Well, it's why we're still seeing issues in the US around adoption is that businesses are just not comfortable with a regulatory environment. They're not comfortable with Elizabeth Warren going out every week and saying that cryptocurrency is the worst thing in the world. There is an air of... It's one of those funny things, like I like Elizabeth Warren, I just wish she had worried about a lot of the other scams that are happening out there rather than the scams in the crypto world. It's one of those things that like, there's increased focus. So you really want people like Bitwave and Deloitte in your corner. You know, when you are about to have the Eye of Sauron on you from an IRS audit or whatever it is, you know, having someone that's walked you through it that you have a bunch of records, contemporaneous records, all that kind of stuff ready to go is really, really critical. So, yeah, it's a...
Berlind: Yeah, I don't want the eye of Sauron on me for anything by the way quite frankly...
White: I mean, we're all hoping that over the next like 12 months, the US really gets its act together, but we were all saying that at the end of 2022. So now at the end of 2023, we're saying it also. I don't know if they ever will.
Berlind: Yeah, you took the words out of my mouth because I was like, I think I heard that thing a year ago and I heard it the year before that.
Berlind: And what's interesting I think is that when you look at especially American firms, you're right, there's a hesitance to work with blockchain cryptocurrency. However, where there is regulatory certainty taking shape in other jurisdictions. I'm talking about places like Singapore, India, Germany, which is like even, you know, there's more...
White: All over the EU. Yeah.
Berlind: Yeah, the EU, UK, Luxembourg, Switzerland. You actually see some of those American companies setting up camp there where there is that regulatory certainty. That by itself to me, I think, should be a message to lawmakers. Hey, look, the train's leaving the station. These companies are gonna invest in blockchain whether you like it or not, but if you want them to go do it somewhere else, they will, and then where do we end up? The US is no longer the leader in technology the way it used to be, so it's kind of a scary time.
White: It's a catch-22, unfortunately, which is that the US has the most to lose from cryptocurrency. The US has... the largest financial services industry in the world is in the US. I think by overall percentage of GDP, it's maybe England or the UK, but in terms of the overall size. The US has the most to lose by a technology that fundamentally looks to disintermediate financial services companies and change the nature of financial services.
But, at the same time, nothing gets US regulators moving faster than hearing that someone is thinking about moving to Hong Kong. You start talking about China and you get real interest from regulators real quick. So I think that there's these tensions of like, there's a lot of inertia, there's a lot of money paid by lobbyists to Congress people from the financial services industry. But at the same time, boy, do we not like getting outcompeted by China, so...
Berlind: Well, I don't know, you talked to Jamie Dimon and for the longest time, I thought, okay, this guy's completely anti-crypto. And then suddenly, you have things like JPM coin and Onyx, all these things where they're actually leveraging the technology for some of its strengths, like, you know, faster settlement...
Berlind: Cheaper financial transfers, that sort of thing. Now, I mean, just speaking of the certainty that's taking shape in other parts of the world, do you have a lot of international customers or are they all based here in the US?
White: No, tons of international customers from Singapore through the UK and pretty much everywhere in between.
One of the happy side effects of crypto, of Bitwave, is that we've been around so long that we've had so many different customers that have asked us for so many different ways of treating crypto that our system was built incredibly flexibly from day one so that we can kind of work with any different jurisdiction that gets thrown at us. So we work in Canada where they do cost averaging and in Singapore where they have... or South Africa where they have a different long-term versus short-term. It's three years for the break between instead of one year.
So we work in many, many different jurisdictions. We fall under IFRS. We have the ability to follow IFRS rules, GAAP rules, US GAAP rules. US GAAP rules from 2023, which is before the FASB notice. US rules after 2023, which is now with the FASB. It's an incredibly complex support structure. There's a lot of stuff you need to do, but it is really fun.
Berlind: Yeah, well, again, you keep talking about how a lot of this stuff is baked into the solution. So just complying with these constantly changing laws and regulations, if you're using the right solutions, it'll sort of be automated for you. You don't have to think too hard about it -
Berlind: Or keep track of it yourself. And I think that's... yeah.
Berlind: Yeah, sure.
White: That's still why we partnered with Deloitte, though, is because there's still, you know, the new FASB guidance is a great example of where, you know, we can bake in 95% of the technology, but the way the new FASB guidance works is there's actually some ambiguity left in what you are allowed to fair value versus what you're not allowed to fair value. So that is to say that, you know, there's sort of general agreements that ETH, Bitcoin, some of these, like, let's say these L1 tokens, you can do this fair value accounting treatment on.
There is not guidance if, and it's, in fact, it depends. You take something like the UNI token, you holding UNI token might have... you might be able to get away with doing fair value, but Uniswap itself holding Uni token, you are not allowed to do it if it's your own governance token.
Berlind: I see.
White: So like, you need an advisor who will actually tell you like, "Okay, for these three tokens, you do fair value, for these three tokens, you do impairment model, like as an intangible asset treatment, like you've been doing." And then you need something like Bitwave that you need, you need Bitwave because we can actually have one view that supports, you know, three tokens treated this way, three tokens treated this way, and everything in between there. So it is that great one-two punch of our partnership with the big four out there.
Berlind: Makes perfect sense. Last thing I want to talk about is another announcement you had was the acquisition of a company called Gilded, I believe.
Berlind: So what was that about?
White: So Gilded, it was, they've been in the market as long as us, and they, which is a fun way we met them back in 2018. They were more focused on the payment side. So we, we came out day one, always focused on accounting tax and sort of general enterprise problems. That's what Bitwave does, is we, we help enterprises use digital assets. They were more focused on payments. So they were focused on invoicing, you know, paying people, how do you move money between folks, all that kind of stuff.
And so we saw them as a great opportunity to expand our footprint in the payment space, basically support more payment models. We were able to get some engineers from it, some customers, and then a solid footing for complimenting our payments products, which theirs is a little bit more downmarket, focus on smaller companies, picking up bills and paying them. We have a payments product called Enterprise Payments, which is used by Coinbase. It's used for very serious businesses that have really complex workflows that integrate between NetSuite and Coupa and all these different payments products. So we kind of have this like range of kind of like downmarket, upmarket, really complex, really customizable, and everything in between. And then we got some great engineers.
Berlind: When you're covering, it was a good aqui-hire then, right?
White: You got everything.
Berlind: Yeah, right. So when you think about that coverage downmarket between downmarket and upmarket, you're seeing some trends. And so before we hang up here, I just want to get an idea of what trends you're seeing. I, you know, one of the things that I see, for example, in the market, we do a lot of research here at Blockchain Journal and we see that the number one use case for blockchain across the enterprise is – quite, quite frankly, it came as a surprise to us is actually an NFT-based customer loyalty and engagement with payments.
White: Yeah, it's NFT activations from enterprises for sure.
Berlind: Yeah. And, and then somewhat of a distant second, but still second place is payments.
Berlind: And a lot of those companies are using – actually leveraging – Bitpay to do the actual payments itself, not necessarily keep track of them, but you see quite a bit, like in the retail space, you see like a lot of well-known brands...
Berlind: Like saying, okay, we're gonna let people pay with crypto Either online in their e-commerce or in their brick-and-mortar locations. What are you seeing? Is that picking it up at all or is it sort of flat until we see the regulatory landscape kind of really kind of get nailed down?
White: Well, NFT activations is absolutely a thing. It's still happening. I think Cadillac released one recently, one of the US car manufacturers. So you're absolutely seeing that happening across the board. I don't tend to think of companies using BitPay as an adopter of crypto. That might be a silly thing to say. I think they are a future adopter of crypto, but the way BitPay tends to work is you tend to off-ramp the crypto right away. So BitPay is in fact a way to accept crypto without actually engaging with the community. Which is sort of interesting, because at the end of the day, value from using crypto for payments comes from taking out the middleman.
And so if you go from the middleman being Visa to the middleman being Bitpay, and this isn't anything as Bitpay, but they have a great team, we like them, we work with them on a few things, but they charge you BIPs on that conversion. So you get crypto in and then they basically take a spread when they convert that back to USD. If you are looking at... if you are Walmart, and you are saying, how do I squeeze another 2% or another 1% out of my margins? The way you do that is you take crypto and you house it yourself. You basically hold on to it. You take USDC, you hold on to it yourself. You don't have any middlemen. You cut out Visa, you cut out any sort of intermediary sellers. So we see that on that side. We are not seeing [a] heavy pickup of that retail use case, but we're seeing a much heavier pickup of the B2B use case.
So the B2B use case is a much easier one because it's lower volume. It is easier to onboard. Like you're onboarding, you're not onboarding, you're not onboarding your grandma to crypto. You're onboarding a sophisticated financial person at the AP team and another company to crypto. And it's a lot easier to do that. And then you can start to cut... you can get instant settlement. It's sort of like 10 times faster settlement, 10 times cheaper, instant settlement for pennies to send billions of dollars around the world.
So those are the big trends that we're seeing. You know, staking is a big trend right now as well. So more and more folks that have crypto on their books are putting it to work in staking. So it's the crypto version of a bank account. I think we went through the phase when the crypto version of a bank account was like block fee. That didn't work out so well. A lot of money lost. But now the crypto version of the bank account is taking money and putting it into staking nodes. And that's working out very well because you can get 4% yield on that. That's less than interest rates right now, but you end up keeping your exposure to the asset. So it's a nice part is you keep exposure to Ethereum, but then you also get a 4%, you know, yield on it. So we're seeing staking as a big play right now.
Berlind: Okay, well, thank you for that. And Pat, I hope that maybe we get a chance to catch up again, maybe you'll be at Consensus in Austin. So thank you very much for joining me here on the Blockchain Journal podcast.
White: David, my pleasure, thanks so much for having me, buddy.
Berlind: We've been speaking with Pat White. He is the CEO and co-founder of Bitwave. All the contact information for him on the social networks, Twitter, or X, if you want to call it that, and LinkedIn, will be displayed at the end of this video, as well as my contact information.
I want to thank you for joining us here on the Blockchain Journal podcast. Again, I'm your host, David Berlind, and please join us for more of our videos. You can find us on YouTube, and you can also just go to BlockchainJournal.com and find all of our interviews right there. Thanks for joining us.