Tell us about the business, how did it come about?
It all began when our founder, Oleksandr Lutskevych, launched a mining pool. Oleksandr was among the pioneers in the crypto industry – he developed one of the first mining algorithms in the market and had been an active player even before he began CEX.IO.
The mining platform that Oleksandr launched provided some of the necessary foundation for a trading platform and that is how CEX.IO eventually came into existence in 2013. We began as an exchange, but by now CEX.IO has transformed into an ecosystem that offers a vast variety of services to its clients.
Today, over 4 million customers globally, retail and institutional alike, earn on their digital assets using our services. We serve all kinds of customers, from beginners in the market to professional traders and enterprises.
Each one of our products serves a distinct purpose and is geared towards a specific audience. Aside from the usual buy/sell service we offer loans that use crypto as collateral, staking and savings opportunities where clients can generate passive revenues from their crypto holdings, prime liquidity products for corporate clientele, and many others. Each client can find something that suits their interests and needs.
And since those multiple products are brought together within the same ecosystem, our customers gain an opportunity to grow with us, gradually moving to more complex instruments as their understanding of crypto grows.
What have you learnt so far?
Here I can point out two major operational aspects that we have come to possess great experience in over the years.
The first is working with retail clients – it is among our main competences. CEX.IO’s team has learned how to build products that are interesting to retail users. We make sure to pay earnest attention to the activities of clients on our platform, listen to their wishes and improve our products so as to adhere to those desires better. At this point it can be reasonably said that we have become quite adept at it.
Another thing to take notice of is that the cryptocurrency industry is very dynamic, things are constantly in motion and everything changes very quickly. For many businesses keeping up with such a fast-paced field is a challenge. At CEX.IO, we have learned how to quickly adjust our business to match the direction of the industry. Few large-scale market players can do this with any measure of efficiency.
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What challenges have you overcome? How have you responded during Covid?
One of the most fundamental challenges that CEX.IO has faced over the years has to deal with KYC/AML. Though it has less to do with the complexity of implementing those procedures and adhering to them per se, and more with explaining to our customers that we do this for their own safety.
Many people chose to go into crypto because they enjoyed the concepts of decentralization and anonymity – not having to report their activities to anyone. This led to the fact that, at the beginning, our clients were not particularly pleased with having to share their personal data. Nor did they understand why it was necessary. It took us a long time to work through this hurdle and even now we continue to do our best to educate our customers on the issues of security and how we strive to keep their money safe.
As for the COVID situation – we have managed to deal with it with little loss to productivity. Being an international company, many members of CEX.IO’s team are located in different parts of the world. So it was not too hard for us to get used to the remote format of work – it took us about 2 weeks at most to adjust the business to operate under the new circumstances.
The experience did leave us with a valuable lesson – when hiring new personnel we pay less attention to where our offices are geographically located, and more to where the best specialists are. This helps us hire professionals with higher-level qualifications. It also helps that the crypto industry is quite adaptive when it comes to new ways of conducting business, and the people here are very tech-savvy, so it doesn’t take much effort to establish efficient communications.
Though this does lead me to mention a complication with hiring people that we’ve experienced before – particularly, in regions where CEX.IO does not have offices. Labour laws in many countries are somewhat old-school and are not well-geared towards allowing a company to hire staff without having a local physical presence in the country where said staff members reside.
This is something that I believe will have to change. This goes beyond just crypto – due to the influence of COVID everything is moving towards globalization today. Companies across many different industries require fresh talent, and old-fashioned hiring systems will only hold them back. So it will be necessary to make adjustments to the existing rules and develop new ones.
What are your plans for growth?
Right now CEX.IO has arrived at a very important stage. We’ve built a solid foundation for our business and intend to grow considerably going forward. We believe that in the future CEX.IO will be among the TOP-3 providers of crypto services globally.
The reason why we believe this to be possible is because there are not that many large-scale, well-regulated companies in the field of crypto that offer such a variety of services – geared towards retail, institutional, and B2B clients alike. Usually, major businesses are either unregulated altogether, or they comply with regulation in one-two jurisdictions – but not across all regions where they do business.
And in our case, it’s not just an exchange service that we offer, but more complex solutions as well. There are very few large-scale one-stop-shop businesses in this market that can do what we have accomplished.
Full compliance with regulation, reliable technical background, and a vast array of products – these are the 3 pillars that support CEX.IO in all our endeavours. By putting all of them together, we are confident that we will achieve significant growth within the next 2-3 years.