Mark Smargon from Fuse Network talks about the transformation of the Fintech industry and the future of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.
1. Tell us about your role in Fuse Network?
I was one of the two co-founders of Fuse, and I am currently the Chief Executive Officer of the project. I am particularly focussed on production development but oversee all areas of the business including community, business and marketing.
2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
My professional journey started 20 years ago with the creation of my first business. The company focused on e-commerce, more specifically the payments aspect of it. When Bitcoin came along, I was primed to see the breakthrough potential of blockchain technology and digital currencies for payments. In the crypto space, I first got involved with colored coins R&D, then I co-founded the Colu project that tried to create local currencies on the blockchain. Finally, two years ago, I helped start Fuse and the project has been the centre of my activities since then.
3. How do you think technology is developing the Finance Sector?
I believe that, in general, digitization will transform the financial sector as much as it has changed industries like communications or the publishing industry. It does not just bring new tools but new kinds of companies, new kinds of business models and even new behaviors that did not exist before.
4. How has the introduction of AI redefined the financial industry?
In my view, what is called AI (which isn’t really intelligent in the true sense of the word) has not redefined the financial industry, and is not close to doing that. There are robo advisors, of course, but those are basically just chat bots.
5. How has the introduction of cryptocurrency impacted the financial sector?
The impact has already been quite significant. Some mainstream financial companies (like Robinhood and Square Cash) already derive a large part if not most of their profits from crypto.
Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are a game changer because they are fundamentally borderless and they do not require middle-men to execute transactions. Wherever Alice and Bob happen to reside, Alice can just send funds to Bob and he will receive it in a few moments, and no one will be able to revert the transfer.
6. Can you explain how your Fuse Studio empowers fintech professionals?
Fuse Studio is a platform that allows any business, organization or community to create a token to streamline its functioning. In fintech, this means that a company can create a token for its customers and create an environment for them to use it with the help of the open-source Fuse wallet technology. We call these token-enabled environments payment communities on Fuse. The token can be used for a loyalty scheme, for instance, or even for mediating payment transfers. A Fuse-native stablecoin like FuseDollar (fUSD) can also be used instead of a new token if its better suited for the payment community’s objectives.
7. What features of your FuseSwap differentiate it from other crypto trading platforms?
FuseSwap is the first native AMM-based decentralized exchange on Fuse. Its key advantages, in my view, are the speed of transfers and low costs. The average block time on Fuse is 5 seconds and an average transaction costs less than 1 cent to execute. If you ever tried Uniswap, you will immediately see the difference!
8. What are your predictions about the future of the crypto-based fintech industry?
Trendy innovative stuff does not ever disappear. Decades ago, people were asking whether the Internet or e-commerce would work. Economist Paul Krugman famously predicted that the Internet would have as little impact as the fax machine. But the Internet has proven him massively wrong.
I think crypto will prove to be as persistent. Even though there may be too much speculation around crypto, it will remain, just like tulips historically did despite the early trading mania. Will crypto become bigger? Could it change its name? There will soon be no physical currency, so digital currencies will be just currencies for more and more people, especially the millenials. Today, no one thinks of themselves as a Visa/Swift/SEPA user, and the same may well happen to crypto. In other words, crypto is well-positioned to become the plumbing of the global financial industry, and with our focus on building payment and decentralized finance infrastructure at Fuse, we are trying to help make it happen faster.
9. What advice would you like to give to startups?
The best general advice I can give: focus on time to market. Also, start testing the product you are building with real users early on. Instead of trying to formulate a perfect idea. What is important is building something about which people are getting excited and providing you with good feedback, showing that you are addressing a genuine need.
10. Which Startup technology has grabbed your attention?
I am interested in all kinds of things, really, not just one. Otherwise I would not be creating and running startups.
11. How do you prepare for a Technology-centric world?
I do not think you can really prepare for it because innovation is fundamentally unpredictable.
No one could really have foreseen crypto in any detail. And even Satoshi would probably be surprised by where reality has taken its creation.
One thing I can suggest is not to be afraid of the technology-centric world and to be alert to the opportunities that it will definitely present.
12. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent time?
We are currently in the final stages of developing the second version of our consumer-facing wallet Fuse Cash. Fuse Cash V2 will feature a yield earning program and other new features for users, geared for mainstream adoption. It will be the most comfortable non-custodial mobile crypto wallet you will ever use.
13. Which Book are you reading these days?
It is somewhat embarrassing to admit this but I think that I have not read a book for a year, in a Corona year. It is not that I am not reading anything, I actually consume a lot of text. But I am basically only reading whitepapers, Medium articles, and, of course, e-mails.
14. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, we won’t mind having a look at some of the pictures?
Unfortunately, we can only send pictures from the pre-Covid times. Currently, the 15 of us working for Fuse are spread out all over the world. Only 5 people can be found at our Tel Aviv office.