C.Pay Talks: Q&A with Founder, George Basiladze
You’re surely tired of telling the story of how it happened. So let’s talk about something else and start with the “basics” if we can call it so.
What is the ultimate mission of Cryptopay?
For now, our mission statement is still under wraps, not for the reasoning of that we don’t have one or that I’m not keen on revealing it, but because we’re currently working on a document, a playbook so to say to share our position with all those that are curious about this.
For now, let’s just say that from the very start, we’ve focused on making the world a better place through our services while at the same time making our clients’ lives easier by using all of the tools we have at our disposal. A focus that all companies should have — from food deliveries to governments.
Ok. Then it’s time for some history. You and Dmitriy have founded Cryptopay. Then, at what moment, did you realise that this is turning into a long-term project? That it’s not a startup anymore?
It’s always been long-term. Truth be told, I really don’t like the word “startup.” The connotation that this word carries is something that’s fragile, not durable, something that is destined to be temporary. I had something I wanted to make, and values that I wanted to share with people throughout the world. It’s this attitude and this idea that counts. At least in my mind. Bitcoins, finance, whatever, it doesn’t matter.
When did I realise that this was a serious gig? Well, I can’t quite pinpoint that moment in time. Maybe when my co-founder Dmitry and I were roaming London looking to get our BTC company off the ground. Back then, 2013, a company like ours was somewhat of a rarity, contrasting to right now when it seems like companies like ours are a dime a dozen. We didn’t have a laid out plan then, and it was only recently that we started making concrete long-term plans. We did it because we could.
But one day you realised that your company had started gaining momentum.
Things really started rolling right after January 2016. We started issuing cards and our company went uphill from there. We began to catch the attention of people worldwide, and that’s when we realised we’d graduated from being what you’d call a “startup”
And before that, at the very beginning was it tough to start the whole thing? Can you give any tips on how to work out the idea for a startup? What’s more important: to have faith in it or plan it rationally from the ground up?
Not to be cliche, but recently it kind of just “came to me.” It’s all about ethics. You operate in a framework that resonates with people and, in order, with yourself. It’s all about simplicity or, better, plainness because it’s not about being simple, but about being transparent. And it’s gotta be transparent. You get a clear and humane service out of this attitude; a service that’s both fair and high-quality. We don’t hide anything from our clients, we don’t sneak in fees like some of our competitors do — we want our clients and our users to understand everything they are interacting with while using our platform.
Here are the services, here are the fees, here are your limitations, etc. People will catch on sooner rather than later if you’re bullshiting them. Treat your clients with respect, they should trust you and know that you’re not using them for your own gains, but creating something to benefit them.
So ethics is the key. Is it a main priority?
Of course it is. Paired with a solution for the client’s needs. It all adds up to an ethical service.
It’s the standard marketing tactic: find out what’s bothering your clients, what problems do they stumble upon, point it out, offer a remedy for it.
Well yeah, but it goes farther than that. People get fed up with traditional finances due to some unfortunate, persistent, imperfections. Outdated “principles” such as deception, secrecy, and greed. There’s this saying: ‘if you try a different approach with something you’ve done before, you’ll get a different result’. As Bill Gates once said, people will always need banking services — but not banks. People will always need ways and tools to store, transfer, manage, and exchange things of value, and in this case money. But it doesn’t mean that tools they have right now are the only possible ones to use.
You see, to get properly licensed, banks rely on strict hierarchy and centralisation of processes, hence they’ve established a monopoly to conduct transfers and credit people. And from this status quo, the idea of decentralisation was born.
People need to store and send money, but they don’t really need banks to do so. There’s this P2P lending in Europe that helps people give loans to each other. The margin is close to zero, too. The service mirrors banks in its functionality: screens projects, advisers, matches investors and creditors — but it’s not responsible, it’s the people who bear all the responsibility. We can and should hold ourselves accountable, not some institutions. It’s true for everything: payments, investments, etc.
Centralisation rots various parts of the financial body that used to be important in the past. IPOs, for example, are now the tool for a company to exit, instead of being a tool attracting the capital; ICOs now have taken over that role. In the current climate of centralised institutions, there are licenses for banks, payment institutions, e-money — they all have a different level of compliance and price requirements. All of them are essentially the same, yet banks are obviously privileged and hold most of the market. If a person wants to make a simple transaction, they’re forced into passing through compliance checks. But if you decentralise the system, you simplify it considerably, thus making a separate service for every clients’ need: there’s license for sending money, another one for granting credits, etc. Decentralisation makes everything much more simple.
Let’s get back to Earth for a moment and take a look at what’s to come. The card programme situation has been already explained, so, let’s talk about the Bitcoin stock brokerage. What is it and how’s the development going?
The idea is obvious: cryptocurrencies have attracted big capital, and holders are now in dire need of services that would help them spend their money on the world markets; they need management and managers. And here comes Cryptopay: we already know a lot about financial legislation, cryptocurrencies, and most importantly, we are experienced at cryptocurrency compliance procedures — so it’s quite easy for us to get involved.
All in all, we aren’t reinventing the wheel with our brokerage. Instead of transferring the client’s money to their plastic card, we’ll put it into their brokerage account and the client, instead of cashing out at the ATM or buying something at Louis Vuitton, will be able to buy stocks with it. To provide this service, we’ll need a legal entity and a license. The service will be rendered by fulfilling a three-sided agreement between Cryptopay, the legal entity, and the clients.
It’s a broker license, too, and we’re going to get it in a slightly unconventional manner. Instead of proving to a given financial authority that we’re the salt of the earth and the best business to have ever graced this world with its presence, we’re gonna resort to help of a certain someone. That special someone is a company that attended Seedcamp along with us. (Dmitry and I didn’t get much from this event: it was 2014, and the time for cryptocurrencies hadn’t yet come.)
Sadly, they didn’t succeed at that time and had to freeze their development. But they still had a strong team and an experienced founder who had spent 20+ years in finance working at major European banks (including a Director’s position in Citigroup) So now he’s determined to create a brokerage platform for us and with us. We’re happy to welcome Shane Leonard, CEO at Stockflare, and his team onboard, and we’re confident that we’ll be able to deliver on Bitcoin Brokerage.
Ok, last question and, as usual, it’s more of an advice for the readers. If you had to recommend two books [one fiction; one nonfiction] that you love, or had some impact on your life, what would they be and why?
That’s a tough one, to many variants. But let’s go with “The Handbook of Fixed Income Instruments” by Frank J. Fabozzi, amazing book.
The second one, by Jean Baudrillard — “The Gulf War Did Not Take Place”. Sure sheds the light on how the media influences our perception of history.