Our interview guest – Vladislav Utushkin, one of the co-founders of the payment system by agency of which we make payments by USDT card available.
D: When you want something badly and start to strain the universe more it allows, you are not able to predict difficulties that appear faster and in a concentrated form. This will be our conversation leitmotiv.When you want to make the best product in the world, you start improving some of the product ingredients in the process, but it takes time. Now I want to talk about this and about Vlad. My task for today is to explain you what is happening with that part of the company engaged with the cryptocurrency circulation in the world, how we develop the products we are now working in the Marketplace on, how we work with cash back services that make a legal way to withdraw money possible. Vlad, thanks for having you here. My first question is: who decided to put Finiko logo on the office wall in Singapore?
U: That was I. I thought it was cool.
D: How did you come up with such idea?
U: When we became partners, there was a renovation in the new office, and I thought it would be great to put Finiko logo on the wall.
U: Why did you make your mind to cooperate with us? This is a long-term, global, tectonic project that changes markets, we may say. How do you decide who you can work with?
U: I work only with people I like. Essentially, I’m not working with the company, but with you. I received many different offers, but I have never made a compromise with myself and always invoke whether I like the person or not.
D: I consider Vlad an expert in the world of cryptocurrencies. I realized Vlad obtains a very effective way of explaining people complex projects and thoughts through simple playful examples. The project “To The Moon” attracted me by this approach. In order to explain people what portfolio of crypto assets is the most useful, you have to teach them in a playful way. People lose money on the stock exchange, but gain with a deposit in a playful way.
U: I have been engaging with the crypt since bitcoins were handed out, if you entered in the captcha. You could receive 5 bitcoins for one captcha. I still have three sleeveless vests I once bought with bitcoins. Initially, when there was a bitcoin store, you could only play with it, while no one realized what to do with this. The cost of my mistakes was more than half a million dollars. This is the price of my training, the price of the threshold I entered the crypt from. Eveyone has to know about cryptocurrency, while crypto is not already tomorrow, but today. This is what definitely remains in this world. To figure it out, you have to pay a high entry price. You need around 3-4 thousand dollars from the beginning to understand how it works. Now there is no such product that would allow people to try and understand how cryptocurrency works. The first tasks I provide on the trainings are quite simple. I teach everyone as a child, I help him use the head through simple tasks. When a person understands the mechanics, he comes to the stock exchange and acts there consciously. Many of those who came to us have not known what bitcoin was, and I had to explain it to them. Now they have their exchange accounts, portfolios, and could explain to others what bitcoin is. You can observe the development of my students in the group chat. Previously, they wrote nonsense there, and now they send stock charts – they really analyze it. And the second thing. When we figured out the crypt, we should know how to turn it into our real world. And this is the most difficult part.
D: Now – what about the cards?
U: Everything is great with cards. The stage, we planned for six months, passed by faster. We have doubled the card balance limit (from 13,000 to 26,000 thousands dollars), increased the withdrawal limit from 2,500 to 5,000 thousands dollars. Now it is possible to withdraw money directly and quickly. We reduced the service cost by more than 8%. The mechanism with Visa card will work in euros. It would allow you to get away from sanctions on the countries territories sanctioned for Hong Kong.
D: Which bank serves MasterCard and Visa?
D: None. Our cards are prepaid, they are served not by the bank, but by the company. Our bank accounts are served by the Bank of China.
D: On a Russian passport?
D: No. Only with visa.
D: Please tell us more about the cards. How does the limit increase?
U: At the expense of showing traction to the regulator and the company that makes the cards. In general, only principal-memorial companies approved by MasterCard or Visa can issue cards, and there are not many such companies around the world. The next stage of our development is, for example, becoming a principal-memorial company. For this, we need to show a high retention rate a high turnover, and some other parameters.
D: How does crypto become fiat? Why does it work for us and not for others?
U: The cryptocurrency market is still in a “gray zone” and is, probably, not completely legal yet. That is why banks treat it suspiciously. But we have learned how to solve these problems. We are small, mobile. We do not have a ponderous corporate policy, it is easier for us to move. There are 27 startups in the world that can turn crypto into money on bankcards. Their difference from us is that they do not know how to do it immediately, quickly. It is not difficult to launch the card: you should just come, show your company, and take your cards. But to make this card work with the crypt is another story. Only few people know how to turn crypto into fiat in real time, like us. This is exactly that barrier between the crypt and reality, which is now slightly removing.
D: How could you implement that?
U: The company regutalted by us has a bank account with money that is their liquidity. The cards issued by this company are prepaid cards, it means, there is no opening current account. In fiat matters, that is all. It has nothing to do with crypto. In legality matters, everything is convenient, people do not have to meet with the regulator, while they have no current accounts and have nothing to report on. At the same time, the company that issues the cards has nothing to do with cryptocurrency. Another company works only with crypto and knows how to turn crypto into fiat. A corporate account is opened on the exchange stock, a crypt is sold on the exchange stock, and the exchange stock sends money to the company’s corporate account. And this is legal. Afterwards, this exchange sends money to the current account of the first company, increasing liquidity. All these processes are automated. When the user creates his account, a wallet is automatically created. For this we had to develop a technical solution that would allow us quickly create secure wallets. After this, the user sends the crypto to the wallet. As soon as this happens, the user immediately receives money on the card from our account after he confirmed its sending. The user’s crypto is sent to the exchange stock and sold there. After the sale, the money is sent back to the current account.
D: What possessed you to create this system?
U: First of all, I like what we do. And I like the fact it is difficult. What we have already done in winter, seemed to me to be some incredibly complex and incomprehensible thing, but after all we succeeded. What drives me is that we can implement every day what seemed impossible yesterday. After the cards, I know there will be much more interesting challenges. For example, we will establish a bank that could provide loans all over the world – right now, no one is able to do such a thing. In the world there are more than 30% of people who is not able to open a current account at all. In this regard, Africa is a spate of work.
D: Is it safe? Could the African government block it?
U: The ingenious is always simple. Everything we do is legal.
D: So it works in any country.
U: Yes. And this is another great competitive position over other start-ups that work with crypto cards: no one, except for us, could work around the world. Previously, our cards worked all over the world with the exception of sanctioned countries. Now we know how to skirt sanctions by agency of other payment systems.
U: If the issuer (the company that issues cards) has a special list of sanctioned countries, we apply to another issuer who does not include these countries on the sanctions list. For example, we have MasterCard in Hong Kong where Ukraine and Belarus are under sanctions. We found an issuer in Europe, who agreed to issue Visa.
D: Is it the global scale that motivates you?
D: Yes, it is.
D: What else are you going to do with cryptocurrency?
U: I want to make working with cryptocurrency as easy as it is with Sberbank Online, for example. To fit easily cryptocurrency into our life.
D: I guess, you had plenty of failures before you entered the world stage, for sure. Could you tell us about some of your failures that developed and disciplined you?
U: I am completely honest about failures. I had a lot of them. I was lucky to get the opportunity bot to train on my teams. On the cusp of the crypt, I worked as a consultant in many projects, and got an assembled team. My task was to lead it to the result. At that time, any startup could prepare and sell its idea, conduct a token-sale, get a crypt and implement some other projects for its currency. I helped to conduct ICOs as a consultant in three or four such projects. I have to say that 98% of the companies that conducted ICOs have not gotten anything yet. I was observing startupers with burning eyes, dreamed to create a new product, receive a huge amount of money straight away, but forgot about everything and started spending it.
D: What was your mistake?
D: Do not believe in burning eyes. Do not take actions without analyzing everything in advance. I analyze a lot before starting to work in a new direction. For example, now we are developing the idea of a conference in virtual reality. Previously, I would immediately dive into this project, as soon as I heard about it, because I liked everything in it. Now, I always analyze meticulously all the risks before starting the project. Also, I can quickly delve in everything, and sometime I begin to get to the bottom of absolutely everything and I am no longer interested in it. This peculiarity hinders me a lot.
D: That is right, while “being interesed” is in fact always temporary. That is why, you need to change the word “interesting” into the word “important”. An “interesting” project is a tool to achieve something “important” in your life. I always overwhelm this “important” outside of any project and think what happens next. I think about investment decisions as tools to achieve goals rather than just about investment decisions.
U: The same with the cards. We could relax long time ago, we could calm down, switch off, improve our system and work within it. But I conceive every future project, even a difficult one, as a stage on the way to the goal, which is still very far ahead. Sometimes, when you are faced with a serious problem, it crushes you, and you start thinking you should take a step back, and bump into the comfort zone. In such situations, the most important thing is not to stop and go on. It was probably one of my biggest failures: I turned on the heat, saw the whole picture and I started get bored.
D: Yes, and sometimes you need to turn off your critical thinking and stop doubting where you should go on, whether you need it or not, what you do, but go ahead. Bury yourself in work and strive to the checkpoint, with no hesitation.
Vlad, what else would you like to implement?
U: During the pandemic, everyone realized offline is not sufficient. We all learned how to work online. Now people want to improve their standard of living. I would like to create an eco-settlement where we could produce high quality products. In theory, this settlement should serve itself by selling the surpluses.
We always flee somewhere, we want to move somewhere, develop a business, earn money, forgetting to just live. But at the same time, people are very controllable in large cities: if there will be a pass control, we will live with it. I strongly believe that the only thing that is given to us at birth and the most valuable is our inner freedom. I feel someone is trying to take it away from us.
D: Do you feel that this is illusory?
U: I don’t know. But now it seems like this. We want to eat healthy food, not to live with the passes. To sum up, I would like to create a special community with special rules. That is why, the idea of an eco-settlement inspires me.
D: Have you calculated how much it will cost?
U: Up to 2 million dollars. Not so expensive.
D: Are you going to implement it by 2022?
U: I will do it by 2021.
D: Our conversation reminded me that Vlad and I broke the law that exists in my company. In my company, everyone is engaged in what he does the best. Masterpieces are created by people who know how to make a masterpiece, and it is worthless to ask such people about the terms. By asking about the terms, you belittle this person and his masterpiece, you downgrade him to your level. When you set deadlines, it sounds great and ambitious, but in fact, this person who creates the masterpiece knows better when it should be implemented. After all, we create the best product in the world. So when do you yourself want to propel your product?
U: I need a month. But if the clients has a desire, he can start using cards earlier, while I have an old working system. It is still a top system, but then the client has to use cards with old limits … But I recommend you to wait. Moreover, I am creating a brand new product, which is still not completely clear to me. Every day I am seeking for something new and make this way so the product is really cool, understandable, and convenient. I do not create a standard product, so you should wait a little until it becomes really great.