Kevin Murcko, CEO of CoinMetro, is a bit like Harrison Ford chasing all over the world, but where the legendary Raiders of the Lost Ark actor was searching for hidden treasures, Murcko is looking for regulation.
Regulation is a funny thing; back in the late 90s countries scrambled around looking for rules to contain the new, emerging financial instruments. Often the regulation was bolted onto existing legislation making it unwieldly and largely not fit for purpose. ‘Often regulation promised to protect the individual, but more often than not, it merely protected the unique position of the super rich,’ says Murcko who is well known for his outspoken views on this subject.
However tricky traditional financial regulation appears, crypto regulation is a minefield. Only a few countries so far have tried to introduce laws; Japan and Gibraltar area leading the way, with other countries such as Estonia bolting crypto rules on already exisiting regulations that came into forces in years’ prior under the EU eMoney legislation.
Murcko is also looking at partnerships with entities that have financial licences to trade in countries like Vietnam and UAE.
‘At the end of the day if a business, any business, say a business selling cupcake, accepts alt currencies for its product then it needs to be able to deposit its income into a bank,’ he says. ‘Without regulation what bank will accept the money? If we don’t get the regulation right then the operation will fail.’
This view is reflected in the white paper for the ICO, a full two pages of legalese pre-empts any possible false or misleading information.
Looking at Murcko’s business career it might be argued that he would flaunt regulations and rules. From the age of 16 he took to the role of entrepreneur like a duck, running early cellphone sales operations, getting into real estate, managing bars and laundromats.
Then in 1999 he discovered FOREX and in the process lost a lot of money trading currencies. A sideways move into introductory broker suited him much better, where he grew a strong client base. From there he founded his FOREX business FXPIG which taught him the importance of regulation.
As he built up his business, he also discovered bitcoin and the idea of building an exchange for cryptocurrency grew in his mind. It would take a further three years, however, until he had enough spare time to look at the area properly.
‘Imagine trying to explain cryptocurrency to your granny,’ he says. ‘They would not understand at all. But then consider talking to them about a Mutual Fund or an Investment Product and then you might get their attention.’
Murcko does not think that fiat is going to go away. ‘There are too many invested bodies to let that happen. The G7 for example would not let alt currencies overtake fiat. Fiat may go fully digital but it is not going away.’
The concept behind CoinMetro grew into a platform that would initially create investing packages that mirror traditional financial instruments. ‘Only 2% of the world’s population has invested in cryptocurrency; to get more on board you have to offer something that looks familiar,’ he says.
Of the eight core services CoinMetro plans to offer according to its published roadmap two products, directly tied to the investment side of the platform stand out; an cryptocurreny version of a EFT (Exchange Traded Fund) called a ETCF and Tokenisation Asset Management or TAM.
‘I want to make it as easy to buy into crypto denominated funds as fiat ones,’ says Murcko. ‘And for that you need regulation.’
In addition, he is very keen on presenting simple User Experience. ‘The first time I tried to contribute to an ICO, I knew what I was doing, but it still took about four days to buy ether before I could then go on and contribute,’ says Murcko and you can hear the exasperation in his voice as he speaks from his base in Quintana Roo in Mexico.
‘It has to be simple or this goal of mass adoption is nothing more than a dream,’ he repeats.
Another piece to the CoinMetro platform is the ICO Express platform. This is a neat piece of financial engineering. The platform allows companies or organisations to launch ICOs through an automated process where smart contracts are generated without need for lawyers or additional expense. While this is clever, what CoinMetro does with the resultant tokens is even cleverer. The tokens will be packaged into ETCF along with other big names.
‘This means people may invest in an ETCF based on a big name brand but the smaller, mostly anonymous tokens are part of the package, and they get taken up too,’ says Murcko. ‘This will have a big impact on the tokens’ liquidity, ensuring they are invested in and not just sold – which can typically happen after an ICO.’
In time, Murcko has big plans for the tokenised app. ‘Think small contracts – AirBnB or Starbucks loyalty programmes – we aim to use the smart contracts for use here. Again no lawyers need apply,’ he says.
The exchange does not stop there. ‘Our goal is to offer simplified access to the crypto space but that is not enough. If we want to retain our customers, then we will have to continually add more products and services. We see our platform becoming a one stop shop for all things crypto in time,’ says Murcko.