People of Blockchain, Pt. 4with Kris Marszalek
On a mission to accelerate the world’s transition to cryptocurrency
Interviewer: Emil Sterndorff, Founder, and CEO of Altcoin Magazine
Interviewee: Kris Marszalek, Co-Founder, and CEO of Crypto.com
Hey, Kris, and welcome! A few weeks ago we jumped on a call because I was eager to know more about the plans for Crypto.com. And the call left me hungry for more, so let’s dive in and let our readers know more about you as well!
Can you tell me about yourself and your history leading up to today?
I’m Co-Founder and CEO of Crypto.com. I’ve been a lifelong company builder. Before co-founding Crypto.com back in June 2016, I’ve built and grown companies from $0-$100m in revenue. Everything I do has been driven by a strong desire to build products that address consumer needs. When I first looked into crypto in 2014, I immediately recognized the impact it will have on our daily lives. I was especially drawn to crypto’s potential to give everyday consumers more power over their money and data.
After realizing that the banking sector could be vastly improved with the speed and lower costs of crypto, my co-founders and I came together and founded Crypto.com and raised capital through a token sale where we raised 26.7m.
While we initially started with a Visa card, today we have built a complete suite of consumer financial products, covering services from investment to loans. Every single need that you may have relating to crypto, we are covering it with one single app.
What are some of the toughest challenges you’ve had to face, and would you say it led you to the success you’re having today with over 130 employees?
It’s important to learn from challenges and emerge stronger. Everything we’ve achieved thus far is 100% due to our team’s hard work and effort.
Like many first movers in their industries, we are facing new challenges every day. We are building cutting edge products that are difficult and expensive to build. However, we’ve set a strong team of senior executives (people coming from corporations such as Mastercard and Microsoft) who are heading up each corporate function and navigating obstacles — everything from making our products available globally and understanding local regulations.
To minimize risks and set ourselves up for success, we’ve been bolstering our products and ticking every compliance box. We are entering our target markets one by one after doing thorough legal reviews, and have made tremendous progress so far while keeping compliance at the heart of every decision.
So what is your mission with Crypto.com? And when you originally started Monaco, what made you take the leap?
Crypto.com’s mission is to accelerate the world’s transition to cryptocurrency with high-impact and intuitive financial products. As mentioned, the traditional financial sector is in dire need of reform. Customers stay tied up to their banks despite feeling little loyalty, being bogged down by unnecessarily high fees and detesting the customer experience due to lack of better alternatives. Simultaneously, blockchain and cryptocurrencies were gaining traction and becoming more popular. Bring these two together was the perfect solution to shift this balance of power from big banks back to consumers.
All our products are designed with our customers in mind. We aim to get more and more people to use crypto by taking out any complexity and helping them engage with crypto with terms and benefits that regular consumers are familiar with. For example, our recent launch of lifestyle perks like free Netflix and Spotify, 10% off Airbnb and Expedia, free airport lounge access, or our Crypto Invest feature that gives users access to quant trading strategies — are all aimed at making consumers realize the benefits and ease of cryptocurrencies.
How come you went through a rebrand with the purchase of the Crypto.com domain, and what implications did it have?
We rebranded to Crypto.com to better reflect our vision and offering. The rebrand was quite straight forward — our vision has always been Cryptocurrency in Every Wallet. Our identity as Crypto.com showcases our ambition of accelerating the world’s transition to cryptocurrency. This powerful new identity also serves as a better name as we want to position ourselves as a super app for crypto that covers all cryptocurrency needs of a user from saving, investing, to spending.
Why two tokens? MCO and CRO — what sets them apart, how do they both generate value, and how do they work together for the overall mission of bringing crypto to every wallet in the world?
They are different coins with different utilities and different use cases. The MCO token is a utility token for our consumer finance services available in the Crypto.com Wallet & Card app — for example, our cashback and rewards are paid out in MCO tokens. The CRO Token serves as transaction settlement on our native blockchain Crypto.com Chain which will become a cryptocurrency payment network. They both complement each other and help us fulfill our vision of bringing cryptocurrency to every wallet.
What can you do with your Crypto.com Wallet & Card App, and what makes it different from other wallets?
Think of it as a super app that can cover all of a user’s cryptocurrency needs from saving, spending to investing. You can buy crypto with your credit card or a bank transfer, without fees or markups. You can earn up to 8% p.a. on your crypto and keep all the upside (I.e. BTC deposits pay interests in BTC, ETH in ETH, XRP in XRP, etc.). You can get an instant loan in crypto. You can build a coin portfolio in 3 taps and that portfolio trades automatically. You can get a metal Visa card to spend your crypto and earn up to 5% cashback on all spending. There’s no other place that offers everything, and we’re extremely competitive on each individual offering.
The MCO Visa Card bridges the fiat and crypto world seamlessly by making digital currencies easy and rewarding to use, anytime and anywhere Visa is accepted. What really makes these sleek, shiny, and solid cards stand out and appeal to users are the lifestyle perks — up to 5% cashback on ALL purchases, free airport lounge access, free Netflix and Spotify, 10% off Airbnb and Expedia.
How does your partnership with Visa work?
We are a Visa Program Manager. This partnership not only elevates us above other payment startups but also helps us to introduce consumers to the benefits of crypto through this vehicle that they are familiar with. Our goal is to make crypto super easy for the average Joe consumer. They can easily purchase crypto through our app using a credit or debit card, or through bank transfers. Without leaving the app, they can also convert crypto into their desired fiat at interbank exchange rates, load up their MCO Visa Card, and spend as they wish at any merchant that accepts Visa. At the same time, merchants don’t need to do anything different for accepting crypto — they just continue accepting Visa!
Can you tell us about Crypto.com Pay — I saw a short demo on your site and was quite impressed by the simplicity. We might even use it for our upcoming website for accepting crypto payments. Why should merchants like us use it?
We’re glad to hear that. Crypto.com Pay is our payment solution that allows us to truly demonstrate the relevance and power of cryptocurrencies to everyday customers. The payment system is powered by our native blockchain, Crypto.com Chain. This is revolutionary because payment networks today do not accept cryptocurrency as a native form of transaction settlement. This is why we have built that missing piece of infrastructure for payments to be made and accepted in cryptocurrency with near instant transaction settlement. Merchants can easily accept crypto and customers can use their crypto to make purchases by simply opening the Crypto.com Wallet & Card app, clicking the Pay button, scanning a unique QR code and selecting their favorite crypto to spend.
We offer incentives to both sides. On the one hand, merchants can enjoy very low processing fees, offer network funded discounts, and best of all, attract new customers by offering flexibility to their customers to move beyond conventional payment methods like credit cards. On the other hand, customers get generous cashback and the option to use their crypto in the real-world with a press of a button.
We have an aggressive roadmap to add merchants both online and offline. Pretty soon you will be able to buy your favourite coffee, movie tickets and groceries with any crypto and earn massive rewards in the process.
What are your plans for the future of Crypto.com? Let’s say some day in the future when all of your current plans have been accomplished. Then, where are we going next?
Our mission is to put Cryptocurrency in Every Wallet and this mission drives everything we do at Crypto.com. We have been building & shipping throughout the bear market, so we are ready for the next wave of users when the market hits new ATHs. We will continue building with a relentless focus on the customer until we see 1 billion people using crypto globally.
What did your previous startups and companies teach you, and how has it helped you run Crypto.com?
I’ve learned a lot from all my past experiences. There are three things we are focusing on from day 1 — building the right team and culture, having a clearly differentiated product and a distribution strategy that is hard to replicate.
Speed of iteration is also essential to building a sticky product that customers love. We are relentlessly focused on increasing the number of iteration cycles: idea -> build-> ship -> see results in data -> double down on what works -> improve further.
It’s also best to raise more capital than you need.
Who or what are you most grateful for, in the history of your project?
Our community has always been very supportive by believing in our vision and giving us candid and constructive feedback — thereby, helping us refine our products. Getting all these products out has been an exciting journey for us and the enthusiasm from our community has been driving us to improve our existing products, seek new partnerships and strive to develop an entire banking architecture. We have an open channel of communication with our community and stay in touch with them on our social media channels and Telegram, Reddit, Discord, and Kakao.
Where can we follow you or Crypto.com online, download your app, or in other ways support your journey?
Download our app “Crypto.com Wallet & Card app” at the app stores, give it a try and let us know your feedback.
Thanks, Kris! Any final words?
We’re just at the beginning of what is to come. We strongly believe that the cryptocurrency industry is in the best shape it’s ever been. Utility and usage are both improving rapidly and institutional interest is getting stronger. All these trends will result in a return of a full-on bull market in 2020 and new all-time-highs.