During the Crypto Coinference 2019 held in early November in Milan, The Cryptonomist had the opportunity to interview Wirex co-founder Georgy Sokolov.
Georgy, what are the Wirex stablecoins?
“They are fiat stablecoins with collateral held in segregated accounts in bank level institutions as required by e-money regulations because we are a e-money company. They are ready technologically on the Stellar blockchain and we are in the final stages of approval with the regulators. We want them to be launched as regulated stablecoins from day one, not like some other project out there on the market that is launching and waiting to be hit for doing something wrong”.
When will they be available on the market?
“We are hoping still this year but I have a feeling that it might slip into next year”.
How many will there be?
“Overall at the moment we’re looking at 26, we probably won’t do all of them at the same time because it just makes no sense. We have to see what the demand is there for, consequently, the first batch would probably be like 7/8 or 10 and the key currencies that you have will be: euro, GBP.”
Will the regulators obstruct or restrict the adoption of cryptocurrencies?
“It’s a good question and I think there’s a bit of both. If you wanted the ecosystem to develop on its own it will probably develop faster but they would probably not reach the masses as much as it could do with the regulators. On the other hand, regulators are not there to harm. They are here to help end-users, protect them from evil players, bring more trust into the system, and eventually all this will help the company to be strong and patient enough and willing to work with regulators to have the right systems in place.
We see regulation as a tool and we’re moving towards regulators. We don’t want crypto to remain a narrow issue. We want to reach a wide mass adoption and for that, one way or another, we need to work with regulators”.
Are the banks entering this sector?
“Some of them, probably every big and medium bank, has at least the division looking into blockchain. Some are looking deeper into it, but since the technology itself is quite breakthrough, banks will want to use it”.
Do you think the banks are just interested in blockchain, or even in cryptocurrencies?
“Cryptocurrencies are one of the applications of blockchain, the financial application. And banks are in the financial industry, so it’s definitely something for them to be aware of. They may not use them, they may eventually opt out of it, but only time will show how quickly banks adopt them or not. I would lie if I said I knew what will happen in 5 years. We can make our forecasts and we can try to build the future”.
When will we all use cryptocurrencies?
“I had a happy moment on the stage today when I asked how many people knew about Wirex and how many people used the cards, and at least half of the people in the audience do, so for us it’s a great sign.
My mum probably is not going to use it in the near future, although I could help her, but not everyone has children that can help, so it’s difficult. It takes time for new technologies, but this technology is growing, so maybe in 5 or 10 years from now will will have much more adoption”.
What do you think about Libra?
“They have certainly brought this space into a spotlight: whether it’s good or not, time will tell. For now it probably resulted in regulators becoming a little bit more worried and maybe a little bit more careful. Maybe our stablecoins were a little bit delayed because of that.
The main reason why regulators are cautious about Libra is because it is based on a basket of currencies, so for each individual Central Bank it is a reason to consider it a little bit of a threat to their own currency.
I think that they should be more friendly to those who are more careful when choosing the right project from the wrong project, but overall I can only see benefits for the states from using stablecoins rather than cash, for example. Anything can be said about bitcoin or crypto, like being used for Darknet transactions, but it is a lot more transparent than cash, especially when issued by regulated institution”.