Alexander Pochinkov, VP of Engineering, on creating a digital financial system that works for everyone
Everyone nowadays seems to be interested in digital assets, particularly in their most famous example, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. It is understandable, as they are increasingly becoming a part of our lives. The news is full of them and whole states are now considering using them as legal currency. But the questions surrounding them, at least for the ordinary user, are more than the answers. Are they stable? Are they safe? Are they really the future? How can one benefit from them? How can they be used? What can one buy with them? What are they, actually?
The short answer to all these questions is that, future belongs to digital assets as they are the newest and most effective way to give power to the ordinary people. They allow small-time users and investors to get real freedom in managing their finances, to earn wisely and to secure their future; to transform their lives without the influence, burden or mediation of any large corporation. Modern digital finances have made it possible.
The sea of opportunities for people who master the potential of digital currencies is literally endless, but only if one is aware of how to navigate in it. And this sea is still largely unmapped and unknown.
To make the best of the burgeoning digital assets field one needs a trusted partner, like Nexo.
Nexo is an amazing organisation: a Bulgarian company that risked and was visionary enough to recognise the opportunity in the global shift towards digital assets. As a result, it is now among the world leaders in digital assets management.
The story of its success is short but impressive.
Nexo was established in 2018, when it created its first revolutionary products and set the foundation of a whole new industry: the ability for one to use the value of their crypto without selling it. Today, Nexo offers its own product – the first crypto credit card in the world, and a digital assets exchange. Its greater ambition is to build the bank of tomorrow, by bridging traditional and digital assets.
Its results are telling: the company operates in more than 200 jurisdictions and has already processed transactions exceeding $30 billion in over 60 digital and fiat currencies. Over 2 million investors use Nexo, which has distributed more than $30 million in dividends.
Nexo is EU licensed and regulated. It is a member of the leading fin-tech, blockchain, crypto and business associations in Bulgaria and the world. It partners with crypto businesses, OTC trade bureaux, crypto funds and blockchain companies from the global Top 10.
Are you still mystified by digital assets and the opportunities they give to ordinary people?
Alexander Pochinkov, the VP of Nexo's engineering team, is eager to shed more light on the matter. As one of the original group of crypto enthusiasts who created Nexo, he was instrumental in building the company's engineering team. He has over 20 years of experience in software development for a number of industries: media, fin-tech, e-commerce, and science, and was an active participant in some of Bulgaria's biggest web projects as early as the late 1990s.
How did Nexo, a Bulgarian company, become one of the world’s leaders in digital assets management?
When we started out in 2018, there were only two options – you could either hold your crypto, or you could sell it. We asked ourselves: "How can I use my crypto without selling it because I believe in its potential?" Thanks to many sleepless nights and a lot of shared effort, we created our unique products which allow people to get liquidity on their assets without hitting the sell button. Millions of people can harness the power of their crypto now.
Most importantly, we achieved all that from Bulgaria, with Bulgarian experts. What used to be a small team of twenty is now an ever-expanding, vibrant family of more than 300 people. A lot of us have come back from abroad to join Nexo. The truth is, we believe that Bulgaria has everything to be a world-class tech leader. When you work on a global scale, the only thing that matters is your professionalism and your will to push forward, and stay ahead.
What is the reason for your success?
There are no cheat codes on how to achieve success. It is both a strictly individual journey and a shared one. To me, this is the essence of our teamwork. Each of us expects the best from the people around. We rely on one another, but we also push one another to be better and learn from one another – a classic startup family. Our culture is result-driven and detail oriented. This is the only way to be certain you are making the right decisions. When we share our triumphs at the end of the day, we know that we have come a long way and we have done it together. I promise you – nothing compares to the fulfilment you get from knowing that what you create, here and now, changes millions of lives around the world.
What should we know about digital assets?
If the evolution of money throughout the centuries has taught us anything, it is that money is not a static entity. It is an ever-evolving technology. The Mesopotamian shekel, the first known precursor of coins, was essentially nothing more than a unit of weight. Even before it, people used to trade with shells and beads. Gold coins, bank notes, credit cards have all changed our perception of value. Bitcoin is simply the latest step in our development as a society.
With cryptocurrencies we are writing on the last page of financial history. Crypto was invented by the people for the people with the intention of putting back in our hands control over our own money. Now, more than ever, we see ordinary people operating with complex financial terms and mechanisms thanks to that.
What is more, bitcoin is a limited-supply, completely deflationary currency which has proved that the only way forward is up. The price of bitcoin has gone up from $1 in 2011 to the staggering $65,607 when it hit an all-time high in 2021. Crypto is no longer an innovation, but the fastest growing industry in the world. Cryptocurrencies are paving the way to a truly democratic financial system which serves everyone, not just the select few. With crypto, it's your money, it's your rules.
What are the main trends in this field?
Crypto may be a young industry of just 13 years, but its market cap already breaks 2.5 trillion dollars. This is because it never stops evolving. Today we are on the verge of an Ethereum 2.0 upgrade which will make the network more scalable, more secure and more sustainable for everyone. Adoption of blockchain solutions has grown so far that it is also effecting change in other industries. The NFT revolution has provided the missing piece to the puzzle of digital art. NFTs have solved the problems of ownership, authenticity and uniqueness in the digital world. And just this month, on 20 October, the first bitcoin ETF (exchange-traded fund) made its debut on an American stock exchange. Can you imagine how far the industry has gone in just over a decade?
The pursuit to provide better, more efficient services to the users is what keeps pushing the industry forward. This intent is precisely what led to one of our most significant accomplishments this year. In September 2021, Nexo became the first crypto lender to publicly open its books through an independent, real-time audit in partnership with the leading US accounting firm Armanino LLP – one of the 25 largest public accounting firms in the US, thus setting a transparency benchmark for the rest of the industry to follow. The call for transparency is coming just at the right time, nurturing customer trust and allowing more investors to come on board and adopt cryptocurrencies.
What is their future?
It may be a cliche but the future is now. Earlier this year, El Salvador made the news by officially adopting bitcoin as a legal tender. It is setting an example for other governments to follow. People need to realise what a spectacular time we are witnessing. Both countries and private companies are embracing cryptocurrencies, a US exchange-traded fund has made its official debut.
The change is here and it is here to stay.
As both small and big investors become more familiar with blockchain technologies, the clients' needs also keep changing. The successful approach is to always listen to your users. At Nexo we have humanised finance – we have brought financial mechanisms closer to the people by creating products that serve their individual requirements. Empathy is the only way in which you can remain relevant to people's needs. Our users recognise that. The Nexo token today is 1000% above what it used to be just one year ago. There is no greater inspiration than seeing how one idea which started as a shared dream has evolved into a life-changing solution which helps millions of people.
Are they going to become the new normal and why?
Cryptocurrencies are quickly becoming the new normal thanks to a rich variety of products which help users to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to manage their financial future. We observe all that first-hand. In just seven months the assets we manage at Nexo have increased by $10 billion. In just over three years, we have processed transactions for over $30 billion.
People are quick to recognise the benefits of a completely deflationary system which is equally open to everyone, no matter their background. Even people with no previous experience in technology can learn how to use our products quickly based on their intuition. So many personal success stories have originated at Nexo. Both pensioners and university students have become millionaires by using our services. Our own colleagues have reinvented their lives. The financial future does nor belong to a small group of business professionals. It should belong to everyone.
As the founder of Nexo's engineering team, what are the greatest challenges that you faced?
In the world of technology we come across new challenges every day, but ultimately they inspire us to evolve and to find out-of-the-box solutions. You can't stay ahead in the fastest developing industry if you stop moving. I would say that opportunities is a better word than challenges.
The opportunities are plenty. Digitalisation can help us open a new page of history in which social equality is more than just a concept. It is our responsibility to provide an alternative to people who seek financial independence.
To me it is of significant importance that we achieve everything from our own country, from Bulgaria. Each of our colleagues has dealt with their own set of challenges. Coming from a small country which has inherited many years of financial commotion born under different political regimes, we are in many ways the underdogs of Europe. But this has taught us a specific kind of empathy. It has helped us feel the need for a financial system which works for everyone. Together we prove that we have everything we need in Bulgaria to lead on a global scale. The greatest challenge will be to make other people recognise the wealth of opportunities that Bulgaria has to offer.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Having the right environment is crucial to unlock your full potential. When you care deeply about what you do and you put a lot of care into it, this motivates people around you and helps them be better too. As the founder of our engineering team, finding the right approach to people has always been of prime importance to me. To me, the key words to describe what we do at Nexo are care, attention, persistence and grit. I say that our team feels like a family precisely because of the trust we put in each other. Even if you face a challenge, knowing exactly where you are going and where you are coming from can help you overcome it. I credit our shared vision and common purpose for helping us stay on the right track to success.
Tell us more about your team. How are your people responsible for Nexo's success?
In the space of three years our team brought together like-minded people who have built a real community. When I celebrate our victories, I know that they are shared with the right people.
I believe that our culture is one of the biggest factors behind our success. It is built entirely around the people, because of the realisation that each and every one of us matters. It is not enough to be a top-notch expert in your field. You need to have the desire to forge ahead. The products we create, here and now, change the lives of millions of people around the world for the better and this propels us even further. Success does not come easily. It is the result of blood, sweat and tears. But knowing that your work matters and you truly make a difference is the most powerful motivator of all.