Nick Jones, Co-Founder & CEO at Zumo:
“Zumo enables users to buy, store safely, send, spend and exchange crypto and traditional money anywhere in the world easily and cheaply. It democratizes access to crypto and normalizes it by making it useful in everyday situations. Zumo is smart money for everyone.”
In this article, Relevant and Nick Jones will discuss the natively compliant platform of the crypto space – Zumo Money. We deliberated on three whys of the spooky crypto space and shrugged about the rushy ways of how UK regulations impact companies’ strategy. Nick knows what you need to build a perfect team – so he provided a good reason for hiring not only experts but enthusiasts.
Zumo Money is a fully decentralized mobile wallet and payments platform. The company was founded in 2017 by Nick Jones and Paul Roach and made remarkable growth in their field, aligning with regulatory authorities from the source.
“I’m probably a tech industry veteran, working in the space for about 20 years. The backstory started when I sold my last business in 2012. Then, I spent about five years investing in data, big data, machine learning AI-type businesses. I wanted to get back into an entrepreneurial business. Paul and I started looking at blockchain in 2016. I got very interested in that space from a philosophical point of view.”
The transparency, the immutability of data on-chain was the desired point to be gained. Nick Jones and Paul Roach decided to build the simplest, most trustworthy way to acquire cryptocurrency and then be able to hold it safely.
“In a system that wasn’t within central controls, you start trying to experiment in the space, and you realize how difficult, complex, and terrifying it seems for people to try and get into the cryptocurrency space. “What does it all mean?” “What’s the scam?” “What’s not a scam?”. There are three critical reasons for that:
And you know what, I’ll give you the fourth one. Some platforms still have terrible UX/UI. We wanted to be different and change the way people think of a crypto market.”
It was crucial to be compliant and align the regulations from the very beginning of Zumo. Therefore, reliable service and prudent holding abilities were the key aspects of their startup.
“To apply on a fundamental level for the directive, we had to understand where our customers come from. We do that on an ongoing basis to make sure that we align the rules. In the UK, that means we have to do full KYC (Know Your Customer) on our users. That heavyweight KYC helps us make sure they are who they say they are. So, once they’re on the platform, we do it.”
Recently, FCA has tightened regulations towards cryptocurrencies. That does impact crypto-activities in all sorts of ways. The Industry rush and rapidly changing landscape create a unique and complicated space for the newcomers.
“Directives are not applied in the same way in every country of Europe, unfortunately. Understanding the market we want to enter is the primary thing to consider before starting any journey. Then, you’re looking at global regulations. Regulators are behind on their own and trying to catch up all the time. So, they often make decisions they partially understand. That means some of them are going to be compromised because of a poor understanding of the space. So, our focus remains on being superbly prepared, as we believe that’s the future.
The complexity begins with how the regulation is written. For example, every alike platform can only work with companies that have their specific crypto FCA administration. As for now, we can’t sell our business services to another UK FinTech unless they’re on the FCA registration list. This is going to take 18 months or so for the province to do it. That’s just one example of how our plans will be changing – we’re looking at markets outside the UK. All of these companies that were deploying their services in the UK have moved offshore, moved somewhere. So businesses have had to be ready to do anything as drastic to pivot their target market as we did with our b2b service.”
Some companies can’t survive without a certain amount of money. Many of them were cut off while passing through the compliance procedure. Thus, the vital need of knowing how startups can attract investments arises. Nick mentioned that in 2021 January, the crypto market was going crazy. He reminded us of times when Bitcoin was by 70k dollars – the market was going bananas! Although Zumo was the nearly only company with a sole regulatory and compliance approach, investors didn’t recognize them for a while.
“Many companies have chosen to take a route around compliance rather than working with providers directly. And so they perform nicely, probably thinking, “Why have you wasted all this money on regulation compliance with those guys over there?!”
Actually, in the past, we were pretty disappointed that investors didn’t see our regulatory and compliance approach to be fundamental because, in the past, the market was going mad. So now, all of a sudden, investors are very interested in companies like ours that have taken the “compliance-first-approach”.”
Nick mentions that it is imperative to work with professionals who have done the same program or process that you gain to be compiling.
“Work with the best partners and people who can prove that they work with other businesses that are regulated and compliant in exactly your space. Get somebody involved, whether it’s an advisor or not – he should have completed a required program before with success. Find someone else to find an advisory firm, whatever. Just make sure that you’re saying the right things at the right time to the FCA and not getting them to lift information. Experience is number one!
The second is technical shortcuts: pick the best compliance solutions that will scale with you over time. Third, understand the trend pick – the best technology solutions. Finally, try and get as much knowledge on the team. That would be my strong advice.
What else can help you scale is a fresh mind. When you create a function, there’s a cost-benefit piece including a cost advantage of hiring an in-house team. Once you’ve got a core of your team, start bringing in younger people and train them! You can employ fantastically talented grads: one/two years of experience young people. They will be easily integrated into the team as soon as you have somebody to teach them. Later, they will be doing a great job. A motivated generation helps build up a dream team.”
Zumo Money has a compliance team and a money laundering reporting officer. They split into general compliance, the financial team, and onboarding specialists. They are about to grow, optimizing the stuff with technology submissions, automating transaction monitoring, improving the workflow, onboarding, etc. They consider outsourcing and advisory an excellent way to help yourself build the dream team.