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Startup Offers Point-of-Sale Solution for Exchanging Cryptocurrencies

Byungchan Lee, a Marketing Major, Co-founded the Company Coconut Last Fall

Coconut was selected as "Audience Choice Award Winner" at the MIT Bitcoin Expo 2018 in March.

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 8, 2018) – Though Silicon Valley seems fraught with worry over the Bitcoin “bubble,” a startup could be the answer for any individual or business interested in converting cryptocurrencies into hard cash.

Coconut, an international payments platform, offers a point-of-sale solution with exchanging crypto currencies such as Bitcoin for traditional currencies.

Byungchan Lee, a senior business major, co-founded the company earlier this year with a goal of making cryptocurrency usable for all types of purchases: in-person, online and from within cryptocurrency networks.

“The result is that customers gain the power to spend their cryptocurrency everywhere they go, and merchants gain the ability to accept cryptocurrency payments in fiat currency, or in any cryptocurrency of their choosing,” said Lee, is an international student from Seoul, South Korea.

Lee developed the company with a group of six students and alumni from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

He said launching Coconut, as his first business venture, has been difficult, but that his studies have prepared him well to tackle the obstacles.

“From my management classes, I learned how to deal with teams and solve conflicts between members,” said Lee, who is pursuing a degree in business administration with a dual concentration in marketing and management. “From setting a timeline for a task to making a rational decision based on our data, I’ve learned a lot from the School of Business over my past few years here.”

Recent Recognition

Lee has already received recognition for the startup, most recently at the 2018 Harvard-China Forum Pitch competition. Coconut was one of eight finalists out of the 450 teams that participated in the event, which took place on April 8 in Boston, Mass.

In March, the company also won third place out of 200 teams at the 2018 Pitch2China Competition, held in Cambridge, Mass., and was selected as “Audience Choice Award Winner” out of 500 blockchain-related projects at the MIT Bitcoin Expo 2018.

Post-Graduate Plans

Lee said he plans to graduate this May, and hopes to continue expanding the company in South Korea and in Singapore.

“I intend to spend the foreseeable future with this company, come rain or shine,” he said.

Bill Wales, one of Lee’s business professors, said he admires Lee’s dedication and passion to the success of his venture.

“These qualities are essential to the success of any start-up, and particularly so when competing in a dynamic, high-tech industry,” said Wales, associate professor of management. “I’m impressed by Coconut’s ambitious vision, and potential to help shape the future of finance, payments and currency exchange.”

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