Building the products of tomorrow, today: Alexey Arkhipov, QIWI Blockchain Technologies CEO is the new Akropolis advisor
At Akropolis, we believe that a fairer and decentralized future can only be achieved through open coordination and collaboration. There are myriads of talented companies and teams building top notch products and we are ready to generate avenues to learn, share, and build resources for a better future.
QIWI Blockchain Technologies (QBT) is the Blockchain/DLT arm of QIWI, developing solutions for companies and industries and integrating these into global infrastructures, in an end-to-end manner: from blockchain-based proposals for specific use-cases to testing, MVP implementation and industry implementation.
As one of the most prominent fintech companies in Russia, the NASDAQ-listed QIWI with a market cap of 1,2bn USD (NASDAQ: $QIWI) has managed to earn a reputation as payment providers, first via terminal, and nowadays via their online wallet as well. QIWI is a publicly traded company since 2013, operating markets of Russia and 22 more countries, including Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Moldova, China, Argentina, India, Serbia, Latvia, South Africa. Qiwi’s subsidiary QBT was launched in March 2017 with 100 million rubles in funding ($1.6 million) to develop internal blockchain products .
Alexey Arkhipov has been at the forefront of advocacy in Russia with regards to emerging technologies. A visionary, always on the lookout for new technological verticals to research and implement to provide solutions to users, Arkhipov set up QIWI Blockchain Technologies in 2016 and the leading force behind this success story. Alexey has an impeccable track record of 9+ years of leadership in QIWI combined with finance skills and an insatiable interest for emerging technologies which has shaped the success of both QIWI and his career. Always at the forefront of technological advancements, he has a soft spot for blockchain technologies, Arkhipov has been leading and participating in several initiatives as the FinTech Association and Masterchain platform (supported by the Bank of Russia — as the Head of Distributed Ledger Technology Unit).
We interviewed Alexey about his trajectory, hopes for the future of blockchain and his involvement with Akropolis.
What are your biggest milestones to date?
The most significant milestones I have achieved so far are:
· IPO with QIWI on NASDAQ (deemed as “Russian PayPal”)
· Establishing the QIWI Blockchain Technologies Foundation
· Implementation and launch of our collaborative management system
· Launching the Masterchain DLT platform within the FinTech Association
QIWI has been expanding fast and steadily. What’s next for the company?
At QIWI Blockchain Technologies, we are focusing on emertech (emerging technologies) and nowadays focusing on three tracks. The first one is the high-level IT development track, where we are creating emertech solutions for Tier-1,2 clients, which requires top IT-development capabilities. I’m proud that we have one of the best teams on the market working on it.
Then we have our own products such as Lepta and Workinize. Our last but not least track entails new management systems.
We consider emertech as a high-speed and competitive market. At QIWI BT we understand that keeping the tempo and staying competitive means that the company should also obtain a flexible management system that allows employees to act, plan, execute and take leadership in diverse time frames and conditions. Therefore, we implemented a new collaborative structure in the company and are already seeing the results of its work.
As for QIWI, I think the corporation is well on the way to the multi-business ecosystem, which includes traditional payment technologies and emerging tech businesses at the same time. Sometimes these are interoperable and contribute to each other, and other times they stand as a separate market unit for different market segments.
What sparked your interest in Bitcoin?
The features that sparked my interest the most are the new ways of value creation and people interaction that cryptocurrencies enable. After QIWI successfully went through the IPO in 2013 I started researching towards our next big leap in the coming years. We made some crypto-technology tests in QIWI and decided to open QBT to bring our findings to the real-life markets.
After I started learning about bitcoin I was wondering what effects cryptocurrencies might bring to the traditional market systems, what type of values it may bring, what type of value exchange it may launch, what kind of problems it may solve, and what businesses it may bring, among many other questions.
My intuition and belief that Bitcoin was destined to make an impact encouraged me to keep on believing.
How’s Russia looking at decentralized technologies nowadays?
I think the Russian market is rather welcoming and keeps up with the high speed development. The first official DLT platform — Masterchain — where leading Russian banks implement their business cases that bring value to real business, is built and approved by the most prominent regulator in the country, the Bank of Russia.
Still, the market has space for new products that will bring value to society. During the previous 2–3 years, mainly tech-to-tech projects prevailed in the market — they were top-notch, no questions here, but they were also created mainly for IT-professionals. So, we had WOW in IT and fintech areas while mass-market had only a very basic understanding of cryptocurrencies and tokens.
Now it is time for tech-to-social, or wide end-user adoption as some would like to call it. I expect an increased number of valuable products and ecosystems based on emerging technologies.
As for Tier-1 corporates and their demands, nowadays more complex solutions that include blockchain, IoT and AI simultaneously are required. The competition will grow not only in IT-development but in IT-creativity as well.
Why did you choose Akropolis, from all projects, to advise?
I will point out three factors. First, the project wants to solve real community issues, not just create the technology. Tech is secondary here however of great importance. Second, the AFO concept is quite interesting with a large addressable market and a possible strong competitor against traditional financial institutions mainly on emerging and unbanked markets. The last, but not least main deciding factor is the experienced team which is highly dedicated to the product itself.