Compliance is often called the most boring job in Banking.
The common misconception is that the Compliance Officer’s role is to slam down the rule book on any lucrative ideas the Bank’s employees may have. Called the “hall-monitors” of the bank, being inherently risk-averse is deemed as a necessary characteristic to work in Compliance and Risk.
Everyone knows the high failure rates of Startups.
Startups generally, but certainly in the Crypto space are, well let’s say, not for the faint hearted. For a seasoned Compliance and Operational Risk Officer to pack it all in for a Startup idea in the Crypto space would seem to be out of character. Opposite the inherent risk-aversion. This is the mindset I most often encountered when telling people I left a successful career in Compliance, which included senior positions at UBS and RBS, to become a Co-Founder of a Startup in the Blockchain space.
Five years ago when telling my peers in Banking of my plans, the raised eyebrows did make me feel slightly uneasy. Because whilst at the time I saw the Blockchain space as the most in need of being regulated, and knew what in theory had to be done, I was about to innovate in compliance, in a very new industry.
Obviously I didn’t dwell on such thoughts or the ringing internal alarm bells – you can’t waste time on worrying about failure if you want your Startup to succeed. Instead, you have to address only those concerns that require your attention, for instance the objections of customers or investors.
There’s a certain quote I enjoy, from David Bowie. It is his artistic transformations that inspire me everyday to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible whilst also bearing in mind the risk/reward ratios of actions – the concerns that require attention.
“If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little out of your depth. And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.”
But with innovation comes responsibility. We’re providing seamless AML solutions for Cryptocurrency and Blockchain assets that creates a safer and growing crypto-economy. Serious issues with serious implications for mistakes.
If you feel safe in the area you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area.
Thanks to wearing many hats working in a Startup, you pick up many cross-functional skills and so we learned techniques on how to quell concerns, or as those in sales call it “objection-handling”. Throughout the early years of Coinfirm, together with my Co-Founding team we had to battle through the scepticism that AML and Regulatory adherence could sync with the Cryptocurrency and Blockchain movement.
But that was the past. Now, the tide of blockchain has become so strong, it’s current is encompassing all aspects of the financial world. Coinfirm no longer has to objection-handle. Now, we are too busy solving the wide ranging applications our Blockchain Analytics service is used for.
Always go a little out of your depth.
Our drive to protect all the stakeholders in the Blockchain space have propelled our investigations into steadfastly following the trail of terrorist financiers, scamming syndicates eroding trust in media outlets such as CoinDesk and Cointelegraph and malevolent hackers such as the recent Cryptoforhealth Twitter attack. These various and severe threats are why we work with forward thinking regulators, as well as the private sector, across 6 continents.
Vast amounts of digitized securities, commodities and transactions have forced sovereign and intergovernmental agencies to now take an active rather than simply passive interest in our industry. The Travel Rule is a crystal clear sign of that. In the past few years there was too much opacity in how governments wanted the industry to be regulated which made it difficult for all involved. Only a handful of jurisdictions stood out as leading the charge in this field.
And when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.
Because Coinfirm was in a new industry, and driving innovation in it, we knew our strategy had to be fast and flexible to keep up. So we quickly built ties to those jurisdictions that were the so-called ‘first-movers’ so to speak. Places such as Japan, Singapore and Switzerland – that would allow us to foresee how other, ever so slightly more ‘cautious’ jurisdictions would act in the future.
We’ve come a long way from having to ‘prove’ that this is a real, workable business model from previously raised eyebrows. Our recent Eu.2 million fundraising, various industry awards and partaking in initiatives such as that with the Bank for International Settlements speaks for us. Although, it has to be remarked that receiving funding under current market conditions is not far from surprising in the Blockchain space in 2020.
In fact, had I stayed in Risk Management in Banking, I would be wanting to create or invest in something akin to Coinfirm today. Because according to the Global Startup Ecosystem Report of 2020, in terms of change in revenue since the start of the pandemic crisis, the Blockchain and Crypto industry has had the least drawdowns out of all of them, beating even Cybersecurity and Gaming. Taking a present day statistical risk management perspective, and with the helping hand of recent regulatory requirements in the Blockchain arena, the best risk/reward ratio is where Coinfirm is now.
I am proud I took the risk to Co-Found Coinfirm and prouder still I was true to my chosen inspiration to do the transformative thing. Although taking this choice and getting into this industry was the one of the most apparently risky things I had done in my career, it is now one of the safest places to be. But my team and I won’t stop pushing ourselves to make the Blockchain and Crypto space safe for every stakeholder, whether global Financial Institution, local payment processor or individual.
Pawel Kuskowski, Co-Founder and CEO of Coinfirm. Paweł is a recognized authority on compliance issues in the cryptocurrency space. He is an ex-Global Head of AML of Royal Bank of Scotland, and earlier had a similar role at UBS. Pawel’s an expert in compliance and anti-money laundering (AML), with extensive experience conducting global projects for international financial institutions and working with supervisory authorities.
Coinfirm is a global leader in AML & Risk Analytics for blockchains and cryptocurrencies. With the largest blockchain coverage with over 1400 cryptocurrencies supported including BTC, ETH, ERC20 tokens, Dash, NEO, Hyperledger, LTC and first in the world integrated XRP. Coinfirm’s AML solutions are used by over 140 global clients ranging from crypto exchanges and protocols to major financial institutions. Coinfirm has won 6 global blockchain technology awards.
For more information, visit https://www.coinfirm.com/