Sean: Let's ask some questions. Hey, Kris, how are you doing? Are you in San Francisco?
Kris: I'm in Hong Kong. It’s just the game changing feature of zoom. By the way, zoom, guys. I mean, this is amazing. We have almost 700 people right now tuning in and it kind of works. You could even play our ad. It was a bit laggy but still working. It's incredible technology. Sean, you're killing it with your background.
Guys, I think just to kick it off, right. I mean, everybody's obviously concerned about the COVID19 and the impact on Crypto.com’s business. I think we should all just worry about, you know, our friends, our own and our family's personal safety and health at this moment. Crypto.com as a business is doing extremely well.
In fact, you know, volatility is, generally speaking, great for us. Obviously, we prefer if it's in the other direction, right. But even when the market is not doing well, last week was our best week in terms of performance in the history of the company. So if you look in the last couple of months, we've been breaking records and continued the high growth rate. So if I look at December numbers and February numbers, we had like 2.5x growth. If you look at March is going to be probably 3 or 3.5x in terms of volume growth transactions coming to the platform. And it's, it's going tremendously well and when I look around, you know, if I turn on the TV and watch some news or read what's going on around the world, it's obviously all doom and gloom. So it's worth to spend a minute to try to understand why our platforms are so robust in this environment. And essentially there are three things to look at number one, we actually can work remotely indefinitely, and it has very minimal impact on our business. So Europe right now in the US is just going through the stuff that we've been doing late January and early February. In fact, we've made the announcement to our staff that we will be working remotely on January 25. So we are, you know, a little bit ahead of the rest of the world in terms of this curve.
Specifically, Crypto.com was extremely well prepared to make the shift because of the social unrest that was happening in Hong Kong last year. So we actually had the entire company already, you know, ready to flip the switch and go into full remote and it was seamless. There's obviously you know, there are advantages to being able to go to the office. And some of the projects are not moving as fast as we wish. But again, we can do it indefinitely and continue to run our business. So that's one important factor. The second and even more important one is that you know, we have no impact on retail, F&B, hospitality, travel companies, hotels, airlines, we don't have any physical world contact that requires us to contact our business. All of you guys can just sit on your couch at home and still play with the App which by the way, we see hint stats, there much more activity after the global working from home arrangement than before. And it puts us in a unique position. We've got a global business that runs entirely in the cloud. And last, cryptocurrency in general. I mean, Bitcoin was built for this type of environment, right?
I mean, we've got basically helicopter money right now, from all central bank's massive quantitative easing, which is debasing everybody. And that is the reason why Bitcoin was created during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, right? So, we've got all those three factors coming together, you know, we can work remotely for as long as is required to keep our keep safe. Our customers can safely use our platform. It's all in the cloud. And cryptocurrency in general has been built for this. So for all of you guys who are thinking you know, how is the platform for performing you know, you can just relax.
We are looking forward to our first profitable year this year on a group level basis. We are growing very strongly, and the business has never been in better shape. Obviously, when there's a global turmoil like this, you need to be ready for things to happen that you didn't anticipate. But I think we will just, you know, steadily, slowly, continue to improve our product, grow our user base, our team and invest in the areas that matter. I think as a company, we are really perfectly positioned to go through this process for this market downturn to emerge on the other side, as one of the strongest companies in the industry.
And I think this should be a general overview of the situation and the impact of COVID-19 on what we do. To end this on a positive note, I really believe that even if you've seen this, you know, half price action last week, crypto is going to bounce back fastest and hardest compared to any other asset class. So I'm still very bullish on crypto. And in terms of the broader environment, I want to give it some perspective.
We obviously take this very seriously what's happening and we took the lead, and we made sure that our teams were promoted very early on, we don't take any unnecessary risks. We pass through all unnecessary travel and we encourage everybody to do the same. In fact, I'm happy to see that some of the governments in Europe and the US are catching up to the right way of doing things.
It's much better than a month ago, but you know, things are going to recover faster than everybody expects. I certainly don't think this is the end of the world, I think that collectively we're going to go through this. I think we've got this. And you know, even in Hong Kong right now, everything is functioning. We've had the same stuff as US and European empty shelves in the market, and general market panic, things are going back to normal slowly. And I think that in two or three months, Europe and the US will be. Some of the countries are going to come back and we will manage this, we will go through this. So I think that's my general view. It’s not the end of the world. If anything, it's a funding opportunity.
MCO Visa Card Status
Sean: We launched in the UK and the cards just started to roll out there. But can you give the team an update on terms of what's exactly going on with Europe? And then we'll go into some of the other markets?
Kris: Sure, absolutely. So if you look at our card programmes for Europe, in anticipation of Brexit, those programmes are going to be run from two separate bins. And you know, you've got the GBP being for the UK, and Euro for the rest of the European markets, it’s the same provider, same setup. But in Europe, the Euro will take slightly longer. And you know, it's a metaphor of like two weeks, roughly maybe three weeks for us to finish setting it up country by country, and then shipping those cards out. My expectation is that we will finish the entire backlog for everybody who ordered cards in Europe at some point in April. So it's really close, we're getting there. And I'm very happy that we managed to ship the UK ones first.
Now, I think it's important to understand that, you know, we have to create these programmes on a country by country basis, this is how the processing platform that we use works. So we will probably go into the largest markets first, you know, the top five in EU, France and Italy, the usual suspects and then we gradually will add the smaller markets, but we should be done with everything in April. So it's really, really close. And we're super happy that we are shipping it out, in spite of everything that's going on with the global pandemic, and whatnot and you know, Europe is our largest market, super important product launch.
Sean: A question related to cards in Europe was also some of the hard limits. Any update on the progress there and trying to move some of those things forward?
Kris: So our focus is on basically shipping it out first, right, but we already submitted the higher limits to visa Europe. We're just waiting for approval. Again, it's about prioritisation. Right? So we are focusing on launching it first. And then very quickly, we'll be pushing for increasing limits. I don't think it's particularly controversial because there are other programmes in crypto that already got those higher limits approved. So I don't expect this to take long.
Sean: Sounds good. I'm gonna need to move relatively quickly. Can you give us an update on Canada?
Kris: We've got the issuer and it's moving forward nicely. I think if you go to the VISA website you can see actually both Canada and Australia, you can see our entities there. And you know we are going through the approval process with local visa officers for both markets.
Sean: Right So that covers Canada, Australia. How about Turkey and Russia, any developments there?
Kris: We don't have anything to share yet on this front but you know, when we have updates we will update. Both markets are very important to cryptocurrency and Crypto.com. But again, we need to secure local issuing partners, banking partners, and in some cases licences and then run those projects. So it's going to take a while but we’re working on it.
Sean: Sounds good. What happened in Thailand, can you give us an update on that?
Kris: There was one other company that was running a cryptocurrency programme on the same provider as us for Asia Pacific and they didn't follow the rules. So our issuing partner had to basically kill all the cards going into Thailand. They're in the process of securing a separate licence for the market. So once that is in place, we can resume the services there.
Sean: Not necessarily cards but we've opened up India so far to the app with the change of regulations there. There was a question about Malaysia as well. Any thoughts?
Kris: No, we don't have plans for opening up Malaysia at this moment. Again, it's about you know, local regulation and if we have any updates on this we can share at a later time.
You know, we always try to be compliant with other local laws, if there's no supportive environment for crypto, we're not going to barge in there, we'll wait for those local regulations to be set and relaxed. For India itself, there's no plan for cards for now. The vast utilities of the app are still there. But no cards for now.
Sean: Question that comes up from time to time about virtual cards. Can you give our position on virtual cards, please?
Kris: I think it's a useful feature, but it's nice to have. So again, we've got an entire ecosystem to build and we're always very conscious of, you know, prioritisation, so it doesn't move the needle for the whole company. So it's not on the roadmap at this moment.
Sean: We saw Apple Google Samsung Pay for the US. How does it for the other markets?
Kris: Apple approved our EU application for Apple Pay. So that should come shortly after we've got the cards out. The Asia Pacific is still in progress. So we're waiting for the necessary approvals. Again, the precedent has been set already in the US. So it's going to be relatively straightforward, although it may take some time.
Sean: A question that came in was about cards in South Korea and Japan although, the first part of South Korea were already able to provide but any thoughts on Japan?
Kris: So users in South Korea can order the cards now. Japan is one of the most conservative markets in terms of how long it takes to secure a local capability to issue the cards and deal with digital assets. I mean, for me, this is clearly a 2021 kind of project.
Sean: Gotcha. For those who are on the call and in the chat asking about different Asian markets, we'll cover them separately, we're not gonna go through every single one of them right now. I'm moving forward onto products.
Sean: Will there be a desktop version of the App? A mobile version of the Exchange?
Kris: We are taking it step by step, you can see that the exchange itself is improving, full responsive design, so you can use it on your mobile right now. And basically all the functionalities are getting a responsive version. That's the first step. The second step is going to move the exchange into the app. So you can have your custodial wallet and exchange in a single app in a slightly refreshed design. So that's our approach and then once we get this done, this is already a very chunky project. After we get this one done, then we can go back to the website and look at what kind of features that are currently mobile only can we add to the desktop experience. You know, in the end, you want to have full flexibility to use the products. If you prefer those on desktop - should be able to do on desktop. Again, it's just a question of hitting the high high priority items and shipping them first and then gradually working through it.
Sean: Now that we're launching in Europe, a lot of questions about localization of new languages.
Kris: This is actually a high priority for the 2nd quarter, which is starting in two weeks time. So basically, we'll cover all major languages, I'm sure that you guys are aware, but we've already heard quite a number of local community managers who will assist in this process. And again, we will start with the App and exchange, everything will be localised. Also local community channels in local languages, and now while we are testing this virtual meetup to see if it works, we can run these in local communities. And you know, eventually after the COVID situation is solved, we can run local meetups. So going local is a very high priority for Q2. It's actually quite a complex project. And it affects our release date. So we are preparing to do this properly. All work has already been done. You can expect to be able to use our products in your language. We're in the 2nd quarter.
Sean: I'm wondering about thoughts on an App refresh. Anything cooking there?
Kris: Yeah, absolutely. We've done a lot of design work and it's coming together nicely. So we are keen to shut it off at some point in April or May. And again, it's about making sure that the App looks familiar and feels great but delivers more value to the user quicker. So we hope you like it. It's coming soon.
Sean: How about stablecoins? One of the questions actually asked about a Euro stablecoin.
Kris: For this, actually there's not a stable coin in Europe that has a large market cap and whatnot. So no good options for Euro stable coins today. I think the most likely scenario is that we will complete our Electronic Money Institution Licence application, once we have the licence, we can just add Europe pairs across the board, or even accept euro and then you know, we could even create our own stable coin for years specifically, I think that will be the most conservative and the best approach for us to provide this type of value for our users. I don't see a quick way of doing it here.
Sean: A couple questions on Crypto Earn one, which is regarding the rates, are we going to be decreasing rates for stable coins? And then second of all, will we be able to reduce the minimum deposit for Crypto Earn?
Kris: So, it's actually a very good question. We need to observe how the market behaves. If you look at it in the broader financial services space right, there is no longer any cost of opportunity for people to move from dollars to stablecoins and put them into products like Earn. So we will see how much of the money is moving from the traditional like equity market into this type of thing. And if there's too much demand, then we will have to reduce the rates. But so far, it's okay. We don't have any immediate plans to cut it. We'll see how this evolves is always defined by supply and demand.
Sean: On the other side Crypto Credit, especially what we saw just recently, questions with regards to would be able to clear-out or pay off the loan with the collateral. Is that something that we're looking to develop?
Kris: Yeah, it's actually we looked into it, it's actually quite a complex feature to build right. So we will release it at some point in time but definitely not in Q2 because the roadmap is fully packed. So I think you know, for the time being, the easiest way to adjust to it is to just manage the collateral health manually and pay attention to it. But repayments with collateral may be at a later stage this year. It's definitely a useful feature and nice to have, it’s the return on developer time invested is just not there for us today.
Sean: One of the most eagerly anticipated, the third of January, your keys, your crypto, what's the latest on the noncustodial wallet?
Kris: Yeah, we're getting there. Again, I want to just clarify that a noncustodial wallet is going to be a separate App that you download. And you know, we will start with something simple, covering major coins, and then gradually add functionality around DeFi. It's a high priority project for us. And we've been working on this for a few quarters. So we're almost there. You should expect the release within Q2 as well.
Sean: Speaking of developments and steps, we're going to shift to the exchange and talk about the roadmap in terms of margin trading, and then further products like derivatives. How's that looking?
Kris: So we are still in beta for exchange. Our plan is to first release a new version of a matching engine that we're building. So we have a high performance matching engine before we add margin trading and lending. So it's coming soon, I would say probably April. That's about to go into the testing phase. So we've spent pretty much the entire Q1 working on this so you should be able to see your very first like MVP type functionality in April on exchange.
Sean: Great question coming out. It's both App and exchange related to withdrawals, reduction of minimums there as well as the trading minimums. Any update on that?
Kris: So our approach was to just release the most important convert to dust feature. So people are using it a lot so it relieves you a bit of the pain of having high and minimum trade sizes. The next step is to go to like one cent on the size of the trade in the app right, so we are working on this. Again, we actually can deprioritize this and decide to go with the MCO and CRO Dust Conversion first to provide more value to the users. We didn't forget about it. We will deploy it in due course. Our trading engine actually supports this. We're just going to make sure to properly curate on the website.
Sean: Developments for the exchange also new markets or more markets. The latest on U.S developments?
Kris: This is a complex process, because when you apply for a Money Transmitter License for all of the states, it's a complex process, but I would assume that we should be able to make an exchange available to U.S users, at some point in May. That's our current assessment.
Sean: Why is the exchange not listed on Coinmarketcap?
Kris: Actually we drive a lot of traffic from Coinmarketcap at our platform without it and if you look at the top 20 exchanges you probably only heard about one or two. So they have a real problem over there and we kind of see no point in doing this. And if you're interested in our current liquidity of the books and spread and volumes, just go to our exchange and check it out. It's improving every week, and we're committed to onboarding more institutions over the next months and years to make sure we've got the deepest liquidity and lowest spreads in the market. We don't want to play the same game as all the other exchanges started just making up some volume numbers, driving traffic to be placed higher on this ranking, it’s so virtual reality and that's not how we run the business.
Sean: Next step was just going back to exchange Dust Conversion we have for the App, are we going to add it for the exchange?
Kris: Again, those separate products will be added to the exchange as well. So again, it’s a function of when, and as we are building the entire ecosystem, the prioritisation is always the stuff that builds the biggest value for customers, right? So sometimes we just need to be more patient.
Sean: One big announcement yesterday was with regards to Bitgo and insurance. Insurance is a key thing for a lot of our customers. Can you give us an update on insurance and how that functions again?
Kris: Yeah, we try to have redundancy in all aspects of the business. So we have two cold storage providers, leading providers in the market one is Bitgo and one is Ledger Vault solution. They both have insurance coverage and we are working on a separate insurance policy covering Crypto.com specifically. So all together if we add these policies, we should have the largest coverage of any company in the market. But as I mentioned during the previous AMA, once you understand it these types of policies that are currently underwritten and it's across the globe affects all cryptocurrency players. They only work for very specific scenarios like you know, there's loss of keys, theft, or like some within the existing setup and that's where you get the payout. So, we do not really expect this insurance to be used in any shape or form anytime soon. You know, it gives people some sort of higher level of confidence.
I think you should be more looking at things like our cybersecurity certifications. We are leading the way on this front to keep your funds secure. You know, you should be looking at things like company growth, what kind of licences we are getting, what's the team like and that is more important and it should be given a higher score for reviewing different providers than the size of their insurance policies.
Insurance companies, generally speaking, are in the business of collecting money and not paying it out, right. But we are doing this because it's expected of us and we will have the largest coverage pretty soon. Again, do your own research right and understand the entire setup of the company and how we keep the funds secure rather than just relying on an insurance number.
Sean: For the U.S viewer, tax season was due to be April 15th and it has been pushed back to July 15th. But tax reporting in crypto has become quite a significant issue. Can you talk about our thoughts on that?
Kris: We are partnering with three solution providers that deal with this problem specifically and it's a complex thing to deal with. I mean, the sad truth is that you cannot avoid neither there are no taxes right? So you might as well just make the latter psyche more seamless and less painful, right. So we will announce it pretty soon who we are working with and so they provide very easy ways to import your Crypto.com data in a compliant way so you can generate all the reports so you may need to submit your taxes on time. At some point we'll probably consider making an acquisition in this space, depending on who's got the best product and whatnot. But it's just too complex for us to build.
Sean: Well, another one that has been on our roadmap for a while: the moon stopover, any updates on the moon stopover?
Kris: I'm of the view that this is probably not the right moment for the moon stopover announcement given where the market is.
So we're still working on this and we're putting all the infrastructure in place that is necessary for us to make the announcement that we have in mind. Please watch us patiently. We didn't forget about it and It'll come out eventually at the right moment.
Sean: How about a marketing update, when is “Time for Plan B” going to be everywhere?
Kris: Yeah, I mean, you got to look at what's happening around the world, right? I mean, running billboard advertising these days, not particularly effective when everybody's staying at home and you know, playing video games and studying on Zoom.
So we need to adjust our strategy and we've got some pretty cool ideas. And some of it you're going to see as early as April, on how to grow our user base. I mean, this is a tough time for everybody.
But, you know, an opportunity tends to lie right in the middle of difficulty, and that's the way we try to think about what's happening right now around the world and people's behaviours have changed dramatically.. And you will see a lot of this stuff coming up very soon. We've actually done some stuff already, we released, you know, the double cashback on Crypto.com Pay and you've got Mariana just mentioned, when you've got like grocery shopping can buy a gift card from a well known supermarket and get up to 20% off.
This is the kind of thing that we like to do, because it ties into the current situation, it helps people out. And it allows us to educate the users how to actually use our product and get value out of it. So this is what we like to do and we will continue to do this course on a bigger scale.
Sean: So Kris, we're going to transition to a little bit of a lightning round. These are going to be the questions that the folks who have used the Q&A function. We'll try to do a number of them but we're going to go as quickly as we can.
Is the monthly growth rate still around 20% - for Crypto.com App users?
Kris: So it varies month to month, but it's still in double digits. And then some KPIs are much more than that and for users specifically, it's still in double digits. So we're very happy with the growth rate because we announced 1 million users in September last year. So it's been a massive growth since then, probably announcing the next milestone, either 3 million or 5 million. We'll see how it goes. But so the platform is going very nicely. We're very happy with how the business is performing, especially in Q1 and every month is a record month for us. So I'm very, very pleased with how it's working.
It's quite funny because as a Founder, you know, my style is always something like - let's push out the next feature that is going to completely change the world and conquer the market. This is kind of my style, but what I've seen over the last 12 months is that these tiny incremental improvements, you know, add to something really incredible because they improve the product so dramatically. If you had 100 things individually they don't make a difference, but collectively makes Crypto.com much more useful and, you know, this kind of growth is robust and sustainable. So I'm quite happy with where we are.
Sean: How has The Syndicate been going in terms of your perception and what’s the intention in terms of the number of syndicate events coming forward?
Kris: Yeah, I think right now the calendar of doing one every two weeks works. We want to be more creative with different types of trading competitions in between, see what we can come up with that makes sense for the users and the platform. So far it has been great. I mean, we've got almost 3000 people participating now in The Syndicate events.
You know, by comparison, the largest platforms in the market, like Binance. If they run something like this, they will have 20,000 people participating, right? We just started this, right. So we'll just continue running these and hopefully we get to, like 10,000 participants at some point this year. And, you know, as the numbers grow, we'll have to play with the mechanics a little bit to make sure that this whole thing makes sense for our users, right? So yeah, I'm quite happy with how it goes so far
Sean: Are we going to add ETH pairs to the Exchange?
Sean: Are we gonna be able to have “Earn” in the Non-custodial wallet?
Kris: That's a DEFI product. There's going to be a slight difference there. And I'm sure you guys have seen the challenges of DEFI platforms over the last few weeks when the market dropped, there are people trying to abuse the systems and finding ways to benefit from it. So it is a complex, complex problem. We will attempt to provide as much value as you can as we can while giving you full control of your keys.
Sean: We had talked about DEFI in Singapore at the meetup there, but I don't think everyone heard it, can you kind of give the top line of the DEFI card concept?
Kris: It's actually quite simple, right? So you have a non-custodial wallet, and you connect your card to it. And then when you need to spend on the card, you just move funds from non-custodial to the card and spend it. So you've got kind of the best of both worlds.
Sean: Some folks had seen the Dev Update number eight for the Crypto.com Chain, just wanting to get your sense of that as well as any updates in progress towards releasing the Mainnet
So Mainnet is an important goal for this year. So you can see we've got you know, eight updates. The team is working constantly on building all the technology we need to go live. From this update. I think the most important thing is that we are giving people a sense of how we think about incentives for people who run the node once we go to the Mainnet page.
It’s a different approach, compared to Bitcoin where you know, every few years, you've got the Halving and there's this drop off, which creates reduction in supply coming to the market.
In our case, the way we approach this, we smooth the curve a little bit. So it's much more predictable for people who run the node to understand what's their ROI gonna be, you know, what's the cost for running nodes every month, and then how much they need to stake and what kind of ROI you're getting. And we also made it clear that running the node is going to be more attractive in terms of ROI than simply parking your money in the Earn function on the platform.
Sean: Sounds good. I think that's going to draw it to a close in terms of the lightning round in the questions.
Kris: Yeah, so first of all, again, thank you for joining. I didn't expect almost 700 people to join this so I think that's a great outcome. Apologies for the technical difficulties we’re trying to learn from this experiment and make sure that it runs more smoothly next time. We'd also appreciate any feedback from you guys, what can we do to make those punchy and faster and more interactive? But my general few words for you is this.
Look at this, what's happening around us as an opportunity because definitely, it's a once in a decade key opportunity to acquire some assets at the super depressed prices right? So plan for it and be ready where you know the markets hit the bottom to pull the trigger. That's one piece of advice.
The second advice is try not to get into this doom and gloom scenario because when once you turn on the TV, you think it's the end of the world. It is not that we will go through it.
The government's are reacting very strongly, which is good. You want this kind of overreaction. You want people to stay at home, you want people to stay safe and stop spreading this around. But make no mistake, there's like thousands of researchers around the world working 24/7 on finding a solution for a way to treat this so that it stops being a global lockdown right and I have a personal view that is perhaps optimistic. I think that the bottom is going to hit in at some point in Q2. By Q3 we're gonna see the light at the end of the tunnel, and then at least we can all go back to work and hopefully, you know, get it back to normal living where we try to avoid the recession, right?
Try to keep this perspective, we're going to get through this. And last, you know, we are very, very thankful for your support. Crypto.com as a platform has been growing tremendously and you know, one thing that gives me great comfort is that I look at the price action with institutional traders being liquidated on Bitmex a week ago, and a lot of big firms in the industry losing their shirts. But at the same time, I can see this huge inflow of fiat on the platform, people are buying the dip with full confidence, knowing and understanding that Bitcoin was made for this. This is the moment where cryptocurrency should shine right. So the confidence in the institutional side is definitely not there; it's a complete risk environment. But true “HODLERS” understand that there's an opportunity here and makes me feel pretty good about what we do.
So again, stay at home, stay safe and we're looking forward to catching up with you again with one of these virtual meetups very soon.