The Big Whale: Bitpanda is a bit of an animal of its own in the crypto universe. You allow people to invest in cryptos, but also increasingly in more traditional assets. Why do you do all this?
Lukas Enzersdorfer-Konrad: Bitpanda was founded almost ten years ago primarily to enable people to invest in cryptocurrencies. That was our original mission. It gradually expanded to financial securities like stocks because we believe in the convergence of the two worlds.
Investors in stocks are increasingly interested in cryptos to get more yield, and crypto investors increasingly want stocks to get more diversification.
What is the split between crypto and more traditional assets?
It's about 80% for cryptos and 20% for traditional assets, and this part of our business is only growing. We need to become the go-to platform in Europe for anyone who wants to invest in a stock or cryptocurrency. In almost ten years, we have never had any incident, any problem, that's why people trust us.
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Bitstamp says it is the "best regulated crypto platform on the planet." So do you. Who is right?
We have many licenses and not just in crypto. We have a European e-money license, we operate a Mifid2 registered investment company (a directive concerning markets in financial instruments, ed.). We are registered as a crypto platform pretty much everywhere in Europe, including France.
Do you plan to go outside the EU?
We are focused on our European market. There are many opportunities outside Europe, but for us Europe is the most promising market.
What are the main differences between Europe and other areas?
Consumer behavior is not the same. Even if Europe is the richest area of the planet, Europeans are far from being the best educated on financial matters.
They are not as sensitive to these issues as the Americans or the Japanese, so we have to accompany them, explain to them how it works, especially in France. People need trusted partners to invest.
What is your marketing strategy? It's fundamental in this ecosystem.
We usually focus on one country and then open another. We believe this is the only way to build a network and a strong brand in the long term. Every country is different, so you have to understand the expectations of the customers, to know what they like.
You've raised just over $250 million in 2021. How far along are you? Are you impacted by the Bear Market?
We raised a lot of money because we have a long-term project. Our previous round of funding allowed us to improve the product, to develop in Europe. The Bear Market is obviously having an impact, and that's normal. But we anticipated this situation, we have reserves and we have the means to get through what is not our first Bear Market.
How did you adapt in concrete terms?
Last year, we recognized that 2023 would be a complicated year, so we are focused on regulation and the development of new products. We have just announced several new financial products such as CFDs (Contracts for Difference allow you to bet on the rise or fall of an underlying asset without actually owning it, editor's note).
Isn't it dangerous to offer such speculative products?
They are not open to everyone, and the goal is to continue to offer the widest possible range of products.
Did you take advantage of FTX's fall?
We've seen new customers come in. Customers want more transparency, to know where the company is based, how it works, so they are going to platforms like Bitpanda.
Many individuals have left the CEX to keep their cryptos themselves. What do you think about it?
Curation in its own right is very important, but not everyone wants it and especially not everyone can do it. We need platforms to provide them with this type of service.
What do you think of the Proof-of-Reserves?
This is a very good thing. The problem is that some people misuse it and give it an importance it shouldn't have. As of 2019, all of our wallets are audited by KPMG every quarter. It's important for us to provide that, but it's not the answer to everything.
MiCA has just been definitively adopted. What do you think about it? Is it a good thing?
The adoption of MiCA is an excellent thing. This text, which is unprecedented on a global scale, will make it possible to harmonize legislation on a European scale and thus facilitate the development of European players. Each company will be able to transfer its registration to other countries. MiCA will also bring security and visibility for traditional players who do not dare to enter this world.
Do you think that banks will become less "skittish"?
Banks are probably the most regulated players on the planet, so they want to work with players who have standards equivalent to their own.
Yet this did not prevent several American and European banks from collapsing...
US regional banks are less regulated than European banks.
Some banks and platforms are closing their customers' accounts. Bitpanda has also done this. Why?
There are two issues. The first concerns obligations in terms of anti-money laundering. All players must comply with control rules in order to know their customers and identify suspicious flows. If a client does not comply, we are obliged to close his account. It's the same for the banks.
Not many people know this, but you have your own blockchain, called Pantos. What's the point?
We launched the Pantos project in 2018 because we had identified a real need on the startup side of the ecosystem. When you launch your own token, you need to know from the beginning which blockchain you're going to use. Ethereum, Solana?
Until three or four years ago, the issue of interoperability was complex. That's why we came up with the idea of this multi-chain protocol that would allow start-ups to transfer a token from one blockchain to another without having to kill a token to create another.
How exactly does Pantos work? What is the purpose?
Projects can use the Pantos smart contract and transfer their tokens from one blockchain like Ethereum to another like Solana.
Is this technology live?
It is still being tested, but the launch is planned for the end of the year.
Do you have other projects in the pipeline?
We have others, but we don't want to move too fast. Our main goal is to continue to develop the trading platform. We offer more than 250 crypto currencies, we also have a staking offer, but we can do much more.