Interview Series: Liza Aizupiete, Managing Director of Fintelum
Liza Aizupiete is the Managing Director at Fintelum, a European-based token launch (ICO and STO) platform. Liza has extensive experience in traditional fund management, and is also an experienced blockchain entrepreneur, having successfully launched and raised capital (ICO) for Globitex where she was a Co-Founder and Managing Director.
RS: You’ve recently launched a company called Fintelum, can you tell us a bit more about what Fintelum does and what markets it serves.
LA: Fintelum services can be summarised as follows:
– Primary token issuance
– KYC/AML compliance
– Smart contracts (utility and security tokens)
– Crypto funds co-custody
– Token transfer agency
– Corporate actions
– Secondary token OTC exchange desk
At Fintelum, we built a token launch platform to cater to token issuers in carrying out technically sound and compliant ICO/STO token sales. Fintelum is geared to provide services on the European soil for global clientele. The main services are compliance, crypto funds co-custody, and smart contracts. For security token industry, Fintelum serves as a token ownership transfer agent, ensuring secondary market by token OTC desk and provides ongoing blockchain-based corporate action services, such as voting, dividends and announcements.
RS: How does Fintelum differ from other token issuance companies?
LA: Fintelum’s unique selling points are:
– Integrated crypto multisig wallet services and funds co-custody
– Token transfer agency and OTC exchange desk
– Comprehensive on demand reporting
Fintelum was founded in 2018 and subsequently licensed by the Estonian FIU to provide services for crypto industry in compliance with EU AML laws. The main differentiators lie within the benefits Fintelum clients can have from a longtime team with experience in finance and building and running our own regulated cryptocurrency exchange.
For one, Fintelum features multi-currency cold/hot wallet management system with co-custodianship for added reliability. Issuers can be reassured that all technical, blockchain and compliance related work will be carried out with utmost care. For that we have built a comprehensive backoffice, where issuers can safely navigate and control their fundraise. From creating campaigns and programs to managing investor data and affiliates.
Another differentiator is our Ethereum based security token STO implementation and subsequent OTC desk. Fintelum is able to act as a token transfer agent, maintaining blockchain based capitalisation tables or shareholder registry for companies or other tokenised assets. We are creating unprecedented availability for eligible (whitelisted) peers to exchange both security and utility tokens.
For utility token, Fintelum differentiates with our systematic approach in KYC/AML compliance. There, after a successful fundraise, the issuers can rely on a comprehensive reporting system. All data collected and verified can be made available to banks and other financial institutions that would otherwise be unable to service a non-compliant enterprise. In fact we have several banks and payment service providers that can offer fiat services to Fintelum clients.
On the whole, Fintelum services pack-in some of the most crucial features to successfully launch a crypto fundraise. The issuers will still need to have their own local legal counsel and have a clear idea of their own marketing strategy, whereas Fintelum will do the rest. It is safe to say that Fintelum service package is the most comprehensive available on the market.
RS: You have extensive experience in fintech and funds, what reasons did you choose to start a token issuance company instead of some other type of crypto service or business?
LA: In short:
– Companies sought our know-how
– Understanding of the industry and technology
– Anticipation of the global change in the capital markets
After having successfully completed a EUR 10 million ICO fundraise, for our former company, several projects approached us to learn how crypto crowdfunding works. And as compliance and AML took precedence over anonymous crypto donations, we thought it natural to expand on our experience and institutional understanding how the capital markets will likely evolve. ICOs or utility tokens already made a historical mark on capital markets industry. Likewise, STOs or security tokens will continue reshaping capital markets and we are excited to precipitate this change with our new business.
RS: You previously did an ICO with your former company, Globitex, what did you learn from that ICO that can help token issuers on the Fintelum platform?
LA: Our advice:
– Find the right partners
– Work with professionals
– Grow your community
Our major takeaways from running an ICO was that it matters a lot at what stage your company is, what shareholders and partners you have and which service providers you choose for your fundraiser. You may have a wonderful idea, technically impeccable product. But you need professional service providers that will do everything else for your fundraise to actually happen.
We were very lucky with ours. We managed to raise EUR 10 million and closed our public sale in a matter of 24 hours. Not discounting the timing when we ran our campaign, it is also important to have a clear idea of whom you want to target as your investors and/or product users – your community. Because an ICO as well as STO campaign works inadvertently as a marketing campaign for your current or future product or service. And you need to invest the time and effort to reach out to your community, to show the world that your product exists and is worth investing in.
It is worth noting that STOs make more legal sense, but much less retail buzz. The times of raising hundreds of millions for a white paper ideas with no hard cap are definitely gone. But ICOs are not dead. I still anticipate some major utility tokens to be released this and next year. STOs on the other hand can work beautifully under crowdfunding law exceptions up to EUR 5-8 million, and above – according to the Prospectus Regulation (in July 2019 replacing the Directive) in Europe.
For the ICOs a fixed and guaranteed hard cap will add to the success and popularity of the fundraiser. With STOs, hard cap is replaced by clear legal rights and expectations.
RS: What types of companies do you think are best suited to launch an STO?
LA: In my view:
– Small or medium working businesses, ideally with revenue streams
– Global fund management companies with existing subscribers (investors)
– Real estate or financing projects with attractive interest rate offer
– Alternative energy projects with eco impact and good dividend prospect
– Gaming and sports with large retail following
Today, the potential buyer of an STO will need to overcome burdensome KYC/AML profiling process to be compliant with the sales of a security. And depending on the jurisdiction and the project offering, the pain levels may vary. But it is clear that investing in an STO or ICO today is much more complicated than just a year ago would have been, contributing towards a development of a utility token project. This is why the STO must be attractive enough an offer for the pain of investing. Indeed, for equity or debt tokens, an STO issuer needs to have a great proposition on the table to be able to attract investment.
RS: What types of companies would you personally like to see launch in the cryptocurrency space to help the industry as a whole reach wider adoption?
LA: I’d bet on:
– Sports and games
– Virtual reality
At Fintelum, we get disproportionally more enquires from real-estate related companies than from any other sectors. This is presently the case. And it may be due to the fact that real estate is a hard asset. Like commodities, precious metals, real estate is something people understand. Investing in complex equity schemes may require more sophistication and/or risk appetite. Whereas I would personally like to see utility tokens continue to persist. We have come across several great ideas. But the fear of the present downmarket poses resistance and unwillingness from the managers to delve into the process of launching a token.
The three categories, namely sports/games, VR and food industries are most appropriate for ICO type of fundraise, because of the loyal retail client base they all either have or have the potential of commanding. Finance as a sector has already been done, with caveats. It brought about institutional interests, and serious price volatility as a result. But, by tapping into the mass market though either of these industries, we may be able to sustain a steady and solid adoption rate.
RS: You’ve been a female entrepreneur in the cryptocurrency space for over three years, can you tell us about any benefits or challenges being female in a male-dominated field may have brought?
LA: I was born in Latvia and educated in Switzerland. According to Open Knowledge report by the World Bank, six economies—Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Sweden and topping-off with Latvia —score 100 in the Women, Business and the Law index, meaning they give women and men equal legal rights in the measured areas, whereas Switzerland scores just marginally below at 97.50. In fact Latvia has the highest proportion of female executives in the entire EU, according to the latest EuroStat survey.
This shows that generally women should not be experiencing any difference or special challenges in the developed world economies. And it is no different in the nascent crypto space. Although the industry is predominantly male, the rules are the same for both genders. Hence, I have not felt particular challenges being a female entrepreneur. Indeed, the only challenges are mostly self imposed. This is because, by some gender bias, females tend to be more critical, especially of themselves. So, if anything, the challenges are self inflicted and are completely unrelated to external factors.
RS: Can you describe briefly what you think the next two years looks like for ICOs and STOs.
LA: The coming years will be a slow recovery from the ICO exuberance that culminated in the years 2017-18. It will be a recovery and maturing of the cryptocurrency and crypto assets industry, where STO will have an important place, setting precedents across jurisdictions.
ICOs had reached unprecedented 10-fold returns on investment, raising in excess of USD 20 billion in funding, in the years combined. The crypto fundraising will continue, but it will happen in a more professional way; more law-abiding manner; hopefully, innovative at the same time.
It would be unfortunate, if the law makers decided that we don’t actually need innovation, and that the existing system is good enough as it is. My hope is that competition will increase, and the barriers of entry will not be disproportionally raised. So the new entrants and innovators can have a chance of their lifetime to actually make the word a better place.
RS: Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers?
LA: To inaugurate the launch of Fintelum services, I invite potential token issuers to take part in our Easter arrangement. From 21 March to 21 April 2019, Fintelum will wave half the onboarding fee to all eligible token issuers who come through during this time.
Contact Fintelum here to launch your compliant ICO or STO token sale.
In addition, to energetic self-starters, using the hashtag #TokeniseYourAssets in your social media will help land an internship and work opportunity with Fintelum.
Contact Fintelum at email@example.com for more information.
Link to the original interview: https://www.securities.io/interview-series-liza-aizupiete-managing-director-of-fintelum/