Jeff VandrewBy September 17, 2021 March 15th, 2022 Unchained Capital

Freeing assets from the fiat system

By September 17, 2021  |  Unchained Capital

One morning a few days ago, I woke up to a strange notification on my phone regarding a deposit into my bank account. I laid in bed confused, wondering if it could be a part of some sort of phishing scam.

A few minutes later, I had a sudden realization. The deposit was a paycheck, the first regularly scheduled paycheck I had received in 14 years.

After so much time as “the boss” of my own small yet successful organization, it was a shock to my friends and family that I would accept an offer to join together with a larger one.

In any other circumstance, I would’ve responded to such an offer in exactly the way those closest to me would’ve expected, and the way I have responded many times over the years: politely declining.

But this time was different.

Building the missing pieces

A key piece that has been missing in the transition to a bitcoin-based economy is the connection between real bitcoin held in a self-sovereign fashion and existing financial and legal structures. Most solutions seeking to bridge this gap fail with the self-sovereign piece of the puzzle. Legacy financial players treat bitcoin like a traditional investment product, with possession in the hands of a bank, broker, or trust company. This is antithetical to the core bitcoin ethos.

As the creator of the KeyKeeper IRA, I set out to solve this problem for American retirement accounts, using a legal structure designed to move tax-advantaged retirement assets into bitcoin while maintaining control over private keys. Keykeeper IRA combined the best of both worlds, providing owners with absolute control over their long-term bitcoin savings while offering the tax advantages of a traditional retirement account. 

And, as Phil Geiger often likes to point out here at Unchained, $35 trillion in US assets are locked into retirement accounts. Freeing these assets from the fiat financial system will go a long way to speeding up bitcoin adoption. This is what the KeyKeeper IRA was designed to do.

Building a smoother path to self-sovereign retirement

Over the years, many of my clients have been Unchained clients. I would assist with the legal side of the equation as well as integration into the legacy financial system, and Unchained would handle the bitcoin side.

While this system resulted in many happy clients, it lacked the smooth integration that investors are used to within a traditional brokerage IRA. Clients had to spend time and energy understanding the legal and legacy financial side of the equation, time which would be better spent deepening understanding of bitcoin.

Joining with Unchained to offer a fully-integrated IRA solution was the only way to eliminate this friction and expand the potential pool of clients we could collectively service.

More than just retirement

And IRAs aren’t the only area suffering from a disconnect between bitcoin and existing legal and financial structures. Unchained clients often have trouble finding an attorney who is familiar with the nuances of what it means to hold bitcoin private keys to plan their estates. Trustees oftentimes need assistance moving trust assets into bitcoin. Employers can’t figure out how to offer bitcoin exposure to their employees through the company retirement plan outside of third party custodied “paper bitcoin.” These are all problems I hope to solve in my new role as Head of Retirement and Inheritance, helping Unchained fulfill its ultimate goal of being your lifetime financial services partner.

A personal connection

All of the above sounds nice, but the truth is that I still would not have joined with any other company to achieve these goals. Processes and products are great, but selfishly I never would have joined an organization where I didn’t both respect the people and enjoy their company. This is especially true when transitioning from an environment where I could be a “benevolent dictator” into a more collaborative one.

Will Cole and Parker Lewis have been friends of mine for some time (in Will’s case before he even joined Unchained). Velvet Campbell onboarded my own personal Unchained account, back when Unchained was still a very new company. Over the past year or so, I’ve gotten to know Michael Tanguma and Phil Geiger very well as we have collaborated on solutions for those clients we shared. When the discussions regarding my joining together with Unchained began, I had the pleasure of spending more time getting to know Joe Kelly, Dhruv Bansal, Mike Ciesla, and the rest of the executive team, and my interactions with them assured me that Unchained would be the right long-term fit.

In closing

I’m excited to begin this new chapter of my career as a part of Unchained, and even more excited to help fulfill Unchained’s promise of becoming your lifetime bitcoin financial services partner. Bitcoin IRAs are just the beginning. Be sure to stay tuned for what is coming next.

You can sign up for the Unchained bitcoin IRA right now.

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Jeff Vandrew

Jeff Vandrew

Jeff is Head of Retirement & Inheritance at Unchained Capital.