HomeOpinionIndustry LeadersInterview: Alex Mashinsky on earning interest by HODLing with the Celsius App, and Nexo

Interview: Alex Mashinsky on earning interest by HODLing with the Celsius App, and Nexo

The Celsius Network app is a really good solution for those who want to HODL and earn weekly interest, but don’t mind filling in KYC/AML forms. There are plenty of folks who buy BTC, LTC, and/or ETH on Coinbase or Binance, then hold onto their assets in a wallet that doesn’t grant them full custody of the funds and doesn’t bring any kind of financial returns either. It’s a lot like keeping your money in a bank account for security, only that you don’t receive any financial compensation for this.

Alex Mashinsky has brought to us Celsius exactly for one clear reason: to create a service which resembles a bank, except that it runs only with the main cryptocurrencies. Consequently, anyone willing to earn interest in the asset they’re holding who doesn’t mind disclosing their possessions can simply download a mobile app and perform a quick transfer. The interest amounts aren’t fabulous, the average returns can be rounded up to 5% a year, and this approach only incentivizes those who are in the game for the long term. A week’s worth of HODLing only brings 0.01% returns (5 divided by 52) – which is still something, as opposed to allowing the exchange to have full custody of your crypto.

However, as Litecoin creator Charlie Lee explained during the exclusive Crypto Insider interview, sometimes it’s safer to keep your coins on an exchange with a reputable security than to transfer them on a computer that’s filled with malware and other potentially-malicious bits of software. And Celsius is built on the foundation of BitGo, which has an otherwise pretty good track record when it comes to security (there was a hack in the Bitfinex services back in 2016, but BitGo wasn’t officially found guilty).

The idea of a bank-like custodian goes against the cypherpunk ideals which precede Bitcoin, that Tim May has also iterated before his passing. However, the crowd of crypto enthusiasts has really diversified over the years and there certainly are individuals who don’t mind disclosing the coins they own and would gladly pay the taxes their government demands. To those to whom gains and accumulation are much more important than the privacy of the funds, services like Celsius are to be taken into consideration.

Attached you will find the video interview with Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky, as well as a full transcript of the entire conversation. During the discussions, 3 LTC and 1 ETH have been deposited into the Celsius app in order to better demonstrate how it all works. The content wasn’t paid or sponsored in any way by Celsius or any other company or individual, and it’s all part of the journalistic reporting we’ve done in the name of providing accurate information. We did it so you have all the details and explanations before deciding to entrust your funds with this third party custodian. Therefore, none of this is an endorsement and you will even find some critical viewpoints to balance the otherwise pretty positive presentation.

 

Read the full transcript:

 

Vlad Costea: Okay, welcome back and for the second part we’ll be looking at the functions of Celsius to better understand how it works and how this might just be a replacement for banks one day when we switch to Bitcoins instead of US dollars.

Alex Mashinsky: So, yeah, so, look, our purpose… the purpose of Celsius is really to grow and empower the community. And, I think the only way that Bitcoin or Ethereum or any of the other coins we support become real replacements or alternatives to government issued currency is if you have very broad community all over the world that is supporting and accepting and using these coins.

So, what Celsius has done is focus on the three most important services – that we think are the most critical services to the crypto community. One is making a deposit and earning return, right? So we created the only solution, the only app, for sure, that you can just download, do simple KYC, and start earning deposit… income – you don’t have to know anything, you don’t have to trade, you don’t have to know when to get in or when to get out. You deposit and automatically, every Monday, interest shows up in your wallet. If you have BTC you have more BTC. If you have ETH you have more ETH, and so on.

At any time you can withdraw your coins and use them for anything that you need to use them. So, there’s no lock up. There’s no special agreements, and so on. We partnered with BitGo, so we keep the coins with a custodian. When we issue a loan, or issue the coins, or lend the coins out to earn interest… we basically take collateral, so there’s always your coins in the wallet, or the collateral for your coins is in your wallet. So, the earning interest is a very simple service, again, everything we do is open and transparent.

You can see where the coins go. You can see what they’ve been used for. You can see what the community is earning. And if you’re one percent of the total BTC you will earn 1% of the total interest distribution. Every Monday we publish the interest. And every Monday we deposit the interest into everybody’s account. And you can only do this with the blockchain. Because if tomorrow we have 100 million user and we can distribute interest to 100 million users you couldn’t do that with the Visa/Master Card – you couldn’t do that with the bank, because the fees that all these people charge in may cases would be more than the interest distribution itself. So this model only works on the block chain. And it allows people with 10 dollars or 5 dollars to earn as much as people with 1 million dollars. So, that’s a simple service. Again, to use it you just download the app, you register, and you go in and you basically just start using the service that we provide.

Vlad Costea: Okay. Before we move on and describe each function of the app, I have to ask you something because each day, just like every cryptocurrency person, I check Coin Market Cap. And, I saw recently that they added this function that allows you to get a loan to buy crypto. And, this service which sponsors them is called Nexo. And, it’s labeled as instant crypto loans. So, how is Celsius different from Nexo?

Alex Mashinsky: So, two big differences. First, we charge, I think, half of what Nexo charges. So, we issues loans at 9% and 5% per year. And, I think Nexo charges anywhere from 16 and 20%. And, now Nexo claims that you can use their coins to pay, and when you pay with their coins it’s half, but if you try that you will see that it only works when their coin is at a certain price. You can’t use it all the time.

So, you will always pay higher interest with Nexo. Also, I think Nexo only issues loans in euros, they do not issue loans in dollars. We issue loans in all different currencies. And the biggest difference – the most important difference – is that Nexo takes the profit, they charge you twice as much, then they take that profit and they give it to their rich investors.

Everything we earn goes back to the community as interest distribution. So, we give all of the profit, or 80% of the profits of the interest income, back to the community. So, one day you could be a borrower, and you pay interest, and the next day you could be just the person depositing the coins and earning the interest – and you know exactly where it’s coming from. I don’t have any water here so it’s going to be difficult to…

 

Vlad Costea: Okay, I think the next question is about an article which you wrote a few months ago. And you’re talking about the approach you’re taking with Celsius and you wanted it to have organic growth, because you started an ICO in early 2018 and it was successful in terms of raising funds. And, you said that it was not the only way of financing. You also managed to secure some funds from other sources.

But you didn’t pay from these funds to get listed on exchanges or to get advertisements and sponsored content so you wanted it to grow organically and have a word by mouth approach to it so people recommend Celsius because they like it and because they see that maybe they earn interest according to their deposits. And, how has that worked out as compared to other ICOs that maybe spent a lot of money just to get listed on exchanges and get promoted and have sponsored articles and all that stuff which is stuff basically…

 

Alex Mashinsky: So, basically, few things first, we did not take any money from very large crypto investors. So, if you look at Nexo, for example, Nexo took a lot of money from 4 or 5 big investors. They promised the community that they will do an ICO but they didn’t do the ICO. All 4 or 5 of their big investors took all of the equity in the company – or all of the coins in the company.

So, we from the beginning, we’re not going to allow the big investors, the rich guys, to get even more rich. This is built for the community, by the community. I don’t need more money. I’ve already made a lot of money in my career. I’m doing this for the community. And, if you don’t, believe me, you can go and check and… my background and how much I had in exits and how many good businesses. And I took two companies public. I ran a public company as a CEO, so I made 10s of millions of dollars over the years and I don’t need more money. It’s not going to help me with anything. So, one, all of our membership is small investor.

We don’t have a single big venture capital, or private equity, or Wall Street investor in our community. Which is the opposite of what a lot of the other ICOs did. And, we also decided not to list on exchanges because all the people that listed on exchanges the main reason they list on exchanges is because they wanted their coins or their tokens to go up in value so they can dump them. And then their community will be left with tokens that lost 90% of the value. So, if you look at Celsius we did not list on exchanges because these exchanges also did not agree to commit to us that they are not doing bad things for their members – like Binance and Bitmex.

And the second reason was, we decided that we will only start selling our tokens after our shareholders or after our token holders have created value for themselves. So, the team in Celsius, you can check it on Telegram, agreed to lock – we already had the first 6 months expiration – but the team has agreed to lock all the tokens again, to be 6 months after we list in an exchange. So, we’re planning to list an exchange in March. And the team agreed to lock the tokens for another 6 months after that. Meaning, there’s gonna be a year and a half between the time we did the ICO and the time the Celsius will start selling any coins or tokens on the market. So, all of this is supposed to communicate to our community, to show the community, that our commitment – that we will only benefit after our members have benefited; after our members have had a year of earning interest – of seeing how everything works, telling their friends, building this company.

And then the value of the token, I think, will be higher than it is today. It’s in our best interest. It’s a win-win for everybody. So, I don’t think there’s any other company that has done that. So, I think we’re the only one that are really doing this because we believe in the community. We’re doing it for the community. And, I hope that the actions will convince many of your viewers and many other people that Celsius is different than all the other projects out there.

 

Vlad Costea: Okay, because if you work as a journalist in the blockchain industry then you have to write a lot of reports based on roadmaps. When you check any ICO you see that part of the roadmap is to get listed on as many exchanges as possible. And, to investors, or people that buy in maybe the presale, this is a guarantee that at some point the tokens that they buy are going to be much more valuable and they are going to maybe dump them as soon as they get listed.

Alex Mashinsky: That was 2018 and 2017. That is not 2019. So, you know, I think most people are not going to be able to dump their tokens at a higher price than they bought them. Unless the project has become very very… viable project and they really create value for their community. So, our job is to create the community and create value for our community. That is the only way that our tokens will become more valuable.

Vlad Costea: How do you regard all this buzz about the FCC trying to shut down ICO operations because they are not compliant? Do you think that it was foolish of them to think that just because it’s built on the blockchain it escapes legislation and regulations?

Alex Mashinsky: Well, I don’t think the FCC is trying to shut everything down. I think the FCC told all the projects that were non-compliant, all the projects that they think are securities, that they have to change how they do things or they have stop – they have to cease and desist. Right? They have to stop operation or they have to return the money to their investors. We filed reg-d, we filed the documentation with the FCC, when we filed for our ICO.

We filed with FinCEN. So we filed all the regulatory bodies telling them what we’re going to do – explaining to them all the terms and conditions. And, I think we did everything by the rules. So, the FCC is not asking us questions. They are not asking us to shut down, because we are doing everything by the book. And, today, there is much more emphasis on security tokens and I think the security tokens are going to get their own set of issues, but there’s going to be… look, out of the utility talking wave – I think there were 3 or 4 thousand of those – I think there’s going to be a few very good projects that are going to prove to be the google or the Netscape or the Microsoft of the blockchain.

And the problem today with most investors is just really trying to see through the noise and through the smoke – who is a real company. Who is doing it for the wrong reason? Who has a real community? I can tell you we only… the only project that doubled their telegram membership over the last 6 months, okay? First, we didn’t do any airdrops – so we didn’t have any fake accounts on our telegram. Second, we are growing organically. Our friends telling their friends – and we went from 6 or 7 thousand users to something like 13 or 14 thousand users on Telegram. So, you can see our progress, or our momentum, just from deposits. We haven’t had a single day, since we launched, about 3 months ago, where we had more withdrawals than deposits.

Every day we have more deposits than withdrawals. And that is because we are providing a very valuable service to the community. Which we do and no one else does. And, the reason no one else does is because we are giving back most of what we generate back to the community. Everybody thinks we’re crazy. Everybody is saying, “Alex, why are you giving everything back to the people?”. So, I think, if you, again, if you really believe in socialism, if you really believe in all these things, then you should be doing it – you can do well and do good at the same time. And that’s what we’re trying to do. There’s plenty of value here for us if the community is big enough. If we have 10 thousand users then we didn’t do anything. But if we have 100 million users, then that’s going to change the world.

 

Vlad Costea: If you have 100 million users I think you’re going to be the largest utility and application of the Ethereum blockchain.

Alex Mashinsky: Yes. Yes. Well, remember, we don’t only work on Ethereum. We support Bitcoin, we support Stellar, we support Ripple. We support the top 8 blockchains today. So, we’re not married just to Ethereum. When I send you Bitcoin through CelPay I’m using the Bitcoin blockchain, right? I don’t use the Ethereum blockchain.

 

Vlad Costea: Mhm. So, you’re listing currently… well, not listing… you’re supporting Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, but it’s written as bitcash in here, and I’m not sure it’s the ABC version or Satoshi’s Vision…

Alex Mashinsky: Yeah, since the split, we are supporting both. Because we hold coins for our customers for both after the split. So, we have support for both coins. Both chains.

Vlad Costea: And, I guess when you showed the price it’s like the sum of both?

Alex Mashinsky: So, I think the app doesn’t show yet each one. But it will show each one separately.

Vlad Costea: Okay. You’ll also support Litecoin, and Ripple, and… wait, it’s Ripple or XRP?

Alex Mashinsky: It’s XRP.

Vlad Costea: Okay, and OmiseGo. Does OMG have a blockchain of its own? I think I recall it was on the Ethereum blockchain.

Alex Mashinsky: That is a very good question, I have to check that.

Vlad Costea: But, why are you not supporting EOS or other projects.

Alex Mashinsky: So, we use BitGo as our custodian. So, under our platform, we use a custodian that holds all the coins, and currently, we can only support what they support. So, if you go to the BitGo.com website you can see the 50 coins they support. We just took the biggest blockchains there and that’s who we support. We’re planning to add Stellar and EOS and so on. When they add them we will add them as well. It’s just a question of time

 

Vlad Costea: Ok. So, now, let’s talk about the functions. We have borrow, earn, and pay. I’m not sure if that can be seen… ok. So, with borrow, let’s say that I need $1,000 dollars and I want to get them in Litecoin. Oh, so for borrowing you only support Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and XRP – as far as I can see.

Alex Mashinsky: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin… yes. Yes.

Vlad Costea: Let’s say that I need $1,000 in Litecoin. And I have to choose one of…

Alex Mashinsky: Well, the Litecoin and Bitcoin really just determines what security you have. Because we only lend that have crypto. We don’t lend… this app is not for someone that has a house and wants to get money against his house so he has a car.

So we only lend to the crypto community. And we charge very very little. So, if you already have coins. You basically say you have BTC and I want to take a loan, how much will you charge me? That’s what the app shows you – is how much you will pay per year in interest, in dollars, against your Bitcoin.

Vlad Costea: Oh, so if I have Bitcoin I can take some US dollars I can pay you back in time and I get my Bitcoin back?

Alex Mashinsky: Exactly.

Vlad Costea: So, I guess that’s a great deal during the bull market.

Alex Mashinsky: No, it’s also a good deal at any time. Because, remember, if your Bitcoin costs… let’s say you got your Bitcoin at 100 dollars and now it’s at 4,000, if you sell it you have to pay half of it in taxes, immediately. But, with Celsius, you don’t have to pay tax because you’re not selling it… we hold it for you and we give you the loan. So, when you return the loan we return your coins and they start earning interest. But, you don’t sell your coins… you don’t have to pay the tax – you have to pay the tax later.

Vlad Costea: Oh, that’s a smart loophole. So, I have…

Alex Mashinsky: That’s what the rich people use to stay rich. They don’t sell their real estate, they don’t sell their stocks, they just borrow against it. You know, if you check how Donald Trump became so rich – he never paid any taxes against his real estate. He just kept buying more and more real estate and borrowed more and more against his real estate. So, he never had to sell anything.

Vlad Costea: I never thought about it, but that’s really smart.

Alex Mashinsky: It’s a secret. It’s a secret only the rich people do, you know? The funny thing is that this is the rule in almost every country in the world. But, most people don’t use this.

Vlad Costea: So, if I choose one of these loan amounts… it says $200 and 20% LTV. What does LTV stand for?

Alex Mashinsky: Loan to value ratio. It’s the value of your coins compared to the value of the dollars. So, if you take a lot of dollars against your coins, that is risky for the community – so we charge you more interest. If you take little dollars against your coins, that’s low risk for the community – so we charge you less in interest.

Vlad Costea: Makes sense…

Alex Mashinsky: Everything we do is based on “is it good for the community, is it not good for the community, who benefits?” and so on. But, really, we have to balance doing good for the members and doing good for the total community. And that’s what we try to do

Vlad Costea: And I also have a 5% annual interest rate. And the monthly interest payment of $.83. But that’s for $1,000 in Litecoin.

Alex Mashinsky: Yes.

Vlad Costea: So, what is the largest amount that somebody can loan at this point?

Alex Mashinsky: We don’t have a limit we issued a loan just a few weeks ago for $5 million. Single loan to one individual. I think that’s the largest loan in the industry, bigger than anything Nexo did, or anybody else. We had one person come with $10 million worth of Bitcoin and we gave him $5million dollars worth of dollars.

Vlad Costea: And, how much does he have to pay to get his Bitcoin back?

Alex Mashinsky: He pays just like you, if you took $1,000 dollar loan, in percentages, it’s exactly the same amount. We don’t charge… you see when you go to the bank and you have a lot of money they charge you a little, but if you don’t have a lot of money they charge you a lot. Celsius treats the big guy and the small guy exactly the same way, because we try to treat everybody equally.

Vlad Costea: So, no matter what the amount is you pay the same. That’s what you’re saying?

Alex Mashinsky: Exactly, yes. Try to find another institution that does that.

Vlad Costea: I will try. Just for the sake of it. So, there is the earned tab, in which you can deposit your Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple, or XRP, OmiseGo and Bitcoin Cash. So, you can take any of them. Let’s see, I have Bitcoin, and the interest rate is 3.75%. Let’s try with Litecoin…. It’s 4.50%, so I guess that’s more convenient. And, how much do you plan to deposit? Let’s see, how much is Litecoin, today? $30… ish… Let’s say $30. And, I get an estimated interest per week of $.03… and $.11 per month. Estimated total interest per month of $.68. But, am I getting this in Litecoin if I deposit….

Alex Mashinsky: You’re getting this in Litecoin. Every week you are getting more Litecoin in your account.

Vlad Costea: Okay. But, what if the price changes, and here it says that I get…

Alex Mashinsky: We always pay 3.75% of whatever the price is. Every Monday we pay the interest and it is based on what the price is that Monday.

Vlad Costea: And, how is that profitable?

Alex Mashinsky: The interest… Well, we have to make more than 3.75%. So, for you today, if you hold your coin on exchanges, you make 0. If you hold your coins in cold storage, you make 0. The opposite, Bitmex, and Binance, make money from your coins. They don’t give them to you. Right? Binance makes a billion dollars from people giving them the coins for free. And, we’re saying stop giving your coins for free. Let us charge for your Bitcoins and we will give you back 80% of what we can collect for the coins. We do the exactly the same thing that Binance does. Exactly the same thing Bitmex does.
But we do it on behalf of the community, they do it to make themselves rich. And, they take that value and extract it in dollars out of the community. We take the value and give it back to the community as more coins. So, we create demand for coins because we only distribute BTC and eth and Litecoin. They take the money out, they have to sell the coins. So, they are creating pressure on the price to go down even more. So, again, I invite your viewers to understand what’s happening, and say should I really support Binance? Should I really support Bitmex? Should I support the exchanges or do I need to put my coins with someone that is acting in my best interest?

Vlad Costea: I just got an idea and it’s very spontaneous. But, right now, while I’m speaking with you, I’m going to deposit one ether from my wallet. Because, I think I got it at $600, and I think right now it’s at $100 and something… maybe $200, I’m not sure. But, I want to see how I earn.

Alex Mashinsky: It’s $106, so it’s… yes.

Vlad Costea: That’s very low.

Alex Mashinsky: Yes.

Vlad Costea: So, I got REKT in the jargon of the industry.

Alex Mashinsky: We all did. And, yes, I have ether, too. So… very painful.

Vlad Costea: I don’t have much. I only have 1. So, I hold it in this wallet. It’s loading… I guess it’s because I have an older iPhone. Success. So, I own $114 worth of ether.

Alex Mashinsky: So just over 1 ether.

Vlad Costea: Yeah.

 

Alex Mashinsky: Yup.

Vlad Costea: And I’m going to send it.. .so how do I send it to Celsius?

Alex Mashinsky: So, go to the Celsius wallet, get your address…

Vlad Costea: Wait. So, I go to the wallet and I…

Alex Mashinsky: Just go to deposit.

Vlad Costea: Hmmm…. Deposit. You mean…?

Alex Mashinsky: Earn. Yes.

Vlad Costea: Earn. Okay. And I pick Ethereum.

Alex Mashinsky: Yup.

Vlad Costea: And I need to input the amount. So, it’s… how much was it?

Alex Mashinsky: Just click on the bottom. If you just go to the bottom and click on add coins, you don’t need to put the amount… it’s just going to show you what you’re going to earn. But if you go to the bottom and click deposit coins… Just scroll down.

Vlad Costea: Okay. Deposit coins… and it’s…

Alex Mashinsky: It gives you the address, so just copy the address.

Vlad Costea: Yeah, so it’s just this one, just in case anyone wants to send me more. Um…

Alex Mashinsky: Now, go to your other wallet, and send your coins to this address.

Vlad Costea: Right. Mhmmm. I go to the send section… I just want to see how fast this is, but I guess it’s up to the Ethereum blockchain.

Alex Mashinsky: Right. That will have to go through the blockchain, but you will see pretty quickly that we see the transaction coming and then it’s just a question of the confirmation.

Vlad Costea: Oh, so wallet, which I’m using, says that it isn’t supporting contract addresses. Because this a smart contract.

Alex Mashinsky: It’s a smart contract, yes. What wallet do you use?

Vlad Costea: It’s Blockchain

Alex Mashinsky: Okay.

Vlad Costea: So, you have to remember that. I’m going to try with Litecoin, because I also have a few.

Alex Mashinsky: Might be the same problem, because all of our deposits are addresses… you know, contract addresses.

Vlad Costea: With Litecoin I’m using LoafWallet.

Alex Mashinsky: Okay. Well, you need a new address, right? You need to go and get the Litecoin address.

Vlad Costea: Mhmm… This is actually exciting. I’m trying on the crypto equivalent of a bank and I’m depositing Litecoin for 50%… let’s say I’m going to enter $100 worth of Litecoin. Deposit coins… Copy… I like that it has the address which is for segue. It’s the newer one. And, if I send… amount in dollars, it’s $100… to… paste… okay… no memo. I’m just going to hit send here.

Alex Mashinsky: Yup.

Vlad Costea: It will take 2 to 5 minutes to process and I have a fee of $.05. Okay. Send.

Alex Mashinsky: That’s from your current provider, we don’t charge any fees. We only pay, we don’t charge.

Vlad Costea: Okay. So, in this whole ecosystem, I think I’ve asked the question once again – but what does the Celsius token do in this whole process?

Alex Mashinsky: So, the Cel token first, is a membership token. You have to be a member to participate in all of our services. Second, the CEL token, in the future, you’ll be able to receive interest in Bitcoin or Ethereum or CEL tokens. If you believe, just like, if you’re familiar with BNB for Binance, they’re all currency, it’s the same thing, it will have its own currency that is used to exchange value between the people that took the loan and the people that gave the loan, right?

So, we will use the CEL token as a mechanism to exchange value. Also, CEL tokens used to differentiate between the people who are long-term hodlers and the people who are just speculators or… what do you call them?.. They’re just, you know, just in this for the money, right? Because if you immediately sell your CEL tokens, we give you less interest, as compared to the people that hold all the CEL tokens. So all the people that are hodling CEL will receive more interest, maybe a quarter more, 25% more, than the people that don’t have the CEL tokens. So, the CEL tokens are an indication to the community – I am here to help the community – vs other who are just here to take out the profits.

Vlad Costea: It’s almost…

Alex Mashinsky: These are just some…

Vlad Costea: It’s almost sent – the lite is almost 40% written in the block.

Alex Mashinsky: Well, check your wallet to see if it says that coins are coming.

Vlad Costea: Wallet… I go to Litecoin… nothing yet. Transactions… Oh, I got it. But, it’s still pending.

Alex Mashinsky: Exactly. We can see it, but we need enough blocks to process to make sure that it’s there.

Vlad Costea: Mhmm… and from this point on I just… so, I went to earn, and I’m just going to HODL in the wallet.

Alex Mashinsky: You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to check. You don’t have to move. You don’t have to do anything. It will automatically… every Monday you will get interest.

Vlad Costea: I can hold this for maybe a year or two. Because, I saw the price decline, and I’m pretty disappointed.

Alex Mashinsky: Well, look, we need new people in the community. If we just send coins to each other, that’s not going to do anything. So, again, all of your viewers, if they want to create value, they have to use, for example, CEL pay, which is a third service, to send people coins. So, when you’re in a taxi you have to convince the taxi guy to take a payment in, for example, Litecoin or Bitcoin or whatever.

When you’re in a restaurant you have to convince the person to take the tip… That’s what I do every day. Every interaction that I have, I try to use CEL pay to push more coins to new people. And, when they try they get really excited. When they read about it they understand that it’s for them. This is not for rich people to be richer. This is for the poor people, and for the people that are stuck in the middle of their class, and the people that never, people in Africa and India and middle east and everywhere else and Romania, who don’t have a chance to break into the middle class or to break into the 1%.

So, if all of us got together, it only works if all of us get together, and every person has to bring 10 new people into crypto. Then, the coin value will go up. Because there aren’t enough sellers for this wave of adoption. Sometimes we have a good day and sometimes we have a bad day, but as long as we bring more people into crypto we will always win. It’s that simple.

Vlad Costea: Now that I think about it, that’s a pretty wise business plan, because you’re not looking for short-term gains to maximize your investments. You think about the network effect, and how this can grow into something that has that snowball effect, and get’s very…

Alex Mashinsky: So, you know, I invented VOIP, what we’re using right now to talk to each other, and after 25 years only half of the people on the planet use VOIP. Half of the people pay for the service, pay for voice to call somebody. And it took 25 years for half of the people on the planet. So, when people ask me, you know, how much time do you have? I’m like, I have 50 years. It’s going to take a long time, it’s not going to take a month or a year or two years. I know a lot of you people are in a hurry, but if somebody should be in a hurry it should be me – I’m much older than you guys.

I can see the end of my life, but I think that my job is to make sure that this new opportunity is delivered to all the young people. I have six kids at home, believe me, they have the same problem you have, right? Of basically, make it in this world, because unless you’re a tech genius or you’re born on wall street, you’re not going to be able to make money. It’s going to be very difficult for you to buy and apartment and then… and do well. And, that’s really part of what we need to do here – to enable young people to do much better.

 

Vlad Costea: That makes sense, and now that I think about it, this whole part sounded like a big advertisement. You know, like I’m trying to promote you, but I’m genuinely interested to see how it works.

Alex Mashinsky: Like you said, this is…

Vlad Costea: To me it’s something new and I wanted to try it, so…

Alex Mashinsky: It’s for the community. Everything we just described is for the community, right? There’s no mechanism where we somehow, we meaning Celsius, we benefit before the community benefits. We only benefit if there’s a lot of users.

Vlad Costea: I just got an email which say “cha ching you just received three Litecoin!”. Okay.

Alex Mashinsky: Yeah, just a shame you sent it to yourself.

Vlad Costea: Mhmm…

Alex Mashinsky: Would have been much nicer if somebody sent it to you.

Vlad Costea: Oh, yeah.

Alex Mashinsky: I gotta run. But, it was great doing this video.

Vlad Costea: I have one last question. If you have two minutes. I feel like I’ve been overly nice. And, you said you’re friends with Nick Szabo? And, he usually says that a trusted third party is a security call. And, how is this security of this wallet guaranteed? So what happens if somebody hacks it and steals private keys and funds from it? Is it guaranteed by any fund or do we get compensated if there is any loss.

Alex Mashinsky: So, we use BitGo. BitGo is the foundation for many exchanges. So, when you put money, for example, in kraken. Kraken does not run it’s own custodian. They actually use BitGo, for example. When you trade on the chicago mercantile exchanges, CME, they use BitGo. So, you can see that they’re one of the oldest and safest… it’s definitely much safer than having your own wallet in cold storage on your phone.

But there’s always risk. There’s risk that they make a mistake or we make a mistake or whatever… And the Celsius community… part of the money that we collect, since we only give 80% back to the community, part of the money we keep is a safety… it’s almost like an insurance policy – it’s a self insured policy, in case something bad happens.

And, sometimes our customers make mistakes, like they send money to the wrong address, or they do silly things, and we have to decide if we want to help them or if we don’t want to help them. But, basically, as long as we are a profitable company, and as long as we are doing everything in the interest of the community, we should be able to recover from any situation – from any disasters. We did not have any hacks, we did not have any coins stolen since we launched. And, I’m not planning to have any, that’s why we chose the best custodian that we could find.

Vlad Costea: Okay, but did you ever get an impression or an opinion from Nick Szabo about the Celsius network?

Alex Mashinsky: Well, Nick is a purist, like I said before. So he believes that people should just keep the coins in cold storage and that’s his view of the world – he doesn’t like exchanges, he doesn’t believe in exchanges. We don’t think that people keeping their own coins is a solution, we think already 3 million Bitcoins were lost. So, we don’t think this is a viable business if all of the people that invest in Bitcoin are going to lose their coins.

So, we think that a centralized custodianship that is using the blockchain, right, is much better solution – as long as the actor, the company running it, is acting in your best interest. The problem that we had until now is that nobody was really acting in your best interest. And, we think that Celsius is the first organization that is trying to everything in the interest of it’s community. That’s the real big difference. Going full circle to Nouriel Roubini and the panel at Milken and everything else.

Vlad Costea: That’s a great way to end it. And, I’m going to check on this Celsius affair and see how it goes with the interest because I deposited some coins. And, I would like to thank you for this interview and for your generous donation of $50 in Celsius tokens.

Alex Mashinsky: Sure, thanks for having us, and let’s stay in touch – let’s see how your coins do over the next few weeks.

Vlad Costea: Let’s see how the project does on the long term.

Alex Mashinsky: Perfect. Thanks for your time.

Vlad Costea: Bye.

Alex Mashinsky: Take care.

Written by

Vlad is a political science graduate who got a little tired and disillusioned with the old highly-hierarchical and centralized world and decided to give this anarchistic blockchain invention a little try. He found out about Bitcoin in 2014, had to do a presentation about it at Sciences Po Paris in 2015, but was too foolish to buy any. Now that he’ll never be a crypto millionaire and hasn’t acquired his golden ticket to lifelong financial independence, he’ll just write op-eds on various topics.

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