Interview with Ilya Volkov, CEO of YouHodler
YouHodler — whose name is inspired by the term “HODL” — says its product gives the community a way of accessing money without selling their investments. We are pleased to have the opportunity to dig a little deeper into the project with CEO Ilya Volkov.
Ilya Volkov: Actually, a funny little fact about the origin of our name. Yes, HODL did originate from a crypto meme and YouHodler is definitely in reference to that. However, with our recent relationships with several Swiss partners and banks, we realized Hodl has a different meaning there. Time and time again, our Swiss friends ask us if our name is in reference to Ferdinand Hodler, a famous Swiss Painter from the 1800s.
While that was not our intention, we actually found out Ferdinand Hodler and YouHodler has a lot in common. Ferdinand Hodler “developed a style he called “parallelism” that emphasized the symmetry and rhythm he believed formed the basis of human society.” In terms of us, we feel YouHodler operates in parallel to traditional banking services. We don’t advertise ourselves as a replacement for these institutions but instead as a parallel stream that works to improve sections of the industry that the traditional banks are failing in.
Can you give us a quick introduction to your background? How did you get where you are today and what does your company do?
My name is Ilya Volkov and currently, I am the founder and CEO of YouHodler, a crypto-backed lending platform. I got my start in the FinTech industry almost 20 years ago, with around 10 years focus on Commercial Finance and another 10 years on Online Trading with different financial assets.
I would say these segments taught me immense experience in currency exchange risks, international payments, and overall global finance. In fact, I would say crypto loans have a very similar risk management model to that of traditional finance.
Cryptocurrencies are beginning to show their promise as a unique store of value and efficient means of transfer, yet the case for lending still hasn’t been fully proven. How have others attempted to solve this problem before, and why did their solutions succeed or fail?
Actually, I would argue that lending has been proven for quite some time now. Lending services, for the purpose of leveraging and hedging, is nothing new. It is just an old instrument that is being used in a new way within the crypto industry. But think about pawn shops, traditional banks, even Wall Street. Using assets as collateral has been around forever. We are just examining it under a different lens.
While we got our start as a crypto lending platform, we are currently evolving into a crypto to fiat FinTech platform with a variety of different services inside. For example, we already have all the major blockchains integrated within our system and multi-currency tools that let users deposit and withdraw funds in different traditional currencies, like EUR and USD. Furthermore, we recently added crypto to crypto and crypto to fiat conversion within the platform, Stable coin payments (USDT, etc.), integration with leading crypto exchanges and major credit card payments and withdrawal.
With a mobile app and platform debit card in development, we aim to become more of a Crypto-Fiat retail bank than merely a crypto lending platform.
Why do you believe that your startup is unique in comparison to its competitors
The crypto market is big enough for different companies in different services. That being said, we offer better collateral options, better loan to value ratios, and more payment solutions compared to our crypto lending competitors. However, as expressed earlier, we are also competing with crypto to fiat payment services. We believe we offer more efficient ways to transfer crypto holdings to fiat debit/credit cards. Our competitors don’t offer this near-instant ability to use your crypto in the real world (via, credit/debit cards). We are creating a utility for crypto in a new way.
What prevents others from copying you?
We are extremely confident in our team of developers and engineers. They are talented in their respective fields and very fast in terms of implementation. Of course, no one can be fully protected from copy cats. However, we believe we have the innovation on our team to stand apart from the rest. Furthermore, we always listen to our customers. They are key in helping us with new developments and we thank them greatly for their input.
What is your role in the crypto sphere and how will you use the innovation?
Again, we feel we specialize in the tokenization of assets and global payments. YouHodler is helping to unlock the value of tokenized assets while allowing users to HODL them and simultaneously benefit from their value. We are creating a new solution within the payment dimension that will help to increase volume for all assets on our platform.
What milestones has the company achieved?
We spent most of 2018 for the development and planning of the platform. In November of 2018, integration of different blockchains went live along with our crypto lending services. Since then, we have been releasing new features nearly bi-weekly and doubling our volume each month. We are moving fast on our crypto to fiat feature and staying on track with our roadmap and company goals.
As a result, we’ve been featured on the industry’s top media publications like CoinTelegraph, CCN, CoinDesk, DailyHODL, NewsBTC, Ethereum World News and soon, we can add Altcoin Magazine to that list.
What about security? Where do you keep fiat and crypto assets to make sure that money is safe?
We work with a number of trusted banks in the E.U. and Switzerland. It is not easy to get these relationships as a crypto project but we managed to do so. We have numerous accounts with these banks and keep money there. As far as crypto goes, our platform uses both hot and cold wallet storage. The platform incorporates a multi-level security system and we always follow industry best practice for cold storage and hardware solutions.
Can you explain to us why you think that crypto-baked loans are better than traditional bank Loans?
Not better. Just different. We are just filling in the gaps where traditional banks are lacking.
Who are your partners and who would you like to partner with in the future?
On a personal level, I have experienced partners from my time in the FX industry. In terms of the company YouHodler, we have official partnerships with Libertex Group and XCOEX exchange. In the future, we plan to partner with even more exchanges, different blockchains, mining pools, and even traditional banks.
We heard that you planning to develop your own debit/credit card so users can instantly pay back and receive loans without hassle. Is it true? If so when can we expect it?
Yes it’s true. We plan to have this offering in Q4 of 2019. However, users can already use their own cards on our platform for the purpose of paying back and receiving loans. Many of us already have too many credit cards…why do you need one more! But for those without banks in the developing world, we feel this YouHodler card will help them access funds instantly unlike ever before.
What is the most important thing you are working on right now, and how are you making it happen?
We hold trust and reputation in high regard. Our main focus right now is getting all the proper licenses for our upcoming business structure. We can tell you more about this in a month or two so stay tuned!
Thank you for your time — any final words?
You’re welcome! Thank you for the thoughtful and intelligent questions. As for final words, I would like to say this. We need to stop comparing the crypto world to the fiat world. Crypto does not have to be a full replacement for our current system. Both can coexist.
We here at YouHodler want to build a bridge between these two worlds. An evolutionary bridge that brings the best parts of both industries together for a harmonious relationship.