I’m involved in quite a lot of start-ups, ICOs and funds these days, and recently started a mini-series of interviews with them, as I think it will be of interest to readers of my blog.
In the third of this series, I’m interviewing Igor Khmel, CEO and founder of BANKEX, whose tokensale is scheduled for November 28.
Please introduce yourself and how you came to be involved with BANKEX?
My name is Igor Khmel and I am the founder and CEO of BANKEX. I was head of the Innovation Lab at Sberbank, the largest Bank in Eastern Europe, and I realized that there was a big gap between the technological knowledge in the fintech space and the financial knowledge in the banking sector. The knowledge gap is even more serious when you talk about blockchain technology. I decided to field a team of ex Bankers, which is part of the reason for the name, and also top blockchain engineers and developers.
What is BANKEX, what problem do you solve and what are you trying to achieve?
BANKEX’s mission is to revolutionize banking and financial services without actually disrupting the existing banks. One of our core models is called Bank-as-a-Service (BaaS), and it is specifically designed to be complementary to existing banking systems and products. We also developed the Proof-of-Asset Protocol (PoAP). Both are revolutionary in that we can optimize the liquidity of non-fungible and traditionally illiquid assets, but they are also not disruptive because they can be accessed in ways that will create a customizable global banking API. A bank that partners with us can offer specific customized products to their clients based on our technologies, and we are also in the process of developing proofs of concept for several financial firms. BANKEX will make Banks even more client-centric since they will be able to quickly provide customizable new products to meet changing client demands across complex and challenging asset classes
How far have you got so far in terms of customers and investors?
BANKEX has several active use cases including equity finance for film production, real-estate development, and lithium mining, among others. We have raised over $10 million during the pre-sale and we have 9 banks under BaaS projects, and 17 strategic partners. We are gaining tremendous traction as a leader in the tokenization space.
One of the most exciting things to have happened most recently is our partnership with one of the leading Hollywood producers: Christopher Woodrow and his company MovieCoin – which essentially will run atop Bankex and will provide groundbreaking services for Hollywood Studios and Independent filmmakers and solve the biggest problem in filmed entertainment: Slate Financing
To better understand how exciting this is, i will paraphrase the main man himself: Woodrow – who says that film finance stack is extremely archaic and has been way overdue for a complete overhaul and this is precisely what we are doing and if I tell you how much money has already been lined up to come into MovieCoin, it will sound like I am bragging, so I shall leave it at that.
What would you like readers of my blog to learn from this interview?
I would hope they get a general understanding of what BANKEX is introducing to the world. BANKEX Proof-of-Asset protocol (PoA) is a standard that enables new generation of assets and contracts creating decentralized and frictionless capital markets. The best way to understand the Proof-of-Asset Protocol is by understanding tokenization. The crypto community is familiar with tokenization for initial coin offering, but they there isn’t yet a viable platform for tokenizing real-world asset. BANKEX is bridging the world of physical assets and blockchain technology through the Proof-of-Asset Protocol. A simple example is that of tokenizing lithium. Imagine someone owns a lithium mine in Chile and they want to attract investment from the global community to finance extraction. We have a third party come go to the mine and using special equipment they determine the amount of lithium to be tokenized, the quality, and the difficulty of extraction. The data from the assessment is analyzed and integrated into the BANKEX exchange. LithiumToken is created and is instantly liquid to investors all over the world. An investor in China meets the ask for the asset token and pays with BANKEX tokens and they can be sure their lithium futures will be in the same condition presented in the smart contract specifications for the token. The mine owner in Chile receives the investment for the project.
And if you could wish for one thing to happen in the next year, what would it be?
Our biggest wish for next year is to have a productive and constructive dialogue with various legislative bodies in UK and US.
While we have had an overwhelmingly good reception from industry participants in all the verticals we are going after, the biggest impediment to our ability to execute is the lack of legal and regulatory framework, which would enable us to formally bind any asset that can be traced to an actual owner, regardless of ownership type, and provide an incorrigible methodology to establish proof of ownership, anchored on the public blockchain via Bankex Distributed Protocol – so, some of the verticals we are wishing for have already been named, but I am particularly excited about the mortgage industry and the adjacent mortgage backed finance and construction.
We plan to have 3 biggest asset classes to be listed on top of BANKEX: RE and Land Registry, Commodities and VC portfolios seeking immediate liquidity
Finally, at a macro level, what do you think are the most interesting FinTech things that are happening today?
I think the IOT, the internet-of-things, and blockchain are two technologies that once they are running synchronistically will completely change the world and we can already see this happening. Blockchain provides a secure transparent platform that basically allays the concerns of those who are nervous about machines talking to each other and making decisions. We can build constraints and immutable safety mechanisms into smart contracts and integrate these with data from the IOT, which will completely alter the physical and digital world interact with one another in a positive way. This is a really exciting time to be in this space, and BANKEX is ready for the challenges ahead.