The Big Interview

Change’s Kristjan Kangro: There is crypto hype and disillusionment, but also productivity

Blockchain is already changing the ways people invest, spend and raise capital around the world, Kristjan Kangro, Founder and CEO, Change, tells Coin Rivet

Coin Rivet: Tell us about Change

KK: Change is a challenger bank that uses tokenisation technology to offer better ways for people to invest, spend and raise capital. We are betting on a future where anything can be tokenised, be it a car or a piece of music. Investing in these assets can and should be simple and this is what we aim to enable. Finally everyone will be able to start investing and saving for their future because it is easy and affordable to invest in small fractions.

However, while investing in fractions is great, we also believe that we can change how people spend. For example, if you had some tokens of the Mona Lisa painting or tokenised shares of Tesla, why not go to a restaurant and be able to pay with these tokens too?

The tokens will, of course, be converted in the background, but if the technology is seamless and the transaction is low cost, people can invest in what they believe and literally live in the value systems that they find most interesting.

With these opportunities, we will open new ways for people to participate in the economy, invest, spend and raise capital for their ideas. In 2017 we raised $17.5 million in a successful ICO. We have an already functioning platform for trading cryptocurrencies for free and we are finalising the equity token swap details that would take us closer to our big vision of creating an open financial system.

“For us, it does not matter what the price of Bitcoin is, what matters is how blockchain restructures our societies and economies”

Coin Rivet: On that last point, you are preparing to become Europe’s first company to complete an equity token swap. Could you tell us more about that?

KK: We believe our community and the team deserves more certainty about the value of our token than current utility tokens can provide.

Although utility token is a great payment method and rewarding system within the Change ecosystem, we want to make sure the thousands of people supporting our growth since the beginning have clear rights and benefits through ownership of the company. Based on a thorough legal analysis and numerous interviews with the community members, we decided that the best way to go is tying the token to the company’s equity.

Change will exchange (swap) the current token (CAG) to the new equity-like token (CNG) on a 1:1 ratio in an effort to make investors and supporters more involved in the company’s success. The CNG token will provide more certainty about the value of the Change token, as opposed to what other current utility tokens can provide.

Owning CNG will enable you to receive similar benefits and rights as shareholders and CNG holders will have a right to receive interest payments when Change is financially successful. This process will ultimately transform Change into a proper public company with tokenised shares that can be traded on securities exchanges across the globe.

Coin Rivet: 2018 was a a rollercoaster ride for cryptocurrencies. What are your key takeaways from the past 12 months?

KK: There have always been rallies and drawbacks with new breakthrough technologies. There is hype, there is disillusionment, but in the end, the technology is installed and productivity will follow.

In the background of the crypto boom and recent market crash, a new economic infrastructure is forming. For us, it does not matter what the price of Bitcoin is, what matters is how blockchain restructures our societies and economies. Blockchain technology enables tokenisation of assets in a way that never had been possible before. It is already changing the ways people invest, spend and raise capital around the world.

During the last 12 months, we have become more confident that big changes are really happening and we’re looking forward to seeing the market ‘cleaning up’ so that the serious players can build the new future without just massive hype and speculation.

Coin Rivet: Do you believe that widespread crypto adoption is coming or will it remain a niche thing for the foreseeable future?

KK: Blockchain technology will be embedded into anything we do – how we build trust, how we trade, invest, make contracts and create information. Societies, economies and media – everything will change.

So in the face of this, adoption of a single tool or currency does not matter. We may not see a clear-cut conversion from one world order to another, most likely the process will be gradual but firm.

Coin Rivet: There are many high profile crypto critics who argue Bitcoin is a busted flush, a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist etc. How do you respond to them?

KK: If they are criticising the hype then we agree with them. Even Vitalik Buterin has criticised the cryptocurrency boom and warned that cryptocurrencies are as yet still really volatile, although of course this doesn’t mean he doesn’t see real utility in Ethereum.

But we believe that there are many problems that can be fixed with new technologies – take high fees and inefficiency in banking for example.

“Blockchain technology will be embedded into anything we do – how we build trust, how we trade, invest, make contracts and create information. Societies, economies and media – everything will change”

Coin Rivet: The UK Treasury Committee recently labelled Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies a ‘Wild West’ industry and called for regulations in order to protect investors. What’s your take on regulation in this space?

KK: Currently, there is no clear indicator where the regulation will go. It seems likely that virtual currencies will not remain operating under current financial frameworks and something completely new will be created.

For example, in Europe, where we are active today, no new official opinion has been published since 2016 when the European Banking Authority found that virtual currencies should be excluded from the scope of PSD2 (Revised Payment Services Directive) because the directive was created without taking into account mitigating the risks from cryptocurrencies.

Estonia has been one of the very few countries that has clearly separated virtual currencies and payment services, which enables crypto companies to operate without mismatching requirements for payment institutions.

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