It’s an average weekday evening in London, besides, maybe, the boiling +27 outside that hit the record for the warmest day since April of 1841. The whole city stands in traffic (thanks to the constant tube issues) and terrace pubs are packed with crowds of joyful folks.
Dozens of people from businessmen sporting perfectly tailored suits to developers leading their way to yet another Waves Europe meet-up are hiding in the cold of Regents Park. Only in 2 years a local Russian blockchain startup will become the leading, most profitable company in crypto world & continue its growth in the Western world.
Alexander (Sasha – for the community) Ivanov is in his thirties, having PHD in Physics from Moscow State University & Leipzig University under the belt, he kick-starts his career in support development for an FX trader platform to later move to COINMAT – the first service and a gateway to buying cryptocurrency with VISA or Mastercard.
Though the idea itself was successful, he realized it was too small to capture the new grandeur monstrosity that was crypto revolution and in 2016 the Waves platform has been born. Despite the crypto-correction last December, WAVES current market cap exceeds $250 millions , together with 29 000 BTC that were collected during ICO 2 years ago, helps the team finalize their proper vision for the future of finance.
I met with Sasha before his speech at his first meet-up in London, the new series of PR activities he does to help the international community grow.
AP: Last December you launched the Waves Lab blockchain accelerator, that’s supposed to help start-ups … Do you usually get many applications? How do you assess the level of new incoming projects? These are the people who each come with an MVP, insane idea or a working business. How do you see Waves Lab in a year?
AI: We started this quite recently. It’s a part of Waves, that deals solely with the start-ups, and a more advanced project. As far as I know, right now there are about 300 applications that have been submitted.
AP: 300, really ?! Sounds insane!
AI: Yes. Well, not all of them are good, obviously. I mean, generally speaking, not just among startups, but only 1 out of 10 becomes successful, then 1 out of 10 manages to make some money and then, only 1 out of those 10 will succeed enough to start growing a capital. Of course, there are a lot of absolutely insane ideas out here, but it should still be done, as this is how it’s always been – you search through a haystack to find the needle. Therefore it has to be done and we will continue doing it to find interesting projects and help them use Waves technology, including making ICO on WAVES. The market level here, estimatedly, is very diverse, because people try using blockchain for their projects that have nothing to do with blockchain itself. There is a lot of noise, but you can actually find something decent.
AP: I know from experience how difficult it is to try and explain to regulators the technology of blockchain and cryptocurrency in a nutshell. If we talk business, does the business community, who are far enough (let’s put it that way) from blockchain, crypto and DLT always understand Waves? What difficulties do you encounter when communicating with regulators, businesses, banks and all sorts of other structures?
AI: Yes, well noted. The main problem here is understanding or lack thereof, which is basically the main obstacle between the blockchain and its implementation everywhere. Big businesses don’t really understand public institution ways and public institutions are trying to handle it the only way they know – by creating committees and working groups. Though, it’s getting better. I think the years of 2018-2019 will be a turning point for everyone to finally understand and start implementing such projects, which is sort of what we are starting to work on with different large structures right now, both with big businesses and in the public sector. Those are the projects related to distributed registry technology. Blockchain can significantly change the situation, I mean, it will most probably not fix all the problems as the blockchain itself has technical issues to be fixed, but it is a major step in the right direction. This step has to happen soon and I believe it will. This system, which is now centralized, will be decentralized, and frankly, this is our main focus for the 2018 – launching projects related to the use of blockchain technology within the registries on the ministry and individual sectoral decisions level.
AP: I am familiar with your Georgian colleagues from the VISO project, who are creating a payment terminal. We met at the Warsaw conference in December of last year. How is that project going, did it get government support or is it still in a pilot phase being served as an eye candy?
AI: I think this is still a pilot project. They have ICO, they made some money, don’t remember how much, about a million dollars, I think. We did not help them really, and probably marketing competence wasn’t that strong. To be frank, they’ve had this product for a long time now. This is one of the largest Russian companies to work with payment terminals. Recently they added cryptocurrency and I am sure that VISO as well as similar projects will be launched, because now it will all be integrated into the common payment systems. I bet we’ll be able to pay with crypto in stores relatively soon just like it is already available in many European countries.
AP: Yes, indeed.
AI: And because VISO is a normal project, it may be better, it may be worse but has a big potential and it will work.
AP: You used to mention in your interviews quite often, that WAVES should become a gateway for cryptocurrency of all the money around the world. Do you have any current plans to integrate with fintech or near-bank services and is it possible to obtain crypto licenses or a banking license like Revolut did in Lithuania?
AI: I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan of the license idea, I‘d like to stay more in the field of software development, and search for partnerships with companies who already have licenses including Revolut. It is quite interesting, in principle, but still, we are more focused on the development of ICO-technologies and system integration.
AP: All that said, do you see the further Waves developing more as an ecosystem player, a developer or a fintech integrator? Altogether, what is the global vision for Waves in the next two years?
AI: First of all, Waves is a blockchain solutions developer, moreover, now we are pushing a project connected with the launch of the blockchain solutions integrator. Therefore, if the main focus is on the technology then the first concern will be integration. Everything else is subordinate to these goals, like marketing units that help people, let’s say, create ICO-projects – this we also have. But this is not our main focus, because we still gravitate more towards technology.
AP: And the last two questions. Do you work with or have you received proposals from various European regulators/countries, perhaps Gibraltar or Malta? As you know well, Malta, for example, has recently managed to lure in Binance and other crypto startups. Have you received such proposals or are you considering something similar? If it’s not a secret, of course.
AI: We have just created a setup in Switzerland and are working very closely with representatives of the local crypto ecosystem. Moreover, now we have an association, that will launch in accordance with the ICO-companies conduction standards. Will we land any exchanges or solutions in Malta like Binance or anywhere else? Perhaps, yes, there are additional projects that could be landed somewhere. Generally speaking, any innovative jurisdictions are of interest to us. Furthermore, Waves has a decentralized exchange. Regulators are yet to reach it (at the moment they are dealing with centralized ones), but I think that sometime later we will become a little proactive and try to land it somewhere somehow. You can say Malta, but we are also looking into Japan and other interesting options.
AP: Last question. Waves blockchain recently launched their first lottery. Everybody’s talking about how casinos and the gambling industry can make a fortune of such technology. Which verticals and ways of practical application do you consider the most groundbreaking, promising and effective for Waves?
AI: There are many interesting areas. I would highlight gaming, not even gambling but gaming. it’s the traditional game industry we are talking about like optimization of game items, when as a player, for example, you can sell, or exchange an item from Counter-Strike to an item from another game. Such projects exist, with only a few successful ones so far, but it will happen. I think this market for game artefacts will completely move to blockchain and Waves will be just the right thing to use as a helper as we have a built-in centralized exchange that carries out transactions and we are focused on productivity, the number of contacts per second and convenience. So, right now, Waves offers the most scalable solutions on the market.
Sasha finished talking and ran on stage to present the vision and new development features of his precious child. There were lots of rumours going around about fake decentralized exchanges, slow progress and lack of funds for Waves. But the crypto ecosystem is not a glamorous concept, especially when you’ve settled your business in Moscow, pretty much trying to balance on the blade of a double edge sword.
The official part is over.
Just like the real rockstars of a new era, they look a bit tired but ready to meet in Vienna in just a week to focus more on regulations of the cryptocurrency legal aspects.
Exiting the building, I saw no lambos or limousines, nor did I hear private jets throttling the European sky for their team.