I had the pleasure of interviewing Kevin Hobbs a technology founder, recognized leader in the blockchain ecosystem, and currently the CEO of Vanbex Group and Etherparty. As an early entrant into cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, Kevin is a veteran of the industry. His blockchain expertise, combined with over a decade of management experience as a professional and entrepreneur has allowed Kevin to grow the Vanbex Group of companies into one of the largest blockchain solutions providers in Vancouver.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you got involved with the Regtech or Crypto markets?
I’ve always been a trader, and I first heard about Bitcoin in 2010 and I immediately took an interest, however, it wasn’t too nascent at the time. Three years later in 2013, I saw someone selling a car online only accepting Bitcoin, and once again, I was intrigued; however, the process of making a purchase back then was still not user friendly, and getting into the space wasn’t easy. In 2015, I did a deep dive into crypto after meeting Lisa Cheng, the founder of Vanbex, I saw the true potential of crypto, and believe that it will actually change our infrastructure forever. When it came to trading back then, there was little risk and high reward because the few tokens that existed weren’t worth too much and Bitcoin at the time was only $250. During times that were slow, I started doing market analysis and learning more about the space and educating myself, and became successful doing trading in the space across multiple coins on various exchanges.
Can you share 5 ways that Regulation and Regtech can help stabilize the Crypto Economy?
I suppose it really depends on how we define Crypto Economy. If we consider blockchain, such as the Bitcoin blockchain as being a decentralized, distributed economic model that can exist as a network of value without need/want of regulation, then it is difficult to take this sort of question seriously. On the other hand, if we ignore the benefits of decentralization, and focus more on the idea of creating perceived value, which is actually the same thing as value, then any ways that regulation and regtech help with stabilizing any economy can be applied to crypto economics, as there is little, or no difference anyway.
What are the top concerns that crypto firms should be considering in order to have a competitive edge?
Strong connections with regulators and to be following and helping lead the conversations around regulation. If you’re not involved with regulators or follow closely, then you’re out of the loop. The other thing is having a strong understanding and being able to leverage decentralization and why that’s paramount to cryptocurrency.
Can you share examples of measures you take to prevent internal data breach?
To prevent internal data breaches we restrict access to sensitive sites on an as needed basis. Passwords are rotated regularly. We also use 2 factor authentication. We also use hardware Yubikeys as part of our 2FA access control. All direct access to our internal network is 802.1x authenticated via a radius server. All access to our production servers is via AWS credentials and we maintain an audit trail of all such internal access. Our production databases uses access control policies to restrict microservices access to only the tables and data that it needs and no more. Generally an access policy of “denied unless explicitly granted” is used throughout our organization and our applications. Our application servers also run intrusion detection software. We have monthly security meetings to review access logs and determine if continued access is still needed to specific resources. All cryptographic keys are kept in a Hashicorp vault with access only via a 3-of-5 password sharing scheme. This means it takes 3 of 5 people to come together and open the vault, and this deters internal collusion and loss of crypto assets.
All of these components of our overall security policy help to deter or detect any internal breaches before they cause harm.
Can you share a story of a time when things went south for you? What kept you going and helped you to overcome those times?
During our Etherparty ICO we had a heart-stopping moment when only 30 minutes after our ICO had started we noticed the smart contract address on our webpage had been changed by hackers. The whole team had gathered in a hotel meeting room we had reserved for the event, and when the contract address had been changed there was panic and fear in our team’s collective eyes. What had gone wrong? How did they break in? Shut it down, now. So we quickly shut down the web page and our team of engineers went fast to work recreating a purely static web page for the ICO event and within 30 minutes we had relaunched the site in a new web provider and with new credentials, tightly locked down. At the same time, we created some new monitoring scripts watching the web site files, to be notified if any single file changed again after we put it up. The new site was tight, and there were no further attacks on the web page contents and the ICO continued smoothly after that.
Although this seemed like a serious downturn, what actually kept us going was the fact that our entire team quickly came together in this moment to repair the website and at the same time marketing team and I were constantly in communication with the crypto community to let them know what the current status was and that we would be reimbursing any losses incurred by community members. This restored faith in the ICO and helped get us back on track with the community. Ultimately this hack didn’t hinder the result of the ICO.
When the ICO finally closed, we followed through and reimbursed anyone who had been a victim of the hack. This further restored community confidence in the Etherparty team, as well as our own internal confidence in what our vision for Etherparty was. We successfully moved into the next phase, developing and launching the Etherparty Rocket product.
What are some things that you do on daily basis regardless of how busy you are?
I’m a complete workaholic, answering this not relating it to work is going to be difficult! I always make sure to check in on my employees, ensuring that right support is there and everybody is getting what they’re needing to be successful so we can continue to take Vanbex to greater heights. Outside of work, I enjoy cooking, I make an amazing spaghetti bolognese and a mean turkey dinner.
What are the top 3 upcoming conferences you are attending and are excited about?
We just came back from London after attending Blockchain Live, one of the biggest crypto conferences in the industry, and that was a huge success. Moving forward, we’ll be attending a local conference called Smart Cities in Vancouver, where Vanbex will be there speaking about the blockchain industry, and after that, we’ll be attending GMP Securities, Next In Tech Conference in Toronto, and I’ll be speaking on a panel there. We are even considering hosting some of our own events in the future as that allow people to meet our team and learn more about what we do in a smaller, more engaged setting.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Love is passion, obsession, someone you can’t live without. Find someone you can love like crazy and who will love you the same way back.” This is from one of my favorite movies, Meet Joe Black, and it’s the approach I take for everything I love in my life — my work, my family, friends, I dive into it all with passion.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for this. This was very enlightening!