Smart Valor – en fullservice-plattform för blockchain-tillgångar

Smart Valor är en fullservice-plattform för blockchain-tillgångar. Företaget gör nu en IPO på Nasdaq First North och vi har därför ställt några frågor till medgrundare och arbetande styrelseordförande Olga Feldmeier.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

By the career path I am a technology entrepreneur and ex-banker. SMART VALOR is my second venture in the crypto space. Before that I was a commercial managing partner at one of the first crypto custodians from Silicon Valley, which was partially acquired by Coinbase, the largest US crypto exchange. Under my leadership the company received the first crypto custody authorization in 2016. It was the first in Switzerland and was considered a regulatory breakthrough.

On a personal side, I was born and raised in Ukraine, living through the collapse of the Soviet Union and hyperinflation of the nineties. This painful experience sent me on a life-long search for a better financial system and better money. I was looking for the truth by learning the ropes. First I worked for the Boston Consulting Group in the Financial Institutions Practice Group. Then I deep-dived into Investment banking at Barclay Capital in London and Wealth Management at UBS in Zurich, where I was Executive Director in charge of Central and Eastern Europe Wealth Management Distribution.

Please give our readers an introduction to Smart Valor

We founded SMART VALOR with a mission to democratise access to wealth, giving people safe and compliant gateway to digital assets such as cryptocurrencies, DeFi (Decentralized Finance) and other. Getting started in 2017, in Thomson Reuters Incubator, we saw the huge potential of tokenization or digitalisation of assets on the blockchain. Initially we focused on just two things. First: building tech, the core product people need – a secure, reliable exchange and custody for any type of digital assets. Second: on regulation – getting the exchange regulatory approvals. This is how by 2019, we became the first and are still the only full-service exchange and investment platform in our region, pursuing the localised strategy: local fiat on-ramp, local language customer support, local conference series, etc. This strategy worked as last year the exchange started to scale. The transaction volume on the platform grew by 1,000% p.a. as of December 2021.

Could you elaborate on Smart Valor’s business model?

From this base, the retail crypto exchange and investment platform, our business model has evolved in terms of distribution channel and product range.

In terms of distribution channel, last year we were approached by a lot of banks and fintechs looking for a way to incorporate digital assets into their product portfolio. So we put effort into adjusting our APIs and laying the ground for SaaS offering, we call it Crypto-as-a-Service. In essence, it is the same product we serve to our retail customers (exchange, brokerage, custody), delivered through the bank to the bank’s customers. This wave is just starting to form – if you look at first movers, companies such as PayPal, Revolut, Square, Robinhood – a lot of them introduce digital assets through partnering with crypto native companies such as SMART VALOR. We are early here and this is a good thing.

In terms of the product range, we made a move extending into new token formats, such as NFTs. So we quickly moved forward and built an NFT marketplace, It is integrated into SMART VALOR exchange and so gives users a way to buy NFTs with fiat currencies and store them in our custody. This is something that other NFT marketplaces cannot provide today. 

Overall, this is a highly synergistic business model, as we leverage the same technology on both B2C and B2B side. This is why, this business does not need a huge amount of capital.

You are currently launching an IPO at Nasdaq First North Stockholm, raising approximately 25 MSEK. How are you going to use this capital and why did you choose to be listed in Stockholm? 

The total raise of MSEK 136 is split in private placement of MSEK 111 and public offering of 25 MSEK. The private placement has been a big success, taken up by current and new investors with excitement, resulting in an oversubscription. The capital will be deployed on scaling our B2C and B2B side of the exchange business and laying the ground for our NFT vertical as well as fortifying the balance sheet.

In terms of NASDAQ First North, there are two reasons.

On one side, we have ambitious growth plans, beyond Europe. Nasdaq is the only global technology exchange. We are going public now as the first European digital asset exchange on Nasdaq First North. Before us, only Coinbase made it on NASDAQ in US. In general there are very few publicly listed crypto companies, so a lot of capital is competing for these companies resulting in rather high valuations in US. Access to this market and inorganic growth option that comes with listing is a big strategic advantage.

On the other side, Sweden is one of the top fintech places in Europe, interesting from the perspective of our B2B SaaS business. On the retail side, it also looks attractive, as today there is very little competition, for example no real domestic full-service exchange.

Walk us through the upcoming events of importance in 2022.

One of the most important events is happening next month, expectedly 10th February – the first day of trading. One of the upcoming milestones on the B2B side is the release of our Crypto-as-a-Service offering in collaboration with one of our banking partners. On the retail side, we are working on a new DeFi yield product. Finally on the NFT side there will be several exciting new things to watch.

What does your competition look like and what do you do better/different from your peers?

Due to the early stage of the industry, the competition is really limited, in comparison to any other area of fintech. We curved out for us a very specific niche strategy as localised, highly specialised digital asset product vertical in terms of retail business model. On the B2B SaaS side, we see that being only a technology provider is not enough. We are much more than just a technology provider. We run our own retail exchange, provide customer support, go through annual compliance audits, etc. We give our partners not just technology, but 360 solutions for digital assets, including access to global liquidity, customer support, compliance and regulatory aspects. This is what they need, not just technology components. Yet on the other side, we are not too big, to be perceived as competitors. In the US the success of this strategy was demonstrated by Paxos, who enabled Paypal and Revolut.

What is the size of Smart Valor’s potential market?

In Europe there are about 10,000 financial institutions. Pretty much every one of them will need to figure out how to embrace digital assets. Because with digital assets, it’s not just about Bitcoin or cryptocurrencies. The national currencies will be digital currencies built on blockchain. Every share and every bond will be a token. This transition will play out through partnerships between crypto native companies such as SMART VALOR and the incumbent financial companies built on old technological base.

According to you, what are the main reasons for investing in Smart Valor?

During the private placement, which we recently successfully closed, I learned that when investors look at SMART VALOR, they see three core things: the technology leadership in blockchain space; regulatory track record; synergetic business model.

All of this delivered by a strong management team who built the technology, got licenced, brought the company into a scaling phase while keeping it break-even. So getting from zero to one, in such a short time, from quite a small capital base, this is our track record and proof that we can deliver.

Finally, what is your long-term vision for Smart Valor? Where do you see the company 5 years from now?

Our vision is the world on the blockchain or tokenization of everything, where the access to investments and wealth is enabled by technology.  Initially, the idea of tokenization was looking for its use cases. Finally last year, the train took off. The NFTs, Non-fungible Tokens, applied to tokenize and represent ownership rights on art, was an important first demonstration of how any property rights will be recorded and transferred on the blockchain. In the next iteration of the internet, the metaverse, blockchain will play a key role providing infrastructure for payments and ownership records. We as the crypto native company are at the very core of this development and are on the good path to contribute to build-up of a new Web3 infrastructure for a better society, decentralised and free.

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Smart Valor AG

Smart Valor erbjuder en fullservice-plattform för blockchain-tillgångar där man vänder sig mot både privatpersoner och företag.