Interview with Pascal Kurzawa (Ecosystem Development Lead)

Can you briefly explain your role within Verso Finance?

I am the Ecosystem Development Lead and mainly responsible for business development and partnership management around financial institutions, wallet providers and crypto experts. In addition I aim for VSO to launch on some of the largest exchanges within the next few years to utilize Verso’s full growth potential. Ultimately providing our investors with great ROI’s as well as people in need with the right microfinance products. 

What got you interested in Blockchain in the first place? 

My interest and passion for blockchain were triggered while I took a class at university. I have learned about a specific use case of crypto / blockchain that blew my mind. The project’s aim was to improve financial inclusion in the Philippines through the use of Blockchain. I have always been seeking for a calling. Building a product that can improve people’s lives. After having taken several classes on blockchain technology and having spoken to a wide range of industry experts, I’m confident that Blockchain will have a tremendous impact especially in emerging markets. A perfect industry for seeking a calling! With Verso we want to put theory into practice by providing people around the globe with microfinance products. I’m beyond excited and proud to be in charge of growing this ecosystem. 

What is your background?

I was born in Germany and earned a B.Sc. in international business with a focus on finance. Throughout these studies I was able to travel the world, climbed the highest peaks of Nepal, went to Japan for a career in finance and discovered my burning passion for Fintech and cryptos. This has led me to kick off my career with a Singapore based Fintech SAAS platform where I lead growth strategies  around partnership opportunities and customer acquisition. I also started my own podcast that covers financial innovation and personal finance. What currently excites me the most is the idea of bringing the full stack of embedded finance to any app! Empowering them to provide hosted accounts, cross border transfers, microfinance products and more to their users. 

What are your thoughts on apps, be it financial or non financial. How would they integrate with a marketplace such as Verso and are they in general open to discuss embedding finance into their app? 

Throughout the last years I have experienced a drastic shift in the market that was mainly boosted by super apps that came to success by integrating financial products into the user experience (Kakao, Grab, Line, We chat just to mention a few), more often I hear from even early stage non financial companies, that they want to integrate microfinance products and payments. There is a tremendous opportunity here that can’t be overlooked in my opinion. Even famous VC’s come to realize the opportunities behind embedded finance and microfinance products. Improving customer value, enhancing user stickiness, diversifying revenue streams are just a few of the long lasting benefits Verso finance can bring to its partners. Ultimately, it is to say that most of the companies I have been talking to are beyond excited for our marketplace to launch! Exciting times are laying ahead though it for sure is a long way to go for us!

What has led you to the development of Verso Finance?

We have observed a strong trend among apps across different industries towards creating financial products for their users. Some customers even approached us and asked if we can integrate loans or insurances. We always had microfinance products on our roadmaps for a later stage. However, the rising demand and market dynamics made us realize that there is a high opportunity for us but also severe challenges. We would have to integrate with financial service providers individually which takes a huge amount of effort. On top of this, redoing the process every time we are approaching a new market. There had to be an easier way and that’s when we thought about blockchain for the first time. However most chains were not made for this use case, high throughput and low fees. Avalanche therefore raised our excitement and we decided to build Verso. With the aim to not just serve Wallet Engine but also other Wallet Providers around the globe. 

What is the unique value proposition of Verso and what excites you the most about this project?

The unique value proposition of Verso is that it will be a key enabler for cross border embedded finance. Financial institutions can simply list their products on oru marketplace, Wallet Providers can fetch these products and offer it to their users. Users for which financial products may have not been accessible previously. What excites me the most is the positive response we so far got from apps and partners. They want to do it and they want to do it as fast as possible. Market dynamics are shifting and apps, be it wallet or non wallet providers, want to offer in app financial products as it gives them a significant edge when it comes to customer value and user stickiness. 

But above all I’m excited that we can build a product that has the potential to truly impact people’s lives. Help them to get their basic needs covered when it comes to financial services. Setting the stepping stones for economic development in emerging markets and beyond. 

Many DeFi / blockchain projects have failed throughout the last few years. Why do you believe Verso is successful? 

There are two reasons.

First, I believe what gives us a significant advantage is our team of experienced executives in CeFi. Our broad network and expertise in compliance and financial regulations will help us to leverage the benefits of Defi while integrating with financial institutions. 

Second reason is our existing partnership with a wallet provider in Singapore. Through Wallet Engine, Verso already has a large pool of interested apps that are seeking to implement microfinance products while Wallet Engine is delivering the in-app wallet ecosystem. This value proposition is very strong in my opinion and it is basically on us now to bring product development and partnerships up to speed.  More exciting updates and a first glance of our test app will be released soon to the community stay tuned 🙂

Where do you see verso in a year from now? Why do you believe our community should be excited about the future of verso?

I don’t want to overinflate expectations here. I know the crypto environment moves fast and while other projects may be able to provide product updates frequently, this is more difficult for us. Because one thing is for sure, DeFi moves fairly fast but cefi does not. While we set up the product we constantly need to check in with regulators and talk to financial institutions in order to comply with the Rules that guide the CeFi world. Offering a full suite of products on a high scale next year is not our goal and would get us nowhere due to imposed regulations. However we are confident that we will have the first product, a travel insurance life by the end of the year in one jurisdiction with one of Wallet Engine’s Partner apps. It will be on a rather small scale, we are talking here about a few hundred insurances. Towards mid of next year we will start scaling and offering more products. I’m confident to say that we will have yield, loan and insurance products life in a year from now with a solid growth rate!

Anything else you would like to tell our community? 

I wish to take this opportunity to thank our community for their constant support and for jointly believing in our vision. Without you it would have not been possible to get where we are today. Thank you! We believe with a community this strong we will be able to change the way microfinance products are distributed and bring it to the people in need!

Stay tuned for more product updates and token initiatives. The team is working on some very exciting things around token listings, products and partnerships!

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