Meet the Czech company that's mainstreaming cryptocurrency around the world

Why the Czech Republic has become a world cryptocurrency capital and what you need to know about investing now.

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas
Published on 28.04.2021 11:17 (updated on 29.04.2021)

Cryptocurrency is having a moment, buoyed by some large profile investors – such as Elon Musk, who recently announced that it is now possible to purchase a Tesla with Bitcoin – and the recent listing of Coinbase on the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Prague has long ranked as the world’s most crypto-friendly capital: practically any goods or services – from lawyers to tattoo parlors, pubs, pizza delivery, and petrol stations – that can be purchased with Czech crowns can also be acquired via a cryptocurrency transaction.

Prague-based SatoshiLabs Group, founded in 2013, is a holding company of several individual startups offering a spectrum of solutions for cryptocurrency users. Its CEO Marek "Slush" Palatinus says the enterprise has seen rapid growth as a result of the feverish interest in cryptocurrency.

Marek
Marek "Slush" Palatinus, CEO of SatoshiLabs Group.

We recently spoke with Palatinus about why cryptocurrency use in the Czech Republic has become increasingly mainstream and what you should know about buying, storing, and protecting your digital cash.

“I think historical events have imbued a distrust of banks into the national character,” Palatinus says of the Czech skepticism toward financial institutions.

He mentions the devaluation of the Czechoslovak crown in 1953 by the cash-strapped Communist government or the volatile 1990s transition from a state-owned monobank to an open banking market as key to creating the baked-in Czech mistrust of government regulation.

Palatinus says that other factors have contributed to the development of a thriving cryptocurrency community in the Czech capital as well, including Prague’s booming tech scene which has created its own cryptocurrency microcosm.

SatoshiLabs Group, named for Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto, is among those influential fintech startups contributing to the mainstreaming of cryptocurrencies in the Czech Republic and around the globe. Its products Trezor, Invity, and Tropic Square work in tandem to improve the security of crypto transactions.

For novices unfamiliar with buzzwords like “blockchain,” “mining,” or “HODL,” Palatinus says the first step toward crypto-literacy is finding a safe place to store your keys, the cryptography needed to unlock and move crypto coins.

Matt Jones crypto bitcoin Trezor USB
Trezor is the world’s first cryptocurrency hardware wallet.

“We developed Trezor as the world’s first cryptocurrency hardware wallet. It stores bitcoin keys similar to a very, very secure USB stick,” says Palatinus. He adds that while you don't need a hardware wallet to buy, store, or send bitcoins or any other cryptocurrencies, Trezor is a good starting point for beginners that offers better security than apps that live on smartphones and computers, or in the cloud.

Invity is another service in the SatoshiLabs portfolio, a simple, English-friendly comparison platform that works both as a standalone website and in the Trezor interface, though it’s available to users with or without Trezor wallets. It lets crypto users, even those without technical knowledge, see real-time Bitcoin and altcoin prices, compare rates, and sell cash and buy crypto.

As an added bonus, Coinmap.org, a crowdsourced map of Bitcoin ATM locations and businesses around the world – including those in the Czech Republic – that accept cryptocurrency, is another useful feature of the Invity platform.

Invity_buy-ex-sell_home Matt Jones bitcoin coin crypto
Invity is a platform that allows users to see real-time Bitcoin and altcoin prices, compare rates, and sell cash and buy crypto.

Štěpán Uherík, CEO of Invity and CFO of SatoshiLabs, suggests Bitcoin as a great ticket into the world of crypto but says that given the amount of speed and innovation in the field there are plenty of opportunities to invest in a diverse way.

"The most important thing is to find a trusted partner to help you learn how crypto works: the basics are easy to master and then you can get into or out of different coins in the ways that work best for you."

In case further proof is needed that SatoshiLabs Group is at the frontier of the cryptocurrency future, it recently announced the launch of a Tropic Square, the first fully transparent and auditable security chip in the world.

Evžen Englberth, co-founder and CEO of Tropic Square believes that the chip, currently in the development phase, could be a gamechanger not only when it comes to improving the physical security of hardware wallets but one that could also prove useful for consumer devices.

Evžen Englberth, co-founder and CEO of Tropic Square, and Jan Pleskač CTO of Tropic Square.
Evžen Englberth, co-founder and CEO of Tropic Square, and Jan Pleskač CTO of Tropic Square.

“The chip will make it possible to verify that it has been manufactured exactly according to design and that there has been no modification or addition of an implant in the supply chain (generally referred to as supply chain attack). We think it will find applications especially where the emphasis is on real security, unique device identity, cryptographically strong communication, and authentication,” he says.

Code-named TASSIC (Transparent Authenticated Secure Storage Integrated Circuit), the chip is expected to be introduced by the end of 2022, for use in the aforementioned crypto hardware wallet, Trezor. To launch the product on the market, the company received an investment of EUR 4 million from Swiss-based investment firm Auzera.

Such a large investment will enable Tropic Square's future growth (it’s currently seeking both angel investors and the entire group is hiring talented people to come work virtually or in person from its Prague-based offices). The chip also furthers the SatoshiLabs Group's global mission of making security easy to use, understand, and benefit from.

A photo of prototype TASSIC chips.
A photo of prototype TASSIC chips.

"We believe that transparency, collaboration, and, to a large extent, the community can significantly shift the technology world,” says Englberth. “The global reach and feedback from users themselves unlock vast potential for innovation and to achieve what was previously unthinkable.”

This article was written in association with the SatoshiLabs Group. SatoshiLabs Group is now hiring for multiple positions (both remote and Prague-based). It is currently seeking a Brand Manager and Technical Support Team Lead. Tropic Square is seeking a Documentation Engineer. See all available jobs for SatoshiLabs here. Read more about our partner content policies here.