The co-founder of one the world's biggest blockchain businesses will talk to New Zealand regulators about opening up the market here.

Fred Ehrsam, co-founder of Coinbase which is estimated to be worth more than US$500 million, will visit New Zealand this month after being selected for the first in-take of the Edmund Hillary Fellowship.

The fellowship will bring 24 international entrepreneurs to New Zealand to mix with top local entrepreneurs.

Ehrsam, a former Goldman Sachs trader, helped found the company in 2013, which is now seen as one of the most influential cryptocurrency companies.


Coinbase is a digital wallet for crypto currencies like Bitcoin. Blockchain technology allows people to make payments without going through the banks.

"The main goal was to make digital currencies easy to use for the everyday person."

But the 28-year-old said doing that he found one of the biggest elements was getting the regulators on board.

He stepped down from the day-to-day running of his business in January to take a break and has now set his sights on encouraging regulators to be more open to blockchain technology and helping other entrepreneurs.

He has already visited regulators in the US, Japan and Britain to talk about blockchain and has a meeting booked with New Zealand's Reserve Bank while he is in the country.

"Digital currency is this new weird thing that doesn't fit into a particular bucket."

He expects meetings in New Zealand, like others he has had, to be a bit of a learning process on both sides.

"I want to create a regulatory framework for digital currencies that is in line with societal values. At the same time that allows entrepreneurs a solid base."

That would mean entrepreneurs are able to take a calculated risk, he said.

Ehrsam already has connections to New Zealanders involved in this space and says one of the first directors of engineering for Coinbase was a Kiwi.

He also hopes to talk to others looking at doing start-ups in the digital currency space.
"One of the other goals since I have stepped out of my day-to-day role - I have been helping start-ups."

Coinbase does not currently operated in New Zealand but would like it to.

"But the rules around it aren't particularly clear at the moment."

Ehrsam said block-chain technology would change what banks did but would not be the end of them.

"I think it will morph, not completely go away," he said. "At it's core a bank really is a risk management company. I can't see that going away."

But he said the ability to extract revenue on transferring payments was going to shrink but at the same time other opportunities would grow.