The Fintech Espresso Break Ep. Eight – Bernhard Blaha, CEO of The Individuals’s SCE


Hello guys. Welcome to the Fintech Espresso Break. I’m your host Isabelle Castro. At the moment I had my espresso break with Bernhard Blaha, CEO of The Individuals’s SCE

bernhard blaha
Bernhard Blaha CEO of The Individuals’s SCE

The Individuals’s SCE is a decentrally ruled group that’s the service supplier of the e-credit ecosystem. Geared toward empowering native economies, e-credits are dubbed the folks’s forex, providing an alternate means for purchasers and small retailers to work together, bypassing among the operational points SMEs have that prohibit their competitivity. 

Having launched in varied European nations, they’ve discovered their power in offering an alternate cost system in areas which have had historic points with fiat forex. Of their Luxembourg workplace, we spoke concerning the system and among the challenges they’ve needed to account for of their journey. 

Isabelle Castro – Okay, Hello Bernhard. Good to fulfill you.

Bernhard Blaha – Hello, Isabelle. Good to be right here. 

Isabelle – To start with. How about you inform me what will get you up and motivated within the morning?

Bernhard – I’ve an excellent straightforward time getting up within the morning and being motivated. Primarily, all it takes for me is waking up opening up your blinds, seeing a little bit of daylight that’s crucial for me, after which I’m good to go. No espresso, no, nothing. Only a glass of water afterwards.

Isabelle – Excellent. Good. So you might be motivated from the get go. 

Bernhard – That’s the way it works. Normally, sure. 

Isabelle – What attracted you to the Individuals’s SCE and e-credits?

Bernhard – Properly, it’s the entire sentiment behind the venture and past the corporate, proper? As a result of I’ve been working within the blockchain sector for what’s it now, seven years, I believe upcoming. And I’ve seen my fair proportion of tasks are issues and there’s one factor that the binding element that makes this entire factor accessible to the broad public and to the mainstream, as folks say, that’s what basically the Individuals’s SCE and E-credits try to satisfy.  

I are inclined to quote buddy of mine, who all the time says he’s a bit older than I’m. And he all the time says, with Web3 know-how, we’re the place the web was within the early 90s, possibly. So it’s there, we see some issues that may be taken over by it. However no one actually has an concept of the place it’s gonna be within the subsequent 10, 20 or 50 years. And this entire alternative for the entire trade, I see that mixed within the Individuals’s SCE, and that’s what attracted me to it within the first place.

Isabelle – Good, good. So inform me about these e-credits, which type of underlying, I suppose they underlie what the Individuals’s SCE does, proper? The E credit. So what points do they hope to unravel? And the way do they work?

Bernhard – Yeah, so we’ve created this, basically, the model that we’re constructing, and the product that we’re constructing from the Individuals’s SCE, and the folks’s SCE is the corporate behind it, each of them equally attention-grabbing, however e-credits has the simplest pitch I’ve ever had in any of the businesses that I constructed, or took half in constructing. And that’s if you wish to use cryptocurrencies in every day transactions, you make it attainable. 

That’s what the e-credits do. The way in which we do it’s, basically, we allow transactions at retailers for finish customers. So simply think about your on a regular basis scenario, you go to a bakery, you go to a grocery retailer, and also you want to buy or a service. After which on the finish, you’re on the cashier, and also you don’t do the transaction money, however you do it in cryptocurrencies and the know-how to allow that. 

However most significantly, I name the usability layer two. Enabling that that is what we construct. And that is what the e-credit sees. 

Isabelle – Okay, nice. And so do you present type of interfaces and type of {hardware} for folks to try this actually simply?

Bernhard – Just about sure. So we’re largely software program oriented. And that implies that finish customers primarily use our app. And cashiers can use no matter they need. So the simplest strategy to get began as an organization, is to easily obtain the cashier app, join, and you then’re good to go as a cashier. 

Alternatively, in the event you’re, for instance, a bigger company and you’ve got tens, or a whole bunch and even 1000s of staff, and all of them could be cashiers, and use E-credits, then we even have POS integrations and so forth. So largely, we’re software program oriented, however we will additionally use current {hardware} POS.

Isabelle – Okay, cool. And what are the key points that they’re attempting to unravel? Why would folks select E-credits over regular funds?

Bernhard – Properly, I believe there’s two views to have a look at this from the primary one is why would they use it over regular money? And I might additionally add the side of why would they use it over regular bank cards? And the previous one which’s fairly straightforward as a result of money is sort of difficult, proper? I’m undecided about you, however I’ve seen that ever since I began paying for my very own stuff, which has been fairly some time by now. I had the issue of by no means having the precise amount of money that I wanted, then I are inclined to journey very flippantly. And so each time I had my payments and acquired cash again, that might be a trouble. 

Then moreover, and that’s extra on the political and, and monetary spectrum of it, money remains to be to at the present time, the primary forex that’s getting used to conduct any type of crime, or cash laundering or terrorism financing. And that’s one thing that cryptocurrencies can remedy by itself. In order that’s one facet of it. And in addition one thing that quite a lot of retailers don’t see relating to money is, there’s a hidden value of money as a result of they, the retailers all the time say you’ve got a money is free. So even when I don’t wish to settle for a bank card, I can nonetheless settle for money, as a result of that’s free. 

That’s not true. As a result of on the finish of the day, you continue to want your cashier to basically rely the cash, carry it to the financial institution is left a banking charges concerned. So there’s a hidden value of money as nicely. 

Then there’s bank cards on the opposite facet and bank cards they’ve been rising for many years now. And one of many issues that exists relating to bank cards is, to start with, there’s quite a lot of middlemen, and every of those middlemen, they’re taking their share, that makes bank cards reasonably costly really.

Then the second drawback is that they’re reasonably sluggish. So the bank card often as a service provider, you don’t get the cash instantly. When it’s paid, you must anticipate a few days, in some circumstances, you must anticipate a few weeks till you get the cash paid out and may really use it. And simply consider the best way a service provider is utilizing their inventory, basically, they’re shopping for it from somebody, often they’ve some cost phrases that permits them to hopefully promote all the products earlier than they should pay. So that they that they don’t should take the danger for his or her whole inventory, which is huge, proper. And if the bank card then goes forward and says sure, we’re going to take a few days, possibly a few weeks, then who’s paying for the inventory? The service provider is. 

So basically, it value him some huge cash as a result of bank cards are a lot, a lot slower than money or cryptocurrencies for that matter. 

Lastly, there’s the safety side. So it’s not information to anybody after I say that, that commerce, basically and all types of purchases, they shift to on-line an increasing number of and extra. They usually have been doing that for I believe, a long time by now. And what that results in is quite a lot of chargebacks on bank card methods chargebacks on this case, which means basically that any person goes forward and says, Hey, my bank card has been stolen. And I didn’t do the transaction. So please give me again my cash. 

The bank card suppliers then often e book the again. And the one that pays for that or that the entity who pays for that’s the service provider. They usually in lots of circumstances have shipped the product have supplied the service. And nonetheless they should pay for it. 

These chargebacks are literally fairly a danger relating to on-line purchases. As a result of relying on the trade, that is someplace within the zero level one thing space, however goes as much as the only digit proportion as much as 5% In some industries, and that in fact eats into the margin that the retailers have. And all of those issues are being solved by E credit and the best way we’re establishing this whole ecosystem. 

After which often after we’re speaking about cryptocurrency-related, they all the time come to the query why e-credits over every other type of forex? I are inclined to reply that with a counter query. That’s, why hasn’t anyone or why isn’t anyone utilizing different cryptocurrencies proper now on the mainstream market, and really extensively unfold? The rationale for that, in my view, after seven years within the trade, is there’s simply no usability. It’s very arduous to make use of for the service provider, it’s very arduous to make use of for the patron. You don’t actually have the usability that you need to use it similar to you need to use Apple Pay or Google Pay. And that’s additionally what we’re fixing on that facet of the spectrum.

Isabelle – Do you assume that’s the place you guys are available the place your important position is making it extra usable then?

Bernhard – Completely. So as soon as once more, to emphasize that quote relating to the web, or the net three being the place the web was within the 90s? That’s, that’s what we’re doing. So it’s there, every little thing works. We’re not reinventing the wheel right here. We’re simply making it usable to the general public.

Isabelle – Yeah, I can see that. I imply, there are different funds, issues which are being developed proper now like A2A transactions, what makes e-credits and type of the applying of blockchain preferable to those different developments within the funds sector, which try to unravel these very points?

Bernhard – Truly, I’ve an excellent instance that simply occurred per week in the past or two. And I believe that’s fairly attention-grabbing as a result of what I did is I despatched cash from my checking account right here in Luxembourg to a licenced monetary establishment. They usually basically despatched me an electronic mail a few days later, telling me, please don’t ship your funds there and ask them why. They usually advised me, nicely, it’s a crypto platform. That’s what they name it. And I requested him, okay, however the transaction I did had nothing to do with crypto. It was a protected transaction and I can really show I’ve documentation that these funds are nonetheless there in euros. I’ve by no means touched cryptocurrencies. 

They advised me sure, however usually, we take into account this a crypto platform. And so that you’re not allowed to ship your funds there, your hard-earned cash, you’re not allowed to ship it there. And so I began crashing them and requested him, so what’s the standards for a crypto platform? As a result of crypto platform is just not a authorized time period, so far as I do know, I assumed they had been referring to a digital asset service supplier or one thing alongside that strains. They usually replied that they didn’t actually have that definition for the crypto platform. So I requested him to ship me an exhaustive checklist or some type of standards that I might use to determine on if I used to be, in response to their phrases allowed to ship my funds to the platform or not. They usually didn’t reply to that, and or didn’t actually give me a solution. They had been similar to, yeah, it’s topic to inside investigations and whatnot. 

So I began questioning that once more, and I requested them, May you verify to me that in case your solely standards is that they’ve some type of connection to cryptocurrencies that I might additionally not be allowed to ship my funds to N26 or Revolut? They usually, as soon as once more, simply didnt reply to that. 

The purpose that I’m making is, why are we doing all of this? And the reason being there’s I might name it conventional finance, and there’s a giant trade behind it, and so they determine what we’re allowed to do with our cash. 

That’s problematic, as a result of I do perceive, and I’m very a lot in favour of any type of compliance measures that should be taken. That’s only a signal of the time, I’m the final particular person to say, Hey, I want to fund some terrorism over there, I’ll by no means try this. 

I’m additionally the final particular person to launder any cash, as a result of I don’t see why I might try this. However I do perceive that there must be measures taken to stop that. Nonetheless, these compliance measures are taken as an excuse to basically determine what you are able to do together with your cash. 

I put guess on the truth that this determination by my financial institution was not made attributable to danger causes, it was made for considered one of two causes, both, it’s for lack of awareness, which isn’t what ought to occur in compliance, proper? So in the event that they prohibit me from using my cash, they need to perceive what they’re proscribing. Or it was made for enterprise causes, which means they don’t need folks to get much less depending on the banking system that we’re having these days. 

Each of these causes usually are not good causes in any respect. And that’s the reason I believe it is extremely overdue, to have a system the place folks can work together with one another, financially, or usually, not simply financially, but additionally relating to values typically, with out having middlemen that inform them what to do and what guidelines to stick to, relating to me interacting with associates of mine. And that’s the reason we’re billing this ultimately.

Isabelle – Okay, so the credit is extra type of peer-to-peer funds.

Bernhard – Sure. 100%. So we’re peer-to-peer, we’re fully decentralized so there’s not a single entity within the center that may forestall any transaction from occurring. And that’s what we stand for. So basically fixing all of that.

Isabelle – Yeah. So as soon as the Individuals’s SCE type of implements their software program after that it’s decentralized. Okay, that’s actually cool. So do you see this being utilized on a mass scale? How wouldn’t it get to that scale? If that’s the case?

Bernhard – Properly, that’s all the time some extent of dialogue, proper? As a result of what we’re speaking about right here is clearly a market drawback. So often, a market drawback is referred to whenever you’re on the one facet should construct the retailers and on the opposite facet should construct the customers and ideally on the identical time, since you received’t get to the customers until you’ve got the retailers and vice versa. 

And sure, completely. The objective is to have this deployed on a mass scale. And we’re on fairly a great way. So we began the product lower than a 12 months in the past in April of final 12 months. Proper now we’re at 120,000 energetic customers. And I believe we’re closing in on one thing like 5000 retailers, and for a 12 months is fairly good. 

For my part. I’m very proud of that, particularly when different corporations that construct up cost methods. That’s fairly some development that we’re having there, which additionally exhibits the necessity that there’s for a platform like this proper. 

And the way will we get there? So, as I stated before- two sides that now we have to replenish, now we have the person facet. And on the person facet, we will work just about like every other fintech or software program firm. We’re doing quite a lot of digital promoting. We’re doing quite a lot of out-of-home promoting. And that brings us on customers, fairly attention-grabbing and fairly intriguing buyer acquisition prices. 

On the opposite facet, in fact, now we have to do the extra pricey step of onboarding the retailers. And the best way we do that’s, basically, we’re utilizing the customers which are actually followers of our product that basically love what we’re doing, and actually love the mindset and the thought behind it, to go on the market and act us what we name ambassadors, which means they go to retailers, and so they ask in the event that they want to settle for e-credits. Normally, as they have already got the primary buyer there, as a result of often, the ambassador can be a buyer that want to pay with a credit score, it’s very straightforward to then persuade the service provider that they need to settle for it as a result of the audience is clearly there already. 

In order that’s how we’re rising on the on the service provider facet. And that’s how we managed to develop each on the identical time. And that’s working fairly nicely to date.

Isabelle – One factor that type of jumped out to me as a possible drawback is that e-credits aren’t stablecoins. How do customers like retailers keep worth when it’s not type of linked to something that we already know?

Bernhard – Yeah, that is a superb level. As a result of, in fact, I imply, the underlying drawback is, because the service provider if I settle for cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrencies are recognized to be unstable, after which ideally, on the finish of the day, I offered a product for 10 euros and what the cash the cryptocurrency that I acquired, is now value 11 euros. That’s the higher of the circumstances, and it’s nonetheless extra accounting effort that I’ve to tackle, which can be not very best. 

On the opposite facet, the product or the cryptocurrencies that I acquired for the product are offered is now value 9 euros. And so I misplaced one euro or 10%. It’s, in fact, horrible, as a result of I nonetheless should pay my taxes in fiat currencies, and I’ve to pay my suppliers in fiat currencies. 

The way in which we remedy that’s by a function known as on the spot commerce, which means as quickly because the service provider will get the cryptocurrencies, they’re forwarded to an trade and exchanged into fiat currencies, which means in the event that they don’t wish to depart them as e-credits they’ve zero danger publicity to the volatility of cryptocurrencies,

They usually can modify their costs in response to what the value is of the E credit score that day that’s

robotically accomplished. So basically, the service provider says I’m promoting that’s definitely worth the type of course enterprise and cryptocurrency nearly all of the overwhelming majority of the service provider says, I’m promoting for, once more, 10 euros, and we robotically convert the value and counsel, okay, that is the quantity you have to be paying. 

I didn’t point out that earlier than. We’re, in fact, accepting cost in our native cryptocurrency e-credits, however we’re additionally permitting for funds to be made with ethereum and different cryptocurrencies. 

So it’s not simply our native cryptocurrency. We’re permitting for multitude of them. And basically, we do the value conversion. We do the automated switch, and by way of the API of the trade, we additionally do the automated conversion. So after a few seconds, or let’s say minutes, simply to be protected, they’ve the precise fiat forex on their trade account.

Isabelle – Okay. Yeah, no, my subsequent query was going to be why you didn’t use ethereum or bitcoin initially, however you clearly do. Do you foresee any potential challenges sooner or later with the MiCA laws? And the overall enhance in regulation?

Bernhard – Problem? This can be a very broad time period. So sure, I completely do. I’m additionally a board member at Digital Affiliation, Austria, which we based in 2018, just about solely for the aim of advising regulators on the way to regulate cryptocurrencies again then. And now we have accomplished that for nearly 5 years now. And now we have basically accompanied the MiCA from its child steps on and given quite a lot of suggestions on the subject as nicely. 

I’m very blissful that MiCA is on the market. I actually like that, because the European Union, now we have one thing on the market the place we are literally attempting to categorise cryptocurrencies and basically assign them to the regulation that different property that fall shut to those sorts of use circumstances for cryptocurrencies would even be assigned to, for instance, in the event you’re going to the to the MiFID, regulation, there’s quite a lot of overlap there, and basically, MiCA is filling that hole, and that could be a nice step. I actually preferred that. 

Nonetheless, in my view, it doesn’t go far sufficient. 

The rationale I say that’s what’s the goal of regulation? Normally it ought to be to guard the patron and the regulation because it presently is. And because the state of MiCA, it doesn’t actually try this. As a result of after I’m trying on the massive downfalls of cryptocurrencies that we’ve had over the previous couple of months and years, most prominently presently is FTX. After all, MiCA is not going to have prevented that. It wouldn’t as a result of there isn’t a test in any type of regulation that we presently have for liabilities on shopper well being property to the extent that it might have prevented FTX from appearing the best way they did. And I believe that’s the place MiCA is missing a bit. 

It’s a nice first step, don’t get me fallacious, I preferred it. It’s there. I simply see it as a basis that must be expanded on, and I hope will probably be.

Isabelle – Okay, so that is only the start of the regulation, and also you need extra to come back?

Bernhard – Properly, I need extra smart regulation. Okay. So there’s, there’s all the time the 2 sides, proper on on the one facet, you don’t need beneath regulation, as a result of that results in issues, as a result of we try to do every little thing proper, we’re based mostly in Luxembourg, EU nation with a regulator that does have quite a lot of experience and cryptocurrencies. And we’re very a lot prepared to go for a licence ought to ever be one that matches the enterprise mannequin that now we have. 

On the opposite facet, with beneath regulation, you continue to have corporations that don’t try this, that simply function from the Cayman Islands, for instance, in that particular case, and may nonetheless supply their companies within the European Union to some extent, so long as they’re not ever promoting. 

Alternatively, you’ve got overregulation, and an excellent instance of that is what has been occurring in China for the previous couple of years, the place they’ve all the time been going backwards and forwards, looking for some center floor between, okay, we fully prohibit cryptocurrencies, any type of cryptocurrencies by any means. And now we’re really nonetheless permitting a little bit of it. And that just about destroyed the market over there. And proper now, there’s no actual, no actual use in beginning a cryptocurrency firm in China, although that might be a really attention-grabbing native marketplace for some corporations. And that’s what occurs in the event you over-regulate. 

For instance, within the EU, we had a dialogue. How way back was it? I believe, half a 12 months in the past, roughly, the place there was a dialogue on really fully prohibiting proof-of-work consensus algorithms, which I do perceive the reasoning of, however I don’t assume there was any type of second thought on this. As a result of ultimately, what would have occurred if that had gone by? Fortunately, it hasn’t, is it might have simply been different nations going forward and never prohibiting that. After which whole worth creation, that proof-of-work blockchains are nonetheless having inside themselves would have simply occurred exterior of the European Union. 

Past that. The concept was that proof of labor is type of environmentally unhealthy. And I do completely comply with that. Nonetheless, I might reasonably have that top vitality consumption in a rustic like Austria, the place I do know for a truth that almost all of the ability is generated by hydro vegetation, or wind energy, or solar energy than in a rustic the place no one bats a watch if 100% of the ability is coming from brown coal, which is, to my data, a minimum of I’m not the professional on that subject. However to my data, it’s the most environmentally damaging means of making energy that now we have these days. And I’d reasonably go for the previous than the latter. 

So what I’m saying is, if one thing is regulated, there must be quite a lot of thought put into that. And there must be quite a lot of experience behind that, to really create correct regulation and never simply destroy the market with out bringing any type of profit to shopper safety.

Isabelle – Very attention-grabbing. I’ll ask you two extra questions. To begin with, what’s your favourite quote?

Bernhard – I believe for that one, I’d should go together with a quote from James Cameron. And he stated, I hope I’m quoting this proper. One of the best ways to set targets is to set in ridiculously excessive as a result of if you find yourself in an utter failure of your targets, you continue to fail increased than all people else succeeds. And I do actually just like the quote, as a result of it’s true. And I believe it’s what failure tradition ought to stand for.

Isabelle – Good. I like that one, too. I’m going to make use of that. And okay, so the ultimate query the curveball query. In the event you had 2000 euros and also you needed to double it in 24 hours, what would you do?

Bernhard – Properly, what would I do with out giving monetary recommendation proper now? That’s the vital half, proper? In all probability one of the best ways to try this is to place a replica machine and attempt to get 4000 out of it. As a result of every little thing else that I might say proper now’s both completely silly or monetary recommendation and, typically, really each.

Isabelle – Okay. Okay, so put it in a replica. 

Bernhard – Yeah, put in a replica machine, attempt to copy it, and attempt to get away with it. And, in fact, only for the sake of it, this can be a joke. Don’t do it.

Isabelle – Good disclaimer. Good disclaimer. How can folks come up with you? 

Bernhard – Oh, observe the Individuals’s SCE. Properly, now we have two web sites. We now have for the Individuals’s SCE, which by the best way, we haven’t actually talked about. So please look that up on the web is a really attention-grabbing idea. 

After which in fact, there’s for the precise product. So if you need any type of details about corporations, that is undoubtedly the place you would look them up. 

If you wish to get in contact with us, now we have we’re current on just about any type of social media channel. So hit us up there. I’m additionally current on virtually all of them. I don’t perceive Tik Tok to at the present time. Aside from that, I’m just about represented in all places. So yeah, all the time trying ahead to having contact with attention-grabbing folks in that space. 

Isabelle – Good. I don’t perceive it, both. 

Bernhard – Okay, that makes two of us. 

Isabelle – Excellent. Properly, thanks in your time. It’s been very nice to fulfill you and speak to you. And yeah, have remainder of your day.

Bernhard – Likewise, thanks for having me. Have day.

Isabelle – In order all the time, you’ll be able to attain out and chat with me on my private LinkedIn or Twitter at @IZYCastrowrites. However for entry to nice every day content material, take a look at Fintech Nexus on LinkedIn, Twitter, Fb, or Instagram. You may also join our every day publication, bringing information straight to your inbox. 

For extra Fintech podcast enjoyable, take a look at the web site podcast, the place you could find extra fascinating conversations hosted by Peter Renton and Todd Anderson. 

That’s it from me. Till subsequent time, take pleasure in your downtime.

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  • Isabelle Castro Margaroli

    With over 5 years within the artwork and design sector, Isabelle has labored on varied tasks, writing for actual property growth magazines and design web sites, and venture managing artwork trade initiatives. She has additionally directed impartial documentaries on artists and the esports sector.

    Isabelle’s curiosity in fintech comes from a craving to know the speedy digitalization of society and the potential it holds, a subject she has addressed many instances throughout her educational pursuits and journalistic profession.


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