Interview: The Need For Interoperability by Stas Madorski
What’s the major problem with traditional (fiat) payment systems? And what’s the benefit of cryptocurrencies in the long run? These are just some of the many common questions we received about this fascinating sector. Catch Stas Madorski, our talented Vice President — Marketing.
Stas will be debunking ‘Fanboyism’ in Crypto: The Need For Interoperability. Listen to him give his views on Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and his undying love for char kway teow!
In our Team Spotlight section, we ask WadzPay’s executive leadership left-field questions to familiarise our readers with who the leaders are as individuals, on a deeper level.
How did you start your career? And what makes you passionate about this work?
So how did I get started in my career? Ultimately, to me, the consumer is the boss; I’m passionate about everyday people. People like you and me and improving their lives in meaningful ways. So, I started my career in marketing almost two decades ago, and I’ve worked for a multitude of diverse companies. WadzPay is probably the 15th company that I’ve worked for. However, the bulk of my career was spent at Procter and Gamble (P&G), where I rose the ranks to become a brand manager, working on brands like Pantene. I also had the privilege of creating my own brand, which is called Hair Recipe. This was important to me, because you can improve people’s lives significantly through shampoo. After all, every time you wake up and have your shower, you have a smile on your face if you have an excellent hair care product in your shower.
Fast forward to my life at WadzPay. I think WadzPay does something very similar, and it might sound a little bit odd because I’m talking about shampoo, then suddenly I’m talking about payments. Payments are seen as a dry space versus shampoo (no pun intended), but it’s actually quite similar because we make payments every day for multiple things. And if we can improve. simplify and make payments a little bit more fun, more meaningful, more accessible, and cheaper for everyone, we’ve made a significant improvement in everyone’s day-to-day life. That’s why I’m here today.
Run us through a day in your and the marketing team’s life at WadzPay?
We are quite privileged. We have by far the largest team in the company; we are a marketing-driven organisation. We know how important marketing is to our consumers and our customers alike. I have a lot of people who work with me, and we’re a really fun diverse team. So what we do ultimately is we make things beautiful. We translate what is essentially the dry space of payments into meaningful words and meaningful images that every person will look at, and we try to put a smile on everyone’s face.
So one of the things that we do is WadzPay Moments, a transformative campaign that has received a lot of recognition that over 5 million people have seen. Since we started on this journey, we have been delivering our brand vision, our brand promises to people in a way that is easy to relate to and understand. We are also responsible for translating this highly complex sphere of blockchain. Even some crypto investors don’t fully understand this sphere, so we are tasked to give meaningful reasons so that their take away is: “well, now I know why I should be using the WadzPay platform.”
Who is your favourite marketer, and why?
I don’t have heroes; I get asked this question quite often. My answer is always I don’t have any. I believe that by trying to aspire to be like someone else, you end up copying them versus innovating compared to everyone else in this space; I mean, if you force me, if you held a gun to my head right now, I would say recently my favourite marketer is Elon Musk. That’s only if I’m forced to answer this question, and Elon isn’t a marketer. He’s ultimately an engineer, but what he does for Tesla, everything is marketing. It’s about how to elevate your brand to the next level, elevate the cryptocurrencies that you own to such a level, whereby you can make a profit, so he gets what is required to be an excellent marketer. And I think he’s more of a marketer than an engineer or a tech guy. Still, generally, having heroes can be a dangerous space because you end up emulating them versus innovating what everyone else is doing.
In between roles, DJ-ing is also something you passionate about; how do you juggle this and do you think it helped boost your creativity as a marketer?
That’s a great question. I was a marketer before I was a DJ, so if anything, it’s the other way around. Marketing helped me with my DJing. The ability to create a brand, to kind of market yourself and go to the next level is fundamental. Most people in DJing don’t understand marketing, so they plateau at a certain level, whereas my ability to market is taking me to the next level. So for viewers at home, if you’re wondering, is this guy really a DJ? I formed a duo called the Rave Republic, something like 7 or 8 years ago. I left my job at Procter and Gamble to tour the world full time and had amazing times were doing it. Of course, we have COVID now, so deejaying is kind of on the back burner for now. Although we still release a lot of music, we try to release a new song every one to two months and occasionally do live stream sets whilst waiting for the world to open up so we can pick up DJing once again. But absolutely, I think marketing is what fuels are deejaying as opposed to the other way around.
Tell us your weekend habit and what is one thing most people don’t know about you?
So my weekends are kind of lazy, to be honest, I sit around at home because that’s all we can do nowadays with COVID. One thing that I don’t think a lot of people will realise I’ve been in Singapore for like 11 years now, maybe more. I ‘get’ local food, so if you need a tour guide for food, I’m the person to contact; I know the best of every local dish where to go. Hawker food, so to speak, is in my DNA nowadays. It’s insane; I know a lot of the Hawker vendors. I talk to them. I’ve made friends with them, and they always kind of laughed at this “Ang Moh”, which means the white guy in Singlish is constantly queuing up and sometimes waiting half an hour to eat some of the most famous Hawker feasts in the country. I like char kway teow, a fried noodle dish that should come with many lap cheong. Some balls like stingray are another thing that I can’t go without; I crave and have to have often. Wanton mee is also fundamental.
In our Power Hour section, we ask WadzPay’s executive leadership in-depth questions about the fields of Fintech, digital currencies and beyond.
Crypto has become a buzzword and growing sector to be, but it also comes with a certain lack of trust and credibility? what’s your take on this, and how does one build trust and credibility? (maybe you can spill a successful use case in WadzPay)
Trust is fundamental, as, with any relatively new industry, trust is at the forefront and in payments, specifically anything to do with money: trust is truly fundamental. In our everyday outside of crypto life, we trust big brands, established brands. When Google comes out with a solution that’s to do with payments, we don’t second guess it; we don’t question it because we know this is a well to do established company and if they break your trust, that would be a far bigger implication versus you losing your money. So you inherently trust those companies. And that’s what we’re trying to do in WadzPay as well. We are establishing ourselves with the big brands we are working with tremendous partners. We’ve already announced a partnership with IDRP, a very trusted digital currency company in Indonesia. We have a lot more partnerships that we’re going to announce in the future, including with, let’s say, one of the biggest payment giants in the world.
So having those partnerships and having ourselves as the big brand is fundamental; at the same time, we also have a sophisticated security layer where we partner with companies like Google Cloud platform and Hashicorp Vault, which are trusted, established companies in both payments and the digital currency cryptocurrency space. We make sure that everything we release is vetted. We go through a great degree of testing with everything that we do, and I hope that leads to the creation of trust in the future. I don’t think this is a question that is going to come up as long as you are a big company and we are a big and rapidly expanding company. You inherently have trust in companies like ourselves.
Based on your observation, do you think Crypto is still hard to understand and demystify for many? — How can this be done?
So cryptocurrency is challenging to understand because you’re talking about an abstract concept and human beings struggle with abstract concepts. If I show you a physical object, let’s say a beer. It’s easy to understand. I know what it’s going to do for me will get me a little bit tipsy, and it’s going to make me wake up with a hangover possibly.
But it’s a physical product that I can embrace, and I can understand. And all of a sudden, you have cryptocurrencies, uh, currency, which is virtual, which doesn’t necessarily have anything backing it. But the way that I think you can demystify it, and I give two analogies: the first one is physical cash, what gives it value? We believe in it and there’s government support backing it. That’s all. There’s no reason that these $2.00 bills should have any value. It’s a piece of plastic and in some countries a piece of paper. It’s something that gets printed, It gets accepted.
We, as human beings, through consensus, give it value. There’s no reason that this $2.00 bill could have no value tomorrow, and this is what happened. You look at Venezuela, and their currency became so inflated that you had to have wheelbarrows of cash to purchase something like a loaf of bread. So it comes to a consensus; the other example that I give to demystify it and quantify it is gold; gold at some stage was not a valuable metal.
Gold doesn’t have that much utility compared to other metals such as aluminum. But suddenly, your gold rush happened whereby people attributed specific value over something and realised that it has a finite supply. When something has a limited supply, this scarcity in the end value goes up, ultimately why Bitcoin is booming because people recognised it as a store of value and people realise that it’s scarce and people are rushing to buy whatever supply is out there, the supply will run out very soon. So everyone wants a piece of the puzzle, so ultimately, I think the easiest way to understand Crypto is not to focus on things like Bitcoin and Ethereum and all the other platforms, so to speak, protocols.
In terms of Stable coins, digital currencies, such as USDT (Tether) = 1 USD. That’s super easy to understand despite it taking centuries to realise Fiat currencies as a store of value. There’s a dollar backing every virtual dollar. So what gives Stable coins value becomes easy to understand.
It doesn’t just have to be a speculative thing. Stores of value simplifiy and improves payments because you’re talking about digital currency payments instead of real Fiat currency payments and archaic and outdated systems. It’s supercharging those systems to the new world, whereby you can instantly receive USDT I can send you TRC-20 protocol USDT, and I’m using a lot of jargon right now, but it will cost me almost nothing compared to sending USD by the traditional banking system getting hit by horrible exchange rates offered by banks and getting hit by bank fees which they have to charge because their protocols are outdated and old. So that’s I think this is one way you can understand cryptocurrency.
Based on your experience, what is the biggest challenge to overcome within the industry? And how WadzPay could become a solution to that challenge?
The biggest challenge in digital currencies is the multitude of different protocols and technologies that are implemented. It’s the fragmentation. This just led to what I call blockchain fanboyism, and it’s bizarre to me as a marketer because this fanboyism to do with technology doesn’t exist anywhere outside of this space. For example, when you download your applications on your phone, you don’t care what programming language it’s coded in, whether it’s Java or Python or whatever else. I’m not a tech guy.
You only care about your end-user experience. However, in cryptocurrencies, people are obsessed with different protocols that technologies are used to build each of those cryptocurrencies and digital currencies; people will fight each other to say that Ethereum is the best technology or Cardano is the best technology, or Polkadot is the best technology of the blockchain. I can go on and on and on: people genuinely have Internet fights about this. It’s insane.
So what I think what WadzPay brings to the table is we take a samurai sword, and we slice all those blockchains, all those different protocols at the very top. And what happens is, the heads come falling down, and they create a sort of bridge that connects and unites all of those blockchains. Because let’s face it, we don’t know what will be the emerging or the most adopted blockchain in the universe, lack of a better term; It might be Etherium, it might be Polkadot, It might be something to do with the by Binance Smart Chain (BSC).
But that’s not important. We also know that governments are coming up with their digital currencies. We know that China has a Chinese Yuan. We know that something like 90% of the world central banks is looking at creating their digital currencies. So what happens when you suddenly have government-specific sovereign E-currencies when you have your different chains? When you have a bunch of Stable coins, and when you have banks all vying to be part of the payments puzzle, this is where we come in. We come in with a solution, and we’re building a technology that unites all of those systems. We Unite every payment platform.
Every digital currency platform, technology, and protocol, as one, we create an interoperability layer, we create this layer which connects everything. However, one because why should it consume care about the platform or the network? Does that blockchain or cryptocurrency use?
Currently, we don’t want to have different currencies, different protocols in our wallet. We want to have one currency and want that currency to be paid anywhere in the world. That’s why credit cards are so popular. We don’t have to make the Fiat conversion ourselves: it becomes almost invisible to us, but of course, we pay the terrible exchange rates that the credit card companies are charging. So I think this is ultimately where WadzPay really comes in. We make payments invisible. You don’t have to think about it anymore. You get the best rates. You use the best platforms and the best networks. And blockchain fanboyism becomes a thing of the past.
As a marketer, what in your mind should brand Crypto stand for?
As a marketer, Crypto shouldn’t stand for anything. Uh, it should be invisible. Payments should be seamless; payments should be something that people don’t think about. It should be simple to use. I think Crypto is a bit too complicated. It’s like you need an encyclopedia to get into it — a lot of busy work and research required to do anything in Crypto. Even getting Fiat money into Crypto is a complicated task, so we, at WadzPay, are trying to simplify this. As I said, we need to become almost invisible. Technology shouldn’t matter to people; it’s your end goal. Your final outcome, should matter to people, we’re trying to simplify the crypto experience, and that’s ultimately, my biggest goal is as a marketer to make Crypto simple.
What is the latest trend that people need to keep their eyes on?
There are so many trends in cryptocurrency. I could give you so many different terms, acronyms from yield farming, staking, defi all of that. I don’t think people need to look at trends. The space is going to keep evolving. And it’s going to keep changing when you look at Crypto every six months; you’re going to see something new you as. So if you’re an everyday consumer, ultimately, all you’re looking for is cheaper, safer, simpler payments. Pay and send money to your loved ones, for example, or the way to pay for your can of Coke. All those trends become meaningless and very secondary to what we’re trying to do as a company. But of course, I hope WadzPay is going to create some trends. We’re going to make payments fun. We’re going to make payments interesting for everyone. We’re going to gamify payments to make payments a lot more meaningful and touching. We’re trying to communicate with the use of our WadzPay Moments campaign; check it out on Instagram and social media platforms. We will make and lead that new trend that hasn’t been done by anyone in payments yet.
Payments are just boring for most people; it’s something which is practical life. So what we want to do is we want to transform payments and make it more than something which they have to do something that they want to do because they see a real benefit and an absolute advantage of making payments with WadzPay. So please keep your eyes peeled with some of the huge innovations that we will introduce very soon and how we’re going to transform payments globally.
You can also watch the full video interview with Stas Madorski here.