Building a strong virtual currency player: The year was 2012 with bitcoin having been around for three years, but, it wasn’t causing any impact to the financial sector. Yet, early thought-leaders and adopters were convinced that something extraordinary would happen soon. As the cryptocurrency slowly gained momentum, its potential to reinforce or even replace traditional currencies became more evident. The conventional financial sector, while being complex and bureaucratic, lacked capabilities to embrace the cryptocurrencies opportunities and had limited regulative clarity in the area. This made it difficult for financial institutions to embrace this paradigm shift, even if they wanted to, as regulated and compliant companies were few and far in between. It was these elements that seeded a vision to establish a platform that could support the future of cryptocurrency payments and mainstream this promising technology in a regulated and compliant way for existing professional financial institutions and crypto wallet companies wanting to do things in the right way, and, with that vision was born, Coinify.
When Coinify was in its infancy, the founders Mark Højgaard, Hans Henrik Hoffmeyer, Kris Henriksen, and Lasse Olesen, contemplated on the requirements for this paradigm shift to thrive on a global scale and quickly came to the conclusion that it was essential to build a bridge between the old financial industry and the blockchain payment technology. Thus, they decided to take a different approach compared to the other industry players of the time. Rather than aggressively trying to reinvent the wheel, it seemed to them that the industry would instead require a sober and professional mindset to mainstream bitcoin. Thus, they took a more measured and sustainable route, being pro-regulation and by adopting the high standards that the professional financial sector adheres to, to build a framework that is both familiar and reliable within the financial industry.
In order to establish sustainable competitive advantages, it was also imperative that Coinify built an ecosystem that would nurture this concept. This was done by merging two early stage companies in the industry, which in turn allowed them to carry out both merchant payment processing and the traditional buying and selling of bitcoin. By doing this, they managed to establish an internal market to offset the buying and selling of bitcoin and thereby reduced the amount required to offset on the exchanges. This would later turn out to be a good decision on their part as market volatility hit and with the unexpected events that have shaken the industry over the past few years, which greatly affected the price of the cryptocurrency.
Coinify was also founded on strong regulatory compliance principles, not only in terms of organizing and catering for customers, but on values and ethics. Under the guidance of its investor, the Swedish bank, SEB, Coinify was able to effectively drive its compliance, risk and AML agenda, and their investment in Coinify was the first testament to its regulated approach. Coinify is also proactive in leading policy development. While member states in the European Union all have views on crypto and virtual currencies, most have been reluctant to participate in regulatory processes. Standing by its belief that regulation is vital for the success of the ecosystem, Coinify pushed for an EU-driven initiative to regulate the industry, with the result steered in the form of the Blockchain and Virtual Currencies working group. This working group aims to provide insights and advisory into the regulatory environment. The group affiliates include representatives from Coinify, alongside other leading virtual currency and blockchain companies, in the efforts of engaging with government bodies and associations like the European Commission, European Parliament, European Central Bank, European Banking Association and many other stakeholders.
The beginning, the present and beyond!
Coinify’s journey has always been about mainstreaming blockchain payments for consumers and businesses. But as the time grew, Coinify has moved beyond cryptocurrencies as the be-all and end-all for its business goals–today, the company is considered as a virtual currency player. Its services take into account other forms of virtual currencies, like loyalty points and mileage companies looking to engage further with their customer base; here Coinify can enable their ‘currency’ in more than 60 payment service providers worldwide overnight. And this theme is expected to unfold even further when stable coins will allow for consumers to pay in merchants worldwide in their fiat currency of choice without the need to exchange.
Pioneering the mobile payment era by being first players
Fintech has been close to Mark and Hans’ hearts for decades. Twelve years ago, they were both involved in pioneering the mobile payment era by being some of the first players to make instant issuing of virtual payment cards available on mobile devices.
Hans believes virtual currencies represent such a fundamental transformation in the way we have dealt with money for thousands of years. Most will have acknowledged this shift by now, but we cannot learn anything by being naive observers merely watching from the sidelines. As disruption unfolds before your eyes, the only way to truly understand this paradigm shift is by immersing yourself into the thick of things.
“We have thus plunged head-first into this market and it has taught us how this disruption materializes and how to navigate towards opportunities. The journey so far has been extremely challenging, and the process of building our platform has been undeniably difficult – but that’s great! Barriers to entry within our space has never been greater, but it’s only by facing the challenges head-on, that you can come out wiser and stronger. In fact, in the time that we have been stable and operating within this industry, we have witnessed a vast number of companies enter the space and exit soon after due to their pressure of these barriers,” Hans explains.
Smooth Seas Do Not Make Skillful Sailors
There’s an African proverb that says, “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” It’s the hard knocks in life that soften out our rough edges. Shape us into something more refined and resilient. Likewise, Coinify was faced with hard knocks that later shaped the company what we know it today. The biggest challenge for Coinify has undoubtedly been timing. Imagining a future with cashless payments or self-driving cars is an easy thing to do, but how and when these ideas unfold, as well what it will take to make them a reality—that’s difficult to foresee.
In 2014, Mark and Hans predicted a future where professional financial services would turn their interests towards virtual currency, and it is only recently that their prediction is proving to be true. But back then, the duo had no idea if this prediction would become a reality in a year or over 20 years. Nevertheless, they have been patient, proactively maturing the market and positioning Coinify within the financial services industry; and their efforts have proven to be fruitful. Today, Coinify is a very lean company with a strong track record of transactions and sustainable values, which is why the interest – that they predicted from financial institutions which is now being realized – is also being positively directed towards the company.
Services that comprise everything for everyone
To explain briefly, Coinify platform offers blockchain currency trading and payment processing services in a several different forms:
- Coinify Trade is a service that allows individual traders to buy and sell blockchain currencies simply and securely with their credit card or through bank transfer.
- Coinify offers brokerage services to facilitate virtual currency conversion for the professional trading community, with its customer portfolio of institutional traders, retail traders, hedge funds, financial institutions, and large individual account holders.
- Coinify Merchant is a service that gives merchants the option to accept blockchain payments in 15 currencies and receive payouts in fiat for their businesses through multiple integration tools.
- Coinify Enterprise solution provides trading and payment processing white label solutions for partners via its API integration. Its API opens an array of service opportunities such as blockchain payments for PSPs, in-wallet trading for cryptocurrency wallet providers, blockchain currency as loyalty rewards for loyalty point companies, blockchain currency platform integrations for financial institutions, and more.
Ensuring that the customers receive all the help they need!
Coinify proudly serves a varied range of customers. Anyone from beginners experimenting with virtual currencies or crypto enthusiasts, to online webshops, as well as large institutional clients can turn to Coinify for the service. Moreover, Coinify also prioritizes a strong customer support system. Since the environment surrounding crypto and virtual currencies is both novel and volatile, Hans believes it is Coinify’s responsibility to ensure that the customers receive all the help that they need when navigating the platform. “The community we have built around our service is luckily a very vocal one and on average, the feedback we have received is positive, with customers citing trustworthiness and ease-of-use as some of their main experiences on our platform. Of course, there is always room for improvement and we are always taking our customers’ feedback into consideration to constantly develop our platform and offerings,” Hans adds.
“We will be increasing our focus on servicing our professional partners as they explore the vast new opportunities within this virtual currency theme. You can expect us to be facilitating transactions with some of the largest financial institutions as they start to understand and adopt this technology,” Hans concludes.
Meet the Trailblazers
Mark has been on a non-stop entrepreneurial journey since establishing his first company at the young age of 19. His began with building media companies, but in 2006, his focus turned towards fintech and he has been moving full-force in that direction ever since. Having a deeply-rooted understanding on how financial services are perceived by consumers, he has been able to utilize his years of experience to construct profound financial services that have a true impact on consumers–whether it be user-friendly services for daily transactions, banking the unbanked, or providing big financial institutions access to something as complicated as virtual currencies.
While on the other hand, Hans manages the daily operations of Coinify’s various teams, besides being a co-founder and board member of the company. He has an extensive resume within the global payments industry, including roles at Nets Group, IBM, Pandora and more. He is also a founding member of the Blockchain and Virtual Currency Working Group (BVC WG), as well as an active participant in other regulatory bodies.