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Yanni Giannaros Of Wyre On The Future Of Money and Banking

An Interview With David Liu

When you look at getting into Web3 and cryptocurrency- there’s no true defined path to getting into it. Instead, those who are interested in this ecosystem have to invest personal time into understanding the industry and technology. People in Web3 and cryptocurrency don’t call this work- they are doing it at all times of the day. If a person works in crypto during the day, they are most likely doing the same when they get home from work. What sets Web3 and crypto apart from any other industries is that people doing it have passion first, and skills second. Wyre is an example of that- we hire based on someone’s passion for crypto and the industry. So, in the end, there’s no playbook for the crypto space because no day is the same. Being able to be flexible and adaptable is important in our industry.

The way we bank has changed dramatically over the last decade. It was not too long ago when you had to wait in line in a bank to deposit money. Today things are totally different. You can do your banking without ever walking into a bank. In addition, the whole concept of money has changed. In the recent past, money usually meant bills and coins. But today, the concept of money has expanded to include digital currency and NFTs. What other innovations should we expect to see in banking in the short and medium term?

To address this, we are talking to leaders in the banking, finance, and fintech worlds, to discuss the future of banking and money over the next few years.

Yanni Giannaros is the founder and CEO of Wyre, a leading cryptocurrency infrastructure provider. An entrepreneur at heart, Yanni has always had a deep fascination with technology, eventually leading him to the fintech world and, more specifically, to cryptocurrency. Through his passion, Wyre has seen incredible growth, culminating in the company being acquired by Bolt, a leading checkout and shopper network company in the largest monetary deal in the cryptocurrency landscape to date.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started in this industry?

I’m an entrepreneur at heart and have always had a deep fascination with technology and the ways it can be used to change the ways we live and work. Like many Silicon Valley founders, the road wasn’t always smooth; at times I was living on a couch while renting out bunk beds in a house, which sounds very much like a scene from the show Silicon Valley. I eventually entered the finance world and founded Wyre, a fiat-to-crypto and payment infrastructure company for the crypto ecosystem. We provide APIs which enable software developers to build cryptocurrency infrastructure, making it easier for people across the globe to buy, sell, and store crypto. I’m proud to say that we’ve “on-ramped” over 15 million end-users to our partners and have processed over $10B in payments since inception.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

One of my all time favorite stories occurred early in my career and is coincidentally what cultivated my passion for cryptocurrency and finance. While I was living in San Francisco, my friends and I noticed the success of Washio, an on-demand laundry service (no longer in business). To capitalize on the laundry delivery craze, we came up with the idea for “Your Hero Delivery,” where we dressed up as superheroes and picked up, washed, and delivered people’s laundry. The news took off after some photos of us in action were posted on Reddit. Unfortunately, the only issue we didn’t foresee was national holidays (i.e. Labor Day Weekend) when all the laundromats that we used to bulk wash clothes were closed for holidays. This made us have to personally wash and dry the customer’s clothes before delivering them!

We eventually realized that the laundry industry, though profitable, wasn’t our passion. So, myself and Mike Dunworth (Co-Founder at Wyre) began working on a product that would help people save money via a bookmark extension in their browser. We built out a website where these customers could save that money gradually to use towards an online purchase. Because me and Mike were both into cryptocurrency, we thought it would be ideal if people could save Bitcoin to make purchases- so we added that to our product. At the time, 2012, it was a revolutionary move and that’s what ultimately got us into cryptocurrency and founding Wyre.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life lesson quote is “It’s not the big that eat the small, it’s the fast that eats the slow”. I love the quote because it’s all about being scrappy, working hard, and working quickly. We embody this quote at Wyre and believe that we can consistently outwork our competitors, even if we aren’t bigger than them. This mentality is definitely needed in the cryptocurrency space. The fastest and most adaptable companies and people will find the most success in an industry that is constantly shifting and evolving.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell our readers about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

In the financial industry, we are trying to figure out how we can connect two worlds; the traditional financial world and the Web3 finance world. At Wyre, we are that perfect conduit between Web3 and finance. We have our eyes set on bringing those two worlds together. Our mission is to bring cryptocurrency to the masses and make it a key staple in everyday life. Crypto is the future of the finance and banking industry. We’re helping companies to accept crypto payments, store crypto wallets, and buy and sell coins on their own platforms.

How do you think this might change the world?

Cryptocurrency is often viewed as something futuristic and intangible, but the reality is that crypto is here, and it’s quickly becoming infused into everyday life. It reduces the potential for fraud because all transactions are electronic and secure on a blockchain. It’s faster to transfer crypto and alleviates the annoyances of cashing checks or waiting on a big financial transfer. It also gives people more control of their funds, by storing their crypto in wallets, rather than leaving their money in the control of a bank or investor. Cryptocurrency is changing the world by revolutionizing finance, investing, and money management, and empowering investors to control their own finances more than ever. We’re proud to be using our platform at Wyre to bring crypto to people across the globe.

What most excites you about the banking industry as it is today? Can you explain what you mean?

The global shift to investor freedom is tremendously exciting. Pioneering platforms like Robin Hood and CoinBase completely changed the way people invest and manage their money. The finance industry has been disrupted, and it’s benefiting people around the world as they enjoy new found financial freedom.

What most concerns you about the banking industry as it is today? What would you suggest needs to be done to address that?

The slow evolution of the banking industry, and some archaic practices that are still in use today, are what concern me the most. Look at stocks, for example. At the end of the day, stocks are not digitally closed, there are still physical pieces of paper that are delivered to the banks. Additionally, banks are very archaic in the technologies they are built on, and that hasn’t changed since the 70s. The world and the way we operate is very different from the time in which the banking systems were created and they have not caught up with the rest of the world. On top of that, financial education and understanding of the banking ecosystem are really scary to people and they are not sure how money works. So, most people just know that they work to get this thing (money) and we spend it just as quickly as we make it. This is not a sustainable way for the world to operate. I would love to change this.

Based on your vantage point as an insider in the finance industry, what innovations should we expect to see in banking in the short and medium term?

For both the short and long term, the growing introduction of digital coins into the ecosystem will allow more people the opportunity to digitize their money- which will, in turn, infuse more transparency into the financial ecosystem. This will also allow for a more efficient payment process (i.e. getting paid by your employer on the weekends, rather than only on the weekdays). Digital innovations in the banking industry will, ultimately, make money a lot faster and more convenient- while bringing banking into the 21 century. Speed and efficiency are exactly what stable coins will bring to the financial ecosystem.

When looking at the short term, the United States has the opportunity to become a big player in the digital transformation of the financial industry but we’re not doing that like other countries. China, for example, is digitizing its money and it’s almost the standard in the country. The U.S. needs to start working with tech companies to start digitizing our money right now.

How has the pandemic changed the way banks interact and engage with their customers?

The pandemic forced banks to quickly adapt to a digital model and embrace all aspects of digital banking. In many ways, the pandemic was good for financial institutions because it forced them to modernize and ease the use of access for their consumers.

In your particular experience, how has the pandemic changed the way you interact with, and engage your customers?

The pandemic didn’t significantly change the way we interact with our customers. We already operated from a digital, remote model, so our interactions with customers stay the same. Of course, our customers were impacted by the global pandemic and all the challenges that come with it, but we didn’t experience significant disruption.

In my work in the telecom space, I’m very interested in the importance of user experience. How much of your interactions have moved to digital such as chatbots, encrypted messaging apps, phone, or video calls? How has this shift impacted the user and customer experience? What challenges do these apps present when used as a customer engagement tool?

To be honest, we’ve always been a digital interaction-first company. The only thing that did change was that our only in-person activities, events, and conferences, moved digitally. We took that shift head-on without any hiccups.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Web 3.0, Crypto and in the Blockchain industry?

When you look at getting into Web3 and cryptocurrency- there’s no true defined path to getting into it. Instead, those who are interested in this ecosystem have to invest personal time into understanding the industry and technology. People in Web3 and cryptocurrency don’t call this work- they are doing it at all times of the day. If a person works in crypto during the day, they are most likely doing the same when they get home from work. What sets Web3 and crypto apart from any other industries is that people doing it have passion first, and skills second. Wyre is an example of that- we hire based on someone’s passion for crypto and the industry. So, in the end, there’s no playbook for the crypto space because no day is the same. Being able to be flexible and adaptable is important in our industry.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

One of my biggest passions is investing in local communities and schools. I believe in empowering and educating future generations and helping young people to find success in the world. If I could inspire a movement, it would be to motivate the business world and leaders across the globe to do more in their communities and uplift those around them.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

People can find me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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David Liu

David Liu

David is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, a unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication

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