I had the pleasure of interviewing Arturs Ivanovs, founder of FIC Network, a blockchain infrastructure for the fixed income markets. Before launching FIC Network in 2016, Ivanovs was involved in fintech regulation in the European Union. He also serves as an adviser to Turing Funds, an exchange-traded fund of cryptocurrencies.
Can you tell us the story of how you got involved in the crypto markets?
The story begins in the late 2009, when I first discovered Bitcoin. I downloaded the first wallet client, and played around with it, successfully forgetting about this “rogue” money at the time until 2013. This was probably my biggest professional mistake in my life so far, which reminds me to never underestimate the power of innovative, seemingly crazy, ideas. I started following blockchain technology developments more extensively in 2014 and discovered that it is a great use case for the credit and bond markets. In 2015 I quit my job at a lobbying company in the Baltics, in 2016 I moved to New York City and started building what today is known as FIC Network.
Can you share five ways that regulation/regtech can help stabilize the crypto economy?
- Entrepreneurs need clear rules of engagement with new technology — how far can we push the regulatory boundaries? A lot of legacy legal frameworks are hard to apply to blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies, smart contracts.
- Retail regulatory layer is already pretty well established — exchanges need to comply with dozen regulations and obtain licenses in different jurisdictions. The capital markets layer is not that established yet which prevents more mature players to enter the cryptocurrency market with vehicles like Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).
- Self regulation is key for long term development of crypto economy. Crypto startups and developers need to come together to establish common guidelines before individual governments form their own isolated regulations.
- Currently, every regulatory body wants to regulate cryptocurrencies and assets within their own framework — for example, for SEC crypto assets are securities, IRS — a property, CFTC a commodity, FINCen a currency. For crypto economy to strive, we need clarity on how to approach different transactions and products.
- Unclear regulation creates friction. Clear regulation allows innovation.
What are the top concerns that crypto firms should be considering in order to have a competitive edge?
- Cryptocurrency and blockchain market is evolving in a rapid pace. The best companies will have the best development teams, have forward-thinking executives, and buy-in from their investors and community.
Can you share examples of measures you take to prevent internal data breach?
To prevent phishing, we are using 2FA authentication hardware Yubikey.
In order to ensure a maximum security level of the FIC Network’s infrastructure, FIC partnered with a leading blockchain development and consulting company Blockvis to ensure safe coin distribution via smart contract, and with the IT security company Possible Security (http://possiblesecurity.com/) to analyze potential vulnerabilities in FIC node infrastructure and ensure the security of the wallet application. We have also launched a bounty campaign.
Can you share a story of a time when things went south for you? What kept you going and helped you to overcome those times?
Every startup entrepreneur has times when they feel like they are on top of the world. But there are times when the world just comes down on you. Probably one of the most stressful experiences I’ve had was during FIC Network’s seed round fundraising in 2016, when I met up with more than three hundred investors. It was clear my vision and our product was ahead of time, as we consistently received “No” from everyone. At the time I was based in Silicon Valley, seeing other entrepreneurs raise vast amounts of money in a seemingly easy manner. Not feeling like a failure was a challenge. What kept me going was the focus on one and only goal of getting the money to keep the company alive and deliver on our vision. Two fundraising round later, we’re still a young startup, but finally we are ready to launch the next generation bond trading platform later this year.
What are some things that you do on daily basis regardless of how busy you are?
Light, early morning workout six times per week. It helps to keep healthy, and to structure your thoughts for the day. Before sleep, I either read a book or take a look at some chess positions from historical games and try to analyze them. This helps my mind to calm down after an intensive work day.
What are the top 3 upcoming conferences you are attending and are excited about?
This year I will probably go to Money2020 conference in Las Vegas and FIA conference in Chicago.
What’s your favorite “Life Lesson” quote? Can you share how that has been and/or is relevant to you in your life?
I have a tattoo on my arm saying “Failure Is Not An Option”. The phrase has roots in NASA’s Mission Control — when they manage people in space, they can’t afford to fail, but rather find a solution in any given situation. This pretty much summarizes my life philosophy — never quitting or surrendering to circumstances.
How can our readers follow you on social media?