TOP MAN Game Changers talks with Prokopios Katsaros
Note from the editor
View from the top. 03
TopFX. Success is a matter of trust. 04-07
Why You Should Outsource Your Lead Generation In The Era of GDPR. 8
CX Financia. 9-13
Let Gareth Southgate save your sanity! 16
Universal Crypto 17-19
App Next & Kpax Marketing 20-21
VIEW FROM THE TOP
With the blazing southern European sun baking us, this month we are pleased to say that we have had some red hot interviews for this monthâ€™s Game Changers! This editionâ€™s cover star is Prokopios Katsaros who is the Head of Brokerage at the Liquidity Provider TopFX. In case you are not aware, TopFX was the brokerage where I learnt my apprenticeship of institutional FX trading many years back. It is a great pleasure to have not only a colleague (and also the man who answered my many odd questions.) but also a friend on the front cover. We are incredibly pleased to have a new entrant to GC, the Australian legal guru Joanne Michaelides who we were lucky enough to have spent a couple of hours from her busy schedule. In case you are not aware Joanne is one of the leading names, whose opinion is incredibly well respected and sought after within local commerce. I was lucky enough to share a refreshing cold drink on a warm evening with Xenia Neofytou, where we discussed the future of Cyprus and all things Block Chain. I hope this is the first of many times that we get to speak to Xenia. One of our old entrants Ludovic Vuillier has made a comeback to GC, to outline why a brokerage should be looking to outsource their lead generation program, whilst also adhering to the changing regulatory landscape.
We were fortunate enough to spend some time with Oleg Seydak from Blackmoon Financial Group giving us time in his busy schedule to give us an insight into his working day. This month in Finance Feeds, I reflected upon how the England football team coach Gareth Southgate can help us improve our performance in the workplace.
Paul ORFORD EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Success is a matter of trust PROKOPIOS KATSAROS Head of Brokerage at TopFX
I began my Prime career at TopFX almost seven years ago when it was still a startup. Since then, we have come a long way and established a strong presence in the industry. I always believed that we could build a solid company that offers clients customised solutions in the most efficient and transparent manner. TopFX’s flourishing journey and our clients’ loyalt prove that we have succeeded in delivering the quality service we aimed for. Due to our company’s rapid growth, we have recently moved into a new office, and we currently employ over 40 staff members.
Prokopios Katsaros Head of Brokerage at TopFX
Q Being the longest serving member of TopFX in an industry where people move around so much, what kept you there? If you move around too much, it’s probably because your work doesn’t offer you the fulfilment you are looking for. Therefore, you are seeking better working conditions, salary or growt h opportunities. I didn’t experience this kind of lack. From day one, I felt a sense of purpose, and I was motivated to make things work. My priority was to establish strong partnerships with our liquidity and other service providers so that we offer our clients competitive pricing, reliable execution and a wide range of instruments. My objective was and still is, to make TopFX a brokerage that deserves clients’ trust and serves them in the best way possible.
Q TopFX was the first in this field locally. How do you think you have managed to stay relevant? It all comes down to being honest about what you offer and delivering what you are saying you are going to deliver. I know that “transparency” is a rather cliché term that’s being overused in the industry. However, at TopFX, we try to honour its true meaning and do business in a fair and open way. Our vision is to build a reliable company that clients entrust with their funds
and recommend to their network. In addition to the above, we have improved and accelerated the client onboarding procedure, added new instruments and invested in enhancing our customer support. We are committed to providing our clients with fast and reliable execution of orders and industry-leading pricing. Rather than just offering empty promises, we put theory into practice, and our offering is consistent with our words. Q Do you feel that the innovative 2-in-1 broker solution with Spotware helped get your name out there further? I believe that the solution we created with Spotware is not only a win-win for both companies, but also for the brokerages who are going to choose it. Instead of looking for a liquidity provider and a trading platform separately, both startups and established brokerages can benefit from this integration saving valuable time and resources. The 2-in-1 broker solution is welldesigned and combines our Tier-1, aggregated liquidity with the upgraded cTrader trading platform suite which enables traders to access three different trading methods within the same interface. Switching between manual, copy and automated trading is easily done by clicking the buttons “Trade”, “Copy”, and “Automate”. Traders can also combine all three different methods instead of choosing just one. This is a strong selling point for brokerages looking to attract
new clients who are interested in copy and automated trading. cTrader is a cross-device platform and is available on web, desktop, iOS & Android. Apart from the retail trading platforms, brokers also get access to their own administration panel and hosting solution. The combination of innovative trading platforms and multi-asset liquidity across Forex, Indices, Energies, Metals and Cryptocurrencies, makes this an in-demand solution that many brokers prefer. Q In the eight years that TopFX has been open, the industry is radically changing with Cryptos. How do you ensure that your clients get the best combination of pricing and execution? At TopFX, we get our price feed only from reputable partners that offer industryleading prices and reliable execution without spikes or gaps. In addition, traders can benefit from our deep liquidity pool and place large orders without any consequences on the quality of execution. This is true not only for cryptocurrencies but also for every other asset class.
Q Whatâ€™s next for TopFX? Throughout my career at TopFX, I learnt that in order to succeed, we must exceed our clientsâ€™ expectations and offer them a solid foundation upon which they are going to build their success. To create a win-win, we must see ourselves as facilitators and enablers who help brokerages grow. To do so, we need to keep improving our offering by establishing new strong partnerships with key industry players. We have already integrated new service providers so that we support more instruments and improve the execution speed for clients who are based in different geographical regions. In the future, we plan to add new instruments and asset classes. We hope that our true transparency, wide selection of markets and top-notch trading conditions will be strong selling points that will convince the interested brokers to choose TopFX over other Prime Brokers.
Why You Should Outsource Your Lead Generation In The Era of GDPR
GAME CHANGERS Issue #14
XENIA NEOFYTOU Founder of CX Financia
Xenia Neophytou is the founding member and director of CX Financia, a renowned financial services consultancy firm in Cyprus that delivers an exclusive range of tailored solutions to corporations and high-net-worth individuals across the globe. Her extensive background in the financial services sector and accumulated know-how over the course of her career has established Xenia as a sought-after advisory expert for the incorporation of companies, license acquisition and license maintenance. Q As an expert in the field of financial services, predating Forex and a professional who has seen many changes in how the industry works, can you expand on how these changes have molded the current business environment? I have seen many changes over the last 20 years. Most of these changes thrive from the way in which Cyprus is viewed, in that it was considered to be just a small island that was fun for tourists and offered high interest rates for savings. Everything changed after Cyprus joined the European Union in 2014. This political and strategical move opened the doorway for a number of European businesses to set up camp on our island. The fact that the corporate tax was only ten per cent was also a great initiative for investors from Russia, the United Kingdom and Eastern Europe to have their head officers on the island, while still operating in their home countries. These financial advantages then attracted small or start-up retail Forex companies that wanted to obtain licenses to run their businesses here. Cyprus offered these firms, such as Metaquotes and Leverate to mention a few, low running costs and the chance to function in an inexpensive regulatory framework. That brings us to today, when the forex industry on this small island in the Mediterranean has grown into a business sector all of its own. During this time of expansion and change, CySEC was there every step of the way. CySEC has assisted in the formation of a global forex hub, which was carefully created with the implementation of strong regulatory measures. Cyprus has a thriving financial sector and everything needed to fulfill business needs can be found right here. Employees with the right knowhow, digital marketing experts, legal services, appropriate training and more is only a few steps away. This means that Forex
Xenia Neofytou Founder of CX Financia
CX Financia We are a dynamic �inancial services consultancy �irm delivering an exclusive range of tailored solutions to corporations and high-net-worth individuals across the globe. Through a team of highly-focused industry specialists, we navigate the intricacies of evolving rules and regulations to deliver an optimized service offering to people and organisations, reducing �inancial liability and risk and maintaining con�identiali-
«Taking you through the licencing process - From Start to Finish»
ty. We have assisted in the restructuring of major legal structures, in the design of diverse types of funds, and in the acquisition of investment licenses. We also consult a number of Boards regarding their Risk and Compliance requirements and have trained in excess of 100 individuals in AML and
SERVICES • CYPRUS INVESTMENT FIRM (MIFID II) LICENSE • AIFM & UCITSM EU FUND MANAGER & FUND LICENSES • ELECTRONIC MONEY & PAYMENT INSTITUTION LICENSES • CONSULTANCY: AML &COMPLIANCE • INTERNAL AUDIT/EXTERNAL AUDIT • RISK & BOARD ADVISOR • DIRECTORSHIPS & TRAINING • BANKING SOLUTIONS • BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTIONS
Compliance processes and procedures.
CX Financia info@cx�inancia.com www.cx�inancia.com +357 99 611812 – +357 22323461
businesses can fully-function on our shores, without seeking factors from abroad. Q What are the next changes we can expect to see in Cyprus concerning the financial sector? Which other sectors do you think will show the most chance for growth over the next three to five years? The agenda Cyprus has in place to attract new investors is quickly improving Cyprusâ€™ reputation as a home for global investment funds and asset management companies to set up shop. The restructuring of regulations and legislations are also factors that contribute to this.Investors are attracted to capitalise on their investments in a number of sectors. Real estate and property development are only two sectors that provide opportunities for businesses to grow their money. As a country, we are making moves to attract even more investment, for example, the newly established Limassol Marina has drawn in tourism and investors. The energy section is also growing in popularity and so is the maritime sector. Global shipping companies are setting their sights on Cyprus. The next big thing on the economic agenda is the casino resort project that will soon open up its doors on a massive scale. My belief is that the mechanisms Cyprus has in place to avoid harmful tax practices and our increased regulation and transparency will lead to further competition between international companies. Our challenge then will be to focus more on attracting new businesses that will need to make their presence in their area of business even more visible in the location they choose to establish their companies. This is where we can step-in and prove to these businesses that Cyprus is the perfect place for them. Our comparatively low cost of living and professional and educated work force are
only a few of our advantages. Cost benefits, top quality of services and efficiency is what will set our island apart from the other locations on their list. Traditionally, the low tax rate was what drummed up international business, but things have changed. One thing has not changed though, the fact that Cyprus is a beautiful island and a very welcoming place to relocate.
Q What is the government doing to differentiate Cyprus from other jurisdictions that also aim at becoming a global investment destination? Over the past three years, the government has been successful in implementing incentives to bring in more foreign business. The government realises the importance of attracting new investors and building the country up to become a leading international financial sector. What differentiates Cyprus from other countries competing for foreign investments, is the governmentâ€™s initiative to improve the tax situation and offer Permanent Residency Permit and Citizenship. These structural moves have brought foreign companies and investors to the island. Just look at the number of multinational companies and international banking units that conduct business here. Companies like these also chose Cyprus over other investment destinations due to its strong legal structure. Our financial sector is virtually impenetrable to money laundry and terrorist financing activities. This is due to a number of mechanisms that the government has put in place. The government has done a lot to attract foreign investors but in order for Cyprus to continue to grow as an investment hub and for growth to be sustained, the government must become more client oriented. It can achieve this by doing away with unnecessary bureaucracy, investing in technology and becoming more efficient.
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Q I know of many brands who used your services to establish their company. What keeps your name at the top of the list when it comes to selecting a service provider? Our team has helped structure, and has achieved, a significant portfolio of licenses with a 100% success rate. This include Brokerage (STP & DMA), AssetManagement, Advisory, Market Maker, Underwriter, Forex, Structured Products, MTF, Group Structures, amongst others. Further, our team is comprised of an outstanding group of diligent, self-motivated individuals who are driven by the challenge of solving problems, and finding a solution, no matter the difficulty. We deliver a client-centric service, which is enhanced by consistent channels of communication, trust and respect. We are able to take on innovative projects which others are scared to handle, thereby attracting pioneering assignments through which we gain first-hand know-how of new market trends, and remain ahead of the industry. Q Your company is also involved in the provision of consulting services for the establishment and operation of Alternate Investment Funds. How do you see this sector as an opportunity for significant growth in Cyprus? The Fund industry is facing exponential growth, due mainly to the appeal of moving away from a bankdominated financial system to more diverse sources of financing. Cyprus is gaining a reputation as an emerging financial services sector with highly favorable social and demographic trends. Cyprus’ legal infrastructure and tax regime also offer great incentive, in that they allow for easy re-domiciliation of funds and fund managers, from offshore to onshore, or from non-EU to EU. Moreover, various tax exemption incentives and/or tax reductions on investment income and transactions on securities also exist. The prospects of hosting non EU funds or small-to-medium size fund managers provides valuable opportunities for growth. Cyprus based AIFMs can offer fund hosting services to selective third country investment managers by offering a platform to run their funds on, including all supporting administration services. Q The Alternative Investment Funds legislation has recently been amended. How will this enhance the Cypriot funds industry? Recent regulatory developments like the introduction of new products and fund structures, e.g. limited partnerships with legal personality, registered AIFs not requiring regulatory authorization and sub-threshold AIFM’s “Mini-Managers”, evidence the efforts of both the industry and the government in establishing Cyprus as a financial center in the Mediterranean. These joint, coordinated efforts provide a framework similar to that of Europe’s main investment fund hubs like
GAME CHANGERS Issue #14
Luxembourg, Ireland and Malta, and opens the market to the registration of new types of funds. Q How can CX Financia help a potential client navigate the intricacies of the AIF industry in Cyprus? Our team has helped structure and successfully licensed a significant number of Fund Managers & Funds. We have also established advantageous collaborations between Fund Initiators, Fund Managers, Administrator, Auditors, Lawyers, Directors and Depositories, allowing for successful Infrastructure management. All projects are undertaken by our staff members, who are licensed and qualified Executives. Q Cyprus is at the forefront of Blockchain innovation and implementation. How is CX Financia embracing the technology and its application in the business sector? We are proud to be an active member of the Cyprus Blockchain community which actively seeks ways to advance this new technology and its potential since its inception. The community is growing in strength, as evident from a number of successful blockchain events held on the island, which have attracted the attention of many international blockchain enthusiasts. Cyprus is also home to the number one university in blockchain education in the world, the University of Nicosia. CX Financia’s interest in blockchain technologies was a natural progression. We have formed strategic alliances with blockchain IT experts, successfully marrying technology with regulation, creating a complete offering. What separates us from our competition however, is our “project assessment”. Prior to engaging with any client, we assess the proposed project and blockchain compatibility taking into account a variety of aspects: technology, regulations, and company formation. Only if the project passes our assessment, do we meet with the client to formulate a plan, and set up targets and milestones. Q How do you see Blockchain technologies impacting broader service offerings, such as healthcare? In recent years, blockchain technology has evolved far beyond bitcoin and is now being tested in a broad range of business and financial applications. However, blockchain technology is still emerging and has not yet been proven at enterprise scale, which is a fundamental challenge to blockchain’s transformative potential. The most promising applications exist in the transfer of value or assets between parties. It is currently cumbersome, expensive and requires one or more centralized organizations. In the healthcare system for instance, medical records are not easily accessible currently. A person can visit a
number of specialists, be it a dentist to a heart surgeon, but this means having a number of records allocated in different locations, or with different levels of access. Blockchain offers the potential of consolidating those records under one ledger, making them readily available for your doctor. This speeds up the diagnostic process exponentially and eliminates miscommunication errors, improving healthcare management overall. Of course, a complex system such as this requires several years of planning, designing and testing. A simpler application is the digitization of consumer products, tracking the origin and history of transactions, ensuring their quality. Q Was it hard to step away from working for someone to start CX Financia? The idea of starting something of my own never crossed my mind when I set off on my career path more than two decades ago. Over time however, I realised my entrepreneurial spirit was looking for the right opportunity to take flight. It was in 2015 that I decided to change course, and set off to pursue something of my own. Joining forces with a group of professional associates, financial and business experts in their own right, we began offering an exclusive mix of services to clientele in Cyprus and abroad. Today, we are renowned for our accomplishments within the industry. These include the design of pioneering fund structures, the structuring and procurement of investment licenses, the provision of innovative financial consultancy services to diverse Boards of companies, and the delivery of sought-after seminars and trainings of teams on matters such a Governance, AML/CFT, and Compliance and Risk Management.
Q As a start-up entrepreneur, what tips would you give for someone who is looking to open up their own company? Although rewarding, running your own business is very challenging. These challenges should be considered before beginning the process of starting your own company. How you manage your time will change completely. You wonâ€™t work normal working hours as your business will take up most of your time. It is very important to find the balance between business and your personal life. Even though you put in the time, instant profit is not guaranteed. It could take up to six months for any kind of profit to start running in, so make sure you have enough capital to support the business and your personal expenses at the beginning. If you do not have the capital saved up, have an alternative source of income. Clientele will not be waiting for you to set-up shop. You will have to work hard at finding clients, obtaining them and make them come back for more. This process is not a quick and easy one. You will have to network at events and promote your business continuously for things to fall in place. Now onto the positive. Having your own business means the way in which it operates is up to you. I can wake up early to work or work late at night so that I can still enjoy a healthy social and private life. The culture of your company comes from you. You can take the experiences you have had in other work environments, and implement the good ones into your company, and leave out the bad. Just make sure that the work gets done on time. Remember, you are the boss so you have the luxury of getting things done quickly and efficiently. You no longer have to wait for management to make decisions or for people above you to deal with matters which may seem trivial to them, but very important to you. You can act, without asking for permission.
Blackmoon Financial Group OLEG SEYDAK Founder and CEO of Blackmoon Oleg Seydak Founder and CEO of Blackmoon Financial Group.
Q With the SPDR S&P 500 ETF token, it tracks the S&P 500. Why should I not invest directly into that? Is it a leveraged in anyway? For now, these products are not leveraged in any way. Although we are technically able to do this, we are trying to be conservative about the offerings while we rollout our overall product suite. For those investors that are able to open a traditional brokerage account, I would agree, at first glance, that the value-proposition of tokenized listed ETFs is minimal. However, you must also consider the tremendous amount of capital behind other country currency controls that are immediately released due to the borderless nature of cryptocurrencies. For those crypto investors, who have stored their value and trust in DLT, a tokenized ETFs offers a safety ramp towards removing volatility from their portfolio. Further, these products act as a fiat Bridge to the crypto universe and vise versa, in that they are fungible products on Blackmoon.
GAME CHANGERS Issue #14
Q You also have a number of other interesting products coming out in the very near future. One that caught my eye was the Algo trading of Cryptos. Without giving away all of your secrets, can we be confident knowing that these are traded on a liquid exchange where there is sufficient market depth?
mature reasoning towards a cryptobased investment. The initial responses we are getting so far are way above my expectations, and I’m excited to share all the hard work we’ve put into it. Initially we are going slow with what we have planned, but I expect this product line to increase dramatically on Blackmoon in the coming months.
To be quite honest, there aren’t any secrets here. When we release the Crypto Index products, they will be fully transparent - in their strategy, mandates, positions, as well as the list of exchanges we will be using.
Q How do you vet the assets on the platform? What quality controls do you?
Importantly, the crypto market overall is really immature. We looked at the alternatives towards finding crypto-alpha and diversification, and for the most part they have all failed. Our internal analysis showed us how the crypto trading universe is a one-way marketplace where it’s really hard to find reason to not hodl bitcoin. We believe that our new group of investable Crypto Indexes, some rebalanced daily, will offer a more
Aside from the required compliance checks, the due-diligence factor is not unlike that of a VC Fund Manager considering his next investment. We meet with management, and run our own financial analytics and modeling on the underlying fund, as well as run some beta-testing and market research to determine the fund’s marketability and demand. Not all funds are easily tokenize-able. The redemption liquidity of the fund, and their fund-administrative capacity and auditability plays a large part in our internal decision making process.
Q Do you believe there should be some form of regulation with regards to analysis of the product being loaded onto your platform? Yes. Of course. The entire financial landscape is built around the regulatory environment that has existed for the past century, and that’s not about to change anytime soon - nor should it change. It’s no secret that regulators are being challenged to find a solution dealing with the new borderless crypto environment. In fact, we are working directly with regulators in some jurisdictions to configure for a tokenized solution that fits their existing regulatory model. With that in mind Blackmoon is structured as a traditional financial company, albeit with a cooler and more flexible technology stack using blockchain and smart contracts. Q Who is your target market to use your platform institutional investment companies or can the individual use this to select certain investments? The advent of decentralization and subsequent tokenization is flattening the bell-curve of investments overall, where capital is flowing more freely into the Long-Tail. Individuals are now able to access markets and risk that was previously an insider’s game. However, until the challenges of the current regulatory landscape and credit-based custodianship issues are solved for, I expect that the traditional institutions will wait on the sidelines until the market further matures and is able to meet their exacting investment mandates and standards. Blackmoon is leading the way forward, but it will still take some time before the status-quo adjusts. Q Can you classify the risk for the end user of a certain investment product on the platform; Such as is there sufficient market depth with the crypto algo? Yes! Absolutely. In fact all our investable Crypto Indexes take this very notion into its pricing methodology. Both, the strategy-mandate is filtered for liquidity, and our proprietary execution-algos dynamically adjust to the overall market and associated availabilities. Going forward, when we release our secondary marketplace and trading platform, our tokens’ liquidity and availability will be more easily defined and transparent.
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Let Gareth Southgate save your sanity! PAUL ORFORD Editor of Game Changers Magazine
Last week I realised that football wasn’t coming home. Not this World Cup, anyway. The post-World Cup comedown ground into my subconscious with the realisation that my thrice daily game addiction cannot be quenched. Normal life moves on with that uncomfortable feeling of France now being holders. The past week has been an existence of ifs, buts and maybes for Harry Kane in the semi-final. England’s manager Gareth Southgate has gone from a temporary footballing solution to being mentioned as the person to handle our Brexit negotiations and bring back stability to a political system that is destabilising further by the day. Although from my perspective we didn’t go all the way and win it, we left the competition feeling that a corner has been turned after more tournaments than I care to remember where England appeared to freeze under the weight of expectations. How did the coach reframe the fragile mindset of this team to exceed greatly the task given to them, and how can it apply to our organisations? What appeared to make Southgate different from previous managers was his willingness to embrace sports psychology. Based on what I saw, this made a telling difference to the team’s performance. Can it make a difference to a deskbound oaf like me as well? Empirical evidence shows that more often than not we have a narrative running through our mind where the end result is being played out. Sports performance guru Andy Barton argues ‘Often, it’s the spin you put on things’. Instead of viewing the endgame negatively, we should start to see victory and a positive outcome being played on a loop inside your head. However, thinking positively, reciting positive mantras and using visualisation techniques are only a small part of the process to enforce change. Barton goes further: ‘Simply thinking positive isn’t helpful. If the team just imagined themselves lifting the World Cup, that’s positive thinking but it doesn’t serve any real purpose.’ To achieve a positive end result, we must also visualise the steps required to get to that result rather than just picturing the mother of all commission cheques. ‘The skill is in your application to a task because that’s the bit you’re in control of. Say you have a big presentation to do, or a big event, or job interview – if you’re feeling fear you’re already mentally rehearsing it in a negative
GAME CHANGERS Issue #14
Paul Orford Editor of Game Changers Magazine.
way. [In mental rehearsal,] you prime your brain to play it how you would like to be. You might want to be confident, speak clearly. It’s not just positive thinking.’ As we operate in a highly stressful and competitive environment, a practice such as using mental cues can be a keen weapon in your arsenal. Kate Hays, the head of psychology at the English Institute of Sport, says ‘People will have cue words that will bring them back into focus on the task at hand. It’s just one or two words that can get people to focus on the right thing.’ England’s team psychologist Pippa Grange stated in a recent interview with the Guardian newspaper that there are five areas to increase the chances of your success when it comes down to operating under pressure. • Don’t fear failure: ‘part of what it takes to be courageous is overcoming the constant battle between the desire for what we want and the fear of failure. Most of us don’t expose ourselves because we are fearful.’ • Reframing emotions: you’re not ‘nervous’, you’re ‘excited’. A penalty shootout or a big presentation is not something to dread, it’s an ‘opportunity’. • Positive thinking is unhelpful if you’re simply fantasising about achieving an Oscar/the World Cup/a fuller social life. Instead, focus (positively) on the steps that could get you to your goal. • Treat your employees/customers as individuals rather than as a homogenous group: different approaches will work for different people. • Kindness, listening and empathy will take you further than barking orders: use praise to motivate people. It’s said that there are two jobs that are impossible to leave as a success: English football team manager and British Prime Minister. Can Gareth Southgate save not only the country from imploding by becoming Prime Minister, but also set us on the way to a more positive-thinking civilisation with his teachings and change the universe as we know it? I don’t know – let’s start with the next World Cup, maybe.
GEORGE AGATHANGELOU Chief Business Development Officer
Q What is Universal Crypto?
Universal Crypto is a team of young, dynamic, and multicultural individuals with a wide diversity of skills, allowing us to tackle challenges in Finance, Marketing, PR and Business Strategy. We have a deep passion for the cryptocurrency sphere, and everything related to it. Our team is conformed by 6 main team members, as well as our network of business associates and partners throughout the world. It was launched by Bogdan Maslesa in 2017, with the aim to provide high-quality blockchain services and consultancy. We also provide workshops for enterprises and startups that want to involve the benefits of blockchain technologies in their offering or their business practices. Q How did you come up with this idea? During last yearâ€™s crypto boom, cryptocurrency and blockchain were on the headlines of mainstream media while the majority of people had absolutely no idea about what they were. That made us notice a gap in the market. During that time, I happened to meet with Bogdan Maslesa, who was working as a financial analyst at the time, and discovered that he had already created Universal Crypto. The connection between the cause and the team was instant! This lead to an immediate expansion of Universal Crypto, with the vision of spreading the awareness and adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, coupled with the goal to consult individuals, corporates and even one day perhaps governmental parties. Q How does Universal Crypto provide value to the blockchain sphere? The services we provide cover a variety of areas and are all bespoke, catered for each client. We of course offer consultations to individuals designed to accommodate clients according to their blockchain expertise and background. Corporate consultations resolve the best possible way to include blockchain technology in their
line of business. A core segment of our services is white paper (WP) workshops, re-writing and creations. This involves our team performing numerous WP reviews and directly providing feedback and suggestions on areas to be added, removed and adjusted. By determining the same elements that we consider for our workshops and including them in WPs, we reverse-engineer projects to appeal to the world-wide blockchain community; including token economics and best practices to be followed in the ICO world. Moreover, since we are in the ICO space, we always apply the best practices regarding compliance and KYC, even though it is not a legal requirement. Another key aspect of UCâ€™s activities is events organising. We believe these events are crucial for the spreading of awareness and bringing people together to exchange ideas, connect, and match like-minded individuals, resulting in collaborations and strategic partnerships. We have also built strong partnerships that provide for community building or /and management, ICO incubators and exchange listings. We also cater for social media management, content creation and copywriting especially for the crypto-related channels, apart from the traditional Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter account, such as Telegram, Reddit and BitcoinTalk. We are to institutional
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GAME CHANGERS Issue #13
investors, Fintech companies, family offices, crypto-exchanges and crypto related fiduciary and corporate services worldwide, in order to offer advice and services in all parts of the process.
Q What can we expect from Universal Crypto in the future? We recently became members of the Cyprus Blockchain Technologies (cybt.eu), a non-profit organisation aimed to conduct edge-cutting research in the field of Blockchain and Distributed Applications. CyBT also organises transfer-of-knowledge sessions, roundtable discussions and executive education seminars on Blockchain technologies by bringing prominent academics and professionals from leading organisations from around the world. We are always open to meet, discuss, and create synergies so that our voice can be heard louder. The fact that this particular cause makes us feel good is even more empowering and motivating to achieving better results as an organisation and for our clients. Lastly, we have another initiative started by Bogdan in 2017, with the goal of creating an active community in Limassol, to discuss thoughts and opinions on the developments within the blockchain industry: The Bitcoin Club Limassol. This community has been expanding ever since, ready to expand to other cities, such as Nicosia, Larnaca and Paphos. Therefore, we welcome any invitations for discussions and synergies with similar groups in Cyprus. We are genuinely inspired to improve people’s lives in Cyprus through education in new emerging technologies and the “Internet 3.0”. There’s enormous value in the liberal, anarchist, cypherpunk, and crypto-economist communities. We are ready to start impulsing future blockchain and Fintech events locally and internationally, in order to connect these people. We have many exciting things under developments, so stay tuned and follow us on Bitcointalk, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn!
Left to right: Bogdan Maslesa. Patrick Makedonas. Constantinos Antoniou. Andreas Nikolaou. Carlos Maximiliano.
App Next & Kpax Marketing JOANNA MICHAELIDES Legal Manager at Appnext, Head of Legal at Kpax Marketing Ltd
Q You grew up in Australia but studied in the UK. How did you find living in UK? I am quite a multinational person, having lived in Melbourne, Australia for the first 15 years of my life, I then finished high school in Cyprus and quickly found myself for the first time completely alone living in Brighton, England starting my first year of University. The change from Cyprus to UK was a welcome one and I saw it as a great opportunity to experience living in yet another country. The next 4-5 years in the UK were the most memorable and cherished years of my life so far. I was dedicated to complete what I had gone there for and at the same time enjoy and embrace the culture while I was at it. Through all the difficulties which came with my studies, pulling all-nighters with my head stuck in my law books, the tears and the stress of deadlines, I would not have changed a thing – living in UK was a great life experience which taught me not to rely on anyone but yourself, believe in yourself and always keep you dreams alive. Q How did you get an interest in law? One of my earliest memories as a young girl in Melbourne would be our family debates and discussions. I would always be the bossy little mediator trying to have everyone come to some kind of conclusion or agreement and I remember hearing ‘she will make a great lawyer one day’ which I guess planted the seed in my head. It wasn’t until I was in high school in Cyprus thinking about my future where I started researching the different types of law and the prospect of studying Law. I was unsure as to what law I would want to major and specialize in however I knew there were many opportunities in the corporate sector so then decided to do a double degree in Law (LLB) and Business (Hons). At University I became very intrigued by Family and Criminal law as they were definitely the most interesting modules however as enjoyable as they were to learn about, in practicality I knew that they were not for me. After I graduated, I then moved on to complete the LPC (legal practicing certificate course) at the school of law in Guildford whereby I had to choose 3 modules which I wanted to major in. I chose Family and Criminal law (honestly – they were picked for fun) and my third was of course, corporate law – the one which, for me, was the most challenging. This is when I really
GAME CHANGERS Issue #14
Joanna Michaelides Legal Manager at Appnext, Head of Legal at Kpax Marketing Ltd
gained in depth knowledge of corporate law both theoretically and practically. Q How did you get to where you are now? Having successfully completed my studies, I moved back to Cyprus initially to be closer to my family again and seek opportunities on the island. I endured a tough few years finding my
feet here, as a graduate entering the working world I found myself quite lost and confused. Cyprus was still in economic crisis, jobs were scarce and employment opportunities were at an all-time low. With the need to work, I quickly decided that any real office experience would do me good so was happy to take any office job that I could find. Within a couple months of moving back to Cyprus I started working at a shipping company as office executive and PA covering a maternity leave for a year, I then moved on to a couple of other odd office jobs however finding a job in my field was proving to be impossible. Nonetheless I was grateful for the work experience I had gained in these two to three years. They made me work-wise and taught me that the work environment is crucial, to always put 100% in whatever you do, even if you don’t enjoy it (if you don’t, someone else will!) and always keep your options open. In summer 2014 I was unemployed and had basically given up finding a job in my field in Cyprus so I decided I would only accept another job if it was in my field and gave myself 3 months to keep looking, otherwise I would be packing my bags and moving back to Australia to start a whole new chapter. It was not until about a month later, I was in a small village Zakopane in the Polish alps, for a friend’s wedding mingling with the guests when I met a lovely couple who asked what I do… I briefly explained my situation and mentioned I would be moving very soon, the husband’s eyes lit as I was telling him about my studies and lack of opportunities and he quickly responded that the company back in Cyprus that he was working for was looking for a junior in-house corporate lawyer and provided me his contact details to contact him on my return to the island. Upon returning I was reluctant to contact him, I had already accepted that I was moving and that it was probably too good to be true, until he called me a week later wondering when I was going to send him my CV and asked if I could send it immediately, so I did. The next
day I was at the reception waiting and reassuring myself that I have nothing to lose, after all Australia was around the corner! This was the first interview that I had felt so relaxed and confident and it resulted in an offer being made on the spot and to start the following Monday! My journey had finally begun. Q What are you doing now? I am still at the same company 4.5 years later learning and growing every day, I am now head of the legal department and handle all legal matters for the group of companies. My biggest lesson is there is no limit to how far you can go, if you know what you want keep going for it and it will find its way to you. I am so grateful and proud to be a part of such a great company which continues to grow and provides individuals of all levels with great opportunities. Apart from my career, I love to travel! Q What would you tell someone who is looking to start law? I think a lot of people see law as a good & rewarding career option, which it is but as with anything, success will only come if you are truly passionate and enjoy learning about it. Law is very dynamic with many options to choose from however it is also a never-ending lesson to be taught and learnt; laws are constantly changing and being updated so a strong interest is a must to be able to keep up with all the new and updated laws. If one has the genuine interest and has the drive to achieve their goal in becoming a barrister, lawyer or anything else for that matter, then no matter the amount of reading, the all night studying and the parties you miss, nothing will stop you getting to where you want to be.
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THE JOURNAL FOR INDUSTRY LEADERS
The Open Source Finance Journal for Industry Leaders. www.gchangersmag.com