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CryptoSlate recently had the opportunity to chat with Celsius Network CEO Alex Mashinsky. Mashinsky is a serial entrepreneur and founder of seven NYC based startups, having raised over $1 billion and exiting over $3 billion.
Celsius was recently in the news for having surpassed more than $4 billion in crypto loans — a 93 percent increase from the $2.2 billion at the beginning of 2019.
In our interview with Alex, we discussed why he built Celsius, the risks of using crypto lending platforms, the challenges of building an app for crypto users, and why Mashinsky believes Bitcoin will not be the winning blockchain.
What is your professional background and how/when did you get into crypto?
Alex Mashinsky (AM): Serial founder of 8 NYC based companies, raised over $1B and had $3B in exists including 2 unicorns.
Tell us about why you decided to start Celsius? What is the mission?
AM: All roads lead to Decentralization, Celsius was created to enable people to Unbank themselves and deposit their money with someone who is acting in their best interest.
Who is the typical Celsius customer?
AM: From the US or Europe, has at least $20k worth of Crypto and is a HODLer.
Where is your team located and why did you choose that jurisdiction?
AM: We have offices in London, New York, Tel Aviv and Belgrade. This is where we found the best people to build this project.
What are some of Celsius’ notable achievements or milestones?
AM: Celsius Network created the Interest income category for digital currencies. We pay up to 11% interest on 25 crypto assets by issuing loans and charging interest. We give our depositors 80% of what we make. We did over $4.25B in loans in less than two years and have 56,000 users worldwide.
What are the benefits of using Celsius as opposed to other crypto lending platforms?
AM: Celsius is focused on bringing the next 100m users into crypto by paying them up to 8X more than banks do. Most of our competitors look and feel just like another bank. They do not share with depositors almost any of their income as it is all destined to their shareholders.
Are there any risks when using crypto lending platforms?
AM: Yes, there are many risks the question is who do you trust to manage all these risks for you, you can do nothing and earn nothing, lend yourself and manage all the risk and keep 100% or outsource to Celsius and have 65 people work for you to manage risk and keep 80% of the income we generate on your coins.
What can you tell us about the Celsius product roadmap? What upcoming features are you most excited about rolling out?
AM: We are really excited about our soon to be available ability to take dollar deposits around the world and enabling borrowers to borrow any digital asset against any deposit.
What are the biggest challenges of building a crypto lending platform for crypto users?
AM: The biggest challenge is how you grow the community and how you continue to act in their best interests. Most services start with a good pitch but then add fees and change the mission to make more money. Celsius has never charged a single depositor any fees. We don’t plan to start either. Our other big challenge is making sure we take as little counterparty risk as possible, our job #1 is to return more coins to each depositor than they gave us.
What other projects and/or blockchain developments are you most excited about?
AM: I love Ethereum as a platform and love the DeFi services build on top of it. I also Like EOS as a Blockchain rails solution.
Do you have any blockchain and/or crypto predictions for 2020 and beyond?
AM: We have too many Blockchains and not enough users, too much volatility and not enough utility, in 2020 we will see the winners being separated from the losers in this industry.
What are the biggest obstacles for the mainstream adoption of crypto?
AM: Most of the solutions we provide today are not applicable or relevant to the 7.5B people on this planet. We need the Netscape moment and a killer app that looks and feels like apps we use today but runs on the blockchain rails everyone is working on. I can tell you that Interest Income on deposits is something 7.5B people do need and that is why we are focused on this as a killer DAPP.
How important is the store of value narrative for crypto adoption and do crypto lending platforms help address that?
AM: Today the main function and value of Bitcoin comes from being the Store of value. Celsius enables users to earn a yield on top of BTC with small risk. We also enable stable coins pegged to six different FIAT currencies to earn up to 10% in interest income.
What is your most controversial opinion relating to blockchain and/or cryptocurrency?
AM: That the winning Blockchain is not BTC and that it has not yet been invented…
Since you believe Bitcoin will not be the winning blockchain, what will be the characteristics of the winning blockchain?
AM: I believe Bitcoin will be one of the winners and definitely be a long term store of value but it will not be the Blockchain that will get mass adoption of several billion people because of its legacy and speed issues. The winning blockchain will need to address the financial needs of 7B people on the planet. It will need to be fast and secure and win the trust of most of the world population.
For more information:Learn more about Celsius Network Learn more about Alex Mashinsky Calculate how much Bitcoin or Ethereum you could earn from Celsius Network